Are You Having an Organizational Identity Crisis?

Are You Having an Organizational Identity Crisis?


If your organization is having an identity crisis.  You may be the last to know. The clues aren’t usually obvious, but you may sense something is wrong.

Do you spot any of these patterns emerging?

  • More and more employees are leaving
  • Quality and/or performance is trending downward
  • Your organization is missing deadlines
  • Your clients or customers are complaining more
  • It’s getting harder and harder to find good talent

These issues are not random blips on the landscape. They reveal deeper problems, those below the surface. Greater attention to structure and organization may be needed, but there is a core issue at stake: Organizational Identity.

An identity crisis may happen for a number of reasons. Some reasons are inevitable. Some are regrettable. But, many times an identity crisis starts from what are, initially, positive changes. What is positive at first, like growth or increased capabilities, can morph into quagmire without attention. This drag causes confusion and does not just hinder your workers but will inevitably affect your customers and outside contacts, too.

An identity crisis will likely coincide with these circumstances:

  • A change in key management, ownership, or structure
  • A new technology replacing an old way of doing things
  • Expansion into a new territory or demographic
  • Offering new services
  • Expansion and increased public visibility
  • New or changing partnerships, associations, or clients

Organizations, if they last long enough, experience seasons where renovating identity is crucial. This is a good thing. What your organization stands for or why it exists may seem obvious to you, but it needs routine upkeep to ensure everyone shares a cohesive vision. Creating and cementing your organization’s Mission, Vision, and Values are essential to new and continued success.

Organizational Identity answers the questions:

  • Who are we?
  • Why do we exist? 
  • How do we share that vision beyond ourselves?

Core values and identity should be found together—in a partnership with owners and employees. It should be built from the ground up to forge something solid and genuine. Identity can never be reduced to platitudes or window dressing. It shouldn’t stop at a new logo and updated policies. It must be the foundational way that your group functions, together and with the outside world

Organizations like charity: Water, Starbucks, and The Coca-Cola Company, for example, have all crystallized their organizational identity for us. But, more important, they have all reinvented or re-clarified themselves as times have changed and found continued success. With some effort or outside expertise, you can usher in higher performance for your organization, too.

So, what problems have you seen that were evident of an identity crisis?  Help us and our community of readers to learn from your experiences

 

Mark Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 20 years of HR experience.  Follow In HIS Name HR on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

The Crucial Upside of Workplace Friction In HIS Name HR LLC

The Crucial Upside of Workplace Friction


Every workplace has friction—that’s the simple truth. Anytime you have a few people working together on something, differences surface that create drag. We shouldn’t be surprised when conflict or tensions arise. Instead, we should be prepared and have some tactics on hand to facilitate a cooperative working environment and healthier relationships. Friction has a bona fide upside.

In my decades of work in the field of Human Resources, I’ve learned that 3 major things have the potential to create workplace conflicts:

  • Inadequate communication
  • Lack of emotional control
  • Indefinite goals and boundaries

Here’s an example of all three creating a common situation of friction:

Project X must be finished in two months. The lower level manager fails to set legible parameters on a project when expectations and roles are not defined for the work. As the manager delegates the project, too much is left to speculation. Co-workers attempt to complete the work, but soon run into interpersonal problems as different ideas emerge. Frustration increases, tempers flare, morale sinks, and passive aggressive sabotage and gossip start. In other words, gridlock. A few team members inform the manager; however, by then, emotion is driving the situation. Decision-making is maligned and communication continues to falter. The project is tanking.

What to do?

A lot of repair work is needed to get things back on track and keep the project moving forward. First—and this is important—ditch email as a resolution tool. A sit-down, face-to-face meeting is necessary, and a concise description of roles and responsibilities must be presented. But a few other things are invaluable, too.

It’s important to reestablish a healthy culture with the team and ensure acceptable behaviormoving forward. This shouldn’t be done by lecturing. It shouldn’t be expressed in an exasperated tone either. Rather, make sure you conduct your meeting by modeling respect and integrity. Assume the best in your co-workers and back it up with words and actions that make it clear. Graciousness and amiability should preside, not hostility and annoyance.

Get the Right “Game Face” On.? Prepare yourself. Your “game face” must be a commitment to the greater good plus good faith efforts to buoy the environment and create a better working situation. It’s crucial to find common ground. This can be done with a simple and sincere reference to everyone wanting to do well, or a mention of some of your company’s most important values, or by outlining the basic goals of the project. It may be wisest to use a bit of each.

Conflict = Opportunity for Improvement.? It’s normal to dislike friction. Just remember, excellent organizations and great leaders have a habit of transforming conflict and tensions into occasions that make things work more smoothly, efficiently, and improve the positive bonds between employees. Don’t shrink from this opportunity. Instead of dreading conflict or becoming paralyzed by it, realize that conflicts can harvest new ideas and innovation—not just in how your company works, but also in how co-workers connect with each other.

Grace, empathy, forgiveness, cooperation, and better listening can be the result. If you treasure-hunt in the situation and invite that same positive attitude from your employees during conflict, better times are ahead.

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Mark A. Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 20 years of HR experience.  In His Name HR helps organizations build high-performance Human Resource programs.

Visit them at In HIS Name HR or  Send Email

 

Yahoo! Scrapped Telecommuting—Should You?

Yahoo! Scrapped Telecommuting—Should You?


As a long-time veteran in the field of human resources (HR), I’ve seen telecommuting storm onto the scene through advances in technology. Telecommuting employees complete work from remote locations, and sometimes the method backfires.

In February 2013, Yahoo!’s CEO, Marissa Mayer, killed the long-standing policy that allowed employees to work from home. The news sent shockwaves in every direction, especially throughout high-tech industries. Many wondered whether the decision was a step backward and a signal of changes to come elsewhere.

Two months later, Mayer spoke at a human resources conference. She clarified that the new rule applied to just 200 of the 1200 Yahoo! employees. She reinforced the idea that collaboration and innovation happen best in an interactive environment. Even though the change was drastic for a tech company, she wasn’t backing down.

Many people feel their best work happens when they are uninterrupted and left alone, but even the best worker can hit some snags.

Five Common Pitfalls in Telecommuting

  1. Misalignment of organizational vision
  2. Loss of focus
  3. Derailed project or job expectations
  4. Poor time management Burnout (as work hours lengthen at a remote environment, like one’s home)
  5. Remember, the key principle for an ideal telecommuting situation is this:
  6. Working from home, or from another remote location, should include the same qualities that make work at the office productive.

Five Workplace Features that Help Telecommuters Succeed

  1. Workspace boundaries  – Can the employee shut the door when they need to work and otherwise maintain a good work-life balance?
  2. Ability to concentrate – Will children, friends, or other obligations frequently interrupt the employee?
  3. Organization – Can they make a schedule and stick to it?
  4. Productivity – Have they been given expectations and goals? Can they get help quickly if they hit an obstacle?
  5. Focus and Fitness – Can they take short, regular breaks throughout the day to stay fresh and avoid fatigue or burnout?

What single safeguard makes telecommuting most effective? A job description!

Do the groundwork and craft a solid job description for a telecommuter before telecommuting takes effect. When a manager latches onto telecommuting as a hot trend without making the necessary preparations, trouble lies ahead.

A job description is not only important from an employee management standpoint; it’s a strategic necessity.

Your organization’s productivity and growth can be stymied when skills and competencies are unknown variables. Be definitive.

What’s the future for telecommuting?

Telecommuting is here to stay! The kibosh on telecommuting seen at Yahoo! won’t be the norm. While a number of organizations may rein in their telecommuters, many organizations will increase their use of telecommuting.

They will also recognize the high value of the expertise from contracted workers through portals and agencies like UpWork.comFiverr.com, and Guru.com. Specialized workers will continue to work from home, their local coffee shop, or other spots as the trend becomes normalized and wireless networking becomes more widely available worldwide.

Now is the perfect time to set expectations and boundaries to make the best of the situation.

How many people do you know who telecommute? What has been your experience?  Would love to hear from our readers.

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Mark A. Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 20 years of HR experience.  In His Name HR helps organizations build high-performance Human Resource programs.

Visit them at In HIS Name HR or  Send Email

 

How Bad Human Resource Practices Cost You Millions

How Bad Human Resource Practices Cost You Millions


Many potential clients seek a silver bullet when it comes to the hiring process. They want to set up electronic application systems and implement pre-employment testing to objectively and efficiently screen applicants so they can hire the best candidates.

They want to optimize the process, to speed the days to hire-up. They want candidates fast. They want a paperless process and a filtering system to eliminate candidates that don’t match their requirements.

Unfortunately, not being sure of what you’re doing, and working with unwise counsel, is a minefield you do not want to find yourself in and the results could be downright explosive.

I recently did some preliminary research on Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) cases that have headlined in the past several months, painting a damaging picture of some very prominent companies. The cases revolved around such factors as:

  • Pre-employment testing
  • Unlawful employment application questions
  • Disability discrimination

In actuality, many organizations, even those with the best intentions, ask questions that can inadvertently result in disparate treatment across a broad spectrum of minority candidates. Organizations also rely on invalid forms of pre-employment testing as a screening tool, ones they may not aware might disqualify minority candidates at a higher rate than non-minorities.

As a rule, the organizations that I meet with are not looking to hurt anyone or prevent any person from working at their organization as long as they’re qualified for the position in question. Most not only recognize the benefits that diversity brings to their organization but also share a worldview that embraces all cultures and all people. Regrettably, however, what’s in their heart does not matter one whit to the attorneys and the EEOC who show up to investigate claims of discrimination.

It’s easy to assume that the EEOC focuses only on large corporate organizations, high-profile global entities, as evidenced in such headlines as:

  • BMW to Pay $1.6 Million and Offer Jobs to Settle Federal Race Discrimination Lawsuit
  • Target to Pay $2.8M to Upper-Level Applicants in EEOC Settlement
  • United Airlines to Pay Over $1 Million to Settle Disability Lawsuit

On the contrary, there are many small to mid-sized organizations that are being dragged into court as well. For example:

  • Stack Bros. to Pay $140,000 to Settle EEOC Age Discrimination and Retaliation Suit
  • Texas Oil Field Services Company Pays $30,000 to Settle EEOC Retaliation Suit
  • EEOC Sues Seymour Midwest for Age Discrimination

No organization is too small to escape the potential penalty of discrimination, whether intended or unintended. All it takes is one or more disgruntled workers or applicants.

What might surprise you is that the same risk exists for those working in the nonprofit, church, or ministry sectors—you are just as vulnerable to the consequences of poorly managed human resource practices as any profit-driven enterprise. No altruistic or religious influence will stand up in court as an adequate defense or mitigate damages against your organization. This is just a sampling:

  • EEOC Sues United Bible Fellowship Ministries for Pregnancy Discrimination
  • Inconsistencies in Termination Decision Wipe Out Good Samaritan Ministries Victory
  • King’s Way Baptist Church Sued by EEOC for Retaliation
  • Nonprofits, churches, and ministry organizations are generally subject to state and federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination.

What should you do?

Do what great organizations do, and invest in solid HR practices. A qualified HR staff is fully trained and capable of helping you navigate successfully through the practices that can prevent costly litigation and eliminate those practices that might be unintentionally discriminatory.

You need a comprehensive human resources connection that your HR staff can source for this kind of guidance. We’re the map to get you through this minefield.

But it’s not just about risk management. Superior HR practices generate superior job candidates.

Want to read more about the cases cited in this article? Find more information and source articles here.

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Mark A. Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 20 years of HR experience.  In His Name HR helps organizations build high-performance Human Resource programs. Visit them at In HIS Name HR or  Send Email

Success In 2019 ~ HR Trends In The Workplace


Enjoy watching Claudia Wert of Wells Fargo Advisors and Mark Griffin discuss In His Name HR and trends to look out for in 2019.

 

 

About Mark: With over 20 years of Human Resources experience at both fortune (Kodak, Quaker Oats, and Merck) as well as small and mid-sized companies, Mark has seen it all in the workplace.

About Claudia: A retirement plan specialist with Wert Investment Consulting Group, a wealth management practice within Wells Fargo Advisors. Her team advises on $260 million assets under management for high net worth families and businesses. Claudia’s partner, Robert Wert, was recognized in 2018 by Forbes magazine on their list of Best-In-State Wealth Advisors.

Berks Community Television Mission Berks Community Television’s mission is to enhance the unity and strength of the community by providing:

♦ A medium for community dialogue and educational opportunities

♦ A source of information of local, national and international origin

♦ A forum for the exchange of ideas on issues and topics of community interest

Is Facebook Really Risky in the Workplace?

Is Facebook Really Risky in the Workplace?


Learn how to make social media use in the workplace a win for everybody.

What is your organization’s policy on social media? It’s time to better understand this powerful tool and make it work for you.

Research from Fierce, a Seattle-based training and development company, concludes that 80 percent of workers log onto Facebook during working hours.

Facebook is not going away. LinkedIn is right behind, and if you don’t know what Instagram or Snapchat is, well, you’re just missing out. Having worked in an era before these tools existed and then became popular, I offer you some vital insights from a Human Resources perspective.

Transforming connections and communications

In an age of smartphones, websites, and computers with preloaded social media integration, social media technology is standard fare in most environments. Customers routinely “check in” and post photos from restaurants, shops, attractions, and events. Pastors tell attendees to tweet quotes from their sermons. Celebrities make big announcements on Twitter, and the most important world news breaks on social media first. It’s not going anywhere. In fact, it’s growing, integrating, and upgrading faster than ever.

Despite this prominence, only 51 percent of organizations have any policy on social media. Some organizational leaders feel participation hurts productivity or even contributes to interpersonal problems (think of publicly bad-mouthing leadership), yet many more believe its use is crucial to good morale and a happy working environment, and current research bears this out.

Today, a whole new generation of workers considers social media a nonnegotiable aspect of their job environment. In a recent study by Fast Company, 40 percent of college students and 45 percent of young professionals said they would turn down a job or accept less pay rather than work for a company that disallowed social media use.

Be clever in how you integrate social media usage into your  organizational culture and policies. If you have bans on social media, review and amend them to fit the times. If you don’t have a policy yet, remember these key points before issuing sweeping prohibitions on the technology:

  • When treated as adults, most employees behave as adults.
  • Give great guidelines up front—don’t wait for a crisis. Regularly encourage responsible posting on social media.
  • Assign someone who understands social media to create a vision of how your company can be positively perceived or promoted online, and then articulate that vision clearly.

Risk vs. Reward

Without guidance, employee involvement with social media can be risky, but social media remains an excellent tool to engage participants and current or future customers and get your message out. The right use of this powerful tool can benefit everyone involved.

Many opportunities exist to mobilize your workforce to connect with others and broadcast a healthy and positive image of your company or non-profit. Some of the most productive and profitable companies have integrated it well, and so can you.

What type of policies do you have in place on social media?

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Mark Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 20 years of HR experience.  Follow Mark on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

Lead Employees to Excellence In HIS Name HR LLC

Lead Employees to Excellence


Yes, it’s possible for you to lead employees to excellence at work, home and in their communities.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~Ephesians 2:10

A valuable part of leading sustainable for-profit organizations is introducing your employees to community relations. Part of leading people is developing them to be the best they can be, not only in the workplace but within their families and communities as well.

Look at your people from a whole person perspective—they’re far more than just “workers.” Provide your people the opportunity to do good works, to achieve greatness in their lives, and they will do great things for you. Developing your people’s skills, both in and outside the company, can positively impact the communities in which they live and you do business.

Encourage your people to be their best in every aspect of their lives.

Many organizations now put programs in place that help match employees’ interests to community volunteer opportunities. Some organizations shut down for an entire week to help build homes with Habitat for Humanity, for example. What do you do? What more can you do?

Imagine an organization that inspired their people by running a contest where each employee participated by demonstrating how their volunteer organization is the most impactful. The prize? The winner would receive a considerable reward to help fund their efforts.  This article provides a great deal of information on what Elexio has done to encourage employees to look far outside their own communities.

If you are promoting good works performed by your employees, not only in the workplace but also in the world we live in, you are doing great things for God. You are building a “Kingdom-Minded” Organization.

Help our community of readers

Do you have HR practices that support these ideals? Do you help your employees help others? How do you find your employees’ strengths and match them to community involvement? Share your ideas and inspire fellow readers. We would love to know how you encourage your people to shine.

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Mark Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 20 years of HR experience.  You can learn more about his recently published book for College Students, College to Career: The Student Guide to Career and Life Navigation HERE.  Follow Mark on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

 

How to Increase Team Productivity with the MBTI Personality Test

How to Increase Team Productivity with the MBTI Personality Test


Personality clashes and disparate problem-solving styles are all too common, even in the most motivated organizations. Someone’s true character is often revealed in the way in which he or she acts and reacts in situations with others. The ripple effects can be devastating. They can even dam up the works altogether if you don’t take action—the right action.

Most conflicts stem from misunderstandings. By being proactive and decoding the personalities in your organization—that is, working to understand the different ways in which people see and understand the world while interacting with others, you can help your employees to work together harmoniously. When employees have a strong grasp of the personalities of their colleagues, they can leverage each other’s strengths and sharpen one another (Prov. 27:17).

 

Read The Full Post Here

 

 

Are Your Employees Mentored?

Are Your Employees Mentored? Employee Commitment Series


This blog series focuses on nine areas that keep employees committed to your organization. In our opinion, employees stay committed when they are Involved, Paid Well, Asked for Input, Challenged, Empowered, Trusted, Valued, Appreciated, and Mentored.

Employee Commitment Series

Do You Mentor Your Employees?

There are many factors that affect employee motivation and performance in the workplace. Although often overlooked, mentoring is one such factor. Mentored employees are employees who feel valued. As such, a mentorship program in your workplace is vital to employee happiness. In fact, workplace mentorship could be the catalyst you need to help your employees drive high performance.

What Is Workplace Mentoring?

Workplace mentoring is an organized learning partnership with employees. It involves sharing information, insights, knowledge, and experiences. The aim? To increase productivity and employee value.

All successful organizations have one trait in common—great leaders. But it doesn’t end there. To build a sustainable success, leaders must share their knowledge and values with employees. Mentoring is an effective way to pass on this knowledge.

Mentoring shouldn’t be restricted only to new employees. Even tenured employees often need guidance. The personalized leadership provided by a mentoring program can yield great rewards.

Why Is Workplace Mentoring Important?

Mentorship is vital to the culture of large enterprises and small organizations alike. A study conducted by the Chronus Corporationshows that mentorship programs are popular with Fortune 500 companies. In fact, about 71% of these companies offer organized mentorship programs. Another study, among Millennials, reveals that more than 79%think mentoring is crucial to attaining their career goals. But what benefits can you derive from having a mentorship program in your workplace?

Training Employees

To get the best results from your employees, there is no doubt you need to train them well. But the training doesn’t have to be through crash courses or organized seminars. Some of the most valuable knowledge we pick up as humans comes through informal settings.

A mentorship program provides the training avenue employees need. It’s through mentoring that employees gain or update the knowledge needed to perform at work.

Infusing Leadership Skills

Leadership is one of those skills that can’t always be learned effectively in a classroom. A mentoring program, however, is a great avenue through which employees can pick up invaluable skills. This can prove to be of great benefit to the organization in the long run, as a new generation of leaders is already saddled to handle the reins. Transitions can therefore be smoother and retirement gaps easier to fill.

Reducing Attrition

From a managerial perspective, reduced attrition is the most important benefit of a mentorship program. A potential for growth and development is one of the major motivational factors that ensure employees stick with an organization.

A mentorship program gives employees a necessary sense of belonging. Employees in a mentorship program believe they have a great potential for career progression, which helps them experience their work as rewarding and keeps them contentedly right where they are.

Putting a Mentorship Program in Place

So, think about this again: Do you mentor your employees? If your answer is no, or your yes carries a tinge of uncertainty, you have yet to maximize the productivity of your employees. Organize a mentorship program today. Get your HR department involved, develop a brilliant program, and watch as you achieve results you didn’t think were possible.

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In HIS Name HR helps organizations build high-performance Human Resources programs. Visit them at In HIS Name HR.

Mark A. Griffin is the founder and chief consultant of In HIS Name HR LLC. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Why Pre-Employment Testing May Cost You Millions


Is your organization unknowingly violating federal and state employment laws? If so, you’re not alone. Many unsuspecting professionals in both profit and nonprofit organizations manage via flawed human resource practices.

Why is being compliant with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) laws through proper HR practices important? Read the following cases to understand how organizations that thought they were doing things right discovered the hard way that they were not.

Large Company Cases

Target to pay $2.8M to upper-level applicants in EEOC settlement

Tests for upper-level jobs screened out blacks, Asians and women, EEOC says.

Target Corp. has agreed to pay $2.8 million to thousands of rejected job candidates for upper-level positions because tests they were given disproportionately screened out applicants based on their race or gender.

The payout was announced Monday by the Minneapolis Area Office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and will be disbursed among more than 3,000 people, said Julie Schmid, acting director for the agency in Minneapolis. Source

BMW to Pay $1.6 Million and Offer Jobs to Settle Federal Race Discrimination Lawsuit

GREENVILLE, S.C. – The U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina today entered a consent decree ordering BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC (BMW) to pay $1.6 million and provide job opportunities to alleged victims of race discrimination as part of the resolution of a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The lawsuit, filed by EEOC’s Charlotte District Office, alleged that BMW excluded African-American logistics workers from employment at a disproportionate rate when the company’s new logistics contractor applied BMW’s criminal conviction records guidelines to incumbent logistics employees. Source

United Airlines to Pay over $1 Million To Settle Disability Lawsuit

Supreme Court Lets Stand 7th Circuit Ruling That Reassignment Is Reasonable Accommodation

In a case that garnered nationwide attention, air transportation giant United Airlines Inc. has agreed to pay more than $1 million and implement changes to settle a federal disability lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that United’s competitive transfer policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship for the employer. By requiring workers with disabilities to compete for vacant positions for which they were qualified and which they needed in order to continue working, the company’s practice frequently prevented employees with disabilities from continuing employment with United, the EEOC said.  Source

Small to Medium Sized Company Cases

Stack Bros. to Pay $140,000 to Settle EEOC Age Discrimination and Retaliation Suit

Employees Were Fired at Superior, Wis., Firm for Turning 62, Federal Agency Charged

MADISON, Wis. – Stack Bros. Mechanical Contractors, Inc. of Superior, Wis., a major heating and plumbing contractor in northern Wisconsin and northern Minnesota, will pay $140,000 and furnish other relief to settle an age discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to EEOC’s suit, Stack Bros. discrim­inated against Randy Virta and Karen Kolodzeske by firing them when they turned 62 in 2014. Stack Bros. also retaliated against Kolodzeske for resisting its plans to fire her, EEOC alleged.

According to Julianne Bowman, director of the EEOC’s Chicago District, which includes Wisconsin, the agency’s pre-lawsuit investigation revealed that both Virta and Kolodzeske repeatedly warned Stack Bros.’ owner that his plan to fire them when they turned 62 was illegal. However, the owner refused to relent, and, after firing Virta, retaliated against Kolodzeske for her complaints by denying her a raise, suspending her without pay for two days and creating a hostile work environment while waiting for her to turn 62. Virta and Kolodzeske had worked for Stack Bros. for 16 and 25 years, respectively. Source

Texas Oil Field Services Company Pays $30,000 to Settle EEOC Retaliation Suit

Only Female Roustabout Fired for Reporting Sexual Harassment, Agency Charged

DALLAS – An Iraan, Texas oil field construction and services company will pay $30,000 and furnish other relief to settle a retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Pecos Division (4:14-CV-00073-DAE), charged that Garrison Contractors, Inc. fired its only female roustabout, Elma Garza, after she reported being sexually harassed on the job.

Hired by the company in January 2012 as a dump truck driver, Garza spent most of her employment as the company’s only female oil field worker. In this roustabout position, Garza worked side by side with her male co-workers fixing oil and gas leaks, digging ditches and cleaning heavy equipment. EEOC said that during her employment, Garza was subjected to lewd comments about female organs and sex. EEOC contends that when Garza reported the unwanted conduct, the company retaliated against her by terminating her.

Retaliation for reporting sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  Source

EEOC Sues Seymour Midwest for Age Discrimination

Agency Alleges Company Rejected an Applicant Older than Its Ideal Age

INDIANAPOLIS — Seymour Midwest, a Warsaw, Indiana, hand tool manufacturing company, violated federal law when it rejected a 58-year-old executive upon learning that he was older than the company’s ideal age range of 45-52, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to EEOC’s suit, Seymour Midwest selected Steve Maril, from a pool of applicants for its senior vice president of sales position, to participate in an initial, email-based interview. In addition to questions about Maril’s experience and willingness to relocate, the company asked whether Maril was within its ideal age range of 45-52. When Seymour Midwest learned that Maril was older than its ideal age range, the company refused to hire him.  Source 

Church and Nonprofit Cases

EEOC Sues United Bible Fellowship Ministries for Pregnancy Discrimination

Organization’s Policy Requiring Pregnant Employees to Resign Is Discriminatory, Federal Agency Charges

HOUSTON – United Bible Fellowship Ministries, Inc., an organization that provides faith-based, community social services, violated federal law when it forced female employees out of their jobs because of their pregnancies, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Shamira Johnson worked as a resource technician, providing home care assistance to disabled individuals. Her duties included housecleaning, light laundering, administering medication, cooking and assisting with personal hygiene and grooming. United Bible terminated Johnson and other pregnant employees according to its “Pregnancy in the Workplace Policy” which required pregnant women in direct client-care positions to stop working during their pregnancy and reapply for a vacant job once they were no longer pregnant. Johnson did not return to work at United Bible after her pregnancy. The policy also unlawfully required applicants to disclose their pregnancy when applying for employment.  Source

Inconsistencies in Termination Decision Wipe out Employer’s Victory

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently erased the victory of the Good Samaritan Ministries in an employee termination case, Ledbetter v. Good Samaritan Ministries, et al., — F.3d —- (7th Cir. Feb. 6, 2015), sending the case back to the trial court for further litigation.

The employee, Linzie Ledbetter (male), worked in a homeless shelter and food pantry. After a shelter resident complained about Ledbetter’s alleged threat to evict her, Ledbetter’s supervisors met with him and warned him that such behavior could result in disciplinary action, including termination. As a result, Ledbetter filed an EEOC charge—and later, a federal lawsuit—claiming race discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Shortly thereafter, Ledbetter filed a second EEOC charge for race discrimination and was subsequently warned again about his behavior toward the shelter residents and toward his co-workers. The day after his supervisors learned of the second EEOC charge, they fired Ledbetter, prompting a third EEOC charge and another lawsuit for retaliation.

In the trial court, Good Samaritan Ministries and its supervisors argued that Ledbetter’s termination was not prompted by the second EEOC charge, because they had decided to fire him five days before they even knew of the charge. The trial court agreed with their argument and granted summary judgment in their favor.  Source

King’s Way Baptist Church Sued By EEOC for Retaliation

Kindergarten Teacher at Church’s Christian School Fired for Complaining About Sexual Harassment by Pastor, Federal Agency Charges

ATLANTA – The King’s Way Baptist Church, Inc. of Douglasville, Ga., violated federal law when it fired a kindergarten teacher at its King’s Way Christian School for reporting sexual harassment by its chief executive officer / pastor, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed recently.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, the pastor repeatedly subjected the teacher to sexual harassment by touching her inappropriately and made veiled threats to her if she should complain. When the teacher complained about the harassment, rather than taking measures to prevent any further harassment, King’s Way fired her.

These actions violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from firing, demoting, harassing or otherwise retaliating against employees because they complained to their employer about discrimination on the job. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. The King’s Way Baptist Church, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:15-cv-03816) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the former teacher, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent future discrimination.  Source

Miscellaneous Cases Of Interest

Employers Beware: EEOC Stepping Up Disability Discrimination Enforcement

On the heels of that news, 10 of the 22 lawsuits filed or settlements reached by the EEOC in May included allegations of disability discrimination. That’s a .455 batting average for the ADA, which is none too shabby in anyone’s book. Some of the issues addressed by the EEOC in the past month include:

A $72,500 settlement with an Akron, Ohio, medical transportation services company, which fired an EMT-paramedic with multiple sclerosis instead of providing additional leave as a reasonable accommodation.

A $110,000 settlement with Norfolk Southern Railway Company, which medically disqualified a track maintenance worker because of degenerative disc disease without doing an individualized assessment of whether he could perform the essential functions of his job.

A $90,000 settlement with a Tennessee nursing home facility, which terminated an HIV-positive nurse.

An $18,000 settlement with an Alabama athletic apparel retailer, which fired a legally blind sales clerk (who lost his full use of his sight while serving in the Army) without any consideration of whether an accommodation, such as a magnifying glass or a new computer monitor, might be reasonable.  Source

 

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