Personal Risk Advisor

Using Fireworks Safely

Posted by CFR Multimedia
CFR Multimedia
Keeping you up to date on the latest risk & insurance topics
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 02 July 2014
in Personal Risk Advisor · 0 Comments
FireworksWatching a fireworks show is a truly magical experience at any age, whether you are at a local park or club, or making your own show in the backyard.  If you are going to light fireworks on your own, there are special precautions you must take to keep your family safe as you celebrate.

Readers Say Most Employers Allow Personal Mobile Devices

Posted by CFR Multimedia
CFR Multimedia
Keeping you up to date on the latest risk & insurance topics
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 17 April 2012
in Personal Risk Advisor · 0 Comments
We recently asked our readers, "Does Your Organization Permit Employees to BYOD?" According to the poll, only 17 percent of employers do not allow employees' mobile devices at work.

Here are the specific responses:
  • Yes, employees can have their own devices, but not use them for work. (24%)
  • Yes, employees can bring their own devices and use them for work. (54%)
  • No, employee devices are not permitted at work. (17%)
  • Don't Know. (5%)
Commentary

The important statistic for employers is that over half (54 percent) of employers not only allow employees to bring their own devices to work, but also allow or require them to use their own devices for work purposes.

This workplace trend brings challenges for employers – confidentiality, liability, harassment, social networking, email and file-sharing are all areas of potential risk.

This Site offers a model policy titled Equipment, Internet and Network Usage. To see if you have access to this policy, log on and go to Knowledge Vault and then Model Policies. Developing a policy tailored to your organization's needs is critical.


This informational piece was published on April 6, 2012.

Finally, your opinion is important to us. Please complete the opinion survey:

 

...
Tags: Untagged

Discrimination Against Military Service Members-A Rising Concern

Posted by CFR Multimedia
CFR Multimedia
Keeping you up to date on the latest risk & insurance topics
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 17 April 2012
in Personal Risk Advisor · 0 Comments
In fiscal 2011, 1,548 soldiers filed complaints of violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), enacted in 1994.

The law applies to all employers but the federal government was the largest single offender in 2011 accounting for 18 percent of the complaints.

More than a quarter of federal employees are veterans, and the federal government is the largest employer of National Guard and reservists. About 14 percent of the 855,000 Guard members and reservists serving hold civilian jobs with the federal government. But lately the U.S. government has denied jobs and withdrawn job offers because service members were not yet released from military service. Other veterans claim they have been fired after service-related absences. Some government employers have forced reservists to leave military service as a condition of employment, which is also prohibited.

USERRA calls on the federal government to be a "model employer" for service members. At the same time, some of the worst offenders are the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Postal Service.

One purpose of USERRA is to protect the civilian careers of returning service members so that they are not disadvantaged because of their service. Experts say the system for changing employer practices is flawed because there is not a single agency with enforcement oversight, and there is little incentive for the government to improve. "Returning veterans allege job discrimination by federal government," www.mysanantonio.com (Feb. 19, 2012).

Commentary

Congress passed USERRA in 1994 to prohibit employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees or applicants for employment because of their past, current or future military service.

USERRA covers nearly all employees, including part-time and probationary employees. The Act applies to persons who perform duty in the "uniformed services," including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Public Health Service commissioned corps, as well as the reserve components of each of these services. Federal training or service in the Army National Guard and Air National Guard also falls under USERRA. In addition, under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Response Act of 2002, certain disaster response work (and authorized training for such work) is considered "service in the uniformed services."

While the source article focuses on discrimination by government employers, virtually all employers, regardless of size, are subject to USERRA.

Employers must make reasonable efforts to train or retrain returning service members to help them qualify for reemployment or provide alternative positions if the returning employee cannot qualify for the "escalator" position – the job the employee could have expected to achieve if he or she had stayed on the job rather than serving in the military.

But employers must not forget that discrimination based on military service or status is prohibited by the Act for first time job applicants as well. With many service members returning to the workforce, employers must not reject job applicants who have served in the armed forces simply because of preconceived notions, assumptions or stereotypes relating to their military service.

Also, USERRA requirements provide a minimum standard, but states can add additional protections that go beyond the federal ones. An employer should always check with an attorney to see if its state has protections for service members beyond those found in USERRA.

Related Links

Tags: Untagged

Want Happy Employees? Check Applicants' Facebook Pages

Posted by CFR Multimedia
CFR Multimedia
Keeping you up to date on the latest risk & insurance topics
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 17 April 2012
in Personal Risk Advisor · 0 Comments
A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology shows a strong relationship between characteristics revealed on Facebook profiles and success on the job.

Researchers asked two students and a university professor to spend 10 minutes going through the Facebook profiles of employed college students. They looked at comments, photographs, friends and interests and then answered a series of personality-related questions about the student workers. (e.g., "Is this person dependable?" "How emotionally stable is this person?")

A large number of friends and a wide range of interests demonstrated agreeability. The researcher also found that photographs of employees partying were seen as positive because they showed the person was sociable and extroverted.

Six months later the researchers obtained supervisors' performance reviews of the students' work and compared them to the earlier Facebook evaluations. They found a strong correlation between high scores for traits including curiosity, agreeability and conscientiousness and successful performance at work. The researchers believe the Facebook evaluations proved to be more accurate than traditional personality tests that employers often use to gauge potential employees. "Your Facebook profile 'can help predict your job performance,'" www.economictimes.com (Feb. 23, 2012).

Commentary

The study described in the source article was conducted by Dr. Peter A. Rosen, a professor at University of Evansville and Dr. Don Kluemper of Northern Illinois University. According to an article posted in Social Media News, the two men decided to team up to do the research because Dr. Rosen's research was focused on social networking websites and Dr. Kluemper's research was centered on personality.

When Dr. Rosen was asked what job seekers should avoid on their Facebook profiles, he said, "While you might think that I am going to say avoid posting pictures of you and your friends enjoying an adult beverage, my answer is a little different. My personal peeve is the person that consistently posts negative status messages, which shows that they score low in the personality trait of emotional stability. There is something to be said about hiring a positive person in the workplace."

Based on the study, employers can glean both positive and negative attributes from applicants' social media posts. The best practice for employers is to check a job applicant's public social media profile as part of the background check process. They should look for qualities that may help the applicant in the job as well as positive, negative and detrimental posts.

Remember, few jobs require a negative attitude. In the end, happy employees are better employees.

For more information on using social media in the hiring process log on to read Social Media Background Checks - A New Tool or a New Source of Liability? published on this Site.


This informational piece was published on April 3, 2012.

Finally, your opinion is important to us. Please complete the opinion survey:

 

...
Tags: Untagged

Hiring or Not Hiring Job Seeking Baby Boomers - Risks and Rewards

Posted by CFR Multimedia
CFR Multimedia
Keeping you up to date on the latest risk & insurance topics
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 17 April 2012
in Personal Risk Advisor · 0 Comments
Researchers are finding that the recent wave of unemployment particularly affects older workers. Many employees who worked in the same types of jobs and positions for decades have been laid off and are now forced to look at changing their careers to reenter the workforce.

Although the unemployment rate for workers over 55 is much lower than the rate for younger workers, studies done by the AARP Public Policy Institute and the Urban Institute show that older workers face more obstacles when looking for a new job. Workers who are age 55 and older are unemployed an average of 56.1 weeks before finding a new position, compared to 35 weeks for younger workers.

Employers are nearly one-third less likely to hire an older worker than a younger applicant. When employers hire older workers, it is often in a new career field that pays less - nearly 40 percent less than the previous jobs held by workers ages 50 to 61 - and the new career field comes with challenges such as the need for training, a younger boss, and a down-sized lifestyle.

The studies also found that the earning potential of workers ages 62 and older decreases by about 46 percent when starting over in a new career.

Experts suggest that older workers stay current with their computer skills and take advantage of on-the-job training. Also, internships are no longer just for college graduates. Many older job seekers find that internships are an effective way for them to break into a new field and can lead to permanent employment. Corilyn Shropshire for the Chicago Tribune, "Older workers face challenges after layoffs," www.chicagocareertech.com (Feb. 16, 2012).

Commentary and Checklist

As of November 2011, figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that just over 20 percent of the workforce is age 55 or older. With the unemployment numbers still over eight percent, you can be sure that many of those looking for a job are in this older age group.

The protections found in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his or her age (40 and over) with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including training, firing, promotion, layoffs, compensation, benefits, job assignments and hiring.

Employers must remember that as long as job applicants, no matter their ages, are able to perform the essential functions of a job in a safe, productive and reasonable manner, they should be considered for the job.

One value provided by many older workers is their willingness to work part-time or on a temporary basis. Older workers provide an excellent pool of experienced talent for part-time or project-based work. Full-time older workers also may have more flexibility with work schedules.

Other key benefits of hiring older workers are that they often have more experience, a strong work ethic, and a mature understanding of the workplace. In a new career, they may bring an attitude of enthusiasm, appreciation and loyalty to the workplace that bolsters overall employee morale and productivity.

To entice older applicants, employers should emphasize their anti-discrimination policies, how their managers are trained to provide equal employment opportunities, and detail how training is allocated to all employees regardless of age. Employers, if possible, should promote their records for employing older workers and the success older workers have achieved once employed.

Consider these tips to make sure that your hiring process does not overlook the talents of older workers:
  • Advertise jobs where older employees are likely to view them - with senior associations and senior-related career sites. Make certain that your advertisements are age-neutral, however.
  • Advertise your organization as an equal opportunity employer.
  • Create job postings that promise training, if available.
  • Offer flexible hours.
  • Permit part-time employment and job sharing.
  • Create a recognition program and advertise it to older employees so they know they will receive acknowledgement for a job well done.


This informational piece was published on April 2, 2012.

Finally, your opinion is important to us. Please complete the opinion survey:

 

...
Tags: Untagged

Applicant with a Disability? Do You Know the Risks?

Posted by CFR Multimedia
CFR Multimedia
Keeping you up to date on the latest risk & insurance topics
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 17 April 2012
in Personal Risk Advisor · 0 Comments
A national coffeehouse chain faces a lawsuit filed by a job applicant with a disability. The man alleges discrimination in the employer's hiring practices and claims that he was turned down for a barista job because he has only half of his left arm. The job applicant claims that the store manager told him that he could not perform the job because many of the flavored syrup bottles are stored too high for him to reach.

In the lawsuit, the man claims that he was never given the opportunity to show his ability to perform the job or to request possible reasonable accommodations to perform the job.

The coffeehouse chain asserts in its defense that it employs many workers with disabilities and disputes the man's account of the interview. "One-armed man sues Starbucks for not hiring him," www.sfgate.com (Feb. 21, 2012).

Commentary and Checklist

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits disability discrimination in all aspects of the hiring process including recruitment, the intake of applications, interviews, and final hiring decisions.

In this case, the employer allegedly made a decision not to hire the applicant based on the assumption that the applicant could not perform a necessary job duty; namely, reaching flavored syrup bottles. But the ADA requires employers to disregard a disability if the job applicant can perform the job with or without reasonable accommodations. The requirement means that employers should not make the decision not to hire an applicant without first exploring accommodation options.

An employer may consider allowing an applicant with a disability to provide a list of reasonable accommodations that could enable him or her to perform the job. An employer may also seek an independent evaluation of whether an applicant with a disability can perform the particular job with or without reasonable accommodation.

Many employers do not realize the extent of protections the ADA offers job applicants. The ADA also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations during the application process and interviews. These reasonable accommodations take many forms, such as supplying written materials and applications in accessible formats (large print, Braille, or audiotape); providing readers or sign language interpreters; and/or conducting recruitment, interviews, and job testing at locations accessible to those with disabilities.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the ADA in employment. Go to the EEOC's Disability Discrimination page to learn more about ways to make your workplace ADA compliant.

Consider these additional suggestions to avoid disability discrimination in the hiring process:
  • Do not ask questions about disabilities on application forms or tests or during any part of the application and interview process.
  • If an applicant requests, orally or in writing, a reasonable accommodation for the interview process, try to accommodate the request.
  • Do not ask questions that are likely to reveal the existence of a disability before making a job offer. Questions and medical examinations are permitted after extending a job offer but before the individual begins work.
  • Do not withdraw the job offer solely because you learn that an applicant has a disability. Seek the advice of an attorney before making any decision to reject an applicant with a disability or retract an offer of employment.
  • Don't make assumptions about a prospective employee's ability to work. Judge each applicant on his or her unique qualifications.


This informational piece was published on April 5, 2012.

Finally, your opinion is important to us. Please complete the opinion survey:

 

...
Tags: Untagged

The Risks of Hiring Undocumented Employees

Posted by CFR Multimedia
CFR Multimedia
Keeping you up to date on the latest risk & insurance topics
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 17 April 2012
in Personal Risk Advisor · 0 Comments
Four women have settled their discrimination lawsuit with a large manufacturing employer.

The women accused the employer of giving preferential treatment to Latinos. They claim the employer did not offer them jobs until after a 2008 workplace raid on undocumented immigrants. One woman alleges that she applied for a position with the employer every three to six months for about six years, and the other plaintiffs made similar allegations.

According to the women's attorney, the employer acted on racial stereotypes that Latinos work harder than blacks and whites and that Latinos put up with working conditions other workers may find objectionable.

According to the lawsuit, undocumented immigrants from Mexico received preferential treatment. Immigration agents did, in fact, detain almost 600 undocumented immigrants during a raid on the employer prior to the lawsuit. Most of the workers were deported and some face identity theft charges. In February 2011, the employer paid $2.5 million after pleading guilty to conspiracy to violate immigration laws.

The lawsuit further alleges that the employer knew it was hiring undocumented immigrants and even instructed some on how to get false identities. In fact, some of the illegal workers were given jobs even after the Social Security Administration informed the employer that their Social Security numbers were not valid. "Mississippi Company Settles Lawsuit Alleging it Favored Latinos," latino.foxnews.com (Feb. 13, 2012).

Commentary and Checklist

The source article points to several areas of high risk in hiring undocumented workers. First, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on, among other things, race, color, national origin or ethnicity.

The prohibitions include discrimination against one class in favor of another.

Allowing managers to make employment decisions based on racial stereotypes puts an employer at high risk for discrimination charges.

Second, employers also may incur criminal penalties for engaging in a pattern or practice of hiring, recruiting or referring unauthorized aliens for a fee. Hiring workers who are not authorized to work under the E-verify process can lead to criminal prosecution and imprisonment. Every new employee must complete a Form I-9 and provide employers with documentation establishing both identity and eligibility to work in the United States. In addition, an employer should know and comply with its state's immigration and employment laws.

Lastly, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that as many as nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year. If the employer in the above-mentioned article did aid workers in identity theft, as accused, it will face criminal punishment as well as civil liability in connection with the thefts.

The E-Verify system is an online federal screening tool that matches employee information to Social Security Administration (SSA) records. According to the Department of Homeland Security, E-Verify is currently the best way for employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of new hires. The program also improves the accuracy of wage and tax reporting and protects jobs for authorized workers.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services provides more information on E-verify for employers, including links to resources.

In order to avoid litigation, here are some helpful hints for using E-Verify:
  • Federal contractors were required to use E-Verify as of September 8, 2009;
  • Employers must post a notice informing employees of their use of E-Verify;
  • E-Verify must be used for new hires only. It cannot be used to verify employment eligibility of current employees;
  • If used, E-Verify must be used for all new hires regardless of national origin or citizenship status and cannot be used selectively;
  • Employers may not use E-Verify to pre-screen applicants; instead, use the system after hire and completion of Form I-9;
  • If an employee receives an information mismatch from his or her Form I-9 and SSA and DHS databases, the employer must promptly provide the employee with information about how to challenge the information mismatch, including a written notice generated by E-Verify.
  • Employers must not take any adverse action against an employee because he or she contests the information mismatch. This includes firing, suspending, withholding pay or training, or otherwise infringing upon his or her employment.


This informational piece was published on April 3, 2012.

Finally, your opinion is important to us. Please complete the opinion survey:

 

...
Tags: Untagged

January is National Radon Action Month

Posted by CFR Multimedia
CFR Multimedia
Keeping you up to date on the latest risk & insurance topics
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 12 January 2012
in Personal Risk Advisor · 0 Comments

Though you can't see, smell or taste radon, it may be present at dangerous levels in your home. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, and causes over 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year.

Is your home safe from the dangers of radon?

Holiday Travel Safety Tips

Posted by CFR Multimedia
CFR Multimedia
Keeping you up to date on the latest risk & insurance topics
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 07 December 2011
in Personal Risk Advisor · 0 Comments

busy-airport

Remember the movie, "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles," with John Candy and Steve Martin? Everything that could go wrong on that trip did! Your holiday travels don't have to be as stressful. Just follow these easy tips:

Tags: Untagged

Toy Safety for Holiday Shoppers

Posted by CFR Multimedia
CFR Multimedia
Keeping you up to date on the latest risk & insurance topics
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 17 November 2011
in Personal Risk Advisor · 0 Comments
Seeing a child's face light up as he or she unwraps a long-awaited new toy during the holiday season is priceless. Toys bring children joy, entertainment and a learning experience, but they can also be extremely dangerous if not made properly or if they are age- inappropriate.

Winter Safety: Driving

Posted by CFR Multimedia
CFR Multimedia
Keeping you up to date on the latest risk & insurance topics
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 17 November 2011
in Personal Risk Advisor · 0 Comments

Precautions for Avoiding Skids, Slips and Accidents

Winter Driving

Losing control of a car is undoubtedly one of the most terrifying experiences that anyone can go through. Unfortunately, it is common when the temperatures turn cold and the roads get slick.