New Gender Pay Laws: What Employers Need to Know

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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

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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.

5 Tips for Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls in Your Arizona Workplace

Numerous workplace accidents in Arizona are the result of slips, trips and falls. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 15% of all work-related fatalities across the U.S. are caused by slips, trips and falls, and falls are to blame for 17% of all debilitating occupational injuries. Oftentimes, however, these types of accidents may be prevented with a little care and caution. Using the tips may help you avoid suffering injuries that will keep you out of work.

What causes slips, trips and falls in the workplace?

Slips, trips and falls involving workers may be caused by any number of factors. Some of the most common of these include the following:

  • Uneven floor surfaces
  • Wet or slick floors
  • Damaged or worn flooring
  • Walkway obstructions
  • Changes in levels
  • Poor lighting

Additionally, cluttered work areas may also contribute to these types of accidents. As a result of slips, trips and falls, you may suffer sprains and strains, broken bones, head trauma and numerous other potentially serious injuries.

Wear appropriate footwear

Some flooring surfaces may be slick on their own, while others may become incredibly slippery when they are wet or there is dry product on them. It may seem that your primary concerns when choosing your footwear should be comfort, support and fashion. However, you should also consider your shoes’ soles and traction. Wearing shoes that are slip-resistant may help you avoid losing your footing on slick or slippery flooring.

Cover or guard all floor openings

In some work environments, there may be stairway floor openings, pits, trapdoors, chutes, hatchways and other openings. Ensuring that all stairway floor and other openings are guarded by railings on all exposed sides may help prevent you or other workers from falling into them. Additionally, you should use guards on all chute and hatchway openings, and cover any pit or trapdoor openings if they are not in use. When pits and trapdoors are being used, it is important that their openings are attended by a worker at all times in order to warn others of the danger.

Turn the lights on

It goes without saying that if you cannot see where you are going or what you are doing, you may be more likely to slip on something, trip over something or fall down. Therefore, you should use a light source that provides adequate light for you to perform your tasks whenever you are able. If you are working in a dark or dimly lit space, using a flashlight may help you shed some light on the area and avoid some work-related accidents.

Good housekeeping

Regardless of the environment that you are working in, clutter can cause more than just headaches when you are looking for something. If there is debris, tools or other objects around your feet or work space, you may slip on them or trip over them. Keeping your work area clean and free of obstructions may help you stay on your feet and prevent you from suffering potentially debilitating injuries on the job.

Avoid distractions

At home, in your car and at work, you, like others, are likely dialed in to your mobile and other devices. While this may be a part of your job or your normal routine, it can create issues in the workplace if you are not watching where you are going. If you are looking down at your phone, you may not see co-workers, spills, equipment or other hazards that could cause you to slip, trip or fall. Thus, when moving about your work environment, it is advisable for you to take your time and avoid behaviors that may distract you, such as text messaging or checking your social media.