Wednesday, January 11, 2012

EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that the criminal background check policy formerly used by Pepsi discriminated against African Americans in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Pepsi to pay $3.13 million settlement

From the Star Tribune, January 11, 2012:

Pepsi Beverages will pay $3.13 million and provide job offers and training to resolve a race discrimination charge filed in the Minneapolis office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), government officials said Wednesday.

The settlement will be divided among 300 black job applicants who had applied for positions at Pepsi between 2006 and 2010. A portion of the settlement will go toward covering claims processing costs.

EEOC officials said in a statement Wednesday that their investigation found "reasonable cause to believe that the criminal background check policy formerly used by Pepsi discriminated against African Americans in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

Pepsi Beverages, formerly known as Pepsi Bottling Group, reportedly applied a criminal background check policy that "disproportionately excluded black applicants from permanent employment," the EEOC document said.

Under Pepsi's former policy, job applicants who had been arrested but were never convicted of any offense were not allowed to be hired for any permanent jobs at the factory.

EEOC officials also said that Pepsi's former policy also denied employment to applicants who had been arrested or convicted of minor offenses.

While officials said that the use of arrest and conviction records to deny employment "can be legal" under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is not legal when the records are not relevant for the job because it can limit the employment opportunities of applicants or workers based on their race or ethnicity.

EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien said that the agency has a longstanding policy on the use of arrest and conviction records in employment. She went on to commend Pepsi's "willingness to re-examine its policy and modify it to ensure that unwarranted roadblocks to employment are removed."

Minneapolis EEOC spokeswoman Julie Schmid said she has never seen a conciliation agreement that large in Minneapolis the six years she has worked at the agency. "For our district, this is unusually large," she said.

The settlement is also "unusual," she said because Pepsi not only agreed to pay the cash, but agreed to offer previously affected black applicants jobs. "Usually the settlement just involves money. So this is unusual," she said.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Advice for employees

The following was taken from Workplace Fairness Weekly:

Your Future at Work: Lessons for 2012:
  • They're still the boss.
  • Manage your stress.
  • Internot.
  • Break through the clutter.
  • Show, don't tell.

Your Future at Work: Lessons from 2011
Let's face it, 2011 was rough year. An economy going sideways, layoffs, fear of layoffs, foreclosures, a year that many would prefer to forget. If I had to sum up the year in one word it would be "Ooops." Rick Perry said it, but we all lived it. Amidst the wreckage I'm going to offer five of the most interesting stories from 2011, along with specific strategies to help you take to put the lessons to work for you.
They're still the boss. An employee created a Twitter account that had both his name and his company's name in it. He quickly acquired 17,000 followers. When he decided to leave his company it was no big deal, he just changed the name of the blog and thought that the names were his. But his company felt differently and sued him for $340,000, valuing each name at $3.50 a month. When you create something using company equipment and on company time, they are still the boss of you.
Manage your stress. Of all the stress reduction techniques I've heard of, this one is hard to top. Hundreds gathered in Shanghai, China for a big pillow fight recently. Many wrote the names of bosses or professors on their pillow before they started bashing each other. Okay, maybe you can't start a big pillow fight, but you can try to find creative positive addictions to cope with your stress at work.
Internot. I'm as big a fan of the Internet as anyone, but there are some things you just can't do virtually. Like firing someone. Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo, doesn't have the greatest reputation. But when she was fired via email it created a wave of sympathy for her. Just because you have all these high tech gizmos, don't forget that some things are still best done face-to-face.
Break through the clutter. Have you heard of Roanald? He applied for a job and his cover letter is easy to find online. From his reference to being Prom King in high school to his gloating about his mastery of Rubik's cube, it's hilarious. The language is probably more colorful than most of us should use, but he is an inspiration to use your creativity to break through the clutter.
Show, don't tell. The Philadelphia 76ers basketball team decided to run an online contest to select a mascot from three possibilities. Jerry Rizzo decided to set up Twitter accounts for each mascot. Initially the team was annoyed and told him to stop. But after seeing all the interest that it generated, they ended up offering him the job as the team's social media coordinator. Everyone can tell an employer what they can do, Rizzo showed 'em. And wowed 'em.
I applaud the creativity and persistence of the stories above. No matter what 2012 throws our way, many of us will rise above it. And I think these stories and lessons could play a key role. Here's to a less volatile and more successful 2012.

Star Tribune article for job seekers

Job experts suggest a well honed resolution for the 2012 workplace

  • Blog Post by: Dee DePass
  • January 3, 2012 - 3:06 PM
Forget about that New Year resolution to lose weight.
What you really need is a resolution to keep your job, say job placement experts who insist that 2012 will be a pivotal year.
This is the year that "Employers are definitely turning their attention toward retention and recruiting," said John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement employment giant Challenger, Gray and Christmas.
While greater focus on employee retention is welcome news, employees shouldn’t relax.
 "Companies are concerned about losing talented workers, but they also know that the labor pool is full of willing and able candidates. So if you have a job, your workplace resolutions should be focused on keeping it as well as putting yourself in a position for a possible salary increase or promotion," Challenger said. "Those who want to keep or improve their positions in the new year are not going to do so by flying under the radar."
The problem is that no one knows for sure on which side of the economic sea-saw of employment they will land.
Recent employer surveys from manufacturing associations and the Federal Reserve Bank suggest employers are finally in the mood to hire. But economists say the European debt crisis, weak U.S. housing markets and government spending cuts could bring disaster to the jobs front.
So, job keepers and job hunters need to be resolute and aggressive, job coaches say.
For those looking to keep their jobs, Challenger offers these resolutions:
  • Seek more responsibility
  • Meet your boss's boss
  • Set deadlines for your resolutions
  • Join a company committee
  • Find or become a mentor
  • Align your career objectives with your company's goals
  • Find ways to save your company money
  • Become an expert on one aspect of your field.
Hope to nab a new job this year?
Here are resolution ideas from the state, business strategy firm Significant Solutions Inc. and Challenger, Gray and Christmas:
  • Remain positive
  • Join LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter
  • Volunteer / Join a community service group
  • Join a professional trade association
  • Meet 10 new people in your field
  • Rev up your skills
  • Conduct mock interviews
  • Stay in touch. Send New Year’s cards to your contacts
  • Visit one of the state's 46 Minnesota Workforce Centers 
© 2011 Star Tribune