Two recent federal court rulings highlight the importance of training supervisors to handle discrimination complaints, and of gathering accurate first-hand information about employee problems. An impartial internal investigation or a well-trained supervisor can make or break the company’s case in a discrimination suit.
In Thompson v. Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, the hospital oversaw emergency medical operations for the Southern Illinois region. Archie Thompson was the only black paramedic in the region. Paula Bierman, a female middle manager at the hospital repeatedly stated that “one black paramedic was one too many” and stated her belief that African American employees did not have the same abilities as Caucasian employees.
After saving the life of a diabetic patient, paramedic Thompson was verbally reprimanded by his on-duty supervisor for not reporting a certain procedure. Following an investigation, the supervisor concluded that the paramedics had not been trained in the protocol and that none of them, including Thompson, had been following the proper procedure. The next day, after reviving another diabetic patient, Thompson did follow the correct call-in procedure.
When manager Paula Bierman learned of the initial lapse, she requested permission from the hospital administrator to put paramedic Thompson on probation. Under questioning, Bierman lied, claiming that the other paramedics were following the procedure, and that Thompson had been trained in it.
Bierman also claimed that Thompson had received lower scores than other paramedics on an extremely difficult pop quiz that she gave.
If the hospital administrator had interviewed other paramedics or the on-duty supervisor, he would have learned that Bierman was creating a trumped-up case against Thompson due to his race. In fact, the paramedics routinely failed to follow the diabetic protocol because the policy had not been publicized. Bierman had not (more…)
The greatest change for HR pros and employers under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will come from penalties to employers who fail to provide group health insurance. The law technically stops short of a mandate, because it does not require that employers provide healthcare benefits to workers. However, companies that fail to offer health care coverage will have to pay a penalty of $2,000 per employee beginning January 1, 2014. The law makes an exception for small employers, as the first 30 workers do not count towards the penalty.
If the employer offers health care benefits, if even one employee applies for a federal subsidy to purchase individual health insurance, the employer may be fined $750 per person, under the law signed by President Barack Obama.
One important change involves how employees are enrolled in healthcare plans. Under the new system, employers with 200 or more employees will automatically enroll new employees in the group health insurance. Employees will have to intentionally opt out of the plan, in order to not receive healthcare.
The law also includes provisions to make healthcare coverage more affordable for low-income workers, according to the Society for Human Resource Management or SHRM. An employee who earns less than four times the federal poverty level will have the option of buying health insurance through a health care exchange.
Small business owners and employees will have the option of purchasing health insurance through an exchange, which will offer lower rates for insurance than currently available. So-called SHOP exchanges, or Small Business (more…)
During negotiation, members of the House and Senate removed all mention of the federal government’s E-Verify system. The initial bill passed in the House would have required that any business receiving funds from the federal government under the stimulus bill use that system to verify that all employees are legally authorized to work in the U.S., using that system.
E-Verify is still required by many states and local governments, and is free to all private employers in the country. All federal contractors will be required to implement E-Verify later this year.
In addition, the stimulus bill requires that any employer receiving aid hire U.S. workers who have been laid off before recruiting and hiring workers from other countries on H-1B visas. This measure is expected to have the biggest impact on IT employees. (more…)
An new executive order requires federal contractors to post notices informing employees of their right to form unions and collectively bargain. This requirement must be included in every federal contract along with language giving the government the right to terminate/suspend the contract or even debar the contractor for noncompliance.
Under Executive Order 13496, every federal contractor is required to post a notice informing employees of their rights to form unions and collectively bargain. This executive order overturns an order signed by President George W. Bush early during his administration.
Under the Executive Order signed by President Barack Obama on Friday, January 30, 2009, this requirement must be included in every federal contract along with language giving the government the right to terminate or suspend the contract if the employer does not comply.
In fact, employers who fail to post the required notice can be debarred for noncompliance.
Under the federal FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act, employers must pay an employee overtime when the employee works more than 40 hours in the payroll week.
Information on the FLSA requirements for overtime are included on the federal minimum wage poster that every employer must prominently display in the workplace.
By not having a fixed payroll week, Sandia averaged the employees’ hours over two or more weeks. Under the FLSA, an employer can establish any fixed payroll week that the employer likes. The payroll week can run from Sunday to Saturday, or from Monday to Sunday, or from Thursday to Wednesday. Under some circumstances, an employer can change the payroll week, as long as employees are given advance notice.
However, the employee’s workweek must be a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours, (more…)