Alaska News & Analysis

  • ASCHR leadership omission doesn't mean the commission's in remission

    The Alaska State Commission for Human Rights (ASCHR) has had an eventful year and been a frequent subject of this publication. Most recently, we discussed the resignation of the ASCHR's executive director and other leadership members (see "Update on rapid turnover in ASCHR leadership" on page 4 of our April 2019 newsletter). The executive director position remains unfilled, but that hasn't stopped the ASCHR from pressing forward with investigations and new changes to its procedures. This article summarizes the investigation process, including the ASCHR's new policy to record interviews, for employers that wish to go through it themselves.

  • Supreme Court will decide whether LGBT discrimination is unlawful

    The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide the long-unresolved question of whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The issue has been percolating in the lower courts for quite a while. As it frequently does, the Court declined to consider the question until there was a conflict between several appellate courts. Let's take a look at the history of the Court's decisions, the arguments on both sides of the issue, and what we can expect next.

  • September 30 deadline looms for newly required EEO-1 data

    Employers required to submit EEO-1 reports to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are venturing into uncharted territory as they work to collect newly required information due by September 30. While they may be accustomed to submitting traditional EEO-1 information—data on employees' race/ethnicity and gender, or what's being called Component 1 data—this year they also must compile data on compensation and hours worked, or what's being called Component 2 data.

  • Marching orders: employers' obligations to citizen soldiers

    The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects military servicemembers and veterans from employment discrimination based on their service and protects their civilian jobs and related benefits upon their return from uniformed service. The concept of protecting servicemembers from being disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their military service sounds straightforward. However, like many legal requirements, USERRA's application is often fact-intensive, with nuances that can trip up employers that don't have experience with the law. This article focuses on your obligations to "citizen soldiers" already in your workforce.

  • Agency Action

    DOL launches effort to reduce improper UI payments. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has launched a series of initiatives aimed at reducing improper payments in the unemployment insurance (UI) program. Part of the effort involves providing states the resources to recognize and combat improper UI payments. The DOL has also released a redesigned integrity webpage, "UI Payment Accuracy by State," which displays each state's improper payment rate. The webpage, found at www.dol.gov/general/maps, contains information on the root causes of each state's improper UI payments and provides links for reporting fraud. In addition, the DOL has created two new state recognition awards—one to recognize states that have demonstrated excellence in minimizing improper UI payment rates and the other to recognize states that have significantly reduced their improper payment rates.

  • Workplace Trends

    Research finds lack of mentorship and coaching. New data from media agency network Mindshare U.S. found that 42% of U.S. employees said their companies either don't offer mentorship programs or don't offer enough of them. Men were more likely than women to say they either got enough or more than enough mentorship programs at work, at 57% versus 42%. The research also found that 66% of U.S. employees rank ongoing feedback or coaching on their work as an important or very important benefit in the workplace. Yet 28% of people surveyed said that they either don't get enough ongoing coaching or feedback or that their companies don't even offer it. The data showed that women were more likely than men to feel that way, at 31% versus 25%.

  • DOL says FMLA leave mandatory for employees and employers

    After more than 25 years, you might think questions regarding proper interpretation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would be settled. It's a highly regulated law, and it provides employers far more detail and clarity than they get with most other labor and employment laws.

  • Tips to ensure you are prepared for a deposition

    For an HR professional, giving a deposition is a lot like visiting the dentist. You know it's necessary, but you probably aren't looking forward to it. You may be asked questions you don't want to answer (like how often you actually floss). And finally, consistently responsible practices should reduce your stress levels about the event, make it go a lot smoother, and prevent worse problems in the future.

  • Employers ditching annual reviews for more frequent feedback

    There seems to be a shift in the way employers evaluate workers. A number of large companies (for example, Microsoft, Dell, and Gap) have recently nixed annual review systems in favor of more frequent forms of feedback on employees' performance.

  • Trust—cornerstone for high performance culture

    A CEO for a privately held telecommunications company just learned the results of a recent corporate culture survey. Only 40% of her employees responded favorably in the category of "Employee Engagement." She was disappointed and frustrated, recognizing the impact of high employee engagement on achieving operational excellence. The initiatives that she implemented within the past year to boost commitment had failed. She didn't know what to do next.