HR practices that can best help your “Kingdom-Minded” organization and business protect its mission in todays’ hostile world.
Teague Learning Commons
Thursday November 14, 2019
Presenter Mark Griffin has seen it all in his more than 25 years of Human Resources experience gained by working with a wide range of organizations, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies to Christian Colleges, Ministries and Churches.
Presenter Randall Wenger Esq. has a myriad of experiences from all his years of working on religious liberty cases in Pennsylvania including the Conestoga Wood Specialties case that resulted in a landmark victory in the US Supreme Court for religious liberty and the sanctify of life. Randy understands the pressures and dangers that are facing those who want to run their businesses and organizations in line with their christian values.
Let Mark and Randy inspire you by sharing his experiences in helping a variety of organizations manage their beliefs in the reality of today’s workplace.
Leading an organization with Christ-centered values makes organizational sense.
Mark and Randy will share why they believe Christ-centered organizations experience:
- Lower absenteeism
- Higher quality products
- Less employee morale issues
- Safer work environments
- Better perceptions by customers and vendors
Mark and Randy will share how they help organizations develop HR practices that reflect their core values and still build a high performance organization.
Topics To Be Covered
- Legislative and Policy Dangers
- Current Religious Liberty Court Cases
- Creating a high performance culture through practical HR competency development
- Where most organizations go wrong engaging employees
- Setting expectations
- HR tools for creating success
- Employee policy manuals
- Codes of Conduct
- Employee relations and communications
- Performance management
- Counseling and discipline procedures
- An overview of labor laws
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Teague Learning Commons (Map)
About The Pennsylvania Family Institute
The Mission of the Pennsylvania Family Institute is to strengthen families by restoring to public life the traditional, foundational principles and values essential for the well-being of society. We are the only full-time, professionally staffed non-profit organization representing family values—your values—in the state capitol. We encourage responsible citizenship and involvement in civic affairs to promote respect for life, family, marriage and religious liberty.
About The Presenters
Randall L. Wenger, Esq. – COO & Chief Counsel
Prior to joining PFI, his legal practice specialized in public policy law including the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, the definition of marriage, gambling, and whether special rights should be given on the basis of sexual orientation. He has also written a number of Amicus Curie briefs in the area of homosexual marriage, adoption, and intelligent design.
Mr. Wenger grew up in Lancaster County and attended Lancaster Mennonite High School. He studied international business at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania and graduated with a degree in economics from the University of Chicago in 1993. Following graduation he worked in the strategy wing of Coopers & Lybrand’s management consulting division. Mr. Wenger graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2000. He served as president of the law school’s Christian Legal Society. Upon graduation, Mr. Wenger clerked for the Honorable James R. Cavanaugh of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. He is married to Tina H. Wenger and has seven children.
Mark A. Griffin, MBA – President and Founder In HIS Name HR LLC
Mark is a human resources professional with 25-plus years of experience in both public (Quaker Oats Company, Kodak Inc., Merck Inc.) and private companies (Woolrich, Conestoga Wood Specialties, Valco Companies Inc.), Mark is passionate about building high-performance workplaces by utilizing best practices while leading organizations with strong values.
Speaker, accomplished HR consultant, and the author of How to Build “Kingdom-Minded” Organizations and College to Career: The Student Guide to Career and Life Navigation, Mark A. Griffin encourages leaders to build values-led organizations during these increasingly complex times.
Are you complying with all the proper state and federal labor laws?
If not, it could cost you everything.
In large corporations, an entire human resources (HR) department navigates the complex minefield of federal and state labor laws. Most small organizations think of HR as an afterthought, or HR responsibilities like hiring, benefits, compliance, and payroll falls to a few people who aren’t properly trained. This can be a pricey mistake. Laws concerning overtime, unlawful termination, and equal rights are just a few areas that trip up organizations, big and small, all the time.
Labor laws fill volumes and are quite complex. Plus, labor laws vary from state to state! Even Walmart ran into trouble recently and incurred $4.83 million dollars in back wages, penalties, and fines for violating The Fair Labor Standards Act. The mistake? Managers were misclassified and not appropriately compensated for overtime work. Unlawful termination is another problem that has cost organizations like UPS, Carmike Cinemas, and Dial Corporation dearly. Yes, it’s tricky. Do you know the laws?
It gets worse—the government is ramping up efforts to check up on organizations and crack down. The Obama administration has allotted $25 million for the sole purpose of investigating those misclassified as “independent contractors,” hoping to reclaim lost tax revenue and pad the IRS’s coffers. Be smart. Remember that stiff penalties and lawyer fees can decimate your organization. Are your workers properly classified?
Stay legal and remember these 3 key points:
• Child labor, non-resident labor, and equal rights legislation are the three areas where small organizations most often fail to comply.
• Both state and federal labor information is free and available online.
• Outsourcing with an HR professional firm can save your organization a lot of time and money.
Most organizations with fewer than 100 people benefit from outsourcing labor law compliance and other human resource tasks to HR professionals. The alternative is risky: employees are often uninformed about and under-trained in labor law compliance. Look out! Federal fines could be in store for you. In addition, HR often falls outside an employee’s main job focus, so getting it wrong or spending valuable time away from primary tasks can cripple productivity in a small organization. Get the right person trained or on your team to comply with labor laws.
Regrettably, staying legal has never been more difficult or important.
Make sure to get the help you need right away.
Mark Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 25 years of HR experience. Learn more about Mark’s journey in HR by watching this short video. In addition you can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Do you wonder why good employees leave your organization?
Dr. John C. Maxwell gives his opinion about this in his book Leadership Gold: “People quit people, not companies.”.
My conversation with a young professional twenty-something started simply enough.
“How’s the new job going?”
My eyes widened as I listened to this passionate young lady talk for more than half an hour about how she and many of her colleagues want so much to impact the organization they work for, but how management there is weak and how the leadership completely lacks direction. People are not held accountable, she explained. There is no collective vision as a team and new folks are not brought on board with any sense of excitement or motivation.
I nodded. I knew exactly what she was talking about. I’d seen it for myself in many instances. Eliminating the kind of frustration she was feeling is one of my greatest motivators in doing what I do, helping leaders move forward and build high-performance organizations.
So, what’s going to happen? It wasn’t hard to figure out. She made it quite clear—she won’t put up with it for much longer. Instead, she would become one of the many sharp, smart people I’ve encountered who choose to exercise their skills in more fertile fields instead of enduring such barren conditions. They go on to positively fertilize other organizations, contributing to a sustainable harvest by taking them to greater levels of efficiency and performance.
Meanwhile, those organizations with chronically weak and mediocre managers fade, eventually cease to operate, and die. Maybe not right away—it may take time, but ultimately they fail to survive.
If your organization has great leadership, is on the ball, and inspires and motivates all of its employees, including its young All-Stars, then you are indeed building a high-performance organization.
In His Name HR helps organizations build high performance Human Resources programs. Visit them at In HIS Name HR or e-mail them here.
Mark A. Griffin is the founder and chief consultant of In His Name HR LLC. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Most employees loath them; many managers avoid them. High Performance Organizations have them, and they do what they’re designed to do—evaluate precisely the performance of each employee.
Feel like you don’t need them? Here are 10 great reasons that should change your mind.
- Aligning performance to goals and objectives
Most organization employees I meet with say they have no idea what the yearly top two or three goals are for their organization. A great performance program sets these goals as their starting point. Ninety-nine percent of employees in this country want to do well at work, but we lack leaders who know how to align their desire to achieve to the organizational goals.
- Providing a basis for promotion/transfer/termination
Many organizations are not transparent concerning how to be promoted. A performance review process more readily identifies those employees who deserve promotion and those who require lateral shift (transfer) or need to enter into a remedial program. This system also aids career planning.
- Enhancing employees’ effectiveness
Most people really do want to be better at their jobs! Helping employees to identify their strengths and weaknesses and informing them of the organization’s expectations concerning their performance helps them to better understand the role they play and increases work efficiency. Feedback reinforces good performance and discourages poor performance.
- Aiding in designing training and development programs
Instead of creating “programs of the month,” you can use performance review data to more accurately ascertain training needs and identify skills that need to be developed in order to tailor-make the most effective training and development programs.
- Building teams
Counseling employees corrects misconceptions, which might result in work alienation. Performance management also helps employees to internalize the norms and values of the organization. (I have met leaders who have not talked to their employees about their performance since 2012!)
- Removing discontent
Performance management puts all employees on the same measuring tape. Identifying and removing factors responsible for worker discontent motivates them to perform better at work. Performance management helps to create a positive and healthy work environment in the organization.
- Developing interpersonal relationships
Relations between superiors and subordinates can be improved through the realization that there exists a mutual dependence that leads to better performance and success. By facilitating employees to perform introspection, self-evaluation and goal setting, their behavior can be modified. Better interpersonal relationships lead to team building.
- Aiding wage administration
Performance management can help to develop fair and more equitable base lines for reward allocation, wage fixation, raises, incentives, etc.
- Exercising control
A performance review process provides a means to exercise control of projects focused on, and helps keep employees aligned to the agreed upon annual goals and objectives.
- Improving communication
Performance management serves as a mechanism for improved communication between superiors and subordinates. Often times managers shy away from counseling employees. When the right system is in place, especially is it is employee driven, it forces discussions on a regular basis.
In closing, my experiences lead me to support employee driven programs. Programs that rely on managers and leaders have a higher propensity for failure. Simple yet meaningful programs that include goals, objectives, behaviors, an employee development component and stretch assignments meet what most employees’ desire.
How important are employee performance reviews in your organization? Leave your comments below!
In His Name HR helps organizations build high performance Human Resources programs. Visit them at In HIS Name HR or e-mail them here.
Mark A. Griffin is the founder and chief consultant of In His Name HR LLC. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.
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.
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
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.
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
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?
Mark Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 20 years of HR experience. Follow Mark on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Is Your Camp Struggling?
Are increased costs making it hard to become financially viable?
Is employee turnover too high?
Is finding the best talent too expensive?
Is workplace productivity a problem?
Fortune 100 companies solve all these problems effectively.
They have fully staffed human resource departments implementing specific programs that keep organizational performance high.
Not so, unfortunately, for non-profits, Churches, Ministries and Colleges, and that can cost you everything.
Resources and tools to expertly correct performance problems haven’t been readily available…until now.
We provide the expertise, strategies, and details for HR programs used by the best organizations in the world are available right now for organizations like yours
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The Human Resources Mastery Toolkit
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HR consultants will run you thousands of dollars. If you can’t afford that, this Toolkit makes learning HR leadership and implementing the best programs a reality, right away.
As your organization’s efficiency and performance improves through these first-rate techniques and programs, your cost savings will skyrocket, too!
Expect to see all of the following:
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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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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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