News & Analysis

Handling office romance in #MeToo era: Know your options

As Valentine's Day nears, love is in the air—and oftentimes in the workplace. Although workplace romance is common, it can make HR professionals fret about all the what-ifs. What if a relationship is between a supervisor and a direct report? What if rumors of favoritism poison the workplace environment? What if one or both participants is married to someone else? What if a couple's public displays of affection make coworkers uncomfortable? What if a relationship goes sour and the breakup affects morale? And perhaps the most important question to consider: What if a relationship is one-sided and is more accurately described as sexual harassment instead of consensual?

Courts wrestle with employees' use of 'me, too' proof

In employment discrimination cases, courts generally won't allow employees to rely on "me, too" witness testimony—that is, testimony from coworkers who claim to have experienced similar unlawful treatment—if the evidence isn't sufficiently similar to the circumstances and theory of the case. This article provides a cautionary tale about when courts may permit an employee to use "me, too" evidence and offers guidance on how to handle internal discrimination complaints.

Proposed Title IX rule changes provide clarity, support, due process rights

More than a year ago, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) released its proposal for improving schools' responses to sexual harassment and sexual assaults. A proposed Title IX regulation—Title IX is the civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs or activities that receive federal funding—has been in the works over the past year with input from students, sexual assault advocates, and school administrators and strong support from DOE Secretary Betsy DeVos. The rule, which still isn't final, takes important, and controversial, steps toward defining sexual harassment under Title IX and clarifying how it should be reported and investigated, while ensuring students have due process protections.

Something lacking in your workplace? Boosting employees' soft skills can help

Anyone involved in recruiting and hiring knows the importance of assessing a candidate's skills. Does the candidate have the right training, experience, and credentials to do the job? But anyone in charge of hiring (or maybe even rehabilitating already-employed workers who aren't quite measuring up) knows that merely evaluating a candidate's hard skills isn't enough. More and more, employers are finding "soft skills" are essential in the workplace.

European countries take steps to confront #MeToo issues

As the #MeToo movement enters its third year, its important to note the United States isnt the only country where the awareness of discriminatory and harassing conduct in the workplace has increased dramatically. Governments in Europe and elsewhere also have responded to the urgent need to combat the persistent and unwelcome behavior.

HR Technology

AI ready to make impact on HR? As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to make an impact on business, HR may be poised to feel the impact soon. In December 2018, tech marketplace firm G2 looked ahead to HR trends set to emerge in 2019 and beyond. One prediction: AI-driven HR technology innovations will see a significant increase. The G2 research found companies increasingly leveraging AI technology to help identify data opportunities, improve internal workflows, and increase productivity. AI-embedded HR technologies also were predicted to improve the employee experience, which begins with the candidate experience. AI also was predicted to enhance the employee lifecycle from recruiting through offboarding since the technology can help businesses treat their candidates and employees like loyal customers.

Cutting-Edge HR

Report identifies most important skills for recruiters. LinkedIn's new Future of Recruiting report identifies the number one priority for recruiting organizations during the next five years will be keeping pace with rapidly changing hiring needs. The report finds that talent analytics roles have grown by 111% since 2014. The data also show that the three skills that will become more important over the next five years are the ability to engage passive candidates, the ability to analyze talent data to drive decisions, and the ability to advise business leaders and hiring managers. Among the other findings, the report notes that demand for recruiting professionals is at an all-time high, the career path to becoming a recruiter is evolving, and deeper investments in technology will be required to find quality candidates.

Federal Watch

NLRB releases 2019 case-processing data. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has announced progress in case processing in three of its divisions for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The Office of Appeals, which reviews appeals by employers, unions, and individuals who believe their unfair labor practice allegations have been wrongly dismissed by an NLRB regional office, reduced its backlog of cases from 294 in FY 2018 to 98 in FY 2019. The Division of Advice, which provides guidance to the regional offices on difficult and novel issues arising in the processing of unfair labor practice charges, reduced the average age of closed cases for FY 2019 to 38.6 days, a 9.8% reduction from FY 2018. The Board's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Branch processes all FOIA requests made to the agency. In FY 2019, the branch reported that it responded within 20 working days to 67.5% of FOIA requests and 90% of FOIA appeals.

Employee's arrest may not always lead to termination

Suppose an employee has been arrested but not convicted and isn't likely to be released anytime soon. Is it better to put him in unpaid "leave" status or fire him? Unfortunately, there is no hard-and-fast rule. In some cases, discharging an employee for an arrest is illegal. In other situations, it may be legal but ill-advised. Then at other times, it may be legal and advisable to terminate. It will depend on a number of factors, including where the employee is working, the severity of the crime, and your state laws.

Understanding the basics of federal E-Verify program

Employers often debate whether to use E-Verify—a free, mostly voluntary Web-based tool that allows them to verify the employment authorization of new hires. Just as Apple created a technological solution to the legal problem of rampant online music sharing by developing iTunes, E-Verify is often seen as a silver bullet to combat widespread document fraud enabling the employment of undocumented workers. But should employers use it?