Archive for the ‘Employment News’ Category

New Password Protection Law in California

Friday, October 26th, 2012

employee screening, background checkLegislators around the country have been reacting to reports of employers requesting or requiring employees and/or applicants to provide access to their personal social media accounts. Maryland and Illinois both enacted “password protection” laws, followed by the California, where Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a new bill into law.

California’s law generally prohibits employers from requesting employees and applicants to provide access to their personal social media accounts and content. However, it is not as broad as the Illinois law, which prohibits employers from demanding access in any manner to an employee’s or prospective employee’s account or profile on social media sites. Illinois employers may not ask for log-in information, look over employees’ shoulders to gain access to it, or request screen shots of social media posts.

Maryland employers may not directly request log-in credentials, but are allowed to access an employee’s social media account when the request is in conjunction with securities fraud investigations or improper use of trade secrets.

California’s law also prohibits employers from requiring employees to access their social media accounts in the employer’s presence (“shoulder-surfing”) or to provide log-in information. In addition, it prevents employers from requiring employees to share any social media content, such as the Facebook posts of co-workers.

However, California’s law permits employers to ask workers to divulge personal social media content if there is a reasonable belief that it would be relevant to investigations of employee misconduct or violations of laws and regulations.

Note that this part of the law does not apply to job applicants. In addition, California’s law states that employers may not discharge, discipline or retaliate against an employee or applicant if they refuse to comply with a request or demand for access to a personal social media account.

Expect more of these laws to be passed around the country in the near future.

When hiring new employees, be sure to conduct proper background screening. The best pre-employment screening process includes employee background checks, employee credit checks, and criminal background checks. You’ll know you’re hiring safe when you screen employees before offering a position.

What Employers Should Know About Gen Y Employees

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

employee screening, employee background checkThink you know what makes your 20- to 30-year-old employees tick? Many older bosses believe that this group values the security of a big corporation, with strict schedules and lots of rules—but they are mistaken.

A new study by PayScale.com, a salary-comparison site, says that Gen Ys, born between 1982 and 1993, are more entrepreneurial, and would rather work in looser environments, with flexible policies and more freedom to make decisions. The study’s other findings shed light on this highly educated, social media-focused group:

Education level:

  • Percent of Gen Ys with bachelor’s degrees: 63.
  • 12.8% of Gen Ys have earned master’s degrees.
  • Percent with high school diploma only: 3.

Company size:

  • Gen Y work force employed by small companies (less than 100 employees): 47%.
  • Percent employed by companies with 1,500 or more employees: 23.
  • Median years with employers: 2 (compared to 7 for baby boomers).

The most common job skills reported by Gen Ys were software, blogging, social media optimization, press releases and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analysis. These skills are most likely to be utilized in online marketing and media positions—except for PCR analysis, which is biochemical-related. Considering that this generation grew up with computer technology, it’s not surprising that they are comfortable with social media.

This group also embraces science and engineering. Common majors include neuroscience, chemical engineering, petroleum engineering and bioengineering, which also pay better than many fields. Only 15% of Gen Ys are currently working at the management level, according to the study, but most are very entrepreneurial, ready to start businesses without much hesitation.

Employers can harness the creativity and drive of this group by providing challenges, offering flexibility and including them on decision-making. Tap into their entrepreneurial streaks by asking for input on new products, sales and marketing channels, and technology. And don’t let too-stodgy rules dampen their spirit and inspire them to look elsewhere for employment. Think about easing up on policies such as no social media while on the clock—you may find your Gen Y staff promoting your company and creating conversations!

California Court Says Employees Can Work Through Lunch

Friday, April 13th, 2012

employee screening blogCalifornia employment laws have long stated that employers must provide employees with a meal break. But the law was unclear regarding whether employees are prohibited from performing work during that time, or if they may work if they choose to.

A San Diego Superior Court decided that they may indeed engage in work during their meal breaks. The court ruled that employers fulfill their obligation when they give employees a 30 minute break and relieve them of all duties, give up control of their activities and when the employer gives a “reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted break, and does not impede or discourage them from doing so.”

If the employer does all that, and employees still want to work, they have the right to do so. The unanimous ruling was seen as a victory for employers. Another part of the decision specifies that employees must get one meal break for every 10 hours of work, rather than a break for every five hours, as some employee advocate groups had argued.

Employers will no longer be required to “babysit” employees, say some. As long as they make meal breaks available and encourage employees to take them, they are not liable for claims brought by employees that they didn’t receive them.

Employers are not allowed to apply pressure or provide incentives to work without breaks. And they must pay employees for any work performed. However, they are liable only for straight pay, not overtime pay—unless the extra 30 minutes puts the employee in an overtime situation.

The ruling came as a result of an eight-year legal battle against the company that owns Chili’s restaurants, for allegedly requiring employees to work through meal and rest breaks. Employees claimed that they were made to clock out for breaks, but to continue working through them.

Florida Workplace Violence Happens After Termination

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

pre-employment screening, employee background checkEarlier this week, a tragic ending to an employee termination occurred at a private school in Jacksonville, Florida, when a just-fired teacher returned to the school and shot the head of the school and then himself. The gunman, Shane Schumerth, was a Spanish teacher at the school.

It appears that the firing meeting took place away from students and with a witness. The terminated teacher was then escorted off campus; security was informed and a guard was placed at the school’s entrance.

The school had a full time Director of Safety and Security, and implemented security measures such as video surveillance, security gates and a digital patrol system that ensured required safety patrols were completed each day.

However, the former teacher was able to gain access to the administrator’s office by going through the football field. He carried an AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle and nearly 100 rounds of ammunition in a guitar case.

Officials say this sort of tragedy cannot be prevented—especially when the individual gives no warning, and is determined to hurt someone. This school did all the right things: badges are required of all visitors; classroom cameras, intercoms and panic buttons are connected to the main office; gates are closed and locked at night.

Still, while a random act of violence can’t be prevented, a tragedy like this is a wake-up call for all employers. Termination procedures should include notification to all staff that the fired employee is no longer allowed on site, as well as instructions on what to do if he or she is seen on the premises.

Security badges must be deactivated immediately. Managers should pay extra attention, and be extra sensitive, to any unstable or unusual behavior by an employee before, during or after the termination process. If they feel the employee could be a threat, everyone should be notified so they can be on guard.

And don’t wait until termination to deal with an unstable or threatening employee. Suspending the person while an investigation takes place is always an option.

Be sure that hiring procedures include thorough pre-employment screening. It’s vital to know who you’re hiring, and to screen potential employees for past criminal activity, felony convictions, sex offenses and work history.

Pepsi Pays Big Fine to Settle Criminal Background Check Charges

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

employee screening, employee background check, criminal background checksPepsi Beverages agreed to a settlement on federal charges of race discrimination, brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Under the settlement, Pepsi will pay $3.1 million for using criminal background checks to screen out job applicants.

Under the company’s policy, applicants with arrest records—even if they were not convicted—were not eligible for hire. In addition, the company denied employment to other applicants with minor convictions. The policy led to Pepsi unfairly excluding over 300 black applicants from employment.

According to the EEOC, the policy discriminated against minorities, because they have a disproportionate rate of arrest and convictions than whites. Further, using arrest and conviction records to deny employment can be illegal if it is not relevant to the job, the EEOC said. For example, an old DUI conviction would not be relevant to a retail sales job, while a conviction for theft could be.

Pepsi officials said the company’s employee background check policy is neutral, and the EEOC found no evidence of intentional discrimination. After the issue was first brought to Pepsi’s attention in 2006, the company collaborated with the EEOC to revise its background check process and improve its diversity and inclusivity.

Since the federal charges were brought against Pepsi Beverages, the company has changed its criminal background check policy. It also plans to make jobs available to those applicants who were denied unemployment under the previous policy.

Employment lawyers who monitor EEOC activity say there has been an increase over the past year in charges over background checks, and that the commission has taken a very aggressive enforcement stand on the use of criminal background and criminal history in hiring.

Pepsi Beverages is PepsiCo’s operation unit in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Under the settlement, the company will report regularly to the EEOC on its hiring practices and provide anti discrimination training to hiring personnel and management.

The EEOC is expected to issue more specific guidelines for employers, following a hearing on criminal background checks last summer.