June 8: Social Media & HR (Delaware SHRM)

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 27, 2009In: Seminars, Past

Email This Post | Print this Post

My seminar on Social Media and HR, which was originally scheduled for February 9 but was canceled due to the snow, has been rescheduled for June 8. The seminar is hosted by the Delaware Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management. The seminar will take place during the Chapter's June breakfast meeting. There is a small fee to attend the event but it is open to members and non-member guests. Here's the link for more information on how to register: SHRMDE.


I'll be talking about Twitter, among other social-media tools. You can follow me to Twitter at @MollyDiBi until the seminar for more information about the potential uses of social media by human-resource professionals.

Looking for Some of the Best Leadership Training Around? You've Found It.

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 26, 2009In: Employee Engagement

Email This Post | Print this Post

100 of the Best Blogs on Leadership may sound like just about every imaginable leadership blog worth its salt would have been included. That is an incorrect conclusion.  After I posted my list of my favorite leadership blogs, readers sent me lots more names to add to the list. One of them that was specifically recommended was Leadership for Lawyers, authored by Mark Beese. I took that recommendation and am glad I did--the blog has outstanding content presented in well-written and timely fashion.  metaphor signs for business

Fittingly, Mark was named by LawDragon as one of the Top 100 Legal Consultants.  If his consulting services are on par with his blogging efforts, I'd say it's an honor well deserved.  And he is in good company, to boot.  Aside from Mark Beese, the list includes leadership greats, such as long-time leadership consultant David Meister, several of the Hildebrandt International all-star team also are included.  Larry Richard, Ph.D, is one such all-star.  I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Richard speak about the traditional character personalities of lawyers about two years ago.  As a former practicing attorney, who chose to pursue his Ph.D in psychology more than a decade after having completed his J.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Although I can attest to Mark's praise-worthy services only second-hand, I can attest personally to Dr. Richard's leadership genius.  In both cases, congratulations for being recognized for successfully teaching the important leadership message to lawyers.  Goodness knows, we are certainly in need of the lessons being taught!

Fashion Accessories for Gen Y Workers in Corporate America

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 26, 2009In: Just for Fun

Email This Post | Print this Post

Gen Y (a/k/a the Millennial Generation), is known, among other things, for an authority-be-damned approach to the workplace.  Having be raised by late-Boomer(or "Helicopter") parents, the "Y" Generation wants to know, "Why Should I?"  Why should I do what you tell me? . . .  Why should I work in the same job for my entire career? . . . Why should I be loyal to one employer?  And, of course, "Why should I wear a suit to work?"image

In my experience, it's often easier to go with the trend but add your own signature to ensure you stand apart from the crowd.  

And that is the approach I'd advise when it comes to workplace attire.  Law firms are still largely formal corporate environments, and for good reason.  (See Sheldon Sandler's previous post, “Are You My Lawyer or the Janitor?” The lawyer’s dress-code pendulum swings back.").  To make sure that you don't stand apart from the average black-suit-wearing legal eagle, consider accessories.  The smaller and less in-your-face the accessory, the more outrageous it can be.  (If pressed, I would admit to wearing to work a charm bracelet by Lagos that is adorned with tiny charms shaped like skulls.  I might even admit that I've worn it to a deposition once or twice). 

Here is a workplace-appropriate accessory for the dutifully fashionable--the iPod cufflink.  It is sold in both black (U2 style) and in pink for those interested in a more feminine touch.  And, lucky for you, the iPod cufflink is now on sale for $18 at 1st Choice Cufflinks.

Writing References #4: 40 of the Best Books on Writing

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 26, 2009In: Resources

Email This Post | Print this Post

Who vs. Whom.  It's a classic grammar question.  The answer? Beats me. Well, if I don't have any help, that is.  In reality, if I have a writing question that's got me stumped, I just look up the answer.  And, as high-tech as my world tends to be most times, nothing beats a good, old fashioned paper reference. 

Previously, I posted about 10 of the Funniest Writing Blogs.  If you missed that post, go check it out--you're guaranteed a laugh from the very particular bloggers who feel so passionately about things like the overuse of quotation marks. MONTBLANC

In the second post in the series, I offered readers a list of 20 Online Dictionaries, which included everything from the Dictionary of Philly Slang (our native language), to the RhymeZone, to the Dictionary of Sushi.  You can never have too many reference sources, right? 

In the third post in the series, I named 30 of the Best Writing Blogs.  Some of the blogs focus on legal writing, some are strictly business (writing, that is), and some are whatever they want to be on any given day.  Other great writing blogs were added via comments by readers, so be sure to check out those additions, as well. 

But today's post is all about the real thing--books as references.  Below are 40 of my most turned-to sources, broken down into four categories:  (1) Style and Usage Guides; (2) Business Writing (3) General Writing and Grammar; and (4) Legal Writing. 

 

Please don't be shy--add your favorites that I may have overlooked in the Comments section.

 

Continue reading "Writing References #4: 40 of the Best Books on Writing" »

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Will Become First Pro-Labor Legislation of 2009

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 25, 2009In: Equal Pay, Gender (Title VII), Legislative Update, Purely Legal

Email This Post | Print this Post

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 has passed the Senate and could be on President Obama's desk within days.  The wage-discrimination statute, Senate Bill 181, reverses a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007, which narrowly defines the time period during which an employee can file a claim of wage discrimination.  This may be the first piece of legislation signed by the new President.  Obama has been a strong advocate for the legislation.  Lilly Ledbetter, the plaintiff in the lawsuit that inspired the legislation, was invited to the inauguration.

The bill was approved during the first week of the new congressional session, perhaps indicative of the momentum behind the expected pieces of labor legislation.shutterstock_2935217

In Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tires, the case at the center of the legislation's history, the Court held that the discriminatory act, which starts the clock running on the time period to file a claim, occurs at the time of the discriminatory decision.  In other words, in a failure-to-promote claim, the date of the promotion decision is the date when the clock begins to run.  Ledbetter argued that the clock would begin to run each time a new paycheck was issued because each paycheck represented a new discriminatory act--the unequal payment of wages.  Ledbetter claimed that she did not know that she had been getting paid less than her male counterparts until a note was left in her mailbox at the end of her 19-year career with the company. 

Opponents of the law contend that it will effectively eliminate a statute of limitations period and could result in increased filings of unmeritorious lawsuits.  Employers will be hard pressed to "disprove" the decision- making process involved in a pay raise issued 20 years earlier. 

A middle ground, offered by Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson would have started the time period when the employee knew or had reason to know that discrimination was occurring.  Hutchinson said her alternative would protect both employee and employer. 

The alternative was rejected by women's-rights advocates, as the issue has become one largely divided on gender lines.  Women's-rights groups argue that the law is necessary to protect women from continued unequal pay.  Very little has been mentioned about the fact that the Ledbetter bill would apply to other protected classes, such as race, ethnicity, and national origin--not just gender.

What Other Great Minds Have to Say

Several e-law bloggers have already issued their insights on the legislation, so have a look at some of these posts to learn more about the ins and outs of what may be the first pro-employee legislation passed in 2009:

John Phillips at The Word on Employment Law, Fair Pay Act Ready to Become Law

Michael Moore at the PA Labor and Employment Blog, Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed by Senate and awaiting Obama Signature

Jon Hyman at the OH Employment Law blog, Ledbetter passes Senate – President’s signature is next

Frank Steinberg at the NJ Employment Law Blog, Ledbetter Act Passes Senate

Ross Runkel at LawMemo, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 awaits President's Signature 

Dennis Westlind at The World of Work, Senate Passes Lilly Ledbetter Bill 61-36

Dan Schwartz at the CT Employment Law Blog, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 Passes Senate, 61-36; President Will Sign

Tracing the Story Back to the Beginning

And to read about the bill since its inception, see the following posts:

Equal Pay Becomes Front Runner as Lilly Ledbetter Act Takes Center Stage

Equal Pay: Fair Pay Restoration Act Voted Down in Senate

More Fodder for the Fair Pay Debate

A New Day for Employers

 

Employers should stay tuned to what may be the first in a series of legislation that advocates for employees to the disadvantage of businesses.

Top 10 Ways Managers Can Engage Employees

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 23, 2009In: Employee Engagement

Email This Post | Print this Post

An engaged workforce doesn't occur by accident.  It requires a lot of work and a lot of attention.  At the end of the day, it's the front-line managers who can make the biggest difference in spreading the passion and enthusiasm required for engagement.  What follows after the jump are the 10 best ways managers can ensure that they're doing their part to achieve the ideal conditions suitable for an engaged workforce.

Continue reading "Top 10 Ways Managers Can Engage Employees" »

Security Breach of Personal Data Could Be the Largest Ever

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 22, 2009In: Privacy Rights of Employees

Email This Post | Print this Post

The possibility of identity theft has become a reality for tens of millions of credit and debit cardholders.  Yesterday, Heartland Payment Systems, a major payment processing company, revealed that its secure systems had been hacked and that the private data of millions of individuals may have been stolen.  This is said to be the largest data breach ever. identity theft

The N.Y. Time reports that those responsible for the massive theft could be part of an “international ring of hackers that are introducing breaches at a number of financial institutions.”  With an operation of this magnitude, it seems likely that this is the case--that the breach was a result of highly organized criminal entities.  But, more commonly, the theft of personal data is not so far-reaching or as complex.  An, often, it is the result of actions by an insider--an employee--who leaks the data for revenge or for money, or both.

For example, in December of 2008, an employee of Certegy Check Services, physically removed 2.3 million consumer data records to resell. The former employee sold consumer information to a data broker, who then sold it to a number of direct marketing companies.

Another example occurred in September of 2008, when Countrywide Mortgage notified the FBI that a former employee had sold customers' personal information to a third party, including names, addresses, social security numbers and application information. The FBI arrested the employee and reported that as many as two million people may have had their data stolen.

Then there was the case of the unauthorized sale of Britney Spears' sealed psychiatric information to the National Enquirer by an employee of the UCLA Medical Centre.  The employee was later prosecuted for the breach, was is believed to have been a series of disclosures over a period of several months.

Employers who've not yet implemented an effective procedure for responding to the unauthorized access of employees' personal data should consider the Heartland story a real wake-up call about the realities of identity theft.  No one is immune from a potential security breach.  But everyone should know what to do if one does occur. 

Work-Life Issues Spotlighted by Michelle Obama's Appointment of New Policy Director

Posted by Adria B. MartinelliOn January 21, 2009In: Newsworthy, Women In (and Out of) the Workplace

Email This Post | Print this Post

President Obama’s commitment to work-family issues is a topic I've posted about previously.  I've also posted about the President's campaign platform on work-life and work-family issues.  I’ve wondered, however, given the many larger issues on the President’s plate, whether these matters would truly be a focus once he was in office. Michelle Obama has made it clear it is a focus of hers, even while her husband is tending to other matters. She solidified her commitment to the issue by her appointment, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, of fellow attorney and Harvard Law School classmate Jocelyn Frye, general counsel of the National Partnership for Women and Families, as her Policy Director. michelle obama work life balance

Obama’s naming of Frye last Friday suggests she’s preparing to take an activist stance on such policy issues as family leave and flexible scheduling. Frye has been a long-time advocate of expanding family leave and ending pregnancy discrimination.  

The National Partnership for Women and Families drafted and lobbied for the 1993 Family & Medical Leave Act, which entitles many workers to up to 12 weeks unpaid time off for family care and other reasons. Their “proposed agenda for the new administration,” posted on the Partnership’s Web site, includes a much-expanded FMLA, guaranteeing employees of companies with 15 or more workers access to seven paid sick days a year, and also for the federal government to provide incentives for the states to set up paid family-leave insurance plans. The brief also calls for equal access to family leave for part-time workers, income supports to allow working parents in poverty to care for new children at home, and federal policies to give workers more control over their schedules, including the right to refuse mandatory overtime.

Let’s hope that Michelle Obama’s commitment to the cause, and her appointment of Frye, result in some real developments on work-family issues!

Why the Four-Day Work Week Should Not Be Considered a "Flexible Schedule"

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 20, 2009In: Alternative Work Schedules

Email This Post | Print this Post

The four-day work week is touted as a way for employers to offer employees a more flexible schedule.  The demand for flexible and alternative schedules continues to grow.  There are a number of reasons for this increased demand.  The influx of Generation Y workers has played a role, for one.  Also, the increased focus on work-life balance mandates the need for flexible scheduling.  And, as the workplace becomes more and more mobile, the need for office workers to actually work from the office continues to diminish.   Flexible Work Schedule Hourglass and planner

There are many ways in which employers can implement flexible-schedule programs.  When done right, these programs can act as ways to recruit the best candidates and retain the best employees.  But not all flexible workplace programs are created equally.  And, in my opinion, one of the most hyped offerings, the four-day work week, doesn't meet the criteria at all.  In a short post for the Sloan Work and Family Research Network, I write about Why the Four-Day Work Week Would Be the Death of the Flexible-Schedule Initiative.  In the post, I address some of the reasons why I think the four-day work schedule cannot, by definition, classify as a "flexible work schedule." 

Searching MySpace and Facebook for Job Applicants and . . . Judges?

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 19, 2009In: Social Media in the Workplace

Email This Post | Print this Post

Employers who use MySpace and Facebook as hiring tools have been the subject of some debate.  Employers have used MySpace to screen potential job candidates.  Employers have fired employees for something posted on the employee's Facebook and MySpace pages.  Even the incoming White House administration is requiring applicants to disclose any potentially embarrassing content on social networking sites.  Recently, there was some discussion about the use of social networking sites as a way to defend an employer in an employment litigation lawsuit. judge in robes with gavel

And now, there's talk of yet another purpose for the use of online profiles.  In the Fall issue of Litigation News, a quarterly magazine published by the ABA's Litigation Section, an article entitled Know Thy Judge advocates conducting an internet search on the judge assigned to your case.  Specifically, the article suggests that counsel should "Google the judge" before appearing in his or her courtroom, in the hopes of gaining insight on the judge's personality, habits, or tendencies. 

I wouldn't expect that many judges maintain public Facebook or MySpace pages.  But, in twenty years, when the bench is filled with Gen Ys wearing black robes, will their "internet past" play a relevant and important role?  It seems inevitable, doesn't it?  Especially in light of the recent report that the number of adults using online networking tools has quadrupled in the past three years. 

How to Participate in Today's National Day of Service

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 19, 2009In: Internet Resources, Locally Speaking

Email This Post | Print this Post

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  It is also the national day of service and the first day of President-elect Obama’s initiative to Renew America Together.  In communities around the First State, as well as in neighborhoods around the country, Americans are volunteering to help others.  If you would like to join in this growing initiative but don't know of any particular activities in your local area, check out USAService.org.   Here, you can search by zip code or by state and find a list of events being held today that would benefit from any time you can contribute.  And the website isn't just a great resource today.  Its comprehensive database of volunteer and charitable events lists the many opportunities that happen throughout the year.

Ergonomic Chair Update: Herman Miller Laptop Stand

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 19, 2009In: Wellness, Health, and Safety

Email This Post | Print this Post

Previously I posted about my quest for the perfect economic office chairherman miller scooter laptop standAnd, as everyone knows, nothing's more important than the perfect accessory.  When I do manage to find my dream chair, I now know the perfect accessory for it--the Herman Miller Laptop Stand. The Scooter Laptop Stand  provides comfortable and ergonomically correct keyboard and mouse support. The Scooter adjusts in height from 22" to 30" and has a tilt range of 20°. It can be purchased at Amazon for $379 and comes in Solid Cherry, Ash, and Ebony finishes.  

The Number of Adults Who Use Online Social Networking Sites Is Skyrocketing

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 19, 2009In: Privacy In the Workplace, Social Media in the Workplace

Email This Post | Print this Post

Teens outrank adults in the use of social networking sites by 30%.  But the popularity of social networking sites is not limited to teenagers.  Currently, one-third of adults in the U.S. have a profile at a site like MySpace or Facebook.  And this number is rising.  In fact, the number of adults who utilize these sites has quadrupled since 2005, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project’s December 2008 tracking survey. 

See the full survey here:  

What are the consequences of this skyrocketing use?   They can only be imagined.  As we've posted about previously, employers are taking a hard line when they discover what they consider unacceptable conduct by employees.  With more and more adults spending time on sites like Facebook and its more "grown-up" cousin, LinkedIn, it seems inevitable that there will be more and more terminations resulting to online conduct.

FLSA 105: Recordkeeping Requirements

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 14, 2009In: Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), HR Summer School

Email This Post | Print this Post

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), requires employers to make, keep, and preserve records regarding employees and employee compensation.  The FLSA provides a 15-item list of the types of information that the employer has the obligation to obtain.  All primary sources of this information must be preserved for a period of three years for all current and former employees.  All supplementary sources must be preserved for at least two years.  deptoflabor

What Information Am I Required to Keep?

First, you must be familiar with the information for which you are responsible.  The list includes:

  1. Name and SSN;
  2. Home address;
  3. Date of birth if under age 19;
  4. Sex and occupation
  5. Day and time on which the workweek begins;
  6. Hourly rate of pay;
  7. Basis of pay;
  8. Nature of any payment claimed as an exclusion from the regular rate;
  9. Total hours worked for each day and each week;
  10. Total straight (i.e., non-overtime or premium) pay;
  11. Total overtime pay;
  12. Additions and deductions made, including wage assignments;
  13. Total wages paid;
  14. Date of payment and pay period covered; and
  15. The company's sales and purchase records for purposes of determining whether it is an enterprise with an annual business volume of $500,000.

What Are the Primary and Secondary Sources of this Information?

All records that constitute primary sources of the above-listed information must be preserved for a period of three years.  Such records include:

  • payroll records;
  • work certificates;
  • CBAs; and
  • employment contracts.

Supplementary records are the documents that serve as the source documents for other payroll records. Supplementary records may include:

  • time cards;
  • production cards;
  • wage rate tables;
  • piece-rate schedules; and
  • work-time schedules.

What Else Should I Keep and Where Should I Keep It?

Although not required by the FLSA, it is a good idea to retain job descriptions, performance reviews, internal memos, job postings, handbooks, and other materials relating to wage classifications and pay practices that you could use to justify your pay practices during an audit, for a period of at least three years.

The FLSA requires that all records be kept at the place or places of employment or at one or more established central record-keeping offices, where such records are customarily maintained.  If kept outside the place of employment, they must be available within 72 hours of a request by the U.S. Department of Labor.

And, finally, don't forget about your posting requirements.  Employers must post notices in the workplace that state the requirements of the FLSA. 

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), is a very challenging statute to apply correctly.  For more information about legal compliance with the federal wage and hour laws, see the following posts:

Top 5 FLSA Topics

Executive Exemptions and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

5 Words of Warning about Improper Deductions and the FLSA

FLSA FAQ: Overtime and Unpaid Leave

FLSA 101: Who Is Covered Under the Fair Labor Standards Act?

FLSA 102: Minimum Wage Requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act

FLSA 103: Defining What Constitutes "Hours Worked"

FLSA 104: Overtime and the Fair Labor Standards Act

The Revolution of Thank You

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 14, 2009In: Employee Engagement

Email This Post | Print this Post

Leadership blogger, Ed Brenegar, of Leading Questions, is a finalist in the Johnny Bunko 7th lesson contest.  If you aren't familiar with the contest, it's a big deal. To become a finalist, Ed submitted his vision on the relationship dynamic in the professional work environment.  The concept is called, To Say Thanks Every Day and it can be described as the revolution of the "thank you."

Voting is only open through Thursday, January 15, so visit the Johnny Bunko contest website to register your vote.  While you're there, be sure to have a look at some of the more than 50 entries for the contest.  Don't know who or what Johnny Bunko is?  Oh no!  How about Daniel Pink?  BusinessWeek Best Seller?  How about that?  The book, Johnny Bunko, written by Daniel Pink, was a literary phenomenon in 2008 in the business world.  image From the book's website:

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko is America’s first business book in manga and the last career guide you’ll ever need. 

The book, which you can read in an hour, tells the story of Johnny Bunko, a beleaguered Everyman toiling away at the Boggs Corp

One night Johnny meets Diana, a magical and butt-kicking adviser who teaches Johnny -- and you -- the six lessons of satisfying, productive careers:

1. There is no plan.

2. Think strengths, not weaknesses

3. It’s not about you.

4. Persistence trumps talent.

5. Make excellent mistakes

6. Leave an imprint.

The book could be described as "the revolution of the Everyman."  Revolutions all around!  Check out Ed's entry on the real value of saying "thank you," as well as the other top contenders.  Then be sure to pick up the Johnny Bunko book and give yourself the sixty (or ninety) minutes it takes to read it cover to cover.  Enjoy the revolution.