Unconscious Bias: What We Learned from Starbucks

On April 12, 2018, two young African American men were waiting at a Pennsylvania Starbucks for a meeting to begin when the Starbucks store manager requested police to remove them because they did not order anything. The two men were arrested and removed from the location in handcuffs. After a video of the incident went viral, Starbucks received nationwide backlash. The reaction to the incident prompted the entire franchise to close its 8,000 doors across the United States for an Anti-Bias Training and transform its ethos. Seeking advice and recommendations from various experts, Starbucks aimed to revitalize its third core value: the “third place” – a place of community and belonging.

Unconscious bias is processing information based on unconscious associations or feelings.  While unconscious bias is not a new or revolutionizing topic in the workplace, 2020 is going to place an emphasis on managers and leaders to incite change to organizational culture towards diversity and inclusivity. The focus will likely lean on the impact of affinity and fender biases in the workplace.

An amalgamation of different perspectives and experiences representative of the communities that organizations serve is the core purpose of diversity in the workplace. Understanding how bias influences workplace decisions can assist business leaders in addressing and reducing bias.

Addressing Bias

The first step in addressing bias is identifying it. There are different types of bias that can appear in the workplace, such as affinity bias (the unconscious tendency to connect with others similar to oneself) and unconscious bias (social stereotypes of groups of people without conscious awareness). Providing education and training on such biases can help individuals recognize their own biases, take appropriate steps to remove bias, and continue understanding the way bias is formed and continued.

Some ways to help reduce bias is implementing HR technology and best practices. For example, investing in an artificial intelligence (AI) program can help remove unconscious bias. However, special training should be provided for those maintaining the AI program(s) as human bias can be incorporated into the AI programs. Another HR strategy and best practice is establishing interview standardization. Oftentimes interview questions can be subject to scrutiny, such as questions that may involve gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or other protected classes under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations.

Preparing for a Multigenerational Workforce

There are five or more generations in the workforce varying from Baby Boomers to Generation Z. Each generation presents different advantages and disadvantages. For example, Baby Boomers are likely to have more work experience in their respective industries, whereas Generation Z may bring innovative technological strategies. It is important for businesses to prepare for the multigenerational workforce and the demands of such generations. Reskilling or upskilling, employee wellness, flexible work arrangements, new and upgrading technology and software, and developing a well-rounded corporate culture are some of the hot topics in multigenerational workforces.

Welcoming Differences

From gender identity and expression to political thought, celebrating differences in culture and backgrounds can assist in promoting diverse and inclusive workplaces. As social change movements and events continue to rise, it is imperative for businesses to be prepared to respond. Updating employee handbooks and company policies and procedures regarding harassment and discrimination, code of conduct, and code of ethics to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion should be a priority. Incorporating and/or investing in education and training can offer best practices for making the workplace more inclusive and socially sensitive.

Other topics, such as compensation reporting, board representation, harassment and discrimination analysis, promotions, and other performance management practices are equity-based issues that demand higher transparency in the workplace.

Robin Paggi, Training Coordinator at Worklogic HR – a VensureHR partner, hosted an “Unconscious Bias Training: What We Learned from Starbucks” webinar discussing the definition of unconscious bias, lessons learned from Starbucks, updating training, policies, and procedures, and building a diverse workforce. For more information or questions you may have regarding bias, training, and/or resources related to implementing and improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace, please contact VensureHR. Our HR representatives possess industry-leading best practices, resources, and HR services to ensure your business is efficiently and effectively prepared for any social issue that may arise in the workplace.

 

Sources:
5 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Trends We Can Expect in 2020
Diversity & Inclusion Trends: Emerging Innovations to Watch
Beyond May 29: Lessons from Starbucks Anti-Bias Training — and What’s Next

June 2020: Minimum Wage Increases

Effective July 1, 2020, minimum wage* increases will be in effect for a large number of states, cities, and municipalities. This increase will be applicable to employers who have employees performing work in the affected areas, which are listed on the first page of this document.

To assist our clients, we have compiled a comprehensive resource containing wage increase details. For clients in California with more complex wage determinations, we have included a thorough breakdown of Los Angeles city and county areas, complete with links for city address confirmation, as well as zip codes and towns for unincorporated areas of the county.

If you have any employees who are below the new minimum wage in the area in which they perform work, please connect with your Payroll Technician to ensure pay rates are adjusted to reflect the new increase.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your HR representative.

*Note : Rates may differ in certain areas depending on employee count.

Cyber Protection, Prevention, and Liability Tips for Businesses

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has presented many hurdles for businesses, such as financial hardships, personal trials, and cyber vulnerabilities. Like most crises, cyber criminals prey on the vulnerable populations. For example, retail and manufacturing industries have taken the biggest hit likely because they remained open and hiring so they provided more opportunity for cyber criminals to target. Whereas, other industries saw countless layoffs and furloughs or closed their doors completely lessening the chances for a cyber-attack. Cyber crime detection increased one-third when COVID-19 emerged.

Here are some tips to improve cyber protection, prevention, and liability.

Protecting Your Business Meetings. As many businesses transitioned to remote workplaces, the reliance on virtual business meetings became more prominent. Zoom, a popular videoconferencing provider, endured an unfavorable number of meeting hacks. To protect your business meetings, here are a few tips:

  • Disable guests from screensharing capabilities, which can deter guests from controlling the meeting or presenting inappropriate things.
  • Require the meeting host to be present prevents others from starting the meeting.
  • Do not share your personal meeting ID and use a unique meeting ID for each meeting.
  • Utilize passwords for each meeting so only those with the password may enter the meeting.
  • Create a waiting room, where guests must wait until a meeting starts and the host must manually admit them to the meeting.


Invest in Cyber Security Awareness Training.
There are many companies and software programs that offer cybersecurity awareness training. These trainings can cover topics such as phishing emails, malware, safe internet habits, encrypting sensitive data, addressing data breaches, and adequate passwords. Whether you find a comprehensive cybersecurity awareness training or hone in on particular trainings most relevant to your industry or business, it is worthwhile to make the investment in protecting both your business and your clients from potential cyber-attacks.

Develop Remote Work Policies and Procedures. As employees return to work or remain in remote work environments, implementing remote work policies and procedures is critical to ensuring business compliance in all facets of business operations. Some considerations include work hours, expectations during work hours, workers’ compensation policies and procedures, and cybersecurity protocols. For employees with work computers supplied by the employer, the employer should ensure that proper cybersecurity policies are communicated and enforced. For example, reminding employees that work computers are strictly to be used for work-related purposes (i.e., not surfing the web, working on personal projects, etc.). Other policies could include required cybersecurity awareness training and communications regarding tips for identifying cyber threats.

Cyber liability and attacks are not going to dissipate on their own. It takes diligence and continuous training of employees and upgrade and maintenance on technology to truly combat cyber crimes. VensureHR is partnered with Core ID Services, a cyber liability insurance and cyber protection provider that offers individual, family, and business cyber detection and protection services. Partnering with VensureHR offers you access to our full suite of competitive, comprehensive benefits that can improve your employee relations. Contact VensureHR today to see how you can take control of your business cybersecurity.

 

Sources:
Hackers Are Trying to Get into Your Zoom Meeting. Here Are 5 Ways to Stop Them.
Cybersecurity And COVID-19: The First 100 Days

June 2020: Supreme Court Ruling on LGBTQ Discrimination and Title VII

On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals against employment discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

What You Need to Know
Employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited from discriminating against employees and/or job applicants based on race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. In past rulings, federal courts have held that Title VII only applies to traditional contexts of gender. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia reverses previous rulings stating that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited under the sex discrimination clause of Title VII.

Further, employers who take adverse action against an individual who identifies as gay or transgender only partially because of that individual’s sex, the action still violates Title VII. This ruling aligns with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s current Title VII enforcement policies and state laws may already have sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination prohibitions in place.

What Employers Should Do
Employers should review current employment policies to ensure they do not discriminate against individuals due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

If you have questions, please reach out to your HR representative.

Navigating the Remote Workplace

A young female professional video conferencing with her team while working remotely

As employees return to work, there are some best practices in place for both in-office and remote workplaces. Though not all industries or businesses are able to provide remote work options, those that are should consider shifting all available positions capable of working remote to work from home. 83% of the working population believe that a remote work opportunity would make them feel happier at their job. A remote workplace offers great benefits to both employees and employers, such as:

  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Lower costs
  • Improved health
  • Increased productivity
  • Higher employee morale and retention

 

Per the White House recommendation, businesses should re-open in phases. These phases may differ by state or local governments but should essentially follow a similar pattern.

Phase 1: This primary phase suggests only essential workers should be onsite. Minimizing travel, providing accommodations for vulnerable populations, and workplace safety policies and procedures should be maintained.

Phase 2: The second phase still encourages the practices of Phase 1, but permits non-essential employees to begin returning to the office.

Phase 3: Companies may resume standard business operations. However, continuing implementation of CDC recommendations is highly recommended (i.e., physical distancing, sanitation, limiting travel, etc.).

One similarity between all three phrases is that remote work is encouraged. Managing remote teams can pose strains on productivity, health, and engagement. To promote a healthy, engaged, and compliant remote workforce, here are some tips to follow:

Developing effective communications. Utilize department and company communications to ensure remote employees receive proper notices of policies and procedures, any legal changes, and companywide announcements and information. Applications like Microsoft Teams, Wrike, and Constant Contact can assist you with seamless communications and project management.

Prioritizing health. Working remote can present health risks, so it is important for employers to promote health as a priority. Encouraging team activities, rest breaks, and mental health awareness and resources are great ways to implement healthy habits in the remote workplace.

Ensuring staffing needs are met. Aligning staffing needs with production levels can help alleviate any stressors your employees may be facing. It’s important to note that in these trying times, levels of stress may be elevated beyond normal and employees should be accommodated appropriately for the influx or slow of production demands.

Whether you’re looking for developing or modifying remote work policies and procedures or improving remote work environments, VensureHR’s human resource experts can lend you the support and resources you seek. Please contact VensureHR to learn about our customized HR solutions to streamline your business efficiencies.

 

40 Remote Work Stats to Know in 2020

May 2020 Federal HR Updates

Fluctuating Workweek

What happened?
On May 20, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a change to the rules governing overtime for fluctuating workweek salaried workers. This will take effect on July 20, 2020.

What are the details?
This applies to employees who are overtime-eligible but are paid a flat salary for hours worked and additional pay if they work overtime. Employers can now pay bonuses to salaried non-exempt workers who are paid with a fluctuating workweek without violating the DOL rule. The title of the regulation also changed to “Fluctuating Workweek Method of Computing Overtime.”

What do employers need to do?
Review how you are paying staff with your HR provider if you have questions about this process.

Resources
https://www.lexblog.com/2020/05/20/dol-amends-regulation-on-fluctuating-workweek-method-of- pay/

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Inside Sales Exemption

What happened?
Effective May 19, 2020, the DOL will evaluate inside sales representatives on a case-by-case basis and no longer limited to only retail establishments.

What are the details?
The DOL withdrew the “partial list of establishments,” which were previously designated as having no retail concept. This limited list has not been removed, which opens up the ability to claim an inside sales exemption in other industries outside of retail. Additional information and opinion letters may be forthcoming from the DOL.

What do employers need to do?
Review staff positions with HR provider to determine if staff may be eligible for the inside sales exemption.

Resources
https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/dol-withdraws-flsa-inside-sales-40363/; https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/05/19/2020-10250/partial-lists-of-establishments- that-lack-or-may-have-a-retail-concept-under-the-fair-labor

Election Rule Changes

What happened?
Effective June 1, 2020, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) could implement changes to timelines.

 What are the details?

  • Posting the Initial Notice of Petition for Election need to be posted until five business days after the Notice of Hearing;
  • Pre-election hearing will be set 14 business days after the Notice of Hearing;
  • A region may postpone pre-election hearing for “good cause”;
  • Non-petitioning parties must file their Statement of Position by noon, eight business days after the Notice of Hearing;
  • Non-petitioning parties must file a Responsive Statement of Position three business days before pre-election hearing;
  • Parties are entitled with Post-Hearing Briefs within five business days after the close of the hearing; and
  • Parties may file a Request for Review within 10 business days after the final disposition.

What do employers need to do?
Do not take any actions that could have a chilling effect on unions and adhere with the guidelines.

Resources
https://www.littler.com/publication-press/publication/nlrb-moves-forward-bulk-final-election-rule- changes-despite-blow-dealt; https://www.employerlaborrelations.com/2020/06/01/court-strikes-down- parts-of-nlrb-representation-election-rules-in-eleventh-hour-decision/

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Construction Industry

What happened?
OSHA issued additional guidance for the construction industry in relation to COVID-19.

What are the details?
As construction workers return to work, employers must assess the worksite, identify tasks which could lead to exposure to COVID-19, and implement a plan to protect staff. The summary below provides a few highlights, but full review of the OSHA guidance is highly recommended.

 Risk Level

  1. Lower – Tasks which allow employees to remain at least six feet apart and involve little contact with public, visitors, or customers;
  2. Medium – Tasks which require employees to be within six feet of each other or public, visitors, or customers;
  3. High – Entering an indoor worksite occupied by others (workers, customers, residents, etc.) who are suspected, or may have, COVID-19.

 A review of all worksites must be completed to determine which risk level employees will face. Engineering Controls

If work is essential or urgent and a person is suspected of having COVID-19, the following steps should be implemented:

  • Use physical barriers to protect workers who need to come at least six feet away from each other;
  • Consider electing plastic sheeting barriers; and
  • Re-assess on a regular basis and make adjustments.

Administrative Controls

  • Follow CDC Guidelines;
  • Train employees on spread of disease and to stay home if sick; and
  • Assess indoor construction work to determine risk before worker entry.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 

  • Cloth face coverings are recommended by the CDC and does not meet the OSHA definition of PPE.

What do employers need to do?
Review all OSHA Guidance to ensure compliance with all regulations.

Resources
https://www.littler.com/publication-press/publication/osha-clarifies-safety-requirements-construction- industry-and-those; https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/construction.html

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Recordkeeping

What happened?
OSHA requires that positive cases of COVID-19 may be deemed recordable illnesses.

What are the details?
Positive COVID-19 cases in the workplace may be recordable if:

  • It is confirmed to be a coronavirus illness;
  • Is work-related; and
  • Involves one or more of the general recording criteria, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.

This guidance is far from perfect and leaves a lot of grey areas for employers. However, OSHA did state that they will use the following standards when conducting a review:

  • Reasonableness used by the employer when investigating if the illness was related to work;
  • Extensive medical inquiries are not expected of businesses (especially small businesses); and
  • An employer may ask an employee the following questions:
    • How they believe they were infected;
    • Discuss ways the employee may have been infected off- or on-duty – but be careful of privacy laws; and
    • Review the employee’s work area for potential COVID-19 exposure.

If the employer conducts a good-faith effort and cannot determine if exposure in the workplace caused the worker to contract COVID-19, it is not a recordable illness.

What do employers need to do?
Notify your HR provider if an employee tests positive for COVID-19 and comply with local and state requirements.

Resources
https://www.environmentalsafetyupdate.com/public-outbreaks/osha-issues-revised-enforcement- guidance-for-recordingkeeping-of-covid-19-cases/

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Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

What happened?
Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which creates substantial changes to the PPP loan program. This bill is not yet signed into law as of June 4, 2020.

What are the details?

  • The coverage period is extended from February 15, 2020 through December 31, 2020;
  • The reduction in the amount of loan forgiveness is avoided if all employees are who were laid off between February 15, 2020 and April 26, 2020, or increases reduced wages, no later than December 31, 2020;
  • Can document if there is an inability to rehire previous employees or unable to hire qualified individuals by December 31, 2020;
  • Can also document the inability to return to the previous level of business prior to February 15, 2020 due to compliance with governmental COVID-19 requirements; and
  • Finally, 60% of the loan may be used for payroll costs and 40% used for non-payroll costs.

What do employers need to do?
Keep an eye on the news to find out when the President signs the bill into law.

Resources
https://www.fisherphillips.com/resources-alerts-paycheck-protection-program-flexibility-act-provides- employers

May 2020 Washington HR Legal Updates

Hairstyle/Citizen Discrimination

What happened?
The state of Washington amended discrimination laws regarding hairstyle and citizenship discrimination.

What are the details?
Effective June 10, 2020, employers may not discriminate against applicants based on their hairstyles.

Effective March 18, 2020, employers may not discriminate against applicants based on whether they are a citizen of the United States.

What do employers need to do?
Ensure company policies align with non-discrimination laws and train supervisors and hiring managers on these new requirements.

Resources
https://ogletree.com/insights/washington-amends-its-law-against-discrimination-to-provide- protections-for-hair-textures-and-styles-as-traits-associated-with-race/; http://sdc.wastateleg.org/saldana/2020/03/18/governor-approves-prohibition-on-citizenship- immigration-status-discrimination/

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Paid Family and Medical Leave Act Amendment

What happened?
On March 26, 2020, the governor signed amendments to the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA).

What are the details?
There are significant alterations to this law:

  • An employee has three years to bring a private right of action in court and class actions are permitted;
  • Supplemental benefits were defined as salary continuance and paid time off (such as vacation, personal, sick, compensatory, etc.);
  • An employee can satisfy the waiting period for benefits while being compensated under paid time off;
  • No waiting period for qualifying military exigencies;
  • Family members now include the employee’s spouse; and
  • If an employee is awarded PFMLA, the employee may still be eligible for workers compensation (except for total disability).

What do employers need to do?
Review current policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the above regulations.

Resources
https://www.natlawreview.com/article/washington-amends-its-paid-family-and-medical-leave- act#:~:text=The%20WPFMLA%20now%20includes%20a,limitations%20period%20is%20three%20years.

May 2020 Ohio Legal HR Updates

Wage History Banned

What happened?
Effective July 4, 2020, it will be illegal for employers to request wage history as a part of the job application process in Toledo, Ohio.

What are the details?
Employers with at least 15 employees in the City of Toledo are prohibited from inquiring about, screening, or relying upon salary history of a job applicant when making an employment offer. More specifically: 

  • Employers may not ask for salary history;
  • Screening job applicants based on salary history;
  • The employer may engage in general discussions about salary expectations; and
  • This does not apply to current employees or employees who worked for the employer in the previous five years.

 No violation occurs if applicant voluntarily supplies this information.

What do employers need to do?
Review applications and protocols for hiring staff to ensure no violations occur.

Resources
https://www.littler.com/publication-press/publication/toledo-becomes-second-ohio-city-pass-salary- history-ban

May 2020 New York HR Legal Updates

Voting

What happened?
Elections are coming up on June 23, 2020.

What are the details?
Employees must be given time off to be able to participate in voting.

What do employers need to do?
Post the required notice no later than 10 days prior to June 23, 2020.

Notice/Posting: https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/TimeOffToVoteNotice.pdf

Law: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/ELN/3-110

FAQs: https://www.elections.ny.gov/NYSBOE/elections/TimeOffToVoteFAQ.pdf

Additional Resources: https://www.rockthevote.org/how-to-vote/election-dates-deadlines/new-york/

May 2020 New Jersey Legal HR Updates

Worker Misclassification

What happened?
A new posting has been released regarding workers’ misclassification.

What are the details?
Employers are required to post the notice, which explains: (1) employers cannot misclassify workers as independent contractors, (2) the state definition of an employee vs. independent contractor; (3) rights of the employee under the law; (4) New Jersey remedies for misclassification; and (5) contact information to file misclassification complaints.

What do employers need to do?
Post the required notice. 11 x 17 or 8.5 x 11.

Resources
https://www.littler.com/publication-press/publication/new-jersey-issues-new-posting-concerning- worker-misclassification