Archive for January, 2010

Yet another employment discrimination settlement for an Auto Dealership- Are You Next?

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Within the past 60 days three dealerships have reached big dollar settlements with the EEOC for races, age or gender discrimination. Most recently a dealership in Georgia paid out $140,000. With 250 new investigators and a perceived easy target in dealerships I won’t be surprised to see more of these claims in the coming months.  Dealerships seems to be a favorite target for the EEOC these days, and too many make it too easy.

Beyond the four simple steps I offered in an earlier blog “ $1.5 Employment Litigation Recipe” you should also consider EPLI (Employment Practices Liablity Insurance) coverage for your dealership.     Prevention is key- training, a nontolerance attitude and enforcement of policies to ensure that discrimination doesn’t happen or is swiftly dealt with at your dealership will signifcantly reduce your risk  but having EPLI provides peace of mind in the event of claim occur.

Retaining employees, improving morale without going crazy?

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

 In tough economic times it’s tough to focus on how to retain your best employees-it’s tough enough to figure out how to retain any employees at all.  So what do should you do?  Advice abounds. Every time I check out the latest HR blog, I find a post telling me how to keep employees from flying the coop.   Check out  tips from the Harvard Business Review and  and  for  great ideas on retaining employees but also consider four practices to improve your overall workplace- that way you can make sure that the employees who remain, remain sane and so do you.

  1. Tell employees what you are up against.  Choice between merit increases or keeping health insurance coverage? Don’t know if you can keep up the 401K contribution and hire the extra staff to reduce overtime- let employees know the options, how the decision making process happens and …
  2. Let employees have a say in the matter.  No, employees can’t have a say in every decision but when feasible let them decide.  Having a sense of control goes a long way to creating buy in to difficult decisions. 
  3. Treat employees with dignity.  I hope that you do, but not everyone does and here are few examples of what not to do.   Show respect, treat everyone with dignity and expect the best- people tend to live up or down to expectations.
  4. Take some constructive criticism.  Hold a brown bag lunch, create a employee blog or hotline and let employees tell you what is working and what isn’t.  Yes, its hard to hear criticism,  and no you can’t fix everything or should even try. But if you don’t know what is driving your employees crazy you can be sure they will be telling the next employer what drove them away.

Join the conversation- do you spend most of your efforts retaining top talent or creating a culture where everyone can thrive?


Sitting ducks- why do business not follow basic HR regulations?

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Last week the EEOC entered into a $1.5M settlement with a Colorado auto dealer, and then on Monday announced another $85,000 settlement with a dealership in Ohio. In both cases basic HR best practices and federal and state regulations were not followed. The question is why?  Is it a lack of understanding of the regulations or an inability to implement sound HR process?  With the plethora of HR software available it can’t be that the right tools aren’t accessible, so maybe HR is seen as a “nice to have” activity rather than a core function of the business.  Given the fines, penalties and loss of reputation when regulations are not followed HR compliance isn’t something you do because you are want to- it’s a critical function of your business.  Unless you want to be a sitting duck for an employment lawsuit, EEOC investigation or Wage and Hour violation put your HR compliance program in order now, you really can’t afford to wait.

Join the conversation- why  would a  businesses ignore HR best practices and HR compliance requirements?

A $1.5 million dollar employment litigation recipe

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Take 90 new Department of Labor Investigators, add aggressive enforcement of the law, stir in limited corporate oversight, and combine with intricate laws that can be difficult to understand.  Make sure there are no processes and systems that would force compliance of the law and HR best practices. Mixed together and you have a $1.5 million dollar settlement on your plate for age and gender discrimination as one Colorado auto dealership recently learned.

10 former employees of the dealership will split the $1.5 million dollar settlement.  The consent decree also requires the dealership to put discrimination training in place,  to post its anti-discrimination policy, to provide training about anti-discrimination laws to its employees and managers, and to make periodic reports to the EEOC.

“Sexual harassment and sex discrimination against women in traditionally male-dominated industries, such as the auto industry, are still unfortunate realities,” EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart Ishimaru said in a statement. “Likewise, older workers continue to experience age discrimination, despite their experience, productivity and qualifications.”

You can’t afford a recipe for disaster like this, and you should take a few simple steps to reduce your risk:

  1. Understand the law and your responsibilities as an employer.  There are numerous resources available including KPA’s free webinars presented by leading labor attorneys and HR professionals.
  2. Establish policies and training so all employees understand their rights and obligations.  Make sure you keep complete and accurate records.
  3. Consider using HR management software to automate and force compliance in the hiring, employee management and termination process. Yes it is an added expense in a tough economic climate for dealership – but the expense is a fraction of the cost of a discrimination or wage and hour violation lawsuit.

Join the conversation- how does your company prevent discrimination in the workplace?

EPA 6H rule: 9 reasons not to file for an exemption

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

»Download the 6H Rule Compliance Checklist

Steven E. Schillinger, President of GRC-Pirk Management ( is a KPA partner serving the collision center industry and a specialist on the EPA 6H rule. Steven lists nine reasons why filing for an exemption is a bad idea:

  1. Exemption form is an application only, not immunity, and requires written acceptance from the EPA
  2. Guarantees EPA review and/or inspection
  3. Shops can’t be conditionally exempt, all or none – paint one-time with vibrant or pearl and they’re subject to the rule for the entire year
  4. Shops will have to prove an exemption each permit renewal period
  5. Shop assumes vicarious liability if they sign a false affidavit
  6. Prohibits use of ANY products containing Target HAPs, i.e., 3-M products, cleaners, strippers, any jobbers products, etc. – not just one manufacturers product-line
  7. Many Air districts have added the rest of the EPA 188 toxic HAPs to a local rule – Delegated Authorities can be more restrictive than the 6H Rule
  8. Inspectors are instructed to cut a sample of the booth filter for lab-testing – when ANY Target HAPs appear (and they do) shops will have to defend!
  9. Why file exemption? It’s easy to be compliant and most reputable shops are already in compliance!

Steven also wrote a great article in Auto Body News how this new 6H rule could benefit shop owners as it could eliminate illicit shops.

Body Shops should review KPA’s 6H Checklist to ensure that their paint spray operations are compliant. For more information on EPA rule 6H, see our 6H Rule Overview.

The less than 2% solution-Pay raises will remain low in 2010

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Not planning on merit raises this year or giving less than 2 percent?  You are not alone.  The average planned merit increase for next year is 1.85 percent, according to BLR’s 2010 Pay Budget Survey.  More than 40 percent of respondents reported that they had planned on giving no merit increase at all in 2010.



Even if you aren’t giving out merit increases you still should complete performance reviews and consider other ways to reward employees to ensure retention.

Your employees are valuable assets and if you don’t treat them as such they will leave once the economy improves-  Bob Nelson’s book 101 Ways to Reward Employees is a good resource for non-monetary reward ideas.

Join the conversation- are you planning on merit increases in 2010?

Tip of the month: check if you meet the new SPCC rule compliance dates

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Self Certification An Option Starting January 14th 2010

Compliance-TipAfter an 11 month delay for additional public comment the EPA has finalized the December 2008 amendments to the Spill Control and Countermeasures Plan (SPCC) rules. If you recall, last year’s amendments were to reduce some of the regulatory burden on smaller oil handling facilities such as yours. As it turns out, the changes resulting from the extended public comment period have not had any impact on the amendments in your business sector. As with the previous rules if your facility has an aggregate storage capacity of over 1,320 gallons (including 55 gallon drums) of petroleum products, these amendments will affect your facility.

For more information about this upcoming rule change, read more in our January newsletter or join our SPPC webinar on January 14.