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HUMAN RESOURCES ❖

Consistency Critical in Workplace Relations “Joe Cool” may always go. He claimed his supervisor be the most-invited person to had told him on several occaevery party and liven up every sions that he was “no longer occasion; however, beware of a fireball” and that he “was praising these attributes in the “dragging his feet.” Another workplace. Of course, any orofficer referred to him as “Ofganization is going to be a mificer Dirt,” because he was crocosm of society and there’s “older than dirt.” Although an little doubt that you may have internal investigation found no some high-profile, cooler than legitimacy to his claims, once ice, super-swingers working Hogan filed his claim and it for your company—along went to a jury, he was awarded with your aging baby boom$700,000 in actual damages ers, stressed-out single parents, and $2 million in punitive immigrants with differing By Holly Culhane, SPHR damages! (Grossman, Robcultures, and employees with ert J., “Defusing Discriminadisabilities. While these young, dynamic, out- tion Claims,” HR Magazine, May 2009). going personalities may be the new “golden Obviously, the internal investigation should boys/girls” for your business, you want to have been more aggressive and perhaps this encourage them without appearing to slight case would never have gone to court. In fact, any other workers in the organization. Today, the company had several chances to respond more than ever, it is absolutely imperative to Hogan and prevent this huge payout, but that companies treat all employees equally they failed to take his claim seriously and in the workplace. mishandled their opportunities to rectify the So, just what is the main concern for busi- situation. Lozano reminds us “Every terminanesses to ensure that every worker is treated tion should be handled on a case-by-case basis equally in the workplace, thereby eliminating, but just as importantly, every employee should or at least greatly reducing, any possible be treated with respect and dignity through discrimination claims? Documentation has the termination process. Investigations are always been the key to success in fighting critical in identifying the facts and should any discrimination claims that may arise be conducted in a manner that ensures thorand now, more than ever, companies must oughness and neutrality by the investigator.” be vigilant about keeping precise, complete Remember, when terminating any employee, documentation, including payroll informa- regardless of the reason, it is not just a busition, employee evaluations, detailed writ- ness matter; you are dealing with a person’s ten records of any formal and/or informal livelihood, as well as his/her dignity and selfconferences, etc. for an extended period of respect. Always be cognizant of the person’s time. In fact, while most companies do not feelings and listen to what they have to say, keep this information indefinitely, for obvious remaining as empathetic as possible without reasons, organizations need to get creative on appearing patronizing. If they appear to have documenting and retaining files in order to legitimate complaints, be sure to check them prepare for future eventualities should they out in order to be prepared for any repercusarise. Javier Lozano, SPHR-CA, GPHR, sions that may occur. Human Resources Manager for the City of Be vigilant! If you even suspect that any form Bakersfield emphasizes, “The first lesson for of discrimination may be occurring, check it any supervisor is ‘document, document, docu- out. Document it. Keep written files and talk to ment!’ Documentation must be complete and everyone involved, having them sign or initial factual. Organizations should know the legal written statements. If you should receive a “derequirements for retention of all documents, mand letter” from a complainant’s lawyer—reincluding personnel files, I-9’s, and Workers’ spond immediately. Also, if a former employee Compensation records. Non-compliance can files for unemployment, think carefully before be costly.” denying the claim. If the employee was fired As we all know, the economy is struggling for cause and doesn’t deserve unemployment and so it should come as no surprise that compensation, be sure you have documentation discrimination lawsuits are increasing. When before refusing the claim. Be sure to talk to people are laid off, especially if they are in your human resource professional and consider a protected class, and with concerns of find- consulting your own attorney. If offered, think ing new employment in the current business about using mediation. The EEOC (Equal Emclimate, they may resort to a discrimination ployment Opportunity Commission) encourclaim in hopes of having their job reinstated, ages this approach and it can save everyone or at least obtaining a cash settlement. Often, time and money. these claims may point to comments made by Remember, treat all employees equally and a supervisor or coworkers. For example, in document, document, document! a recent lawsuit involving a former Kansas City police officer, Anthony Hogan, age dis- Contact Holly Culhane of PAS Associates for crimination was filed after the officer was let your human resource needs, (661) 631-2165.

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www.bakersfieldmagazine.net / Sizzlin’ Singles 2009 37

Bakersfield Magazine • 23-6 Sizzlin' Singles  

Our 6th annual presentation of local succesful sizzlin' singles • Plus Insiders Guide • Firsts! You remember your first time, don't you?

Bakersfield Magazine • 23-6 Sizzlin' Singles  

Our 6th annual presentation of local succesful sizzlin' singles • Plus Insiders Guide • Firsts! You remember your first time, don't you?

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