Posts Tagged ‘HR compliance’

The Health Care Reform – 8 Preparative steps to get ready now – Part 1

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

health care reform

As the deadline for implementation of the newest set of rules related to the Affordable Care Act quickly approaches, dealerships are preparing. Kristin Kahle, of Benefit Exchange Alliance, provides eight steps to begin preparing for the upcoming health care reform.

Mental Health Issues in the Workplace – Accommodating Employees with Mental Health Issues

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

mental health
Mental health issues affect roughly 25% of adults in the U.S., so it’s likely that at some point you will have a dealership employee who suffers from mental illness. However, accommodating mental health can be a delicate matter, as there can be legal implications if you handle the matter out of turn. If you assume an employee has a mental health issue, before it has been disclosed, and treat the individual as disabled, you are breaching the law. So what do you do?

There are a variety of ways to handle mental illness. Firstly, if the illness hasn’t been disclosed, simply document any odd or poor behavior that is violating the company’s workplace violence policy, or if the behavior is affecting performance or operation. Always support your employee, and be certain to ask open-ended questions about how they are. If the employee does disclose mental illness, make sure to follow policy: keep the information as confidential as possible and follow the obligations under ADA policy to accommodate the employee. Most importantly, is the employee looking for accommodation or simply sharing the information? Simply support your employee and their needs- accommodate their schedule and, if they desire it, provide them with any information they may need on an employee assistance program. Communicate with them and encourage them to work with Human Resources as they need to.

How Does the New Colorado Marijuana Law Affect Company Drug Testing?

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

With the legalization of marijuana in various states nationwide, both employees and employers alike are wondering what kind of impact the new laws will have on employment substance abuse testing and policies. The Colorado Court of Appeals recently stated that pot smokers can be fired for marijuana use despite state endorsement. What does this mean for employers?  You can prohibit the use of  marijuana in your workplace and may fire employee who test positive.  In the state of Colorado,  “for an activity to be lawful in Colorado, it must be permitted by, and not contrary to, both state and federal law,” the appeals court stated in its 2-1 conclusion.  Other states, such as Arizona, protect employee smoking rights, unless it would jeopardize an employer’s federal licensing or contracts.

Due to state and federal conflict, marijuana laws remain somewhat unclear. Keep state and federal laws, as well as legal penalties, in mind as you develop your policies related to substance abuse and substance abuse testing.

Retaliatory Firing: Don’t Fire Whistleblowers, No Ifs, Ands, or Buts

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Employees have a right to report alleged non-compliance to federal and state agencies without fear of retaliatory firing or demotion- no ifs, ands, or buts. A violation of an employee’s protected conduct of reporting potentially illegal or dangerous circumstances, the Department of Labor has made it very clear that retaliatory firing will not be tolerated.

A historical case of retaliatory firing landed one company with a $110,000 back wage payment, as well as fines imposed by OSHA, After an employee reported mechanical issues with his truck and was fired the next day, United Auto Recovery was required to rehire the employee, pay back wages and punitive damages, and was required increase trainings on employee rights, as well as to improve the workplace by posting employee rights posters.

Traditionally OSHA and the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) have been the primary investigators of complaints of retaliatory firing. Other agencies, including the SEC and FTC, have become involved with strong whistleblower protections under Sarbanes Oxley for employees of public companies; new laws including The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009, which creates whistleblower protections for employees in the health care sector; and The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which provides expansive protection to whistleblowers in the financial services industries.

The bottom line is that you can’t afford to fire a whistleblower unless you have absolute, irrefutable evidence that the firing had nothing to do with the report of fraud, complaint of discrimination, or safety issues.

How Old Are Your Labor Law Posters?

Monday, September 10th, 2012
KPA OSHA Store CO Labor Law Posters

Keep your labor law postings current with KPA’s new Employment and Labor Poster Store.

Have you ever paused in your break room and tried to read the labor law posters hanging on the wall? Perhaps you chuckled when you noticed the ancient soup stains, the faded letters … and the copyright date of 2002.

Maybe labor laws have changed since then?

HR professionals are pretty busy. Updating the state and federal labor law posters is one of the many compliance tasks they need to get done as quickly as possible.

This is why KPA has launched an easy-to-use online store with state and federal posters for the entire U.S. You can:

  • Buy posters in English, Spanish or bilingual (English and Spanish) formats.
  • Subscribe to annual updates (optional). When revisions happen, updated poster information will be sent to you via email, or replacement posters will be automatically shipped to your site.
  • Receive a separate NLRA poster with the standard state and federal poster combination.
  • Sign up for store coupons and promotions.

While a 10-year-old poster covered with Joey’s goulash accident may seem a tad funny when you’re sipping your morning coffee, it can trigger a hefty fine from the Department of Labor. Businesses are required to feature federal and state labor law postings in common areas frequented by employees and applicants.

We hope you’ll enjoy our new Employment and Labor Poster Store. If you have any questions, call one of our labor law poster experts at 1 (888) 369-9013.

Who Are You Really Hiring?

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

If you aren’t doing background checks and drug screens before you hire then you really don’t know who you are hiring.  KPA has found that over 30% of applicants we process through our HR system do not provide complete or accurate information on their application. To make a good hiring decision and to protect yourself in the event of a negligent hiring lawsuit a background check and drug test are a must. I’ll never forget having to testify against a client when I worked for one of the largest background companies in the US. The plaintiff’s attorney asked me if the client could have seen a history of substance abuse and traffic accidents if they had just been willing to spend $60 for a background check. I had to answer yes, the client had access and in fact had ordered background checks and drug tests in the past. Unfortunately a supervisor at the client company shortcut the process and put a person to work without the required background check. The new employee then promptly got drunk on the job and ran a company truck into the back of a car. The HR manager was not aware that the process had not been followed until after the accident had happened.  The settlement reached with the injured parties was over a million dollars.  Lessons learned?

1) Standardize the process for obtaining and reviewing background checks and drug tests.  If possible use software that will automate and force compliance to company policy for not just background checking but for the complete hiring process.

2) Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.  A background check and drug testing will cost in the range of $60 to $75 dollars if you use a third party. A very small investment to make sure you know exactly who you are hiring.

3) Use a third party provider (they have  expertise, and access to data you won’t have ) but select with care.  Understand how they obtain their data. Make sure they provide compliance assistance as there are a  number of regulations at the state and federal level that govern the use of drug testing and background checks in hiring.

4) Never establish a policy that states “we don’t hire anyone with a criminal record”.  In many states this would be considered discrimination.  Each background check must be reviewed against the actual job and factors such as time since the criminal act, age at the time of the act, efforts at rehibiliationa and the serious of the crime must be considered.  Employers can determine that it is not in their best interest to hire a person with a criminal record but must show that the decision was made fairly and without discrimination.  Providing a ranking using specific criteria is where  third party provider can really add value.
For more information on background checking go to  or

Join the conversation: Do you always obtain a background check and drug test on a new hire?

Finalized Form I-9 Rules Effective May 16, 2011

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Effective May 16, 2011, employers must follow the newly finalized Form I-9 rule  (the rule was orginally published back in 2009). Here’s what that really means…

Don’t forget that  the final rules prohibits employers from accepting expired documents; revises the list of acceptable documents by removing outdated documents and making technical amendments; and adds documentation applicable to certain citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
The list of acceptable documents that employees may present to verify their identity and employment authorization is divided into “List A” documents, which show identity and employment authorization; “List B” documents, which show identity only; and “List C” documents, which show employment authorization only. Employers may continue to use the current version of the Form I-9 (Rev. 08/07/2009) or the previous version (Rev. 02/02/2009).  The U.S . Citizen and Immigration Service ( USCIS)  Handbook for Employers, Instructions for Completing the Form I-9 (M-274), was updated on Jan. 5, 2011.

The Lawsuits are Coming, Get Ready to Pay

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

  The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that over 6,800 private-sector lawsuits were filed nationwide in 2010. The DOL (Department of Labor), handled about 32,000 wage and hour complaints in 2010, a jump of 33 percent in just two years.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that pay and promotion cases are now the biggest category of employment discrimination filings but discrimination cases are also on the rise.  Broadly defined but complex new regulations on ADA (Americans with Disabilities) and GINA (Genetic Information Non Discrimination Act)  make it likely that even the best intentioned employer may inadvertently discriminate against an employee or applicant.

  Looking forward into the rest of 2011 and then on to  2012 employers should expect more new rules, with the DOL, ICE and IRS allocating more resources towards enforcement of those rules.  The DOL is planning to issue new rules on the Family Medical Leave Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The National Labor Relations Board has proposed a new rule that, if adopted, would require almost all private-sector employer in the US to notify employees about their rights to unionize.

 The DOL has hired 250 new investigators and has launched the “We Can Help“ program that includes a website and bilingual public service ads designed find and correct the incorrect classification of exempt employees and other violations of wage and hour laws.  To “help” employees even more, on November 19, 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a joint initiative with the American Bar Association to help employees find lawyers to enforce their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Since December 13, 2010, employees who bring FMLA or FLSA complaints that cannot be resolved by the Department of Labor have been given a toll-free telephone number to contact a newly created ABA-approved attorney referral system that will provide information about participating attorneys in their geographic area.  The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)  will continue to increase its investigations and raids on employers who hire illegal workers, over 1000 notices were issues in the first 4 months of 2011. Don’t forget the IRS, in 2011 the IRS will conduct over 6,000 payroll tax audits focusing on companies misclassifying workers as independent contractors, fringe benefits and executive/deferred compensation, as part of a new federal and state focus on the miscallification of workers as independent contractors. 

Complex regulations, increased enforcement and easy access to plaintiff’s attorney are creating the “perfect storm” for employment lawsuits.  Are your payroll and employment practices ready? If you don’t have EPL (Employment Practices Liability) coverage call your broker now.  Consider an independent audit of your HR practices. Use automation (software) to ensure consistent process and good documentation. Plus keep your attorney on speed dial, you probably will be calling  them more than ever.

Join the conversation:  Are you worried about employment lawsuits or audits in 2011?

EEOC Issues Final Regulations for ADA Compliance

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Can you define what is a disability and who is covered under the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) and ADAAA (ADA Amendments Act of 2008) ?  The answer to this question of what is a disability  under the EEOC final regulations may surprise you.  Watch this short video to learn about the impact on employers when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) final revised Americans with Disabilities Act regulations become effective on May 24, 2011.






Department of Labor Clarifies Position on Service Advisors Classification

Friday, April 8th, 2011

On April 5th, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor clarified that service advisors are not exempt from overtime. While the current regulations states “a service manager, service writer, service advisor or service salesman who is not primarily engaged in the work of a salesman, partsman or mechanic is not exempt” (29 C.F.R. § 779.372(c)(4))”, beginning in 1987, the Department had adopted an enforcement position that did not deny exemption from overtime payment.  The Department has reversed this enforcement position and dealerships are advised to take into account all earnings for service advisors during the relevant time period including salary plus any commissions to determine the appropriate amount of overtime pay which may be due.

A more complete review of the new enforcement position is available from our partner,  Ford & Harrison at