Category Archives: Employment

Employee Lawsuits, what should you do

Employee lawsuits are more common than you think.   When you run a small business, it’s easy to feel like your employees are friends or even family members. But in a court of law, they are your employees — and, as their employer, you should take steps to protect yourself and your company in the event that one of them sues you.

The FLSA: Learn It, Know It, Live It

The most common type of lawsuit brought by employees is a “wage and hour” case, or a dispute over whether or not you’ve adequately compensated them for hours they’ve worked. The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act addresses these issues, although each state, county, and city may have their own additional rules.

Most cases begin when “non-exempt” (or hourly, part-time) employees are treated like “exempt” (or salaried, full-time) employees. “Exempt” means exempt from the FLSA. In other words, salaried employees may work overtime without being paid extra, whereas hourly employees must receive overtime pay.

“There’s a booming industry in these types of cases, where employees are not getting paid time and a half,” says Keith Gutstein, partner at Kaufman Dolowich Voluck & Gonzo. He adds that that restaurants, hotels, gas stations, car washes, landscapers, and other cash businesses are at greatest risk.

No contract can waive an employee’s right to be protected by the FLSA. There is often an agreement to work overtime without being paid time and a half, Gutstein says, “but the fact is, it’s illegal, even though employer and employee are happy. After termination, they often realize they can go back and get all the overtime that is owed to them.” In fact, the FLSA compensates workers for up to three years of back overtime — and some states award twice that. Also, if you’re at fault, the FLSA doubles the award and requires you to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees, too.

To protect yourself, keep pristine records of employee hours and pay. Without records, an employee could claim any rate of pay and hours. Also, if the government gets wind that you pay workers in cash, it will investigate to insure that it’s collected all the tax revenue it’s due. Many times, in fact, an employee unwittingly triggers an investigation by filing for unemployment benefits.

Discrimination and Harassment

Many other employee lawsuits derive from behavior on the job, and, as such, can be tough to defend against. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protects employees from discrimination if they are a member of a “protected class” based on gender, age, race, and disability. (Sexual orientation and marital status are not protected under federal law, but they are in many states.) The EEOC will even prosecute on behalf of claimants, so your employee does not even have to retain a lawyer to launch such a suit.

In order to file a discrimination or harassment complaint with the EEOC, an employee must prove four things: that she’s a member of a protected class, that she’s qualified and performing the job in a satisfactory manner, that she’s suffered an adverse action (such as lack of promotion or termination), and that the adverse action was the result of membership in a protected class.

If a court allows the suit to proceed, it doesn’t mean the employee has won, it just shifts the burden back to the employer to prove that the adverse action was based on legitimate business reasons, Gutstein explains. “You have to rely on documentation—counselings, warnings, write-ups,” he says.

Your most important tool, however, is your employee handbook, which should outline company policies about discrimination and harassment, your disciplinary process, and should make clear that there is an open door policy for reporting any and all complaints about discrimination and harassment. There also must be appropriate training around these policies.

Assuming that you have an employee handbook and such practices in place, you can fall back on the Faragher/Ellerth defense, which allows an employer to file for a case to be dismissed because there was an open-door policy for reporting discrimination and harassment that the employee did not use before filing suit.

5 best practices to avoid employee  lawsuits

10 Warning Signs Of Compulsive Networking

Adrian Miller, founder of sales consultancy Adrian Miller Sales Training in Port Washington, NY, says she’s always been a networker—but not always for her own good. In 2008 when the economy took a turn for the worse, Miller became nervous about the future of her business and went into extreme networking mode. “I started going to events morning, noon and night for five days a week hoping I would meet new clients,” she recalls. “I did it for months and was getting overwhelmed and just exhausted.”

On a vacation to Istanbul, Miller started thinking seriously about all the time she had committed to networking. She calculated how much revenue she’d gotten out of months of running around exchanging business cards and realized it was next to nothing. “When I saw I wasn’t getting a return on my time, I knew I had to get the compulsive behavior in check,” she says. “I had turned networking from a pleasant activity into a nightmare.”

While career coaches and success gurus expound on the virtues of networking—especially in a down economy—some professionals take it too far. Management and addiction specialists say they are seeing more people compulsively networking, obsessively growing the number of their connections online and wearing themselves out with little too show for it.

“Initially people want to promote their careers, but it can become obsessive,” says Dr. David Sack, an addiction psychiatrist and head of the Promises Treatment Centers in California. “Some people are looking for validation and recognition. It may be partly a self-esteem issue that gets gratified by numbers.”

Yet the compulsive pursuit of more and more connections will not ensure better networks. In fact, it will degrade them. “There’s an upper limit to the number of connections you can maintain of around 150 people,” says Columbia Business School professor Rita McGrath, noting that many people too aggressively pursue initial connections without investing the necessary time to strengthen and maintain those relationships. “In whatever format, more than 150 and the relationships are impersonal and the connections are weak.”

Website Uses Social Media to Find Your Dream Job

Chances are you already know how difficult it is to find any job in this economy, let alone your dream job. Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisticsrecorded 12.7 million unemployed Americans, and there aren’t any quick fixes in sight.

With millions of others looking for the same jobs, you don’t have time to scroll through hundreds of listings every day — you need to be able to optimize your search. Luckily there’s a new website that has found a way to utilize your online social circles to lead you to gainful employment: Jackalope Jobs.

Jackalope Jobs focuses on job seekers like you, helping you gain an edge on the competition by sorting through your social networks and pinpointing valuable connections. The way the site works is simple: You log in with LinkedIn, Facebook or Plaxo, and Jackalope Jobs imports all of your contacts, credentials and connections.

From the dashboard, you can search for a job and also search through your connections. You’re able to type in a job title or any keywords relevant to your search, and Jackalope Jobs will pull together listings from job boards, social media and other places in accordance with its “Jackalope Ranking” (best match according to your network and qualifications). You can also manually sort the job listings in any way you see fit — that is, by number of relevant connections, etc.

By clicking on any one job listing, you can see who among your connections could put you in touch with that particular company, and how exactly they are affiliated. You’re even able to reach out to those connections directly through the Jackalope Jobs interface, instead of needing to log on to the social network separately. Then, of course, you’re able to click through to the original listing for more information on how to apply.

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10 Business Card Mistakes You Might Be Making

Everyone should have a business card, right? Whether you have a business, a nonprofit, a local organization or are looking for a new job, you need a way to leave people with important information. But most make big mistakes on their cards.  Do you make these business card mistakes?

To write this post, I grabbed ten random business cards from a stack I received last week. So you can see I didn’t have to look far for examples.

So if you are ready, pull out your business card, lay it on the desk near your computer, pull out a pen or highlighter and be ready to identify the mistakes you are making

Here are the 10 business card mistakes people make:

  1.  Small font size
  2.  Glossy paper
  3.  Light font color
  4.  Design inconsistent with website
  5.  No links to social media sites
  6.  No email/web address or bad email
  7.  Printed on poor quality paper
  8.  Shares too much information
  9.  Includes no brand promise or tagline
  10.  Does not use back of card

More details in Tim Tyrell Smith’s article

Top 10 Employee Handbook Mistakes

An employee handbook sets expectations and standards for employees.

In fact, an employee handbook is one of the best ways to protect your business from employee lawsuits and clearly communicate your company policies. The absence of a formal handbook or policy manual, or a poorly drafted one, puts you at a disadvantage to defend yourself should your business face a lawsuit.

Policies that are too specific and rigid can potentially limit an employer’s flexibility when dealing with real issues. Conversely, policies that are too general make it difficult for employers to hold employees accountable for their actions and behavior.

So how does an employer find the right balance? The first step is to be aware of the potential pitfalls. Download CalChamber’s “Top 10 Employee Handbook Mistakes” white paper and learn what your company can do to avoid them.

Download the Free White Paper

Brinker Ruling: 5 Lunchtime Takeaways for California Employers

On April 12, 2012, the California Supreme Court ruled in Brinker Restaurant Group v. Superior Court of San Diego that while employers are required to provide meal breaks to employees, they need not ensure that employees take them.

It’s a significant ruling for California employers because it clarifies the rules regarding rest and meal breaks. Equally important, it eases burdens by allowing employers to provide breaks on a schedule that meets their business needs.

For your reference, five takeaways from the Brinker decision:

1. “Early lunching” is permitted:

2. Employers must provide a second meal break after ten hours of work:

3. Employees are free to do what they want during their meal break:

4. Employers must provide both rest and meal breaks, but not in any particular order:

5. Employees must receive a rest period after 3.5 hours of work:

6. Bonus: Review your company’s meal and rest policies:

For more details click here

 The Brinker Decision Analysis and Guidance

The Social Recruiting Era: 79% of Jobs are Posted on Social Media

An Inside Look at Social Recruiting in the USA finds that LinkedIn is the most popular site for posting jobs with 77 percent of openings shared there. Twitter comes in second with 54 percent, followed by Facebook, which came in a distant third with just 25 percent. The report also found that the Northeast region is the most active in social recruiting and the Midwest is the least active region. In addition, the Northeast uses LinkedIn and Twitter most heavily while Facebook usage is heaviest in the West, including Alaska and Hawaii.

The report details findings from actual social network activity data pulled from the Bullhorn Reach user network of more than 77,500 recruiters. The goal of the report is to provide insight into which social platforms are leveraged the most to recruit candidates across various U.S. regions and industries.

Some additional interesting findings include:

 

  • 21 percent of jobs are posted to all three social networks;
  • 21 percent are not posted to social media sites at all;
  • 55 percent of U.S. jobs are posted to two or more social networks at a time; and
  • 24 percent are posted to only one network.

“While LinkedIn continues to hold its position as the most widely used social network for recruiting, the fact that a majority of jobs are posted to at least two channels reinforces the notion that social networking should never be overlooked in any candidate’s job search,” said Art Papas, president and CEO of Bullhorn. “We designed these reports to be a resource for recruiters and job seekers alike so they can determine the best ways to find talent and jobs based on their industries and geographies.”

The report also ranked the social recruiting activity among U.S. recruiters in all 50 states and determined that the top 10 most active states for posting jobs on social media include:

  1. Maine
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Mississippi
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Alabama
  7. Connecticut
  8. Oregon
  9. Ohio
  10. Rhode Island

While there is a wide variation of social recruiting activity across industries, the top 10 industries embracing the movement include:

  1. Restaurant
  2. Advertising/PR
  3. Nonprofit
  4. Fashion
  5. Healthcare
  6. Food service/Catering
  7. Technology
  8. Education
  9. Accounting
  10. Communications

The full report breaks down the usage of each social media network by region and by industry.

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5 Steps To Lower Employee Turnover

Over the past year, Big Fuel has seen its revenue more than triple, to $40 million, and its head count swell, from 70 employees to 140. But with growth comes growing pains. Like many start-ups, the New York City-based social-media marketing agency had never bothered with a formal orientation program and was finding it difficult to train all these new staff members—many of whom came from disparate industries and lacked experience in social media. As a result, Big Fuel began to experience a problem it never had: employee turnover. As the churn mounted, Avi Savar, the company’s founder and chief creative officer, grew concerned that the company would lose its competitive edge when pitching clients. “It’s a matter of staying ahead of the curve,” he says. So last June, Big Fuel unveiled an onboarding process for new hires. Here’s how the system worked for one recent hire.

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Free Biotech Job Training And Education In San Diego

 

BRIDGE  logo explains goal of job training program.

San Diego State University and two other local organizations offer free biotech education and job training to more than a thousand people.

Veterans, unemployed and displaced adults living in San Diego and Imperial counties can apply for the program called BRIDGE.

Above: BRIDGE logo explains goal of job training program.

The acronym stands for Biotechnology, Readiness, Immersion, Certificates & Degrees for Gainful Employment.

BRIDGE is a collaborative effort of SDSU, the BIOCOM Institute, Miramar College and the San Diego Workforce Partnership.

The program offers hands-on job training and formal education up to a Master’s degree for adults who want to work in San Diego’s biotech industry.

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Networking Advice: 5 Tips for an Effective Elevator Pitch

Tell me … what do you do, who you do it for, why you do it and what can you do for me?

And tell me quickly.

Such is the challenge of the elevator pitch – a personal marketing spiel seldom delivered in elevators, but a staple of networking.

A skillful elevator pitch can be the foundation upon which new professional relationships are built. A not-so-skillfull pitch will make sure you are forgotten — or, even worse, leave a bad impression with a potentially valuable contact.

“The perfect elevator pitch should take no more than 30 seconds and incorporate your number of years of experience, areas of expertise, key skills and some key projects or brands that you have been associated with,” says Jessica Bedford of niche recruiting firm Artisan Creative. “If there is anything that makes you stand out, work that into your pitch as well.”

Yes, easier said than done – but doable, nonetheless.

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