Change is Inevitable, but Our Work Remains the Same

Featured

ss-paul-j-luna-final-headshot-041415By Paul Luna, President and CEO
Helios Education Foundation

With a highly charged and divisive presidential election behind us, emotional shock waves continue to ripple through our communities. No matter our party affiliations, it should concern us all that some of the ripple effects of the elections are leading to alarming activities in our neighborhoods. Even more troubling is that some of these activities are happening in our schools and impacting our students, creating fear and uncertainty for their future.

As leaders and advocates for improving our education system and ensuring that every student — regardless of where they were born, who their parents are or where they live — is prepared to succeed beyond high school, now, more than ever, we must hold steadfast Continue reading

Angel Night Puts Extra Twinkle in ‘The Nutcracker’

Featured

By Natalie Salvione
Ballet Arizona

angel-night-1-img_0077At Ballet Arizona, our holiday season does not truly begin until we start rehearsing for “The Nutcracker.” “The Waltz of the Flowers” can be heard in the studios in the middle of October and does not stop until our last show on December 24. The beautiful music is one of the unwavering details that makes this performance magical. Another is our Angel Night performance of “The Nutcracker,” which will take place on December 8.

angel-night-2-dscn3472The evening before opening night is always dedicated to our Angel Night program, where every seat is filled by smiling children, happy parents and families. The year-long program offers free tickets to social service organizations and disadvantaged families and individuals. The biggest one however is “The Nutcracker” show, where every seat is free.

To cap-off the angelnight3-dscn3480evening, as everyone exits Symphony Hall, children are given take-away bags filled with pencils, toothbrushes, toys, stickers and free happy meal cards. This performance gives some of these children and families a chance to have a normal holiday season, a pinch of happiness and sometimes a whole lot of hope.

This small but impactful detail would not be possible without the angel-night-4-dscn3492support and hard work of all the CopperPoint employees who, year after year, help stuff Angel Night Goodie Bags. An assembly line is made in a conference room and employees drop in and out throughout the day as we get our groove going with some music in the background and get to know each other as we work. Each year is a bit different, but the one thing that never changes is the positivity and impact that this group of employees does for our Angel Night guests.

THANK YOU!

CopperPoint Insurance Companies is a corporate sponsor of Ballet Arizona.

New Gender Pay Laws: What Employers Need to Know

Featured

Recently, the federal government announced its intent to gather detailed information about the pay practices from businesses with more than 100 workers to address gender discrimination, making employers subject to a heightened pay transparency standard by the end of this calendar year.

What has been proposed?
The proposed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) action will require businesses to provide report employees’ earnings by gender, as well as race and ethnicity, to make it easier to identify pay gaps.

Who will be impacted?
This action will apply to businesses with more than 100 workers, encompassing more than 63 million Americans.

How will employers report the information?
Currently, employers complete the EEO-1 form on an annual basis, providing demographic information about race, gender, and ethnicity. New reporting would also require salary and pay information to be included.

Why has the change been proposed?
Announced on the seventh anniversary of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a federal law that overturned a Supreme Court decision making it easier for employees to bring equal pay claims, the goal of additional data-gathering is to allow the EEOC to identify businesses that might have pay gaps, and then target those who are discriminating on account of gender.

When will employers be subject to the new law?
It is anticipated that the revised EE0-1 form with pay collection data will be approved and put into effect this fall. Employers will have to submit pay data for the first time in September 2017.

What should employers do now?
It is critical for affected companies to make it a priority to review current pay systems, and identify and address any areas of pay disparity to minimize increased scrutiny next year.

Through internal gender-specific audits, employers can determine whether pay gaps exist and have time to determine whether disparities can be justified by legitimate and non-discriminatory explanations, or whether corrective action will be needed.

This alert provides an overview of a proposed new federal regulation. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.

For more information about this proposal, or how it may affect your business, please contact Shayna Balch, partner at Fisher & Phillips or via phone, 602.281.3406.

 

Managing Employees in a Digital World

Featured

ShaynaBalchFisher&PhillipsBy Shayna Balch
Partner, Fisher & Phillips, LLC

Like the standard cup of morning coffee, just about everyone in the workforce is now a frequent user of social media sites, including personal blogs, Facebook and Twitter. As we’ve seen a number of times, online activity by employees can be very problematic. However, with some proper planning and an in-depth understanding of current social media laws, employers can stay one step ahead when trying to navigate the treacherous digital landscape.

1. Look at the complete picture
There are many problems that can arise from employee activity online, including using the Internet to publicly criticize the company or disclose confidential information. The key to curbing this behavior is to look at how the content is affecting you, your business and your customers and then take the necessary and legal steps to prevent it from going any further.

2. Have a social media policy
Having a policy is a critical step to enable you to act upon improper online activity by employees. Without a written policy in place, it will be harder to justify actions taken against employees who are involved in inappropriate, but legal, behavior online, especially where the activity is done during off work-hours.

3. Details matter most
Define the company’s expectations regarding social media very clearly in company’s handbook and provide a non-exclusive list of the types of social media websites that should be considered. You should also include some specific rules that pertain to trademarks, the condoning/promotion of illegal activity and the rules surrounding the use of social media while on work time or company equipment.

4. Know the law
The National Labor Relations Board has taken the position that some uses of social media are protected concerted activity, and that employer policies may violate employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act — even when the employees are non-unionized. Employee use of social media to organize, discuss workplace terms and conditions, discuss pay/benefits, for “whistleblowing,” etc. may be protected. For example, an employee posting online that she is forced to work unpaid overtime or requesting that other employees work together to solve an HR problem, may all be activity that is protected. So, beware of overbroad policies.

5. Investigate and document everything
Ask yourself the following questions before taking action based on social media postings. What are the facts? Is the content protected? Is action legally required? If the employee has violated the law or disclosed information that could subject the company to liability, it might be time to call your attorney.

If the employee has not broken the law, but violated company policy, it is always important to handle the situation with the highest level of professionalism. It is also important to impose any discipline in a consistent and non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory manner.

Shayna Balch is a partner at Fisher & Phillips LLP in Phoenix. She represents employers in employment and labor litigation matters before federal and state courts, as well as before administrative agencies. She can be reached at sbalch@laborlawyers.com.

Teens shine at ‘Today’s Kids, Tomorrow’s Stars’

Featured

It’s been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

At the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix (BGCMP), there are 13 extraordinary teens who certainly have set the pace for their bright futures, and the organization is celebrating their courage, determination and achievements.

These Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix teens are competing for 'Youth of the Year' award.

These Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix teens are competing for ‘Youth of the Year’ award.

On Saturday, March 19 at 5 p.m., BGCMP plays host to the “Today’s Kids, Tomorrow’s Stars” gala presented by Universal Technical Institute Inc., where these teens will share their inspirational stories with more than 1,000 guests at the Arizona Biltmore.

From community service to exemplary grades to thriving despite adversity, these teens were selected out of hundreds of Club teens throughout the metro greater Phoenix area to vie for the title of “Youth of the Year.” For the past several months, the group participated in a development program to learn about team building, communication, leadership and presentation skills.

In addition to crowning the 2016 “Youth of the Year,” attendees will dine on the Biltmore’s finest cuisine and have the opportunity to enjoy a large selection of silent auction items including high-end jewelry, restaurant experiences and sports memorabilia. The program also includes a live auction of world-class vacations, hand-selected jewelry and other packages that can be found only at the event.

The festivities will include a special tribute to Champions of Giving Bob and Renee Parsons of the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation.

All proceeds raised go directly to support the programs of 13 Clubs scattered throughout metro Phoenix and the West Valley.

Don’t miss out! Sponsorships and tables are available for purchase at bgcmpstars.org.

2016 Economic Outlook: Better than 2015, but no Boom!

Featured

The nation and Arizona can expect continued slow, steady growth through the remainder of the year and into 2016, and the Federal Reserve Bank may hold off its planned interest hike this month because of the market’s recent volatility, according to three speakers at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s annual Economic Outlook Wednesday.

David Brancaccio, Jim Huntzinger and Elliot Pollack all agree the nation and Arizona are in good shape economically.

Brancaccio, the host of National Public Radio’s Marketplace Morning Report, discussed the economy from a global perspective; Huntzinger, chief investment officer for BOK Financial, examined the economy from a national view; and Pollack, CEO of Elliot D. Pollack & Company took a look at Arizona and the Phoenix area’s economic outlook. Continue reading

Impact of DOL’s Proposed Revisions to White Collar Exemptions

Featured

LorieBirkBy Lorie Birk
Arizona Vice President
Membership Services
Mountain States Employers Council

On July 6, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor issued the long anticipated proposed regulations making revisions to the white collar exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If the proposed regulations go into effect it is estimated that over 5 million workers will now be eligible for overtime because they will not meet the salary requirements of the proposed regulations. Continue reading

Launching The Black Chamber of Arizona Statewide

Featured

Kerwin BrownBy Kerwin Brown
President & CEO
Based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 data, African-Americans in Arizona owned 6,330 firms in 2002 with more than 530,000 average gross receipts and 6,530 paid employees. The information came from the most recent statistics available from the Minority Business Development Agency, Western Regional Office for the U.S. Black Chambers. Continue reading

Crowdfunding: A Reality for Arizona Business

Featured

Rick Murray

Rick Murray

By Rick Murray
CEO, Arizona Small Business Association

Raising money to launch a business or to take one to the next level is challenging.

Many great ideas and businesses have failed because they are unable to stay in the game long enough to generate enough revenue to support them. Undercapitalization is the No. 1 reason businesses fail.
Banks know this. Unless there is collateral or a solid financial history, it’s not likely they will lend money. So where does that leave the small business owner “wanna-be?” Continue reading

OSHA unveils updated hot weather app

Featured

A phone app from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns workers and others who will be outside as summer heats up of risks of heat-related illness, and provides preventive steps.

A phone app from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns workers and others who will be outside as summer heats up of risks of heat-related illness, and provides preventive steps.

By NIHAL KRISHAN
Cronkite News
WASHINGTON – Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials had a message Wednesday for workers and others who expect to be outside working and playing as summer heats up: Shade, water and rest for safety.

And if that’s too much to remember, OSHA has an app for that. And it’s free.

The federal agency actually has had the OSHA Heat app since 2011, but recently it unveiled an updated version of the phone app that provides users with a heat index reading for a particular location and gives precautions to help prevent heat-related illnesses. Continue reading

If You’re Driving, Don’t Touch That High-tech Console, Mobile Device

Featured

High technology is woven inextricably into our daily lives, but at times it may pose a more dangerous risk than we can imagine. Take today’s newer model automobiles; they are packed with electronic screens for parking, using GPS, watching video, listening to satellite radio stations or talking with others – all at the touch of a driver’s fingertips. Continue reading

Remind workers of basic precautions against heat illness

Featured

Employers supervising workers in regions that have extreme temperatures may want to adopt employee training programs that educate workers on the symptoms of heat illnesses, including heat stroke. By teaching workers about the early signs of these potentially life-threatening conditions, employers could see decreases in heat illness reports and increases in worker productivity. Continue reading

Workers Compensation and the Non-traditional Work Force

Featured

Mark Kendall photo

By Mark Kendall
Legal Services Manager
CopperPoint Mutual
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of employees working outside of the traditional work place – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at an established work premises. Today, millions of U.S. workers perform at least a portion of their work duties outside of the office. Continue reading

Cheaper Gas, Increased Driving Lead to More Road Deaths

U.S. highway fatalities rose by 7.2 % in 2015, bringing the total number of deaths to more than 35,000, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The rise in fatalities was the highest percentage increase since 1966, when fatalities rose by 8.1%, the NHTSA’s data shows.

NHTSA attributed the increase to increased driving because of job growth, cheaper gasoline prices and more driving by young people. The agency said that while more driving was a major cause, other factors should be considered.

Nearly 50% of those killed were not wearing their seat belts. Drunken driving, speeding and distraction from mobile devices also contributed to the increase with almost one in three fatalities involving drunk drivers or speeding, and one in 10 fatalities involving distraction, reports revealed.

“The data tell us that people die when they drive drunk, distracted, drowsy or if they are speeding or unbuckled,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “While there have been enormous improvements in many of these areas, we need to find new solutions to end traffic fatalities.”

According to the NHTSA, the number of pedestrians and bicyclists who died in roadway accidents increased in 2015 more than any other year since 1995. Accidents that took the lives of motorcyclists rose by 8% in 2015. The report also showed vehicle miles traveled in 2015 was 3.5% higher than in 2014, which was the highest one-year increase in 25 years.

In response to the increase in traffic deaths, the NHTSA, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the White House are issuing a call to action to involve researchers, safety experts and data scientists in helping to determine the causes of the increase.

“Despite decades of safety improvements, far too many people are killed on our nation’s roads every year,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Solving this problem will take teamwork, so we’re issuing a call to action and asking researchers, safety experts, data scientists, and the public to analyze the fatality data and help find ways to prevent these tragedies.”