Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Friday, October 26, 2012
1. The Gossip
2. The Complainer
3. The Contagion
4. The Faker
5. The Flirt
6. The Busy-Body
7. The Steamroller
8. The ROAD
9. The Wolf Crier
10. The Bully
Posted by Andrea Ostapowich at Friday, October 26, 2012
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
PRESS RELEASE from the EEOC
EEOC Wins Summary Judgment on Liability in Baltimore County Pension Case
Pension Plan Found to Be Discriminatory on the Basis of Age
BALTIMORE - A federal judge has granted summary judgment against Baltimore County in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. In so doing, the judge found that Baltimore County's pension plan, known as the Employee Retirement System (ERS), violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) because the plan is inherently discriminatory. U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg also denied Baltimore County's motion for summary judgment.
The EEOC initially filed suit against Baltimore County in September 2007, charging that Baltimore County discriminated against Wayne A. Lee, Richard J. Bosse, Sr., and a class of similarly situated employees at least 40 years of age by requiring them to pay higher pension contributions than those paid by younger employees (Case No. BEL-07-2500, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division). The EEOC also named various county labor organizations as defendants who must negotiate with Baltimore County to effectuate the changes sought in its lawsuit. In January 2009, the Court awarded summary judgment in favor of Baltimore County.
After the EEOC appealed, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the entry of summary judgment and remanded the case to the District Court to decide whether Baltimore County's pension plan is supported by permissible financial considerations (EEOC v. Baltimore County, 385 F. App'x 322, 325 [4th Cir. 2010]). The District Court rejected Baltimore County's argument that the Supreme Court's decision in Kentucky Retirement v. EEOC, 554 U.S. 135 (2008) excused the pension practice. Noting that Baltimore County "was given an opportunity to conduct full discovery, including a comprehensive 30(b)(6) deposition of Buck Consultants, the actuarial firm that has been responsible for ERS since its creation," the District Court found that Baltimore County had failed to bring forward non-age related financial considerations that justify the disparity in contribution rates between older and younger workers. The next phase of the litigation will determine damages.
"It is pretty rare that any plaintiff can win any claim against a pension plan," said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez. "While some may have thought the Kentucky Retirementdecision spelled the death knell for this case and others like it, our perseverance paid off in limiting the impact of that decision. The EEOC is prepared to vigorously litigate these cases, where necessary, to ensure compliance with the law."
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence said, "The county made older employees pay more than younger employees for the same retirement benefits, without any financial justification. Older employees felt the impact of this discrimination in every paycheck. Because more money is taken out of older employees' paychecks to fund their retirement benefits, they receive less pay than younger employees doing the same job. With the court's decision, we are putting an end to this unlawful practice."
This resolution is the latest in a series of systemic suits the EEOC has brought against public employers alleging age discrimination in the provision of retirement benefits. In several related cases against Minnesota state agencies, the federal agency challenged early retirement incentive plans that denied health benefits for those employees who chose not to retire earlier than age 55. The Eighth Circuit agreed that the plan violated the ADEA. In a case against an Arizona school district, the EEOC challenged a retirement plan that granted more compensation for unused leave to younger employees than to older employees. These cases settled.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC's Philadelphia District oversees Maryland as well as Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Further information about the Commission is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov .
Posted by Andrea Ostapowich at Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
US Department of Labor launches virtual Workplace Flexibility Toolkit during National Disability Employment Awareness Month
From: U.S. Department of Labor, October 11, 2012
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor has launched its online Workplace Flexibility Toolkit to provide employees, job seekers, employers, policymakers and researchers with information, resources and a unique approach to workplace flexibility.
Workplace flexibility policies and practices typically focus on when and where work is done. The toolkit adds a new dimension — an emphasis on flexibility around job tasks and what work is done.
Funded by the department's Office of Disability Employment Policy in partnership with the department's Women's Bureau, the toolkit makes more than 170 resources easily accessible, particularly for workers and job seekers with complex employment situations, such as parents of young children, single parents, family caregivers, mature workers, at-risk youth, ex-offenders, and individuals with disabilities, including veterans with disabilities and people with HIV/AIDS.
"Workplace flexibility is a universal strategy that promotes an inclusive workforce and levels the playing field for people with disabilities," said Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. "These resources and unique approach will help all workers with complex employment situations become more productive."
The toolkit, which can be accessed at http://www.dol.gov/odep/workplaceflexibility/, points visitors to case studies, fact and tip sheets, issue briefs, reports, articles, websites with additional information, other related toolkits and a list of frequently asked questions. It is searchable by type of resource, target audience and types of workplace flexibility, including place, time and task. New information will be added to the Workplace Flexibility Toolkit as it is identified.
The launch of the toolkit coincides with National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual observance to raise awareness about disability employment issues as well as to celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. This year's theme is "A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?" Visit http://www.dol.gov/odep/ to keep track of NDEAM activities.
Posted by Andrea Ostapowich at Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
From: The Wall Street Journal, By Melissa Korn
August 28, 2012
August 28, 2012
John Binns, a partner in the consulting practice at U.K.-based Deloitte LLP, assumed his career "would be finished" after he took a two-month leave in 2007 to treat a severe bout of depression.
When he told his bosses, they assured him that they would support any effort to get him back to health and working again, encouragement that the 54-year-old Mr. Binns calls "massively instrumental in speeding up my recovery." Still, milder symptoms had festered for nearly a year before a worsening of his condition forced him to come forward.
"There was no culture of talking about mental health or recognizing that some of our best and brightest people, statistically, would have a mental-health issue," he says.
That's not uncommon, and it's becoming problematic for companies as an increasing number of adults seek treatment for psychiatric disorders. While firms appear eager to support employee wellness initiatives, managers are wary of getting too deeply involved in staffers' private health issues. Firms can open the door by offering free, confidential hotlines or generous leave policies, but they can't force employees to volunteer details of their conditions.
Most workers have at least a few colleagues who struggle with depression or anxiety. More than one in four American adults has a diagnosable mental-health disorder, and one in 17 has a serious disorder such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. But chances are their co-workers—and managers—have no idea who they are.
Intentionally or not, "corporations encourage a climate of keeping things under wraps," says Dr. Jeffrey P. Kahn, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that companies provide "reasonable accommodation" for employees with disabilities. For someone with a diagnosed mental illness, such accommodations may include anything from offering flexible work hours to allow for weekly therapy sessions, to reassigning the employee to a role with fewer deadlines. The HR office coordinates the effort, generally without ever telling the boss why such accommodations are being made.
Prudential Financial Inc. offers an employee assistance program, training for managers to spot distress among employees, health clinics that screen for mood instability and more. Still, the company recommends employees stop short of telling managers about their diagnoses, says Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio, vice president of health and wellness. "We don't want managers to be acting as surrogate counselors," he says.
Meanwhile, DuPont is training managers to identify signs of distress in workers, though conversations with a boss about a diagnosis "would never be encouraged," says Paul W. Heck, global manager of employee assistance and WorkLife services. Managers who do identify distress are asked to remind employees of the assistance program, which can offer free counseling.
Deloitte's Mr. Binns brought together a group of company executives and mental-health experts in late 2008 to create Mental Health Champions, which taps unofficial confidants for employees struggling with mental-health or emotional problems. Mr. Binns estimates that 50 to 60 people in his office seek help each year. The "champions" aren't trained medical professionals, but they can provide details on available support and managing disclosure.
Complicating such efforts are employees' fears that disclosing a mental illness will derail their careers—a valid concern.
Details about a serious mental illness are fair game when researching a job candidate, says Dr. Patricia Cook, chairman and CEO of Cook & Co., a Bronxville, N.Y., executive search firm. Such psychological troubles are "reasons for red flags," she says, and can raise questions about potential future success.
Mentions of depression or obsessive compulsive disorder, which Dr. Cook, a licensed psychologist, calls "diagnostic titles du jour," are a bit less worrisome.
Symptoms of some disorders may even be helpful in the office, some say. A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder, for example, could be seen as a perfectionist with a few quirks.
Dr. Cook once considered a candidate for an executive-level position whose prior supervisor alerted her to a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The candidate was eliminated from the shortlist; she says she provided an "ego-acceptable excuse" without disclosing specifically that it was because of his mental illness.
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D., Ill.) is facing calls to withdraw from the November ballot following his announcement earlier this month that he suffers from bipolar disorder. Mr. Jackson withheld details of his diagnosis for months, possibly because he was haunted by the political implosion of Thomas Eagleton, whose depression helped kill George McGovern's 1972 presidential aspirations.
Dr. Kahn once treated a manager who didn't submit insurance claims for his therapy sessions, fearing the details would make their way back to his employer. Upon receiving a promotion to a more senior position, the man finally sent in those claims. Executives may be more comfortable disclosing their mental-health histories, Dr. Kahn says, because they see themselves as "immune from adverse effects, which they largely are."
Dr. Rich Chaifetz, CEO of employee assistance program provider ComPsych Corp., says client companies are only told how many employees utilize the service, or how often. They might break down the population by gender, age or issues with which they're dealing, but employers aren't told who called in, or what they sought help with.
Federal and local laws protect people with disabilities, including serious mental illnesses, but employers "can always comment on somebody's actual observed performance, behavior [and] interactions in the workplace," says Katharine Parker, co-head of the employment law counseling and training group at Proskauer Rose LLP.
Gabe Howard worked in information technology at a large Ohio company when he was diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders in 2004, spending several days in the hospital after having suicidal thoughts. Thinking his leave wasn't unlike time off for surgery or family needs, he openly discussed the reason for his absence.
The fallout was immediate: One co-worker said that Mr. Howard would have succeeded at committing suicide had he really wanted to die; another accused him of ditching work. He was eventually let go after supervisors complained about his absences and even questioned his diagnosis. He now works as a mental-health advocate and speaker.
Bob Carolla, director of media relations for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, recommends against disclosing a mental-health issue to a manager, if possible, and certainly not in a job interview. "It's not a skill or part of the qualifications that an employer is looking for," he says.
Most of the time, anyway. Fifteen years ago, when Mr. Carolla was hired by NAMI, his own history with depression, he says, was "a big selling point."
Posted by Andrea Ostapowich at Tuesday, October 16, 2012