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Newsletter Issue 6


Practical Approaches
to Resolving EEO/AA Problems
Issue #6
 
Best wishes for a happy and successful year 2006

Traditionally, New Years and resolutions go together. We make a lot of commitments to improve our personal and work lives. It seems that at this time of the year we are fully aware of those areas in our lives in need of reform. The unfortunate part of this exercise is that this awareness period has such a short life span. Regardless it is an opportunity to review our strengths and weaknesses, building on the one and correcting the other.

This would have special significance for managers who make employment decisions every day, often without any thought of the EEO implications involved in every employment decision. Will I hire this applicant? What discipline will I recommend for this employee given his work record and seriousness of the offense? To whom do I give this assignment that will have career-enhancing implications? In making decisions like this, how many times do we pause long enough to ensure that EEO issues are considered and weighed prior to making employment decisions? EEO plays a part in every employment decision and failure to understand and act upon this fact has proven costly to a lot of companies. An excellent resolution for this year would be to ensure that your employment action checklist includes an EEO evaluation of the proposed employment action. It would take very little time and have considerable rewards.

Of special concern for most companies is the roll the supervisor plays in a company operation. The supervisor will be expected to meet or exceed production goals; maintain an orderly work atmosphere, and be aware of circumstances that could prove harmful to employees and the company. These are not little responsibilities. Yet the laws add another element of responsibility that in some ways have an impact as serious as any of the supervisorís other duties. These include maintaining close supervision over the four major employment action that generates the greatest number of complaints, specifically, applicants vs. hires, Terminations, sexual harassment and the failure to accommodate a disability. Never underestimate the importance these employment actions have on the company. All of them generate tens of thousands of complaints every year and almost all of them result from the inattention to EEO issues by managers and supervisors.

It is important to remind supervisors and managers frequently that EEO is major part of their functions as a supervisor. The supervisor actually creates the culture of an organization because of the close relationship that exists between them and their subordinates. Their competence at communicating information clearly and accurately without demeaning the employees establishes a trust and respect for their authority. A vital part of their duties is to foster fairness in all employment action under their authority. Being fair to all employees at all times will ensure the avoidance of discriminatory actions and presence of a positive work atmosphere.

During a recent conference on safety in the workplace, the speaker recommended that at the beginning of every work day the supervisor should spend 1 minute discussing safety issues. The audience indicated that a one-minute talk would be useless. The speaker than asked all of us to be silent for one minute to demonstrate his point that one minute of discussion would be sufficient for a safety reminder. The point he wanted to make did so overwhelmingly. This practice could apply to all factors of work and to equal employment opportunity issues as well. A short reminder at every management and employee meeting would keep EEO in front of employees and manager and serve to demonstrate the this company intends to ensure fairness to all employees throughout the company. Making EEO a vital part of company operations will reap rich rewards in all areas of company operations.


Job Descriptions can be helpful or harmful:

The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it necessary for employers to identify the essential functions of jobs. Almost always, this is done by the preparation of a job description. Having job descriptions is a good idea if it is accurate. Often job duties change but the changes are not record in the official job description. Make job descriptions broad enough so that tasks assigned to the position will fit within the descriptions. Supervisors are too busy to continuously review position descriptions. Making them broad enough will help maintain the accuracy of the description. Omitting something from the job description would not be fatal if that function is considered basic to all jobs, like coming to work. A safe and practical practice would be to have the supervisor and employee examine the positions periodically.


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