Unconscious bias seems to be the root cause of everything ugly that is happening in the world today. It appears that the only way to stop what is happening is by stopping for a minute and asking ourselves, what are we thinking and why?
What is Unconscious Bias?
Unconscious bias refers to a preference that we are unaware of or, in some cases, only slightly aware. It seems to be outside of our control. It is a bias that happens automatically. It is triggered by our brain, making quick judgments of people and situations influenced by our background, cultural environment, and personal experiences.
Why do we, as Human Resource professionals, need to check our own Unconscious Bias?
Everyone, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, gender, LBGT, etc. carries with them the unconscious bias that they grew up with. They did not have it at birth, but from the minute you are born, it begins to plant seeds in your brain of how you view the world. You may have had a nurse that was particularly kind to you on your first day of birth or a teacher in the third grade that was particularly cruel that planted the seed in your brain about an entire race of people. Unconscious bias is real. It is generational, and deep, regardless of whether it is pain, discrimination, fear, love, hate, ugly or beautiful. It is learned. But at some point, it is up to you.
Once we recognize our own unconscious bias, we all have life stories to tell that shape who we are today, and that is not what this article is about. Maybe at a different time. This article is about dealing with those life experiences and changing the world to a better place to be.
As Human Resources professionals, we have a duty to bring in the best and brightest applicants for our management team to interview. We are responsible for a workplace free from harassment and discrimination. We have to make sure that wages are paid fairly and adequately, that leaves of absence or granted equally, and that we have a safe work environment. How do we do this if we are not aware of our own biases?
Unconscious bias will influence your workplace decisions. If left unchecked, unconscious biases will create an unhealthy work environment and lead to discriminatory behavior.
What can we do?
-Recognize and admit your own unconscious bias
-Recognize that it may be more powerful than you think it is-
-Do an honest moral and ethical inventory of what unconscious bias does
-Become aware of it in yourself and raise awareness in others
-Address Unconscious Bias
-Recognize how your biases can influence workplace decisions and interactions
-Recognize how recognizing your biases can help you make more informed decisions
-Continuing your education – the more you know about people different from you, the more you will understand bias. I am not saying you have to like those people, but try to look at it through their bias, then decide if this is someone you want in your life.
Once you acknowledge your own biases, you will be able to see how the relationship between unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion, and preventing discrimination all work together.
HR Professionals have a fantastic opportunity to model positive behavior. Changing unconscious bias takes a personal willingness to examine one’s own assumptions.
Jennifer Eberhardt, a Stanford Psychologist, has studied unconscious racial bias for years. “We could practice adding friction to our own lives,” Eberhardt says, “by interrogating ourselves and slowing ourselves down … just being aware when we’re beginning to make stereotypic associations.” As she concludes in her book, Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do, “There is hope in the sheer act of reflection.
In my role as Human Resources Consultant, one of the first of many simple mistakes I find with my clients and students is the simple process of using an Employee Change of Status form. They forget that they gave a raise in pay to an employee or mailed something to the wrong address. In some cases, they have even prepared checks for employees that no longer work in their employ.
Many employers use multiple forms such as Vacation Request forms, Leave of Absence form, Pay Rate Change form, Job Change form, Address Change form, etc. While those forms work, they are not efficient. A good Employee Change of Status Form will include all of those potential changes and more.
In some states, including California, the Employee Change of Status Form is required by law.
The Employee Change of Status Form is an excellent communication tool for the employer, employee, payroll, supervisor, or senior management. It can be used online or on paper. It can be used by the employer, the employee, and anyone with a "need to know." It allows everyone that needs to know what the change in the employee's status is, whether on vacation, changing address, or rates of pay.
It also allows for proper approval or acknowledgment signatures by those that are accountable for the processing of the change or those that must approve the change and, of course, the person that the change effects.
The purpose of the Employee Change of Status Form is to collect historical documentation and communication information. All Employee Change of Status Forms must include the employee's name, department if applicable, job title, effective date, date it was prepared and signed, and the change of status.
Last night, in the PHR California Exam Preparation class, we discussed safety and risk management. Getting a little off topic as we sometimes do, we predicted some changes coming to the current mandatory Injury Illness Prevention Programs in California due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
Just today we learned that on May 14th interim guidance was established. It does not impose new legal obligations. It provides employers and workers with information for preventing exposure to the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19. Employers and employees should review their own health and safety procedures as well as the OSHA recommendations to ensure workers are protected.
Here is the information from the OSHA Website.
Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP)
California employers are required to establish and implement an IIPP (title 8 section 3203) to protect employees from workplace hazards, including infectious diseases. Employers are required to determine if COVID-19 infection is a hazard in their workplace. If it is a workplace hazard, then employers must implement infection control measures, including applicable and relevant recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
19): How to Protect Yourself & Others. For most California workplaces, adopting changes to their IIPP is mandatory since COVID-19 is widespread in the community.
Establish Infection Prevention Measures
Include the following infection prevention measures in a written IIPP when applicable to the workplace:
CDC recommends that the general public not use surgical masks or N-95 respirators, so that these critical supplies are available to health care workers and first responders.
For employers in industries such as retail sales or service industries, to protect those employees with frequent contact with the public, arrange work and implement measures that account for the possibility that the public is a possible contamination source, including:
Provide Employee Training
Provide training in a language that is readily understandable by all employees on the following topics:
Regardless of COVID-19 risk, all employers must provide washing facilities that have an adequate supply of suitable cleansing agents, water, and single-use towels or blowers (title 8 sections 1527, 3366, 3457 and 8397.4).
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Title 8 section 3380 Personal Protective Devices requires employers to conduct a hazard assessment to determine if any PPE is needed to protect employees from hazards that are present or are likely to be present in the workplace, including health hazards. Employers must select and provide employees with properly fitting and sanitary PPE that will effectively protect them against these hazards. Employers must also ensure the appropriate PPE is provided to and used by employees who use cleaners and disinfectants.
Current CDC guidelines do not recommend that the general public wear respirators or masks to protect against COVID-19. Consistent with CDC guidelines, and in light of current respirator and surgical mask shortages and their prioritization for health care workers, Cal/OSHA is not recommending respirators or masks for most workers at this time.
Sharing a Must Read Article by one of our alliance partners - California Employers Association
1. What do I do if my employees don't want to come back to work?
It depends on why they are not coming back to work. If the employee refuses with no explanation or reason, ask the employee for a reason. If none is given, then the employee is voluntarily separating from employment or terminated (refer to your policy). However, if the employee or a family member has a health-related issue impacting their ability to return, you must determine if the employee is protected under applicable law (i.e. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), injury or illness, Emergency Family Medical Leave, Emergency Paid Sick Leave) requiring a leave of absence or other forms of reasonable accommodation. If there is a child care related issue also look at the new emergency leaves as well as school activities leave.
2. What if my employee doesn't want to return to work because they are earning more money on Unemployment Insurance?
Some workers don't want to return to work because they're earning more money on enhanced unemployment benefits than when they were working for your company. Notify your employees in writing that there is work available and the effective date that work is available. Any refusal to return to available work should be documented, and employers can inform employees that a refusal to return is a voluntary resignation. Document that you offered the employee an opportunity to return to work and that this offer was rejected. Getting an employee's refusal in writing via text or email is also highly recommended. Process the Notice of Change in Relationship as you would any other separation from employment — noting either resignation or termination.
3. What if my employee says they are afraid to return to work?
Fear of the virus is on the mind of most employees being called back to work. People might say, "I'm afraid I will get sick at work and bring it home to my family." In the notice to employees that there is work available, employers should outline all actions being taken to comply with federal, state, and local laws to ensure a safe and healthy workplace such as cleaning protocol, staggered shifts, social distancing, etc. And make sure that you have met all those safety requirements. Check your local city and county COVID-19 resource pages, as well as CDC and Cal-OSHA for guidance. Tell your employees additional training on these protocols will be implemented on their return.
4. What if my employee says that they are "immunocompromised"?
When an employee tells you that they are not willing to come back to work because they are immunocompromised you should now begin going through the ADA/FEHA process to determine what accommodations are needed to allow them to return to work safely. Request a doctor's note outlining any limitations and proposed accommodations such as providing the employee with a special mask, allowing the employee to work remotely or putting the employee on a leave of absence.
5. Am I allowed to take my employee's temperature?
Yes. Employers are allowed to ask about coronavirus-related symptoms and take the temperatures of employees under guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC also permits employers to mandate that employees be tested for the virus before entering work under certain circumstances. Use caution when mandating testing as it is not always available — a release from an employee's doctor may suffice.
If temperature taking at the workplace is mandated, the time spent being tested and waiting for a test is considered part of the workday. Reminder, those records are confidential medical records that should be maintained so that only those with a legitimate right of access can see those files.
6. Should I require my employees to wear a mask?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that individuals wear face masks "to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others." And many employers are making face coverings part of the work uniform for jobs that require physical proximity and for jobs in counties that have mandatory face mask requirements.
If you are requiring employees to wear face masks, as a best practice decision or because required by a state or local law, you should provide the masks or reimburse employees for the cost.
Again, check your local ordinance. For example, both Los Angeles and Sonoma County require masks and require employers to pick up the cost of masks for employees.
Some executive orders that do not expressly call for employees to wear face masks still require employers to take a range of precautionary measures to protect personnel who are required to work onsite because the employer falls within a critical infrastructure sector exempt from stay-at-home orders or to maintain minimal business operations (such as payroll, or essential functions that support the rest of the workforce in teleworking).
7. What happens if an employee returns to work and they (or someone in their family) get sick?
Employers need to understand the Families First Coronavirus Response act which provides paid sick leave for people affected by COVID-19. Smaller employers (under 50 employees) need to understand their ability to be exempt from some of the paid emergency family leave requirements. You can find more information here.
If you're a CEA Member, take advantage of our Returning to Work Tool Kit! Our HR Directors compiled several resources to help employers make a smooth transition as they bring back their workforce.
Non-members can purchase this resource from the CEA store for a limited time.
E-Verify is extending the timeframe to take action to resolve Social Security Administration (SSA) Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs) due to SSA office closures to the public. E-Verify is also extending the timeframe to take action to resolve Department of Homeland Security (DHS) TNCs in limited circumstances when an employee cannot resolve a TNC due to public or private office closures.
IMPORTANT: You must notify your employee about their TNC result as soon as possible. After your employee is notified of their TNC and decides whether to take action to resolve the TNC, the employee should acknowledge the decision on the Further Action Notice, and the employer should notify E-Verify of their employee’s decision. Employees who choose to take action to resolve a TNC are referred to SSA and/or DHS. Employers may not take any adverse action against an employee because the E-Verify case is in an interim case status, including while the employee’s case is in an extended interim case status.
We have implemented the following policies to minimize the burden on both employers and employees:
E-Verify Contact Center representatives are still available. Employers will still be able to access their E-Verify accounts and:
Please visit the Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security .
For information on Social Security Administration operating status please visit ssa.gov/coronavirus.
Public figures are being publicly revealed for their years of sexual harassment in the entertainment and sports industries, and on the political arena. As sad as all this publicity is, thankfully, most of us are not in those industries. Yet, no matter the industry, we still unnecessarily deal with harassment and discrimination.
THE GOOD NEWS FOR EMPLOYERS
There is a process for employers that will prevent or at least minimize all forms of harassment and discrimination. Here are seven elements of how to create a workplace that has little or no harassment. Doing just one of the items will not work. To stop harassment, all seven of the elements must be present in the organization.
1. Zero Tolerance Anti-harassment Prevention Policy. The first thing, the foundation, the start, is for the organization to have a well-crafted, zero tolerance, sexual harassment prevention, and respect in the workplace policy. Make sure, regardless of if the policy is written by an attorney or your Human Resources department, it contains:
a. A statement that sexual harassment is against the law.
b. A statement that the employer will not tolerate harassment.
c. Potential consequences for harassment.
d. Obligation to report harassment to a supervisor, any senior management, or the Human Resources department with the H.R. Department's contact person's name, phone number, and email.
e. The commitment that the employer will take prompt and appropriate disciplinary action against anyone who violates the policy.
f. A definition of harassment.
g. Examples of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment.
h. Directions on how to contact the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
i. The investigation procedures.
j. Due process.
k. The limited confidentiality in an investigation.
l. Assurance that there will be no retaliation.
m. What to do if you are harassed.
n. What to do if you are accused of harassment.
o. What to do if you know of someone else being harassed.
p. Anti-bullying/abusive conduct.
q. Gender definitions.
r. Unconscious Bias
s. Systemic harassment
Many attorneys, HR consultants, and HR service providers will write good policies, but others have a standard template, so make sure the policy you use applies to the rules of your organization.
Zero tolerance means that all reports of harassment will be investigated quickly and thoroughly. That anyone, no matter how high up in the organization, will be disciplined if they are found to have sexually harassed a subordinate, co-worker, applicant, customer, intern, volunteer or vendor. Disciplined might mean one-on-one coaching with a sexual harassment prevention coach. It might involve transferring the harasser to another position, possibly a demotion with a last chance agreement that they understand what they did and that it will never happen again and that if it does, they will be fired. Depending on the severity of the offense, it may mean immediate termination. Zero tolerance means that all reports of sexual harassment will be taken seriously and that the sexual harassment will never happen again, regardless of the way it is remedied.
2. The President/CEO/Board of Directors/Executive Team as Role Models – The buck stops here. The president must be ethical and an excellent business strategist, in which case a solid policy will be in place from the onset of the business as a matter of operations and a condition of employment. If the president or any member of the executive team is a harasser, that leaves the only option for the victim is legal action. They can begin at the California Department Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Or an attorney can request a right to sue letter from the EEOC so they can immediately begin a lawsuit. It’s highly likely that the attorney will take the case on contingency if they think they have a good case.
3. Well-delivered Training – Organizations need to provide interactive, engaging training programs to all employees at least once each year and at new hire orientation, (California requires training every other year, but this article is not about the law. It is about how to maintain a workplace free from sexual harassment). The training must include an explanation of the company policy with all the details listed in the anti-harassment prevention policy. It must ask questions of the students that assess their learning, and it must allow students to ask questions. Training needs to be provided to everyone regardless of the title.
Supervisors need to be trained on prevention and their personal liability and responsibility, which is significantly different from line employees. Well-trained supervisors are critical in preventing and stopping harassment but they can’t do it alone.
Employees need to be trained on what to do if harassment is happening in the organization. Training will make for more productive employees and a bigger bottom line.
4. Enforcement – No one gets a pass. Many people don't know that what they’re doing is not acceptable behavior at work. Enforcing the policy not only protects the victim, but it teaches the harasser and all employees what inappropriate behavior at work is and that it will not be tolerated. Termination is not the only option…depending on the severity of the offense. Enforcement means that you will take immediate, appropriate, corrective action. Immediate means right now…not in two weeks. Corrective means make it stop and do whatever needs to be done to restore the victim's dignity. Appropriate is where we get into trouble. The punishment must fit the crime. It may mean further training, or it may mean the termination of employment. It may also mean legal action. In California, sexual harassers, as well as the organization, can be personally sued.
5. A Qualified H.R. Practitioner - Melissa Gilbert said on the Megyn Kelly show, "H.R. has no teeth." Numerous T.V. personalities have said the same thing. I am tired of lumping all H.R. professionals in the same basket. Let’s put the blame where the blame belongs. SHAME on the entertainment industry for hiring unqualified Human Resources people!
A great Human Resources professional can make a significant impact on the success of the organization – not just in sexual harassment prevention, but also in productivity, bottom-line results, and creating a culture of respect and civility.
How do you know if you have a qualified Human Resources person? Along with experience and education, there are several competencies that you can look for: accredited certification such as Professional in Human Resources California (PHRca) certification by the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) that indicates H.R. technical expertise, relationship management, consultation skills, leadership skills, communication skills, culture skills, ethics, business acumen, ability to interpret critical information and budget/financial knowledge as well as specializing in California Human Resources. Qualified H.R. professionals don't come cheap, but they are worth every dollar.
Your H.R. Manager must be able to do a proper investigation. They should, along with their Professional Human Resources certification, be trained in proper investigations. They should also be a subject matter expert in the prevention of harassment and discrimination.
6. Proper Investigations – Everyone deserves due process. No two sexual harassment cases are the same. Sexual harassment can be a hostile work environment or Quid Pro Quo. While they are both about the power to degrade and creating a situation that causes a person not to be successful at their job, each case is different, and the facts must be found. Only through an investigation where the H.R. manager, the EEOC, an attorney, or a private investigator gathers the facts can a determination be made as to whether it is sexual harassment, or something else, and on how to handle the harasser and restore the victim's well-being.
7. Culture of Productivity, Respect, and Civility – We, at Train Me Today, have trained thousands of people in sexual harassment prevention. Part of our training asks this question: "Sexual harassment has been against the law since 1980 in the U.S., so why do people still behave badly at work?" The overwhelming responses are:
a) It is tolerated – no one stops it (Systemic).
b) They don't realize it is inappropriate, It iss their culture. (Implicit Bias).
It is for these reasons that the organization must create its own culture. It must create a culture that does not allow such things as profanity, disrespect, bursts of anger, and any form of behavior that makes others feel degraded or put them down including any form of harassment or abusive behavior. To do this, we circle back to step one, the zero-tolerance policy, and make sure these elements are active in the organization. If things have gotten out of control, find a professional change agent.
While powerhouse celebrities, sports figures, and politicians are being picked off one by one for their unwanted deeds, we regular people still need to take a stand against harassment in the workplace. Celebrity victims are helping us build an Army, exposing harassers and giving us the power to speak up. And speak up, we must.
After 35 years as a Human Resources practitioner and University Professor, Jacquelyn Thorp launched Train Me Today in 2003. Today, she manages Train Me Today providing employment for 11 trainers and staff. She is the recipient of the Professional in Human Resources Association (PIHRA) Excellence in Human Resources Award. She has been trained by the DFEH and the Federal EEOC in sexual harassment prevention. Jacquelyn holds a Master of Science in Human Resources, Senior Professional in Human Resources certification (SPHR) and a Professional in Human Resources California (PHRca) certification.
Jacquelyn began providing sexual harassment prevention training in 1980. Since then the world has changed. Founded in 2003, by Jacquelyn Thorp, for the specific purpose of providing quality sexual harassment prevention training, Train Me Today remains passionate about presenting effective and highly engaging instructor lead training that leaves a positive impact on the students and provides knowledge and skills they can apply immediately. We have trained thousands of employees in hundreds of organizations throughout California including government and private industries. As the creators of the Professional in Human resources California exam Preparation Study Guide, which focuses on Human Resource practices in California, our knowledge of how to practice Human Resources in California can’t be surpassed. Our trainers are subject matter experts in the field of Human Resources We are credentialed certified and experienced in the Hum Resources body of knowledge specializing in sexual harassment prevention.
“A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear.” Herb Kelleher
Leading with Love
by Jacquelyn Thorp, MSHR, SPHR, PHRca
Valentine's Day is a day to show love to your significant other. It is also a day to think about what love is.
When Herb Kelleher and his team first launched Southwest Airlines, they wanted it to be a different kind of company. They wanted it to be a company that was lead with love.
Today, unlike every other major carrier, Southwest Airlines has never filed bankruptcy. It has never sacked employees with layoffs, furloughs or pay cuts. It is also the airline with the fewest complaints -- just 0.25 per 100,000 passengers last year, according to the Department of Transportation.
There are plenty of theories as to how Southwest succeeds where most other carriers fail. But Gary Kelly, who has been CEO since 2004, says it comes down to love.
We spend more time with the people at work than we do our families. Maybe Valentine’s Day should include a moment to think about what love at work looks like to you. To me, it looks like a workplace where people are respected and trusted regardless of their position.
To learn more, please tell us what love looks like to you in the workplace. Then take $10 off any Train Me Today product with coupon code.
By Jacquelyn Thorp, MSHR, SPHR, PHRca
With politics so controversial, political affiliation discrimination is on the rise.
California Labor Code sections 1101 and 1102 prevent private employers from controlling or attempting to restrict employees from participating in political actions or activities. Federal law does not cover political affiliation or political activity
At a job interview an appllicant is asked if they are a member of a conservation organisztion. When they say no, the interviewer abruptly ends the discussion and tells the applicant that all employees must share the beliefs of the employer.
The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 includes some general exceptions. This means that discrimination may not be against the law in particular circumstances.
An employer may also discriminate on the basis of political belief or activity where the job being offered is as a political adviser for a government minister or work for a political party, electorate office or any similar employment.
By Jacquelyn Thorp
California requires all employers with 5 or more employees to be trained in anti-harassment practices. The requirements include two-hours for supervisors and one-hour for employees every two years to be presented by a qualified trainer.
The law, SB 1343, has very specific content that must be presented to employees. Failure to provide the training results in significant penalties and mandated changes in policies and practices.
The training may be completed by employees individually or as part of a group presentation. Training is due by January 1, 2021 and thereafter every two years.
The training and education must include information and practical guidance regarding the federal and state statutory provisions concerning the prohibition against and the prevention and correction of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in employment.
The training and education shall also include practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, and shall be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Employees who have completed the training can save electronically and print a certificate of completion.(b) An employer shall also include prevention of abusive conduct as well as gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation as a component of the training and education,
The training and education shall include practical examples inclusive of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, and shall be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in those areas.
By Jacquelyn Thorp, MSHR, SPHR, PHRca
Usually, I wouldn't even get into this question, but there seems to be a bit of confusion, and if a question comes up more than three times, I start digging. As we sometimes see in California law, there appear to be conflicting rules.
The Question: The question that keeps appearing before me is, "What do I do with an employee that is vomiting or has diarrhea if I work in the restaurant industry or food preparation industry?"
The Conflict: The employee is sick in California. California has a Sick Leave law. The sick leave law has rules about asking for a doctor's note. California's Paid Sick Leave law states that it may be unlawful for an employer to require doctors' notes if it interferes with an employee's statutory right to the leave. Hmmm, even at the risk of spreading a foodborne illness?
The Source: So, I began my search with the FDA, who referred me to the California Retail Food Code Article 3 Employee Health:
"It is the intent of the Legislature to reduce the likelihood of foodborne disease transmission by preventing any food employee who is suffering from symptoms associated with an acute gastrointestinal illness, or known to be infected with a communicable disease transmissible through food, from engaging in the handling of food until the food employee is determined to be free of that illness or disease, or incapable of transmitting the illness or disease through food as specified in this article."
The Answer: If you work in the restaurant industry and you have an employee that is vomiting or showing signs of diarrhea or any transferrable disease send them home and don't let them return until they can provide you with a note from a health care professional that states that they are "determined to be free of that illness or diseases, or incapable of transmitting the illness or disease through food".
By Jacquelyn Thorp, MSHR, SPHR, PHRca
Employee non-compete agreements are legal in California in only limited circumstances. California is one of the most difficult states in which to enforce a non-competition or related agreement. The crucial general rule is that every contract in which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade or business of any kind is to that extent void. Not hiring someone for refusal to sign such an agreement is illegal.
The three main types of restrictions are (1) a true non-compete where an employee can never work for a competing company, (2) a non-solicitation of customers restriction, (3) and non-solicitation of employee’s restriction. This does not mean a “non-compete being illegal” implies that California employees are free to damage a past employer. It simply means that employees in California have the right to engage in their lawful profession, trade or business.
California law strongly favors the mobility of labor (i.e., the “right to earn a living”). A non-competition agreement is an agreement by one party not to compete with the business of another party (e.g., by opening or becoming employed by a competing business), typically limited to a specific time period after the employment ends or to a specific geographic area. Absent one of the few exceptions discussed below, non-competition agreements are nearly always void in California.
By Jacquelyn Thorp, MSHR, SPHR, PHRca
With all the publicity in the media right now, please remember there are varying types of sexual harassment, with the 2 most prominent being Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Work Environment.
Quid Pro Quo
The current news articles are about Quid Pro Quo - power to impact someone's life when an authority figure offers or merely hints that he or she will give the employee something (a raise or a promotion) in return for that employee's satisfaction of a sexual demand.
Hostile Work Environment
The other one is a hostile work environment which should not be dismissed. It is a type of sexual harassment that occurs when there is frequent or pervasive unwanted sexual comments, jokes, profanity, advances, requests, or other similar conduct not from a person of power but allowed by the organization. It can also occur when there is other verbal or physical conduct that is sexual in nature. Most people are surprised to learn about hostile work environment and all the ways that can be offensive.
Best hint to avoid it: If what you do at work is not productive and work related, just don't do it. Quick example: Don't refer to co-workers as Sweetheart or Honey. Why? If you are a male, would you call your male co-workers Sweetheart or Honey? And if you answered "no", that is what makes a simple comment potential sex discrimination...because you treat your co-workers different based on gender.
ABOUT THE HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®) PHRca® EXAM
The HRCI’s PHRca® Exam content outline is updated periodically (approximately every five years) to ensure it is consistent with current practices in the California HR field.
The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) granted accreditation to the HR Certification Institute's PHR, SPHR, GPHR, and California Certification programs for demonstrating compliance with the NCCA Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. NCCA is the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (formerly the National Organization for Competency Assurance).
The NCCA Standards were created in 1977 and updated in 2003 to ensure certification programs adhere to modern standards of practice for the certification industry. The HR Certification Institute is part of an elite group of approximately 100 organizations representing over 250 programs that have received and maintained NCCA accreditation.
The exam is based on four functional areas that have the below weights.
· Compensation/Wage and Hour 22%
· Employment and Employee Relations 46%
· Benefits and Leaves of Absence 20%
· Health, Safety, and Workers’ Compensation 12%
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TMT collects personal information in the following ways from different parts of its website(s):
Registration: You may be asked for personal information when registering for specific services. For example, if you subscribe to an e-mail newsletter, you will be asked to provide your e-mail address.
Online Purchases: We also ask for personal information when you make a purchase using the online store or when you subscribe to a TMT publication through our website. The number and variety of useful services on TMT that may require the collection of personally identifiable information will continue to grow in the future.
2. What are “cookies” and how does TMT use them?
3. What organization collects the information and who has access to it?
Data collected through TMT’s website(s) is generally collected and maintained solely by TMT.
Personally identifiable information. When you provide personally identifiable information on TMT to register for a service, buy a product, or take advantage of a promotion, that information is collected and maintained solely by TMT, unless expressly stated otherwise at the point of collection. If you purchase a product or service that is shipped or performed by an outside company, and you do not wish to share this information, you are electing to share this information with that third party.
4. How does TMT use the information it collects?
TMT collects information to provide you with the services you request and to improve our website(s). TMT also uses this aggregate, anonymous data to perform statistical analyses of the collective characteristics and behavior of our site visitors, to measure user interests regarding specific areas of TMT, and to analyze how and where best to use our resources. Without such data, we would not know which parts of TMT are the most popular, and we would not be able to change and update the content and services appropriately. TMT may be required by law enforcement or judicial authorities to provide information on individual users to the appropriate governmental authorities. In matters involving a danger to personal or public safety, TMT may voluntarily provide information to relevant regulatory authorities.
6. What kinds of security procedures are in place to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of your information?
TMT has security measures, such as firewalls, in place to protect against the loss, misuse, and alteration of your user data under our control. While we cannot guarantee that loss, misuse, or alteration to data will not occur, we take reasonable precautions to prevent such unfortunate occurrences. Any other particularly sensitive information, such as your credit card number, collected for a commerce transaction is encrypted before transmission.
WHO WE ARE
Our website address is https://www.trainmetoday.org.
WHAT PERSONAL DATA WE COLLECT AND WHY WE COLLECT IT
If you leave a contact form on our site, you may opt-in to saving your name, e-mail address, and website in cookies. These cookies will last for one year.
If you visit our login page, we will set a temporary cookie to determine if your browser accepts cookies. This cookie contains no personal data and is discarded when you close your browser.
When you log in, we will also set up several cookies to save your login information and your screen display choices. Login cookies last for two days, and screen options cookies last for a year. If you select “Remember Me,” your login will persist for two weeks. If you log out of your account, the login cookies will be removed.
CALIFORNIA PRIVACY RIGHTS
As a customer of TMT please know that we do not share your information with anyone that is not an employee of Train Me Today unless it is to purchase an exam from HRCI or materials from HRCP.
Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or
Send mail to: Train Me Today, 5151 California Avenue, Irvine, CA 92617 or
With all of the publicity about sexual harassment in organizations, Human Resource practitioners must know how to do a proper investigation and understand how critical their timeliness and approach are. I recently received a call from an attorney asking me to help with an investigation. I have to explain to the attorney that under the Private Investigations Act, I could help the attorney, but that I could not do the investigation for the employer. You see, HR consultants are not considered qualified investigators. Attorneys, Private Investigators and onsite trained Human Resource practitioners are.
California Business & Professions Code
There are essential restrictions on who can legally conduct a workplace investigation in California. If the investigation isn’t to be conducted by a W-2 employee who is trained to perform investigations, there are clear restrictions on who an employer can turn. A practicing attorney who normally performs this type of work can be retained to conduct the investigation, as can a licensed private investigator or, with a few restrictions, an off-duty, currently sworn peace officer. Beyond that, pickings can get a bit slim. In the past, not so much today, HR Consultants would perform this work in California. Today, without a private investigator’s license, they would be performing these activities illegally.
California Private Investigator Act
Under the California Private Investigators Act (PIA), a private investigator is
(a) any person who, for any consideration whatsoever engages in business or accepts employment to furnish, or agrees to make, or makes, any investigation for the purpose of obtaining, information concerning:
(b) The identity, habits, conduct, business, occupation, honesty, knowledge, whereabouts, associations, acts, reputation, or character of any person;
(c) The location of lost or stolen property;
(d) The cause or responsibility for fires, libels, losses, accidents, or damage or injury; (e) Securing evidence to be used before any court. Private Investigators must be licensed by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS), which is part of the Department of Consumer Affairs.
To obtain a license, an investigator must submit an application, pay a fee, possess specific experience requirements, and pass an examination--and once the license is granted, it must be renewed periodically. Unlicensed persons (not including those considered exempt under the PIA) who represent themselves as licensed or act as private investigators are committing a misdemeanor and may be jailed for up to one year and fined $5,000.
In addition, anyone, including a lawyer who “knowingly” engages an unlicensed investigator or who conspires to have an unlicensed person operate as an investigator also commits a misdemeanor with the same penalties. Public prosecutors may seek civil remedies against unlicensed investigators, their co-conspirators, and anyone who knowingly engages such investigators. The civil remedies include an injunction (for which prosecutors need not "show lack of adequate remedy at law or irreparable injury"), a civil fine of up to $10,000, and reimbursement of BSIS investigation expenses.
The PIA does not contain a private right of action for licensing violations. However, private parties might have a least three indirect remedies. First, a licensing violation would be an “unlawful business act or practice” under the Unfair Competition Law, which generally affords private parties equitable relief, including an injunction and, if appropriate, restitution. Second, an aggrieved litigant might move to exclude evidence gathered by an unlicensed investigator. Third, a person who contracts with an unlicensed investigator might seek to avoid paying the investigator's fees on the ground that the contract is illegal.
May a licensed investigator employ or contract with unlicensed persons to perform investigative tasks? The answer appears to be a qualified yes. Under the PIA, a licensee may be an individual, partnership, corporation, or other business. If the licensee is a partnership, corporation, or other business, it must designate a licensed "manager," under whose "direction, control, charge, or management the business...is operated." The individual or manager licensee is "legally responsible for the good conduct...of his or her employees or agents...," and only the licensee, manager, or other person authorized by them may submit a "written report...to a client." Also, employees (though, apparently, not agents) of licensed investigators may provide the "incidental" personal protection.
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