We are excited to share the next installment of our video series, Conducting Workplace Investigations | Step #3: Plan the Process. This series, 10 Steps Every Company Should Take When Conducting Workplace Investigations, is intended to guide HR leaders faced with investigating a complaint between coworkers, such as harassment or inappropriate conduct, through the investigation process.

Each video in this series offers practical tips on everything from creating the investigation plan; interviewing relevant parties; and dealing with the aftermath of the investigation, including potential disciplinary actions taken against an employee.

In this video, Bass, Berry & Sims labor and employment attorney Bob Horton explains why a plan is so critical to the process and details the elements that make up a successful strategy. When conducting an investigation, it is always wise to proceed as though it will be scrutinized in the future, perhaps during litigation. For this reason, Bob explains, it is essential that a plan is in place and there is ample documentation for each step.

Several attorneys in our Labor & Employment Practice Group are featured
in this video series and offer great recommendations for navigating this tricky
process.

View previous videos in the series:

Step 1: Intake the Complaint

Step 2: Interview the Complainant

To guarantee you don’t miss any videos in the series, be sure to subscribe to this blog or follow us on Twitter.

I recently discussed the potential for age discrimination in the workplace when companies focus too much on recruitment of young employees. The article argues that by focusing solely on young talent, organizations miss out on the “perspective” and “expertise” that baby boomers can offer customers and fellow employees.

“It often manifests itself in what I call lazy language—when somebody says that they want to cultivate a ‘youthful environment’ when what they really mean is a ‘vibrant environment,’” I wrote in the article. Firms that try to recruit new workers solely on social-media sites that cater to younger job seekers can risk accusations of age discrimination.

The full article, “How to Keep Baby Boomer Workers Happy,” was published by HR Executive on November 4, 2019, and is available online.

Note: This post originally appeared on the Bass, Berry & Sims GovCon Trade blog. Subscribe to that blog for insight on the demanding and ever-changing regulatory environment of contracting with federal, state and local governments, and international trade issues when conducting a global business.

On September 27, 2019, Barclays PLC agreed to pay $6.3 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to settle charges that Barclays violated the books and records and internal accounting controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The Barclays settlement fits a pattern of recent U.S. government enforcement against companies, particularly in the financial services sector, relating to FCPA violations stemming from hiring or providing internships to relatives and friends of government officials.  Penalties have been significant – for example, Credit Suisse Group AG paid a $47 million penalty in 2018 as part of a Justice Department FCPA investigation into their hiring practices in Asia.  We previously wrote about this issue in an August 2015 article about a settlement related to the hiring practices of Bank of New York Mellon.

The Barclays matter is a useful reminder of three things:

  1. What constitutes the giving of a thing of value to a government official is broadly interpreted and goes beyond simply giving money or a gift or other tangible thing directly to an official.
  2. The SEC can – and will – enforce the FCPA when there are deemed to be violations of the books and records provisions of the law, even if no charge of bribery is brought in the matter.
  3. The U.S. government continues to pursue industry-wide enforcement under the (apparently accurate) belief that what one company does in a specific industry is likely something that many companies in that industry also do.

Continue Reading on BassBerryGovConTrade.com

We are excited to share the next installment of our video series, Conducting Workplace Investigations | Step #2: Interview the Complainant. This series, 10 Steps Every Company Should Take When Conducting Workplace Investigations, is intended to guide HR leaders faced with investigating a complaint between coworkers, such as harassment or inappropriate conduct, through the investigation process.

Each video in this series offers practical tips on everything from creating the investigation plan; interviewing relevant parties; and dealing with the aftermath of the investigation, including potential disciplinary actions taken against an employee.

In this video, Bass, Berry & Sims labor and employment attorney Tim Garrett discusses the process of interviewing someone who brings a complaint against a coworker to the company. It is critical in this phase to ensure that that person feels comfortable sharing what they can about the situation in question. The interviewer needs to be able to obtain key information during the conversation in order to establish a timeline and details of the concerns. Tim also provides tips for handling a complainant’s request to remain anonymous.

Several attorneys in our Labor & Employment Practice Group are featured
in this video series and offer great recommendations for navigating this tricky
process.

View the first video in the series: Step 1: Intake the Complaint

To guarantee you don’t miss any videos in the series, be sure to subscribe to this blog or follow us on Twitter.

 

On October 23, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) published a proposed rule that, if finalized in its current form, would make it easier for retirement plan administrators to use electronic media to furnish information to participants and beneficiaries. The proposed rule would create a new, optional safe harbor that permits plan administrators to furnish required disclosures through electronic delivery to participants and beneficiaries with valid email addresses or smartphone numbers, unless the participant or beneficiary affirmatively opts out of electronic delivery.

The proposed rule was developed in response to Executive Order 13847, issued by the White House in August 2018, which instructed the DOL to review whether actions could be taken to improve the effectiveness of retirement plan disclosures required under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and reduce costs to employers. Note that employers may not rely on the proposed rule until it is published in final form.

Continue Reading DOL Proposed Rule on Electronic Disclosures Could Help Alleviate Costs and Burdens on Employers and ERISA Plan Administrators

I’m excited to be speaking next week at the 2019 MidSouth Employment Law Conference. My session entitled, “Anatomy of an Employment Lawsuit,” will provide attendees with an informative, step-by-step breakdown of the employment lawsuit process, practical guidance for managing litigation, and best practices to foster a company culture which limits the occurrence of such suits and mitigates employer liability.

Topics will include discovery issues and HR’s role in preserving electronically stored (ESI) information, settlement consideration, and trial preparation.

For more information regarding this event please visit the event information web page. If you’ll be at the conference next week, please stop to say hello!

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of a disability and requires employers engage in an interactive process and provide reasonable accommodations. A failure to do so may result in liability.

The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants or employees. A “reasonable accommodation” is defined as assistance or a change to a position or workplace that accommodates employees with disabilities so they can do the job without causing the employer undue hardship, such as too much difficulty or expense.

Use the Interactive Process to Determine Reasonable Accommodation

In order to determine the appropriate reasonable accommodation, employers and employees must engage in the interactive process, which requires communication and good-faith exploration of possible accommodations. An employer that acts in bad faith in the interactive process may be liable if it can be reasonably concluded that the employee would have been able to perform the job with a reasonable accommodation.

It’s a two-way street: an employee must also make a good faith effort to comply with any of the employer’s reasonable requests.

Continue Reading What Are the Employer’s Obligations When Engaging in the ADA Interactive Process?

We recognize that many of our readers sponsor ERISA welfare benefit plans and are currently undergoing their open enrollment process and issuing related participant communications. To assist with that process, we have prepared an Automatic Participant Disclosures Checklist for use during open enrollment and throughout the plan year.

If you have questions regarding the information in this checklist, please contact any of the attorneys in our Employee Benefits Practice Group.

 

I recently discussed the disadvantage of having a partial panel of commissioners at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Historically, the EEOC is comprised of five commissioners; however, the current panel only has three. Some argue this has hindered the EEOC’s ability to adequately investigate and file lawsuits to combat discrimination among the nation’s employers.

I warned that having a panel at the EEOC “that is less than full, we’re not getting the most out of it. How that plays out, I don’t know, but it is important, I think, for the commission to be at its full complement.”

The full article, “EEOC Mandate Stalled by Lack of Commissioners,” was published by Business Insurance on September 24, 2019, and is available online.

We are excited to share the first installment of our newest video series,
10 Steps Every Company Should Take When Conducting Workplace
Investigations
. This series is intended to guide HR leaders faced with investigating a complaint between coworkers, such as harassment or inappropriate conduct, through the investigation process.

Each video in this series will offer practical tips on everything from
creating the investigation plan; interviewing relevant parties; and dealing
with the aftermath of the investigation, including potential disciplinary
actions taken against an employee.

To kick off the series, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett takes
companies through the process of receiving the complaint. Employee
complaints can come anonymously, directly from an employee feeling
mistreated by a coworker or from a supervisor who witnesses inappropriate
behavior. Tim explains how to handle each type of complaint and tactics for
understanding as much information as possible in this initial stage of the
process.

Several attorneys in our Labor & Employment Practice Group are featured
in the series and offer great recommendations for navigating this tricky
process. To guarantee you don’t miss any videos in the series, be sure to
subscribe to this blog
 or follow us on Twitter.