DOL launches public comment website

It seems the Department of Labor (DOL) has found out we’ve been talking behind its back.  And in an effort to stop the gossip, the DOL has launched a new website for public comments.


Actually, the website was created in response to Executive Order 13563 and is intended to assist the DOL in reviewing its regulations and regulatory process.


Unlike most online government requests for public comments, this website has no scheduled end date – and anyone can comment.  So if you’ve got something to say about DOL regulations, now’s your chance!


To read more about the DOL regulations review website and its intended outcome, click here.


News flash! Miniature horses now dogs under the ADA

The U.S. Department of Justice’s “Final Rule” went into effect March 15th, 2011, revising and adding some regulations that affect the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

One such change is particularly interesting.  The ADA has now:

  1. ruled that the term “service animals” will be rigidly defined as dogs only.
  2. provided the exception that miniature horses can serve as “service animals.

Therefore, miniature horses are now dogs under the ADA.

Also, Segways must be permitted in all areas open to pedestrian use (I’m thinking Gob Bluth lobbied for this one.)

Click here to read more on the interesting additions to the ADA.

Interview for a new-hire

With the economy on the rebound and more and more companies beginning to hire, now is a good time for a review on successful interviewing practices.


In the article, “A Successful Employment Relationship Starts With A Good Interview,” the attorneys at Fisher & Phillips LLP have laid out some easy-to-follow bullet points on how to prepare for and conduct your next interview.


The article features many practicable tips, such as:


  • Get your job description up to date before posting any advertisements.
  • Always require completed applications in addition to resumes – and study it before the interview.
  • Keep in mind that while you’re sizing up the candidate, the candidate is sizing up the company.
  • Apply the “80/20 rule” to interviews – mostly listen; let the candidate do the talking.
  • Allow time for candidate questions at the end – if they prepared for the interview, they will have some.


Click here to read the full article and get more helpful suggestions for your next interview

One-strike drug-screening policy grooves with the ADA

Let’s say a job applicant failed a pre-screening drug test you administered in 1997 (I guess we all coped with the Spice Girls in different ways).  But what if several years later, this same person – who is now a rehabilitated drug addict, a protected class under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – applies again to your company, and your company has a “one-strike” drug-screening policy?


A recent court case says that if you refuse him employment based on the previously failed drug test, you would not be violating the ADA.


In this case, the employer was able to beat the suit for two reasons:


  1. The neutrality of the “one-strike” policy – it would disqualify anyone who tested positive, whether it was because of a disabling drug addiction or a poorly timed recreational experiment.
  2. The rejected job applicant could offer no statistics to show disparate impact.


If you have a “one-strike” or similar drug-screening policy in place, make sure it is neutral and evenly applied, as it may help you in the long-long-run.


To read more on the “one-strike” drug-screening policy case, click here.

Should the EEOC protect the unemployed?

As of right now, unemployed Americans are not a protected class under any U.S. labor law – which, on its face, makes sense, seeing as those individuals have no labor to begin with.

But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) feels employers may be discriminating against the unemployed, noting there is “an emerging practice of excluding unemployed persons from applicant pools” – and this may be causing a disparate impact on protected groups.

Last month, the EEOC held a meeting to discuss this new issue, where job postings containing language such as “only currently employed candidates will be considered” were presented, and experts warned this new practice could have a disparate impact on:

  • minorities
  • women
  • people over 40 years of age
  • and those with disabilities.

Do you feel the unemployed should become a protected class under U.S. labor law?  Leave a comment, and let us know what you think.

To learn more about the EEOC meeting and the exclusion of the unemployed from applicant pools, click here.

Nip it in the Board

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is at it again – “it” being extending the scope of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).


A recent NLRB decision has expanded the protections of the NLRA, making it so employers can’t “nip it in the bud,” or fire an employee to prevent him or her from engaging in protected activity.


Yes, now you can find yourself in violation of the NLRA for firing an employee who has not yet taken part in a protected concerted activity.


In the protection-expanding case, it was obvious to the NLRB that the termination was a “pre-emptive strike” because, prior to termination, management had asked the employee if she had discussed her grievance – a wage-related matter – with any of her co-workers.


Essentially, a new type of unfair labor practice has been created – the “pre-emptive strike.”

To learn more about the case, read “NLRB Finds ‘Preemptive Strike’ Discharge Illegal” by our partners at Ford & Harrison LLP.

11 Top Productivity Tips From Managers

Listen, I know you are perfect, dear HR Update reader – but I want your motivational skills to set off a blinding beacon of productivity in an otherwise well-lit room.

HR Tools, a human resources website providing free guidance and tips on HR issues, has put out “11 Top Productivity Tips From Managers.”

These 11 tips were compiled from suggestions made by employers like you, and include such advice as:


  • teach your employees how to write succinct and effective emails
  • offer more incentives (gym memberships seem a popular choice)
  • give clear instructions
  • include employees in the decision making process.


These tips are designed to maximize your employees’ productivity – and HR Tools thinks it all comes down to one thing:  increasing loyalty.

To learn more on how to boost employee morale and all that comes with it, read “11 Top Productivity Tips From Managers” by clicking here.