Category: Work Place Tips

Violent Jobs: Police Officers, Boxers…Healthcare Workers?

In 2009, an emergency room nurse at the Ventura County Medical Center encountered a violent and frightening patient who was only subdued after an equally violent counter. Around 2am, a man entered the ER, brandishing a pair of scissors as a weapon. He was naked and drunk, covered in blood. He confronted and laughed at two nurses, then chased them around the department.

In order to arrest the attacker, two police officers and to use a Taser against him. The man finally fell after three zaps. After the violent incident, one of the nurses involved kept count every time a patient got violent, or even threatened a hospital worker. The count was astonishing; on average, medical personnel were attacked at least one to two times a day.

This medical center is not unique in its findings. Hospital healthcare workers are often confronted with violent behavior, assaults, and threats against them from patients. The Labor Code seeks to mitigate these occurrences, with a new addition found in Labor Code §6401.8.

As per  code, hospitals must implements a workplace violence prevention plan to protect personnel from “aggressive and violent behavior.” These plans must be realized by July 1, 2016. Plans must include annual educational training for personnel, resources for employees who are coping from violent incidents, and a system of responding to incidents.

By January 1, 2017, hospital divisions must “in a manner that protects patient and employee confidentiality, shall post a report on its Internet Web site containing information regarding violent incidents at the hospitals, that includes, but is not limited to, the total number of reports, and which specific hospitals filed reports…”

Source: California Labor Code §6401.8 & LA Times

April 14th is Equal Pay Day

Today is a symbolic day for those who continue to fight for equal pay. Women typically earn $.78 to a man’s $1.00. April 14th marks the time of year when women catch up to men’s salaries from the previous calendar year. Why is that? There are plenty of answers: hours worked, discrimination in the workplace, job choice, etc. We analyze some of these issues below.

Blatant gender discrimination and objectification is not as relevant these days as it was five or six decades ago, however, there are still road blocks to a woman’s success in the employment force. Though women are more likely to go to college than men, some “traditional” concerns still make it difficult for a woman to get passed the same obstacles from the ‘50s and 60s. For example, no matter how educated a woman is, if she decides to have children while pursuing her career, it is to her detriment that a company lacks ample maternity leave or help for childcare.

However, there are always two sides to every story. There are ways women can take the initiative to help narrow the gender wage gap, as well. Statistically, women don’t ask for raises or higher job salaries upon being offered the job like men do. According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, only 27% of women asked for a raise during a year period as opposed to 84% of men. Some, though not all, of the gender gap can be explained and solved if women took the money on the table just by asking for it.

There is no easy or simple fix to the wage gender gap. However, both sides need to work together to make it possible for Equal Pay Day’s objective come true.

Source: Wall Street Journal and Washington Post

Employers Can’t Ignore Disabled Employees’ Attempts To Return To Work

Very few of the thousands of employment cases filed every year go to trial, but in a recent case an employee plaintiff not only took her case all the way to trial, but also won.

The employee became disabled during her employment and had to take time off work.  When she attempted to return to work with restrictions on how she could work, the company just refused to acknowledge her.  She contacted the company, with no response.  She sent a certified letter to the company, and still not response.  In a blatant violation of its duty to engage in the interactive process and attempt to accommodate a disabled employee so she could come back to work, the company simply chose to ignore her and hope that she went away.

The company’s defense as trial was that it didn’t matter what the company did because the employee was physically unable to do the work at all.  Following the law to the letter, the judge recognized that the law doesn’t allow that kind of lazy, one-sided decision-making.  Even if the company was right, it was still required by law to communicate with the employee and engage in the interactive process with the employee of attempting to make that determination.

This is a fight employers and employees have too often: if the employer thinks the employee can’t physically do the job, why should the employer bother asking for doctors’ notes or paperwork or go to the effort of meeting and talking with the employee?  The answer is simple: because the law absolutely requires it.

The plaintiff in the recent trial recovered $53,608 in wages she lost because of the company’s violation of laws protecting disabled employees and refusal to work with her to see if she could go back to work.

Temp Employment Becoming Permanent Growth

Almost 3 million in the current work force hold a “temporary” position within a company. Temp agencies and roles for temps have seen a huge increase within the past few years, indicating that the trend of temps may be here to stay.

In previous generations, temp jobs were meant to help those transitioning back into the work force by placing them in short term roles in companies. Temp arrangements have evolved from transitional arrangements to way of life. Many people opt to continually serve as temporary employees reflecting the confidence the workforce has in the temp employee system.

Between 2009 and 2014, there was a 57% increase in temporary roles according to CareerBuilder. That number is only growing. It is estimated that throughout 2015, an additional 354,877 positions will go on the market.

The fastest growing field for temporary employees making less than $15 per hour are Home Health Aides. Last year, CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists International compiled data from over 900 agencies and used statistics from the Department of Labor to conclude that there will be a 15% increase of Home Health workers by 2015. Other growing fields included Gaming Dealers, Childcare Workers, Restaurant Cooks, Substitute Teachers, Product Promoters, Retail Salespeople, and Landscapers.

The fastest growing field for positions earning over $15 per hour was a Computer Systems Analyst, projecting a 19% growth from 2014 to 2019. Others in this category included Accountants, Management Analysis, Computer Support, Software Developers, Customer Service Representatives, Truck Drivers, Registered Nurses, and Repair Workers.

Source: Forbes Magazine

Can You be Fired for Speaking to the Press?

January proved to be a particularly important month for many states this year. That was the month that new minimum wage hikes took place—in fact 20 states saw adjustments in their employees’ base earnings. On state, Arkansas, increased their minimum wage from $7.25 an hour up to $7.50 per hour.

Shanna Tippen was one of those workers in Arkansas that looked forward to the twenty-five cent wage hike. Tippen worked for the Days Inn and Suites in Pine Bluff, AR and expressed to a Washington Post reporter that she was grateful for the $2 per day raise. That nominal amount, up to $520 annually, would allow her to purchase name brand diapers for her grandson that did not irritate his skin.

The motel worker hoped in the article that she could one day find another job that wouldn’t make her feel so strapped for cash but for now, she was content staying in where she worked. Her boss, the general manager, was also quoted in the article criticizing the minimum wage hike.

Since then, another article has been published about Tippen—this time describing her termination from the motel. Tippen was allegedly fired by the general manager for speaking to the reporter at the Post. Though she did not say anything negative about her employer, it seems her employer found her involvement in the article reason enough to terminate her.

What if this had happened in California? Though it is unfortunate and very unfair, California is still an at-will state. The employer does have the ability to terminate an employee for any reason. However, if Tippen had engaged in a protected activity—maybe even complained to the reporter that her employer was not paying her minimum wage—then perhaps she could have been involved in a protected activity. At that point, she may have had a reason to pursue him legally.

Source: Washington Post