How Can You Avoid Religious Discrimination Claims?

When employers deal with a worker unfavorably because of religious beliefs, they open themselves up to discrimination lawsuits. Laws prohibiting religious discrimination protect people who adhere to traditional religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. The also apply to other people who hold sincere religious, ethical or moral beliefs. Tips the EEOC Provides to Employers to Avoid Religious Discrimination Charges Based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the EEOC encourages employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for workers so they can practice or observe their religions. The only exception is when the accommodation causes the business an undue hardship, making it difficult to operate the business. What is involved with making reasonable accommodations? You should make sure you understand the religious request by discussing it with the job applicant or worker and should consider what options are available to accommodate the request. Perhaps the request is to have a certain day off to observe religious services. A schedule adjustment could be an alternative to accommodate the individual. Or perhaps the worker must wear a hat (yarmulke) or head covering (hijab) and allowing the person to do so would be the accommodation. What Qualifies as Undue Hardship? Examples of accommodations causing undue hardship include: The company suffers from diminished efficiency in relation to other jobs Infringement of other employee’s rights or jobs occurs The accommodation impairs workplace safety Co-workers have to carry the accommodated employee’s share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work The accommodation conflicts with another law The company suffers from more than a minimal or trivial cost in its operation What Does Proving Undue Hardship...

What Kinds of Employment Records Does Your Business Have to Keep?

There is a lot of administration involved with running a business, and sometimes you wonder what records to keep and how long you have to keep them. The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)clarifies what your record keeping requirements are under federal law as the following: The EEOC requires you to keep all employment records for personnel for one year. If you fire an employee, then you must keep that former employee’s records for one year from the date of termination. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) requires employers to keep all payroll records for three years. Also if you have employee benefit plans such as pensions and insurance plans, and any written seniority or merit system, you must keep records of these plans for the full time the plan is in effect. Or if you fir the employee, for one year after the employee’s termination. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires you to keep records that could be applicable to the Equal Pay Act (EPA) for at least three years. This includes any records that would explain the reason for paying different wages to employees of opposite sexes who work in the same establishment. You should keep for at least two years records that show wage rates, job evaluations, seniority, merit systems and collective bargaining agreements.   What Records Do You Need if the EEOC Files a Charge on You? While no one wants to think about having a claim filed against the business with the EEOC, it’s good to be prepared in the event it happens. Let’s say you discover an employee has filed a claim...

New Right to Work Law Passed in Missouri

When Missouri’s current governor campaigned for office, he promised to push through a right to work law. He just signed the bill into law, making Missouri the 28th state to have a right to work law. The National Law Review recently published an article that outlined the provisions of Missouri’s new law. What Is a Right to Work Law? Right to work laws enable employees who do not want to join a union to work at a unionized company without having to pay monthly union dues. Currently, in states that do not have right to work laws, workers in unionized companies must pay union dues even if they do not join the union. The reasoning behind this is that all employees reap the benefits from the bargaining agreements negotiated for compensation and other perks. Therefore, they should help pay for the work being done by unions. Does New York Have a Right to Work Law? No, New York is one of the 22 states that do not have right to work laws. Companies are not allowed to discriminate against non-union workers or deny job applicants employment if the employee does not want to join the union. However, employers can require such employees pay union dues. Federal Laws Governing Unions Federal law established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the NLRB has the authority to enact rules and procedures for unions and businesses. NLRB rules affect activities such as entering into collective bargaining and other attempts to break up unions. If you are an employer and have questions about unions and employee’s rights, it is important to seek legal...

Recent Ruling on Tip Credits, Tip Pooling and Tipped Employees

The Ninth Circuit Court decision in a recent case was a landmark ruling that favored tipped employees in the debate of tip pooling. It clarifies whether an employer who is not taking a tip credit can do tip pooling, which divides tips among tipped and non-tipped employees. The Issue with Tip Pooling with Non-Tipped Employees The National Law Review  discussed the case of Oregon Rest & Lodging Ass’n v. Perez, which was appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court. The crucial question was whether employers have the right to share the tips of waitresses, bartenders and casino dealers, etc. (tipped employees) with non-tipped employees like busboys, hostesses and floor managers. When a tipped employee works hard to deliver great customer service and as a result of such efforts receives a large tip, then having to turn it over to other non-tipped employees seems rather unfair. What Does the FLSA Say? The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) makes it clear that when employers take a tip credit and pay non-tipped employees less than minimum wage, the tipped employees must receive their tips. However, when the employer does not take a tip credit and tipped employees receive minimum wage or higher, are the tips fair game for pooling among employees? DOL Rule About Tip Pooling The Department of Labor (DOL) established its own rule in 2011 because the FLSA wasn’t clear on this point. The DOL decided tipped employees still deserved their tips and pooling was unfair. Recent Case Conclusion The Ninth Circuit reviewed at the issue from different angles and various precedent setting cases. It also considered the intent of the...

Vacation Pay Issues Clarified in Recent Case

Many business owners offer vacation pay as a job benefit. Sometimes issues arise as to whether employees are being treated fairly when receiving their vacation pay. Vacation Pay Issues in McCaster, Clark v. Darden Restaurants A recent case heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rendered a decision that favored employers in the case DEMIKO MCCASTER and JENNIFER CLARK, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. DARDEN RESTAURANTS, INC. Popular brand name restaurants operated by Darden Restaurants include Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Longhorn Steakhouse. When full-time employees reached the anniversary of their hiring date, Darden paid them an “anniversary payment, which functioned as a paid vacation for employees. When an employee left the restaurant, Darden included accrued vacation pay (pro rata) in the final check. Prior to 2008, all employees were eligible for vacation pay. After June 1, 2008, only full time employees were eligible for vacation pay. In the recent case, McCaster alleged that Darden failed to pay him his accrued vacation pay when he left his job at the Red Lobster. Clark alleged that Darden failed to pay the vacation pay owed her after June 1, 2008. Clark argued that denying part-time employees the equal right to vacation pay was unfair. How the Case Ruling Benefited Employers The litigants sought to establish the case as a class action lawsuit. However, the judge ruled that the group did not qualify as a fail-safe class. Darden won its partial summary judgment against Clark’s allegation of unpaid vacation benefits for part-time workers. Darden’s company policy did not grant part time workers vacation pay, and it was the company’s right to...