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So Much to Do, So Little Time & Resources to Do It!

January 18, 2018
Julie Bittner

As most of you know from following the MWH Law Blog for the past (almost) two years, most of my time is spent working as an Attorney & Strategic Partner to Employers and Management. Most of my client contacts are Human Resources Directors, Managers and Executive level decision-makers. I also volunteer my time in organizations that are comprised of these same individuals. Time and again I hear that there is just not enough time in the day for these individuals to accomplish the proactive items on their to-do lists because so many of them are spending time reacting to employee relations issues.

We encourage our clients to find the time and resources to train their existing workforce on an (at-least) annual basis, to ensure that their handbooks and policies are compliant with existing law, that their Human Resources professionals attend seminars and conferences to keep apprised of the changes in the law and that Executive level decision-makers attend training to help them guide their workforce towards diversity and inclusion from the top-down.

In your decision-making roles, one way to assist in strategic planning in this area is to align your company’s goals with what the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is focusing on for their five-year substantive area priorities. For Fiscal Years 2017– 2022:

1. Eliminating Barriers in Recruitment and Hiring.

2. Protecting Vulnerable Workers, Including Immigrant and Migrant Workers, and Underserved Communities from Discrimination.

3. Addressing Selected Emerging and Developing Issues:

– Qualification standards and inflexible leave policies that discriminate against individuals with disabilities.

– Accommodating pregnancy-related limitations under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).

– Protecting lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people from discrimination based on sex.

– Clarifying the employment relationship and the application of workplace civil rights protections in light of the increasing complexity of employment relationships and structures, including temporary workers, staffing agencies, independent contractor relationships, and the on-demand economy.

– Addressing discriminatory practices against those who are Muslim or Sikh, or persons of Arab, Middle Eastern or South Asian descent, as well as persons perceived to be members of these groups, arising from backlash against them from tragic events in the United States and abroad.

4. Ensuring Equal Pay Protections for All Workers.

5. Preserving Access to the Legal System.

6. Preventing Systemic Harassment.

From this list of priorities, you can focus in on these needs in your own organization. For example, Priority No. 1: “Eliminating Barriers in Recruiting and Hiring.” When is the last time you looked at your company’s overall strategy for recruitment and hiring with an eye toward diversity and inclusion? What steps have you taken to ensure that those individuals responsible for recruiting and hiring for your organization have been properly trained in diversity and inclusion. Any steps you can take in your organization to eliminate biases at this very first level will have long-lasting effects throughout your organization.

Another example, Priority No. 4: “Ensuring Equal Pay Protections for All Workers.” When is the last time you conducted a comprehensive audit of your pay system to ensure your compensation systems and practices do not discrimination on the basis of sex or any other protected basis? Do the individuals in your organization have the training to evaluate this data and ask the right questions? Do they have the authority to make the changes necessary to ensure compliance?

At MWH Law Group, we encourage you to look at this list of priorities, sit down with your Executive level team and critically analyze what steps you can take to bring your organization into compliance. We are here to partner with you as you evaluate your needs in these areas.

This article is a publication of MWH Law Group LLP and is intended to provide general information regarding legal issues and developments to our clients and other friends. It should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or situations. For further information on your own situation, we encourage you to contact the author of the article or any other member of the firm.

© MWH Law Group LLP 2018. All rights reserved.





Julie T. Bittner
Julie T. Bittner
Partner – West Des Moines

1501 42nd St., Suite 465, West Des Moines, IA 50266
P: (515) 453-8509 / F: (515) 267-1408
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