HR Legal Roundtable: Review of Real HR Scenarios and Responses
Thursday, June 21, 2018
11:30 AM to 1:30 PM
5603 Granddaddy Drive
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Join us for an interactive session to address several different HR scenarios, using actual examples involving background checks, terminations, employee complaints and accommodating mental illness in the workplace. We will explore together various options for dealing with the challenges that arise in these scenarios, including best practices and legal pitfalls. You will have an opportunity to submit scenarios and questions in advance, as well. If time permits, we will address them, as well.
- Identifying legal issues that can arise with hiring and firing.
- Addressing employee complaints, including assessment of when investigations are necessary.
- Balancing reasonable accommodation obligations with safety and other concerns under the ADA.
Presented by: Molly Cherry, Employment and Labor Law Attorney,Nexsen Pruet
Molly Hughes Cherry is a Member in the Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, offices of Nexsen Pruet, LLC, where she practices in the areas of labor and employment and general business litigation.
She is a certified specialist in labor and employment law and represents management in a variety of employment matters. These include discrimination law, disability law, employment contracts and non-competition covenants, employment torts, wage issues, harassment litigation, and training.
Mrs. Cherry is a member of the Charleston County and South Carolina Bar Associations. She is the past chairperson of South Carolina’s Employment and Labor Law Advisory Board and a past chairperson for the SC Bar’s Employment and Labor Law Section. Ms. Cherry is a board member of the International Association of Defense Counsel, having previously served as chairperson of its employment law committee. She is also the immediate past president of the South Carolina Women Lawyers Association.
In addition to her professional activities, Mrs. Cherry is deeply involved in the community. She served on the board for the Tri-County Human Resources Management Association in Charleston for a number of years, including as president, and serves on the South Carolina Business One Stop Business Advisory Board. She also served as president of the board of the Trident Literacy Association and worked recently on TLA’s capital campaign.
She earned her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, in government and Spanish from Wofford College, having recently served as the president of the Alumni Executive Council. She graduated, cum laude, from the University of South Carolina School of Law.
REGISTER NOW to save your seat!
This meeting is sponsored by:
Patty Leibrick, 412-354-8212, firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome new COHR members!
Amanda Icatar - Tidelands Health
Attention COHR Members!
COHR is exited to share that we are offering our SHRM Certification Study Group in Fall 2018, for those interested in testing for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP certifications.
Participants must be COHR members and SHRM Certification eligible to attend. The study group is FREE and offers a huge SHRM Learning System discount to participants.
Through this offering, participants will be able to buy the SHRM Learning System (used to study for the exam) at a discounted rate of $495! This is a savings of $300 for SHRM Members and almost $500 for Non-SHRM Members.
Our FREE study group will begin late August 2018 and we be held 1 night per week, for 12 weeks. The study group is scheduled to prepare you for the Winter Exam window.
If you are interested in the joining the 2018 COHR SHRM Certification Study Group (and haven't already submitted your interest), please email Jeff Mullins at email@example.com.
QUESTIONS? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2018's off to a great start! Check out these photos to see what COHR has been up to at our monthly meetings.
How to Prevent Workplace Retaliation Claims
Retaliation claims can be difficult for employers to defend
|By Lisa Nagele-Piazza, SHRM-SCP, J.D. Mar 26, 2018|
When employees complain about discrimination or harassment, employers must ensure that workers aren't retaliated against for raising these issues. Otherwise, businesses may face legal liability even when the underlying claim isn't proven.
Under federal and state laws, job applicants and employees have the right to work free from discrimination based on age, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex and other protected characteristics. Employers also may not punish workers for asserting their right to be free from employment discrimination. That's considered retaliation.
Workplace retaliation can take on many forms, as the legal threshold for what constitutes a retaliatory act is very low, said Christopher Moore, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in New Orleans.
Additionally, the alleged protected activity—such as filing a discrimination complaint—often happens close in time to the employment action—such as a termination or poor performance review—which makes juries perceive a connection between the two events, Moore said.
"HR professionals can never ensure that retaliation does not occur, but businesses and entities can take steps to reduce its likelihood," noted Matthew McNicholas, an attorney with McNicholas & McNicholas in Los Angeles.
Know What Constitutes Retaliation
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it is unlawful to retaliate against job applicants or employees for:
Filing or being a witness in an equal employment opportunity (EEO) charge, complaint, investigation or lawsuit.
Discussing employment discrimination with a supervisor or manager.
Answering questions during an employer investigation of alleged harassment.
Refusing to follow directions from a supervisor that would result in discrimination.
Resisting sexual advances or intervening to protect others.
Requesting a disability or religious accommodation.
Asking managers or co-workers about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages.
The list is not exhaustive. "Other acts to oppose discrimination are protected as long as the employee was acting on a reasonable belief that something in the workplace may violate EEO laws, even if he or she did not use legal terminology to describe it," according to the EEOC.
[SHRM members-only toolkit: Managing Equal Employment Opportunity]
Retaliatory acts include giving an employee a lower performance evaluation than merited, transferring an employee to a less desirable position because of a complaint or changing an employee's work schedule to times that conflict with family obligations.
Employers should ensure their incentive programs don't unintentionally encourage retaliatory action. For example, if a manager's performance is measured by the sales numbers of his or her subordinates, that manager can suffer personal financial detriment when employees take leave, McNicholas said. This creates an incentive to keep people from taking time off and might lead to retaliation or perceived retaliation when employees take job-protected leave.
Additionally, there are some benefits to tracking employee data about issues like unexcused absenteeism, but employers have to look beyond the numbers. Perhaps workers are getting sick or otherwise absent from the workplace because of a hostile work environment, McNicholas noted.
"Creating and promoting a culture of compliance and nonretaliation is important," Moore said. HR policies should say more than, "We don't retaliate." Company policies should actively encourage employees to come forward, and HR professionals and supervisors should be trained to promote these policies to employees each time there is a complaint or investigation, he added.
Create a Hotline
Creating an employee complaint hotline is one effective way for an employer to minimize exposure to retaliation claims, Moore said. Many of these hotlines give the employee the ability to complain anonymously, which can allow employers to solve problems quickly and with minimal disruption.
"I've seen serious issues solved through these channels before a supervisor ever has a chance to retaliate," he said.
"When an employer receives a retaliation claim, there are myriad steps necessary to respond," Moore noted. For example, employers should:
Preserve evidence. Save e-mails, personnel files and other documents that can allow you to tell your side of the story and back it up with concrete proof.
Assess whether additional retaliation might occur. For instance, if the complaining employee is still employed, steps should be taken to minimize further retaliatory action.
Investigate the claim. Depending on the situation, an internal investigation or one conducted by outside counsel may be appropriate.
Employers should also carefully consider their response. Common mistakes employers make in response to such claims or charges are that they:
Leave out details and facts.
Submit erroneous information.
Justify the challenged employment decision on an incomplete or incorrect understanding of the facts.
"These mistakes are often fatal to the employer's chances to prevail in a retaliation case, since counsel for employees will exploit these mistakes to show that the employer is not telling the truth," Moore said.
HR should be trained to recognize situations when retaliation is likely and take swift action to prevent it, such as separating supervisors and subordinates when the situation calls for it, or requiring additional approvals for actions taken by supervisors who have been accused of wrongful conduct, he added.
How Diversity Can Drive Your Organization Forward
Presenters: Rusty Lindquist, BambooHR; and Michelle Reed, SkillSurvey
View live: March 29 2018, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT (available for on-demand viewing through July 2018)
Organizations recognize how important diversity is, and most spend a lot of time talking about it. But those conversations (and most diversity initiatives) revolve almost entirely around race and gender, only two components of a much larger spectrum.
In this program, Rusty Lindquist of BambooHR and Michelle Reed of SkillSurvey take a broader look at diversity -- diversity of opinion, skill, experience and more. They will talk about the role this kind of diversity has in organizational health and market success. We’ll talk about what you can do to encourage, architect and accommodate diversity. They also discuss biases, the most common cause of diversification difficulties.
Our organizations need us to begin to think more holistically, to drive toward larger outcomes, and to help insulate ourselves against risk. Join this webinar and come away with a new perspective on diversity and practical, immediate approaches to start achieving it.
About the Presenters: Rusty Lindquist is the vice president of thought leadership at BambooHR where he speaks, writes and teaches about how to elevate HR and increase employee value. He's focused on setting HR free to do the work their organizations really need from them: things like culture, engagement, performance, recruiting, retention, as well as building influence, and being more strategic
Michelle Reed is the chief marketing officer at SkillSurvey. She is responsible for the development, oversight and execution of SkillSurvey’s overall marketing strategy, leading a talented team of dedicated marketing professionals to drive the company’s market positioning, demand generation, thought leadership and integrated marketing programs. She also works closely with product management, engineering, customer and partners to serve SkillSurvey’s clients’ needs and earn recognition for the company’s solutions. Reed has also held roles in software development, product management, communications, college recruiting and human resources.