Shining a spotlight on learning also underscores training as a recruitment and retention strategy for organizations of all sizes. Small organizations can learn lessons from larger organizations on creating a learning culture.

Wesley Wernecke, an ex-employee of New York event planning company Eventique, claims in his recently filed suit that the company intentionally alienated him, ostracized him and shut him out of the business after its CEO learned Wernecke was gay.

NBC News shares the details of the allegations in Wernecke’s lawsuit.

Wernecke had just begun to work for Eventique …when [CEO Henry Liron] David began to push him out of his role … .

A week after he was hired, Wernecke’s co-workers commented on his “girly” engagement ring. When a co-worker asked if his wife wore a similar ring, Wernecke replied that his partner, Evan, did.

From that point on, tension developed between Wernecke and his co-workers and David that had not existed before, according to the complaint.

In the interim months, the complaint alleges, Wernecke was ostracized and excluded from professional meetings and office social events, passed over for assignments with large commissions and subject to discriminatory remarks.

David … would exclude Wernecke from company lunches and frequent after-work drinks with “the fellas” in his office, the lawsuit states, and at one point, David gave an account Wernecke had been working on to another employee without consulting Wernecke.

These allegations, however, are the least of Eventique’s problems. According to Wernecke’s lawsuit, David significantly cut his salary (from $145,000 to $58,000.) David’s justification (again, according to the lawsuit): so that Wernecke’s pay would be on par with “the other females in the office.”

That’s not just an admission of sex discrimination against Wernecke, but also an admission of wage discrimination against the company’s female employees.

My advice to Eventique? Get out ahead of this issue, conduct a pay equity audit as soon as possible, and adjust salaries and wages as needed. Because if I’m a woman working at Eventique, I’m interviewing employment lawyers this week.

My gut, however, tells me that if a CEO is brazen enough to (allegedly) make those statements, he’s brazen enough to take this lawsuit head on.

If women have the chance to stay in their tech jobs and advance in their careers, many of them will find they’ll enjoy the work they do, reap the rewards of their labor and find a suitable work/life balance, reveals a Capital One survey that examines why women stay in tech jobs and why they bolt.

When employees sue for race discrimination, do they have to show that the employer’s bias was the ultimate cause or one of several motivating factors that led to an adverse employment decision?

Employers may think that security drills can help save lives in the event of a mass shooting—like the one that happened Nov. 14 at a California high school—but two researchers argue that such measures aren’t much help because most school and workplace shooters are insiders “well-rehearsed in the security procedures.”

Flip-flops, board shorts and a tattered Rip Curl T-shirt. Perfect beach attire to be sure, but it’s not uncommon to see employees at companies with progressive — some may call them nonexistent — dress codes roll into the office as if it’s a day at the beach and not a 10-hour shift behind a keyboard.

Organizations still contemplate defining business casual dress codes.

While dress codes have substantially loosened over the past three decades, the area between appropriate and inappropriate apparel becomes a bit hazy. Joseph Rosenfeld, fashion and personal style strategist and co-founder of ModeDNA, says that lax dress policies can result in employees consistently dressing down and misrepresenting themselves in a professional setting.

“What’s happened with business casual as a concept culturally is we chase to the lowest common denominator,” he said.

Business casual can be a safe bet in allowing employees to dress to their comfort levels and identities. By definition, business casual is just a step down from business professional. It is more casual, but doesn’t include jeans, and certainly bars shorts and an old high school gym T-shirt. Still, business casual can be a bit blurry too, depending on how well, or how poorly, a workplace communicates its do’s and don’ts when it comes to what to wear to work.

“More than 20 years later, I’m still trying to teach people that casual means leaving things to chance, and you don’t really want to leave things to chance when it comes to how you present yourself professionally,” Rosenfeld said.

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Joseph Rosenfeld, co-founder of ModeDNA.

An OfficeTeam survey found that nearly 31 percent of office workers stated that they would prefer to be at a company with a business casual dress code; 27 percent favor a casual dress code or no dress code at all.

But there are limits to what passes as acceptable office attire. The survey also found that the most common dress code violations at work include wearing overly casual clothing and showing too much skin.

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Megan Moran, founder, The Style Foundry.

“I find that companies with a strict business professional policy often deal with less dress code violations and a more consistent workforce. However, their employees end up feeling bored with their wardrobes and unable to express themselves and their personalities,” said Megan Moran, founder and wardrobe stylist at The Style Foundry. Although Moran also said that companies that implement a casual dress code policy may struggle with displaying a consistent company message and their employees may lose that empowered feeling that comes with business professional attire.

Workplaces should also avoid enforcing a dress code policy that is sexist or neglects traditional clothing among different cultures and religions. Failing to accommodate these aspects can put a company in legal trouble. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals on account of their religion, birthplace, ancestry, culture or linguistic characteristics common to a specific ethnic group.

Amy Quarton, associate professor at Maryville University in St. Louis, said managers should ask employees for their input to help draft an appropriate dress code as this could illuminate potential concerns and legal risks as well as earn support. Quarton also said that the policy should include clear guidelines and examples of what is and is not acceptable as well as established consequences. The goal is to create a dress code policy that allows all employees to express themselves through their work attire while simultaneously represent their employer’s brand in a positive way, she said.

“New and existing employees may benefit from training programs aimed at improving their cultural competencies and understanding of stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination,” Quarton said. “Employers can also establish a process that allows employees to share their concerns about the dress code. They can then work with people on an individual basis to negotiate accommodations that work for both the employer and the employee.”

The 14th largest private company in the U.S. announced Nov. 7 that it now offers six weeks of paid parental leave to most of its 28,000 employees following the birth or adoption of a child.

Pilot Flying J’s “gender-neutral” leave benefit is available to all new parents working at its rest stops, retail locations and service centers who have at least one year of service and who’ve worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months.

“We strongly believe that paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers is a much-needed benefit, especially for hourly workers in the retail and convenience store industries,” the company said.

This continues a trend of larger U.S. employers adding paid family leave benefits.

Parental leave benefits still uneven

Recent surveys by Mercer and WorldatWork illustrate how quickly employers are embracing paid parental leave as they look for ways to find and keep employees in a tight job market.

Mercer reports that 40% of U.S. employers offered paid leave for both birth parents as of late 2018.

And WorldatWork survey data bumps that figure to about 52% as of March 2019.

But those employers only accounted for about 16% of all U.S. workers employed by private sector businesses in 2018.

That’s according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data contained in the Congressional Research Service report Paid Family Leave in the United States .

And parental leave benefits are still much more common at larger employers in the U.S..

BLS data shows about 25% of U.S. workers at businesses with 500 or more employees have access to paid family leave that includes both maternity and paternity leave.

However, only 12% of workers at businesses with 1-99 employees have access to the benefit.

And, as Pilot Flying J notes in its press release, “In the retail industry, where many employees are part-time and hourly, this number is even lower at 7%.”

Some states offer parental leave insurance

Meanwhile, six states, along with Washington DC have stepped in to provide parental leave insurance (PLI) that pays cash benefits to workers taking care of family members, including new mothers and fathers.

But two of the states and Washington DC have not yet launched the programs.

The number of weeks and wage replacement rates vary, with existing state programs offer between four weeks (Rhode Island) and 10 weeks (New York) of benefits.

New York plans to increase coverage to 12 weeks by 2021. New Jersey offers six weeks now and will boost that to 12 weeks in July 2020.

California, which launched family leave insurance in 2004, offers 6 weeks of cash payments.

Washington DC will offer 8 weeks of paid family leave and Washington state plans to offer 12 weeks of paid family leave, both starting in 2021.

Massachusetts’ plan calls for up to 12 weeks for family leave beginning in 2021.

All of those plans pay workers a percentage of their regular salary.

Some employers in those states have implemented plans that cover the part or all of the difference between the state benefit amount and workers’ full salaries.

The post 2020 trends: More employers offering paid parental leave appeared first on HR Morning.

The new year is rapidly approaching, which means it’s the perfect time to review your policies and make the necessary adjustments.

There were a lot of new employment trends in 2019, and 2020 will bring even more compliance changes.

Whether it’s legally mandated changes or just suggested ones, experts at the law firm Cozen O’Connor have a few areas they recommend employers pay attention to.

1. Timekeeping and compensation practices

Heads up! A major compensation change is coming in the new year.

The DOL announced a new overtime threshold for exempt employees this year, and it goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020. So, starting on New Year’s Day, employers must either bump up their exempt workers’ pay to $35,568 a year, or be prepared to pay them overtime.

Employers are permitted to satisfy up to 10% of employees’ annual salary through non-discretionary bonuses and incentive pay — including commissions.

As for timekeeping practices that may need adjustments, several lawsuits in the past year brought to light the dangers of employers building unpaid breaks into workers’ schedules.

In Small v. University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, the company ended up shelling out $4.2 million in unpaid wages. Employees claimed they often worked off the clock because a 30-minute break would be deducted from their pay regardless if they took it or not.

This practice isn’t always illegal, but as you can see, it can have costly consequences if not handled properly.

2. Hiring and recruiting

In the coming year, HR pros will need to pay more attention to their job postings and recruiting tactics.

PricewaterhouseCoopers ended up in court for age discrimination after allegedly turning most of its recruiting efforts to college campuses, specifically targeting young prospective hires.

The EEOC also drew attention to age discrimination and gender bias in Facebook job ads, which allowed companies to specifically target men and people under the age of 30.

If company execs are asking for young hires, it’s up to HR to explain the potential pitfalls.

Another thing to be aware of when it comes to hiring: salary history bans. So many cities and states have forbid companies from inquiring about candidates’ past pay, HR pros may want to remove that question from the interview regardless.

Paid sick leave, FMLA and parental leave

Now might be the ideal time to check your leave policies.

Not too long ago, the DOL clarified that FMLA-eligible employees can’t delay the use of FMLA leave. So if your policies allow workers to do that, it’s time to revise them.

Several states have also enacted some unique paid leave laws, such as safe leave — protected leave for those experiencing domestic violence — or paid leave for any reason an employee may choose.

Check your state laws for specifics, but it’s a good idea to consider implementing these paid leaves even if you’re not legally required to, as more states are following this trend.

Another important type of leave to pay attention to? Family leave.

It’s critical to ensure your family leave policies are equal for both mothers and fathers. JPMorgan Chase had to pay $5 million to settle a sex discrimination suit because it offered women more parental leave than men.

To clarify, bonding leave has to be equal for both parents. However, more leave can be offered to women recovering from birth or other pregnancy complications.

The distinction is the amount of leave must be based off a medical event, and not gender.

The post Compliance check from legal experts: Policy changes you need to make before 2020 appeared first on HR Morning.

HRWins founder and Principal Analyst George LaRocque has joined the management team of Unleash’s North American event and is tasked with building the May 2020 conference’s programming and overseeing related on-site operations.

George LaRocque
HRWins founder George LaRocque.

LaRocque will work with China Gorman, Unleash America’s managing director and a well-known HR technology industry leader.

In an interview, LaRocque talked more about “experience” than “content.” Programming an event that serves the needs of both buyers and vendors sits well with the work he’s been doing at HRWins, which he described as helping the vendor community understand their customers across all facets of HR technology.

“The opportunity to be in a role where I am literally programming an experience for those two communities to come together and learn more about each other appropriately, I just view it as a really logical extension of what I’ve been doing,” he said. While most events program for content, he said, “nobody’s really curating experience for both sides of this marketplace.”

During the October Unleash World conference in Paris, LaRocque’s company led tours of the exhibit hall floor, concentrating on an area such as talent acquisition or employee experience. The tours visited appropriate exhibitors, examined industry trends and facilitated interactive conversations rather than stage one-way presentations. LaRocque’s work to organize and stage the tours led Unleash executives to ask him to work on the U.S. event’s experience.

For the Unleash event in Las Vegas in May, LaRocque envisions events that would dive into specific trends, such as employee experience or transformation and utilize the experience of event sponsors in order to help CHROs understand which technologies align with those trends.

But balancing the needs of attendees and Unleash sponsors is no small task. In both Las Vegas and Paris, some exhibitors expressed concern that the events’ content was strong enough to draw people away from the exhibit floor. The competing dynamics, LaRocque said, “is something that we’ve talked a lot about.”

The challenge isn’t only about exhibitors, he said. When attendees have to make a trek to another floor, “it feels like a mile away in order to get to your next session.” That’s not a good experience either, and it takes away from time attendees can meet with vendors, he said.

LaRocque’s solution is to bring something of the Paris experience to Las Vegas: Keep everything — including breakouts and presentations — on the exhibit hall floor. Breakout rooms themselves will be eliminated.

“We’re putting all of the content, all of the experience in one place, on one floor,” he said.

As the HR technology market becomes more complex, LaRocque sees the role of analysts and Unleash-style events gaining in importance. While each segment may still have two or three vendors controlling perhaps 40 percent of the market, and larger vendors acquiring smaller competitors, consolidation isn’t having the impact it once did, he said. The reason: Startups are developing more specialized products.

“While we used to look at market consolidation as making the choices easier for the buyer, that’s really not happening,” he said. “The technology’s evolving so quickly that every time a vendor is acquired, three or four rush in to fill the void that was created, sometimes with new angles or new technology that wasn’t addressed before.”

LaRocque said the conference should help attendees navigate this landscape and understand the technology. “If they’re looking to learn, if they’re looking to buy,” he said.

An HR director’s statement that an employee who was being fired was a “low performer” could serve as the basis for a defamation action against the employer, a California appeals court ruled.