Tag Archives: Employers

iphone

New App for HR Professionals

Fisher & Phillips LLP announced that it has developed a Smartphone and Tablet app that allows employers to calculate certain FMLA leaves of absence. The Beta FMLA Leave Calculator app will allow human resource professionals and other managers to calculate basic leave requests and determine how much FMLA leave an employee has available. This Beta version of the iPhone and Android app was introduced during the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago June 16-19.

Fisher & Phillips Chairman and Managing Partner Roger Quillen said: “The FMLA is a complicated law and FMLA leave calculations can be challenging for employers. Our attorneys frequently field questions about calculating FMLA leave. This new app is a free tool we’re providing to anyone to help them with basic FMLA leave requests. The Beta version covers requests for leave for employees working a standard 40-hour work week. The next version will cover more complicated situations such as employees working reduced work weeks. We’re very excited about introducing the app for the first time to the SHRM members attending the national conference in Chicago.”

Quillen added that the firm is eager to receive feedback from the SHRM members who test the new app. The app will provide an easy way for users to call or email the firm with comments and suggestions.

How the app works

The app offers a user-friendly interface and works very simply utilizing the rolling 12-month method measured backwards from the date of any FMLA leave.

• Enter the number of FMLA leave days the employee is requesting
• Enter the number of days of FMLA leave the employee has already used
• Enter the start date of the requested leave
• Indicate the days of the week the employee works
• Click “Calculate Now!”

The app then reports:

• Number of days of FMLA leave available
• When the employee should return to work based on the new leave request
• How much leave the employee has remaining after the current leave request is completed; if leave has been exhausted at the time of this request, it will indicate such

The HR professional or other manager using the app can then email the information directly to the employee who requested the leave. Of course, further documentation to the employee should be provided as required by the FMLA.

How to get the app

The Fisher & Phillips FMLA Leave app can be downloaded at the Apple App Store or Google Play. On the Apple App Store or Google Play search for “Fisher & Phillips.” You can also visit www.laborlawyers.com/FMLALeaveApp to get the app.

Fisher & Phillips attorneys and marketing professionals worked with developers at Saturno Design to create the new app.

law.courts

Determining Supervisory Status in Harassment Cases

In a season filled with many highly-anticipated rulings from the Supreme Court, one that warrants particular attention by Arizona employers is its June 24, 2013 decision in Vance v. Ball State University, in which the Court clarified the circumstances under which employers will be held strictly (i.e., automatically) liable for harassment by supervisors.

According to previous Supreme Court rulings, employers could be held automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor if the harassment culminated in a “tangible” employment action.  If, however, the harasser was not the victim’s supervisor, but instead merely a co-worker, then the employer only could be held liable if it was negligent in controlling working conditions.

It was under this 15-year old legal precedent that a federal court in Indiana considered Maetta Vance’s lawsuit.  Vance, an African-American woman, worked in the Banquet and Catering Department at Ball State University. Over the course of her employment, Vance lodged numerous complaints of racial discrimination and retaliation, including against Saundra Davis, a white catering specialist.  Vance alleged that Davis intimidated and harassed her due to her race.  Although the parties disputed the facts, they agreed that Davis did not have authority to hire, fire, demote, transfer, promote, or discipline Vance, although she could direct Vance’s daily tasks.

The trial court concluded that, even if Vance’s factual allegations were true, the University could not be held strictly liable for Davis’ alleged creation of a racially hostile work environment because Davis was not empowered to make tangible employment decisions regarding Vance, and therefore was not a supervisor.  Other courts, however, had ruled inconsistently, finding that strict liability applies to “supervisors” who have the right to exert significant direction over another’s daily work, even if they cannot hire or fire.

The Supreme Court concluded that, while an employer will be held automatically liable for harassment perpetrated by employees who have the authority to hire, fire, promote, reassign, or make significant changes in benefit decisions with respect to other employees, they will not be automatically liable if, as in the Vance case, the “supervisor” can do no more than direct another employee in the performance of routine duties.  According to the Court, establishing a “bright line” test for determining supervisory status is essential to providing guidance to employers, employees, courts and juries in harassment cases.  The Court rejected the far more amorphous standard proposed by Vance.

This outcome is clearly favorable to employers, as it reduces the number of employees whose actions can result in automatic employer liability for workplace harassment.  That said, Arizona employers should nonetheless continue to be vigilant in preventing, investigating, and disciplining harassers.  Additionally, because employers can be held strictly liable for the actions of their supervisory employees, they must continue to draft and disseminate clear policies prohibiting racial, sexual, and other forms of unlawful harassment.  Supervisors and managers – and not just the most senior managers in an organization, but all supervisors who have authority to hire, fire, demote, and promote employees – should be trained on, and held accountable for complying with, these policies.  Complaints of harassment should be promptly escalated for investigation, and credible complaints of harassment should result in prompt disciplinary action against the harasser, up to and including termination.  Failure to do so could expose employers to substantial liability.  Arizona employers are therefore urged to review their current policies, amend those policies if and to the extent necessary, and consider implementing or refreshing manager training on harassment prevention.

Lawrence J. Rosenfeld is a partner and Laura Lawless Robertson is a senior associate at Squire Sanders in Phoenix.

veterans

Advancing Arizona’s Heroes

This week, our nation took time to celebrate the enormous contributions and sacrifices of those who have served in our Armed Forces. Just in time for Veterans Day, the Arizona Chamber Foundation released its latest policy brief, Economic Opportunity for Arizona Veterans. This new report highlights the importance of veteran employment and outlines specific policy recommendations for Arizona.

Arizona is home to an estimated 76,000 Second Gulf War veterans. According to national unemployment numbers for August 2012, these veterans face an unemployment rate of 10.9 percent, compared to the national rate of 8.1 percent. These veterans serve as an untapped resource for Arizona employers – one that has the ability to significantly grow and help diversify Arizona’s economy.

Military service prepares veterans with work ethic, teamwork and leadership skills. There are clear economic opportunities and synergies between the talents veterans bring to the workforce and the needs of private industry. Yet many veterans continue to face obstacles when transitioning to civilian employment. As the report recognizes, it’s incumbent on business and elected leaders to harness this talent by:

1) Adopting best practices for hiring and retaining veterans

2) Implementing policies to  facilitate the transition from military to civilian life

3) Streamlining and clarifying the wealth of public, private and non-profit resources that are available

To that end, the Arizona Chamber has established the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee with a vision of making Arizona one of the most attractive states for veterans to live and work. The committee serves as a resource and connector for employers that are interested in helping veterans transition from military service to civilian employment. The committee also works to support public policies that aid in this transition.

The committee has created a resource toolkit to help veterans and employers navigate the wide array of resources available. Additional next steps in addressing this issue include:

1) Finalizing a specific policy proposal to allow relevant military experience to count toward the certification requirements for occupations requiring a professional license.

2) Developing a strategy for disseminating company best practices for hiring and retaining veterans, reservists and National Guardsmen.

3) Partnering with like-minded organizations and interested elected officials to provide meaningful connections between employers and veterans.

Media response to these efforts has been overwhelmingly positive. Yesterday’s edition of Arizona Illustrated featured Suzanne Kinney, executive director of the Foundation and Captain Craig Doyle, chairman of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, in a discussion on the report’s findings and the importance of this topic. The issue is gaining traction and the efforts of Arizona businesses are being recognized.

It’s important to acknowledge the cross-section of Arizona Chamber member companies that were interviewed for the Foundation’s report: Amazon, Intel, Magellan Health Services, Northern Arizona University, Raytheon, Swift Transportation, University of Phoenix, USAA, and Wells Fargo. These companies along with the Arizona Department of Veterans Services provided valuable insight regarding best practices for recruiting and retaining vets. Many other chamber member companies, such as US Airways with their nationally-recognized Honor Flight Network, are taking action to support veterans as well. A key goal of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee is to help other interested employers adopt proven strategies that will lead to more veterans successfully transitioning to civilian employment.

The Chamber also owes many thanks to Captain Craig Doyle for his leadership and continued service.
An Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, Captain Doyle recently returned from the Asian Pacific Theater, his third activation since September 11, 2001. While there, he was the first Naval Reserve Officer to serve as Commanding Officer of the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka.  His mission included all operational, planning and logistical support for the Far East region. With both business and military leadership experience, Captain Doyle brings indispensable personal experience to this important endeavor.

We look forward to further advancing the mission of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee during the 2012 legislative session and continuing the recognition of this issue throughout the state. We will be working diligently to help more Arizona businesses implement proven programs to recruit, promote and retain veterans and to advance public policies that support veteran employment and entrepreneurship.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans. http://www.azchamber.com/

jobsearchnewspaper

Employers post biggest job gains in 4 years

U.S. employers posted the most job openings in four years in June, a positive sign that hiring may pick up.

The Labor Department said Tuesday job openings rose to a seasonally adjusted 3.8 million in June, up from 3.7 million in May. That’s the most since July 2008. Layoffs fell.

The data follow Friday’s report that said employers in July added the most jobs in five months. A rise in openings could signal better hiring in the coming months. It typically takes one to three months to fill a job.

Even with the increase, hiring is competitive. There were 12.7 million unemployed people in June, or an average of 3.4 unemployed people for each job.

That’s down a bit from May and much lower than the nearly 7-to-1 ratio in July 2009, just after the recession ended. In a healthy job market, the ratio is usually around 2 to 1.

Still, employers have been slow to fill jobs. Since the recession ended in 2009, openings have increased 57 percent. Overall hiring is up only 19 percent.

And openings are still below pre-recession levels of nearly 4 million per month.

Employers added 163,000 jobs in July, the department said last week. That followed three months of weak hiring and eased concerns that the economy was stalling.

Yet the economy has generated an average of 150,000 jobs per month this year, about the same pace as 2011. That’s not enough to rapidly drive down the unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 8.3 percent in July from 8.2 percent in June.

In June, manufacturing, education and health care, and hotels and restaurants all posted more openings. Retailers and state, local and federal government agencies cut available jobs.

The government’s monthly employment report, released last Friday, measures net hiring.

Tuesday’s report, known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, shows the amount of hiring and firing that takes place in the U.S. each month. It provides more details than the monthly jobs report.

For example, layoffs dropped to 1.8 million in June, from nearly 2 million in May. June’s total is below pre-recession levels and indicates that companies aren’t cutting more jobs, despite sluggish growth.

And the number of people that quit their jobs also ticked down slightly to 2.1 million, from 2.2 million in May. That’s still higher than a year ago, when only 1.9 million people quit.

When more people quit their jobs, it can be a sign of a strengthening job market. That’s because most people quit when they have a new job, usually with better pay. The number of quits is still far below the pre-recession level of about 2.7 million.

Overall, companies hired nearly 4.4 million people in June, down from 4.5 million in May, the JOLTS report showed. At the same time, nearly 4.3 million people were laid off, quit or left jobs for other reasons, such as retirement.

The difference between those two figures is similar to the net job gain that the Labor Department includes in the employment report each month.