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Newsletter Issue 13

Practical Approaches
to Resolving EEO/AA Problems
Issue #13
Another Insight into the Internet Application Process

The Internet application process continues to receive new interpretations as the OFCCP directives are being applied to every day work place implementation. A basic operating principle is that the request for EEO information must be truly voluntary. One of the methods of obtaining this information was to request it as part of the Internet application process. EEOC has made a decision that an Internet application process that places EEO information form first may violate the “voluntaries” factor when the application process refuses to permit the applicant to proceed until the EEO information is completed. As a resolution to this problem some suggest that the issue could be avoided by placing the request for EEO information at the end of the application or by allowing an applicant to bypass the EEO information and proceed to complete the application process. (EEOC Advisory Letter)

Policies Must Be Clearly Stated:

When violated, unclear personnel policies are nearly impossible to defend. In a recent case the court found in favor of an employee because the company’s policy on the use of paid leave for FMLA purposes was not clearly stated. In this case, the employee was forced to use paid leave while on FMLA leave. Ordinarily this could be done under FMLA if the company’s policy clearly notified employees. However, since the policy was not clearly stated and because the company was inconsistent with its short-term disability policy, forcing the employee to use paid leave was illegal. (Lenore v. Hotel Trades Council- S.D. NY,) Company personnel policies should be reviewed on a scheduled basis. At times, policies are written to resolve a situation of a temporary nature but they continue to be effective years later, long after the reason for the policy ceased to exist. Another factor that impacts outmoded personnel policies is that laws are enacted that would require a change in the policy or the way a policy becomes effective, etc. A regular schedule for reviewing policies is a must for a prudent application of company policies. It could be an embarrassing and perhaps costly experience to be the defendant in a law suite over a policy the company has forgotten exists or failed to update to comply with changing regulations.

Training Supervisors is a Company Requirement:

Historically it seems that when cost cutting becomes a necessary step for a company, the first program to be affected is company-training programs. However, this may prove to be a major mistake when the cutting includes eliminating EEO training. The courts take a harsh view toward companies that fail to train. In the case of Mathis v. Phillips Chevrolets, the court made the following observation: “Failure to train supervisors on how to avoid discrimination in the firing process amounts to reckless indifference such that punitive damages should be awarded.” This, of course, applies to other employment actions as well. Cost is generally the major reason for dropping training programs. Remember that we offer Internet training to our clients at a seriously reduced fee. Our courses include diversity, sexual harassment, the Americans with Disability Act and other HR subjects. A visit to our website at www.rplmri.com will give you more information on our training programs and other services we offer.

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