• Unequal pay: legal and practical issues

    Unequal Pay Image

    Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

    In 2009, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, his first bill.

    The bill, which extends the time period in which claimants can file pay discrimination claims, was only the beginning of the administration’s concerted effort to bring attention to the issue of unequal pay—whether the inequity is based on gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or some other characteristic protected by law.

  • Temporary foreign workers creating big problems for corporate Canada

    Temporary foreign workers in Canada image

    Tessara Smith, PayScale

    Foreign employees have existed peacefully among Canada’s native workforce for a long time without much conflict, but lately there have been legal struggles over compensation injustice as well as opportunity inequities.

  • The emotionally unsafe workplace: How bullies, tyrants, and narcissists are hurting your business

    Emotionally Unsafe Workplace Image

    Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

    The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, commonly referred to as OSHA, obligates employers to maintain a safe and healthful work environment.

    OSHA’s website states:

    “OSHA's mission is to assure safe and healthful workplaces by setting and enforcing standards, and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. Employers must comply with all applicable OSHA standards. Employers must also comply with the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act, which requires employers to keep their workplace free of serious recognized hazards.”

  • What if everyone’s pay was public knowledge?

    Pay Transparency image

    Imagine if one day you walked into your workplace and found your name, along with all the other names of your co-workers, written on bright Post-it notes and your salary rates clearly written there too? Now, include all the salaries and perks that your supervisors, the CEO, and even the janitor displayed for all to see. How would this experience change the way you view your company?

  • Wage theft -- the employer oops that's got workers fired up

    Wage theft image

    Tessara Smith,  PayScale

    There is a compensation epidemic taking over companies across the nation. It is called wage theft and your organization should avoid it at all costs. By definition, wage theft is the underpayment for money that has been clearly earned. This could mean paying employees less than minimum wage, refusing to compensate them for the hours they have worked, or neglecting to pay them overtime. You would think that most companies would stray from committing such a petty compensation crime, but wage theft is much more common than you think. It makes sense; the less you pay employees the more your company profits when you crunch the numbers at the end of the day. But is raking in more revenue worth causing your employees to be disgruntled or the massive penalties you might face if they decide to band together and file a lawsuit? 

  • Why hiring for diversity still matters

    Hiring for diversity image

    Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

    Traditionally, talk about diversity in the workplace has focused on inclusion of people of color and women, particularly within the management ranks.

    And despite how far we’ve come, there’s still a need for those conversations.

    Just last month, Catalyst, a nonprofit organization with a mission to “expand opportunities for women and business,” reported that women hold only “4.8 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 5.1 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions."

  • The Minimum Wage Victory Parade Continues


    Tessara Smith, PayScale

    Just when you thought Seattle approving $15 was the highlight of the minimum wage battle this year, it was announced that employees who work under independent contracts are also getting a pay day. On June 12, 2014 President Obama initiated the first of many executive actions to come that will boost minimum wage for workers under new federal contracts from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour. This is exciting news for contractors, who will now be properly reclassified as employees in the eyes of the government, but it is only small part of a much larger effort to increase minimum wages for all workers within the United States.

  • Should minimum wage be bumped up to $15 in Toronto?


    Tessara Smith, PayScale

    Minimum wage workers everywhere are beginning to take a stand for higher wages. Inflation is continuing to skyrocket and the salaries of lower level workers don’t seem to be keeping up with this trend.  It is becoming apparent that the annual income of lower level workers is hardly livable not only in the United States, but also in Canada. The salaries of minimum wage employees in Canada are not substantial enough for citizens already struggling to cover the ballooning costs of everything. The longer the gap between inflation and wages goes on, the more citizens are pushing for a pay day. Canadian Labor activists have even gone as far as delivering MPP’s with a block of ice containing $10.25, Ontario’s minimum wage since 2010. The people have made it clear; it is time for sustainable wages to become a reality.

  • Appeals court redefines "the workplace"

    Appeals court redefines the workplace

    Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to offer reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities who can perform the essential functions of the job. An employer is acting within the law when it provides an accommodation that meets the definition of reasonable, even if the accommodation is not exactly what the employee requested. And, until recently, employers also had one given—showing up for work was pretty much guaranteed to be considered an essential job function.

    Which is not to say that a temporary leave of absence could never be considered a reasonable accommodation. It could and can. However, an employer generally would be within its rights to turn down a request for an open-ended telecommuting arrangement. 

    Again, until recently.

  • How does the changing minimum wage affect your compensation strategy?


    Mykkah Herner, M.A., CCP, PayScale

    There has been a lot of talk about increasing the minimum wage, at the federal, state, and city levels. In Seattle, headquarters of PayScale, we just passed an ordinance increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour within 3-7 years depending on employer size. Of course there has been debate on both sides of the law. Can small business owners afford to absorb the increase? What will happen to the people we used to pay at $15/hour? But also, how can Seattle call itself a forward-thinking city if the minimum wage is not a livable wage? I probably should have been born a Libra because I fundamentally understand both sides.

  • Yes you can still be sued for age discrimination


    Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

    In “The Ugly Truth About Age Discrimination,” author Liz Ryan writes:

    “[Age discrimination] is the only kind of employment discrimination I know of that people talk about openly, either because they’re unaware of the laws preventing it … or because they don’t care.”

    The article opens with a story about Philip, a job seeker turned away by a headhunter who decides Philip is “a little long in the tooth for the job.”

    If you’re tempted to think that Ryan is off the mark and Philip must be a rare case (because how many people in this day and age would dare say such a thing?) you might want to think again.

  • 5 reasons why you need an Employee Assistance Program


    Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

    The first employee assistance programs (EAPs) were established in response to the growing problem of alcoholism among white-collar workers.

    Eventually, however, the programs evolved into what they’re known for today—providing confidential support to employees with mental, financial, childcare, substance abuse, and other personal problems.

  • Can the nuclear family survive on minimum wage – even it if goes up?


    There is a lot of talk about the Federal Minimum Wage and how raising it to $10.10 per hour across the nation could help many more working Americans make ends meet. The question is, if the minimum wage is raised over the next 2 years, will this make a difference to the average nuclear family (Mom, Dad, and 2 kids)?

  • EEOC releases FY 2013 enforcement and litigation data


    Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released FY 2013 data showing that the agency obtained the highest monetary recovery in its history through its administrative process, increasing by $6.7 million to $372.1 million. Of these awards, $39 million benefited victims of unlawful discrimination.

  • Overcoming mobbing: An interview with Maureen Duffy, PhD


    Crystal Spraggins

    According to a survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), 35% of American workers have experienced bullying directly. An additional 15% have witnessed it.

    Maureen Duffy, PhD, has seen first-hand the damaging effects of workplace bullying and mobbing. Duffy is a family therapist and co-author (along with Len Sperry) of Overcoming Mobbing: A Recovery Guide for Workplace Aggression and Bullying.

  • States Raise Minimum Wages in 2014 - Are they Fair?


    A hot topic on the minds of people around the USA right now are the states that have raised their minimum wages to meet with the cost of living demands in multiple regions. As of January 1st of 2014 (New York December 31, 2013), fourteen states made the minimum wage increase official. This comes as part of proposed salary legislation up for consideration in the House and Senate to increase the federal minimum wage in 2014, as included in the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012. Things are looking up for millions of workers who are in jobs that pay minimum wage in the states that have decided to move forward and increase the wage now.

  • Exempt vs. nonexempt: What’s the big deal?


    Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

    In a 2013 study, NERA Economic Consulting reported that U.S. employers paid $467 million in settlements as a result of wage and hour violations. NERA classified the violations in the following categories:

  • Payroll oops! FLSA mistakes managers make when calculating overtime


    As if calculating overtime pay wasn’t challenging enough at times, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) can throw even a seasoned payroll manager into a tailspin at 300 miles per hour. Why do FLSA mistakes cause so many issues for payroll overtime processing? In this article, we will look at some ways you can avoid the common issues with managing overtime payments in regards to FLSA guidelines.

  • Is the federal minimum wage fair compensation?


    Jessica Miller-Merrell, blogging4jobs

    The question of whether or not the federal minimum wage is fair is one that has been tossed around quite a bit in the last several years. The resurgence of this question has largely been due to political scenes heating up and major layoffs leading more people to obtain minimum wage jobs but it’s a topic that has been debated since the first minimum wage was put into place in 1938, guaranteeing workers 25 cents per hour. Though the federal minimum wage has increased significantly over the years to the $7.25 per hour rate it is now, the hard questions about minimum wage still remain. Chief among them is whether or not the $7.25 per hour employers are required to pay their employees is actually fair.

  • Paving the way to a healthy workplace with corporate wellness incentives


    As Obamacare officially launched across America this year, new requirements forced employers to look for ways to boost their compensation and benefit programs without raising healthcare premium costs. The new law permits employers to use as much as 30 percent of each worker’s health care premium on wellness incentive programs (up from 20 percent last year). The challenge to find cost-effective ways to maintain the well-being and productivity of workers is on.


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