North State SHRM News & Legal Updates
Your source of relevant news in HR in the North State, California and nationwide.
Bruce Sarchet, Corinn Jackson, and Eli Freedberg with Littler’s Workplace Policy Institute explore a recent trend pitting progressive city councils against more conservative state legislatures. They discuss the proliferation of local ordinances regulating workplace issues (such as “fair workweek” requirements) and the resistance from some state lawmakers to these municipal assertions of power.
Re-entering the workforce after a significant time away for any reason can be difficult. New mothers returning to work after childbirth and women who have taken a career break to have children, however, experience a unique set of stressful challenges.
In 2019, employers will entice applicants by hiring for soft skills and potential, offering more-flexible work options and being more open about pay.
Research around high performers in business, and what attracts then retains high performers in a business has greatly identified a shift in what was, to what is now an environment that can support high performers. Globally some of our best organizational development researchers are all talking about how this shift is influential in how organizations… View Article
Several large employers are disputing how much money the New York Times owes a union multiemployer pension fund. Recently, six companies—including US Foods Inc. and United Natural Foods Inc.—filed an amicus brief supporting the New York Times in its case before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Ruprecht Co., an Illinois meat processor, also filed its own brief in support of the New York Times.
Under the Employer Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), when determining an employer’s withdrawal liability, the actuarial assumptions and methods must “offer the actuary’s best estimate of the anticipated experience under the plan.” The underlying issue in this case involves an actuarial method called the “Segal Blend,” which often is used to value unfunded vested benefits and calculate withdrawal liability (an exit fee) from a union multiemployer pension plan. Under the Segal Blend, the actuary blends the multiemployer plan’s assumed interest rate on investments with a lower interest rate used by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation for terminating plans. Many multiemployer pension plans commonly use the Segal Blend to calculate an employer’s unfunded liability and payment upon exiting the multiemployer plan (known as “withdrawal liability”). These large employers claim that using the Segal Blend results in an artificially lower interest rate, which in turn results in larger employer withdrawal liability and larger amounts an employer must pay to exit the multiemployer pension plan.
The suit claims that using the Segal Blend does not reflect the actuary’s best estimate of the anticipated experience under the multiemployer plan and violates of ERISA. The listed companies object to the use of the Segal Blend, arguing that the calculation fundamentally undermines ERISA and allows multiemployer pension funds to impose disproportionately large liability on employers leaving the fund (while avoiding strict judicial review). The legal briefs note that multiemployer plans have an incentive to inflate the amounts owed by withdrawing employers, and that this is easy to do by altering the calculation method with the Segal Blend. In this case, the employers allege that the artificially deflated interest rate under the Segal Blend does not reflect the multiemployer fund’s anticipated experience. Rather, the companies claim that the interest rate for the withdrawal liability calculation should be the same interest rate used by the actuaries to determine the multiemployer plan’s required minimum funding.
On the other side of the case, several groups have filed briefs supporting the multiemployer fund’s calculation, including the Segal Group, Inc. (creator of the Segal Blend), the federal pension insurance agency, and an interest group representing multiemployer pension and welfare plans. Given both the large liabilities at issue in this case and the general funding crisis for many multiemployer pension plans, the Second Circuit’s decision could have a wide-reaching impact on the financial health of all multiemployer plans.
We are watching the developments of this case, and employers with multiemployer plans should contact their regular McDermott lawyer or one of the authors for more information.
Early Friday afternoon, Henry Pratt Co. informed one of its employees, Gary Martin, of his termination.
Shortly thereafter, he opened fire with a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson, killing five of his co-workers and wounding five police officers. Martin himself was the sixth casualty, killed in a shootout with police.
After the news of this tragedy broke, reports surfaced of Martin’s history of violence —s ix prior arrests by the local police department for domestic violence, and a decades-old felony conviction for aggravated assault.
All of which begs the question, should this employer have known that Martin was prone to violence, and, if so, should it have taken added measures in connection with his termination.
A criminal history of violent arrests and offenses is not necessarily a predictor of workplace violence. Still, there are certain warning signs for which an employer can look to help determine whether an employee is at risk for potential violence.
According to ESI Group, these warning signs include:
If one more of these red flags surface, it is recommend that you refer this employee to an employee assistance program, for assessment and treatment.
If you are compelled to fire an employee who you think poses a risk of violence, it is recommended that you take further steps to mitigate against the risk of your termination transforming into a workplace tragedy.
ESI Group recommends the following:
As with most issues in the workplace, the proverbial ounce of prevention really matters. While there exists no foolproof way to protect your workplace against these kinds of tragedies, a few preventative steps can go a long way to putting you in the best place to deter and respond.
The post Do You Know How to Spot an Employee at Risk for Violence? appeared first on Workforce.