Bruce’s Summary: As HR professionals, we are quite often the expected resource for addressing and handling issues that arise unexpectedly. Natural disasters whether forest fires, tornados, hurricanes or earth quakes, depending on our geographical local. would come to mind. Being prepared is always the solution, but being prepared is a novel quest when you’re understaffed and low on budget. There are ways around large cost items.
For those of us on the west coast being prepared for an earthquake (now for up to 72 hours on our own) or forest fires, could be a main focus. I can still remember the quake on October 17th in 1989. The author presents a good overview as a first step in reviewing policies and procedures and dusting off evacuation plans. Conducting a mock/simulated disaster exercise jointly with local emergency agencies may not be that expensive but would pay off dividends later. The author covers some of the commonly asked questions about telecommuting, exempt and non-exempt pay requirements, working from remote locations, shut-down issues, types of time off and employee assistance plans, etc. Good things to think about and shore up before an actual need arises. “None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor are Calvin Associates consultants engaged to offer legal advice. If there is a need for legal advice, please contact and seek the advice of independent legal counsel.” www.calvin-associates.com
Bruce’s Summary: I mentioned in my Part I overview, that having been in industry for some 35 years and working from the ground floor (brick and mortar) to the executive suite has provided me with a birds eye view of the how organizations get themselves in trouble because basically the culture, morale and engagement all start and finish in theexecutive suite. The biggest challenge was always keeping the opinions where they belonged, out of the investigation. I can’t tell you how many times I had the conversation that opinions are not policy. Even today as a consultant offering mentoring/coaching, conflict resolution and internal investigations services, on numerous occasions this conversation had to be addressed. As in all discussions, it’s not what you say but how you describe the difference between the two.
Both Part I and II would be great overviews to give organizational staff by their HR Executives. This is more the why and how of a good solid investigation. As I said in my overview of Part I, performing internal investigations has become one of the largest underlying potential cost items for business. If we don’t start off, as the author says with, “the person in the position to make decisions recognizes and can identify possible biases and takes steps to correct what might be negatively affecting the decision-making process” this will come out sooner or later at a cost and the potential embarrassment publicly for the organization. This shouldn’t have to occur. By reviewing the potential for bias early and either recognizing this may or may not be a potential issue, if felt an issue then the person making the decision can counter by bring in an outside neutral investigator. This is where the investigation should start.
The author offers “5 Corrective Measures” that are great reference points but also provides some excellent “Additional Tips” of good common sense to follow. This article is a little long but brings the needed depth for Internal Investigators and their HR Executive staff to understand what a potential slippery slope lies before them. Not that this wasn’t previously known, the two articles just clarify the subject matter. “None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor are Calvin Associates consultants engaged to offer legal advice. If there is a need for legal advice, please contact and seek the advice of independent legal counsel.” www.calvin-associates.com
Bruce’s Summary: Having been in industry for some 35 years and now providing investigative consulting in the HR arena, I know performing internal investigations has become one of the largest underlying potential cost items in business. The word neutral should be paramount when considering doing an investigation internally. This article (Part I.) is a good overview on the subject of unconscious bias by the author(s) and certainly brings home the fact of being extremely conscious at the very beginning, in the decision process, when a potential internal investigation is on the horizon of what potential liabilities lie ahead.
Speaking of unconscious bias, for those poor folks who are internal, you already know you’re in trouble when middle or upper management wants it done (investigation) “quickly.” When you hear, “just do it and get it over with but don’t interview so many people this time,” and it is certainly implied that you aren’t being told what to do, “you’re neutral.”
This certainly doesn’t happen in every case but in those where this kind of discussion occurs you already have unconscious bias but not from the investigator, this lies with middle and upper management. Is this the tail wagging the dog? This is a clear signal that something is up and those in power positions are possibly too close and some form of outside help may be needed. It’s not that you can’t do it, the basic reason many times is you and/or the management team are just too close to the issue/person and that is when unconscious bias can and does very easily come into play.
In HR today, HR Professionals can’t be everything to everyone, but professionally we all need to recognize when either the internal investigator or the internal team is too close to the issue/person and that the front end cost of an outside neutral investigator will offset the potential legal cost associated with letting unconscious bias seep into and corrode an investigation. “None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor are Calvin Associates consultants engaged to offer legal advice. If there is a need for legal advice, please contact and seek the advice of independent legal counsel.” www.calvin-associates.com
Bruce’s Summary: When articles like this are written, is this supposed to conger up fear and panic? Of course not. As Business Professionals part of our role is to ensure that our plans such as our Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is up to date and our employees are aware of what to do and how to react. With the recent wave of violence in the news again and again, a review may be in order and if you don’t have a plan, it’s really time to seriously consider such a program. It’s one of those programs you hope you never need, but if needed, you’re grateful you had one. The authors present a good overview of the steps to take in preparing a plan, and suggest, as part of the training, reviewing with employees a copy of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) latest brochure. As I’ve said before, it’s sad that we are at a point where fighting for your life and training how to do that must now be a major focus in protecting our employees as well as our citizens. Please share! Great overview. “None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor are Calvin Associates consultants engaged to offer legal advice. If there is a need for legal advice, please contact and seek the advice of independent legal counsel.”
Bruce’s Summary: In reference to the EEOC Commission Report for Fiscal Year 2016, the authors do a good job of presenting the key highlights outlined in the report. One key element discussed by the authors is the overall numbers for total “number of charges” being only slightly higher than the numbers in 2015 and 2014. Shown also is the LGBT-related statistics now followed by the EEOC showing a consistent increase in charges. Another number is the litigation statistics for FY2016 which show the total number of lawsuits being significantly down.
One number within the EEOC’s report that I feel somehow seems to get lost is the number and percentage found under the “No Reasonable Cause” section. There’s an old saying I like to use during regulatory training sessions in reference to this section, “If you aren’t talking to your employees, someone else is” and I feel that this section says it loud and clear.
The “All Statutes” Report total number for FY2016 was 91,503 claims and of that number 65,882 (67.7%) were found to have “No Reasonable Cause”. When communication lines break down within an organization, regardless of size, and employees feel that they are no longer being heard internally, they will talk turn to someone outside the organization whether in the legal and/or government field. I feel the data above shows that most employees want to be heard. With the honor of building and sustaining partnerships falling on HR, right or wrong its HR’s role to ensure communication lines are open between both HR and their employees and HR and the management team. No one said it was easy. We are as HR Professionals supposed to be representing both parties. We need to do more of that. “None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor are Calvin Associates consultants engaged to offer legal advice. If there is a need for legal advice, please contact and seek the advice of independent legal counsel.” www.calvin-associates.com