Employers: Understand When Disability Discrimination Occurs

In multiple cases this year, the Equal Employment Opportunity commission (EEOC) has taken action against employers for alleged discrimination in cases involving disabled individuals. hands-460872_1280

Although the total number of cases filed against employers in 2014 was down slightly from the year before, charges are up significantly from a decade earlier.  The EEOC has not given a reason for the long-term increase.  However, many HR professionals and employment law attorneys attribute it to the aging population and an expanded disability definition that took effect in January 2009.

Under federal law, disability discrimination can occur when:

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You’re Fired! Not so fast! Know the Risks Associated with Terminating an Employee for Poor Performance

It’s a common scenario: you hire an employee for a position and after their training period they continuously make mistakes and do not meet your performance expectations. The poor performance could be for a number of reasons: they need further training, they have personal distractions keeping them from performing up to par, or maybe they’re just not the right person for the position at your company.  So you decide to terminate their employment and find a new employee to take over their job responsibilities.  Without proper documentation to support your termination, you could be facing a number of potential liabilities.

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New Independent Contractor Classification Guidance Released by Department of Labor

T1431598_76841211oday the Department of Labor (DOL) released a memo regarding classification of employees and independent contractors.  This memo is meant to provide some clarification as to when a worker should be classified as an employee and when they’re considered an independent contractor.  There is no change to the law at this time.

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Demoting an Employee Has Risks

financial-crisis-544944_1280Demotion is a rarely used personnel practice. So why include a demotion policy in your employee handbook, if you don’t expect to demote anyone anytime soon?

Because sooner or later you will have to change an employee’s duties in a way the employee sees as a demotion.  You may call it a transfer, or a reassignment.  But the employee will know it as a dreaded demotion.  And a demotion (no matter what you might call it) is hurtful and embarrassing. By putting a demotion and change-in-duties policy in your employee handbook, your employees will know the circumstances under which they might experience a demotion or reassignment.

If you think of demotion always as a negative form of discipline, take another look.

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Putting a Lid on Harmful Workplace Gossip

close-up-18753_1280Every workplace has some amount of “workplace chatter” among employees.  But when this idle, trivial talk turns into malicious gossip about coworkers, management or confidential workplace matters, the employer can do something about it.

There’s a difference between idle chatter and harmful gossip.  Idle chatter involves discussions about parties, fishing and hunting, or trips to the mall. Gossip is conversation based on rumor, or talk of a private, sensational or intimate nature.  Gossip can lower morale and decrease productivity.

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New Proposed Overtime Rule Released by the Department of Labor

clock-334117_1280The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (DOL) has recently released proposed changes to the salary threshold for overtime exemption.  Under the current Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), in order for an employee to be considered “exempt” (meaning they are not required to be paid overtime for working more than 40 hours per week) the employee must be paid a salary of at least $455 per week.  The new proposed rule would increase this salary figure to approximately $970 per week, or $50,440 per year. The new figure was set at the 40th percentile of current exempt salary employees.  The proposed rule also states that the salary threshold would be adjusted annually based on the 40th percentile of wages paid each year.

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Oregon Paid Sick Leave Law

map-40179_1280Effective January 1, 2016 Oregon employers will be required to provide up to 40 hours of sick leave to employees.

Employers with 10 or more employees will be required to provide their employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year. In Portland, the existing law still remains and employers with 6 or more employees are required to provide each employee with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.

Smaller employers with fewer than 10 employees (or fewer than 6 in Portland) are required to provide up to 40 hours of sick leave per year, however it can be unpaid.

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