January 2014 MVHRA Connections
January 2014 MVHRA Connections
Presidential Ponderings Volume 3, Edition 1
Happy New Year!
Kelly O’Connor, PHR, GBA
I always enjoy ringing in the New Year. It’s a time for reflection and a time to look forward. And we so rarely take a moment to intentionally reflect and plan for the future. However, great things happen when we do – we adjust our perspectives.
A reflection on 2013 for MVHRA portrays another thriving year full of active members, a board of directors full of incredibly hard working volunteers, another Pinnacle submission and so much more. It was also a time of transition – our website is ever changing, we joined the world of social media and we continued to adjust our internal processes to better meet your needs.
We are all excited for 2014! MVHRA’s future looks bright and full of potential. Our professional development workshops and luncheons are filling up with great speakers; we’re bringing back our PHR/SPHR certification scholarships and we’re continuing to partner and collaborate with local resources to provide you the best resources for the HR profession.
So as you think of your own journey and 2014 goals – is taking time to invest in yourself on your list? Or is expanding your HR network on the list? How about connecting with other professionals in our community that are dealing with the same challenges as you? If any of those are on your mind, please consider joining us for a meeting to see what MVHRA is all about. We want to meet you.
Be sure to check our calendar of events frequently to see what events we have lined up throughout 2014. And if there is something in particular that you want to learn about, let us know. We want to provide learning opportunities that meet your needs – your input is very important to us.
Here’s to a New Year full of potential for all of us, our community and the HR profession!
Jeremy Bryant / HR Business Partner / CareSource
Ethan Berkemeier / Student / Edison Community College
Kristin Bush / HR Generalist / Dayton Progress
Becky Guttstein / Professional-in-Transition
Molly Karn / HR Generalist / Hobart Service-ITW
Bridget Malesko / Sr. Compensation Analyst / Kettering Health Network
Diana Searls / Leadership & Mgmt. Program Coordinator / Upper Valley Career Center
Stephen Updegraff / CEOUAI / Accounting & Tax Services
Total active MVHRA membership is 305
253 - Professionals
26 - Vendors
26 - Students
Human Resources Manager – Wright-Patt Credit Union
Miami Valley Human Resource Association has Board Positions open and available.
We are in need of an Assistant Secretary, Assistant Diversity Chair, Assistant Job Opportunities Chair, Assistant Newsletter Chair, and Technology Chair.
The Board meets once a month, the 1st Tuesday of each month starting at 4:00 pm at Sinclair Community College. Go to http://mvhra.org/board/board-jobs.cfm to learn more about these volunteer positions. If you are interested please contact LaTonia McCane at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see full job descriptions and/or apply for these employment opportunities, please visit the MVHRA website and click Job Opportunities
Recent United States Supreme Court Decision Benefits Employers, Reiterates Need for Clear Job Descriptions,
Strong Harassment Reporting Policy
By: Jeffrey A. Mullins, Esq. Ryan T. Smith, Esq. Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
40 North Main Street, Suite 1700, Dayton, Ohio 45423
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits various types of discrimination in the workplace, including harassment. Title VII also holds employers responsible for harassment committed by their employees, regardless of whether they are “supervisors” or merely co-workers of the victim. From the plaintiff’s perspective, however, it is much easier to prove employer liability in the former instance than the latter. For this reason, the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Vance v. Ball State—which narrows the definition of a supervisor for employer liability purposes and shifts the proof burden to the plaintiff in more cases—is an important one for employers. The decision also provides some good reminders regarding job descriptions as well as harassment reporting policies and procedures.
Under Title VII, an employer is liable for the harassing conduct of an employee only if the plaintiff proves that the employer acted negligently upon a report of harassment. In other words, that the employer knew (or should have known) about the harassment and failed to stop it. On the other hand, an employer is strictly liable for the harassment of its supervisors when the harassment takes the form of a “tangible employment action,” e.g., firing, promoting, transferring, or disciplining the employee. If the harassment does not result in a tangible employment action—but it does create a hostile work environment—the employer will still be directly liable for the supervisor’s conduct, unless the employer can prove that it had an effective reporting program and that the victim unreasonably failed to use it.
While the distinction between a co-worker and a supervisor is an important one, until recently, many courts (and the EEOC) had different interpretations of what constituted a supervisor for these purposes. Fortunately, the United States Supreme Court has finally provided clarity. In Vance, the Court held that an employee is a “supervisor” for liability purposes under Title VII only if the employee has the power to take “tangible employment actions” against the alleged victim, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.
Maetta Vance, an African-American woman who was the plaintiff in this case, sued her employer, Ball State University (“BSU”), alleging that a fellow employee, Saundra Davis, created a racially hostile work environment in violation of Title VII. Vance worked as a catering assistant at BSU; and Davis, a Caucasian woman, was employed as a catering specialist. The parties vigorously disputed the precise nature and scope of Davis’ duties, but they agreed that Davis did not have the power to hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer or discipline Vance.
The Court ruled that Vance’s claim against BSU failed because Davis did not have the power to make a significant change in Vance’s employment status. According to the Court, when a supervisor makes a tangible employment decision, there is assurance that the injury could not have been inflicted absent the agency relation--a tangible employment decision requires an official act of the enterprise, a company act. Additionally, in most cases, the decision is documented in official company records and may be subject to review by higher level supervisors. This definition was in sharp contrast to the broader definition utilized by the EEOC and some lower courts which concluded that an individual could be considered a supervisor if he or she merely supervised the day-to-day work activities of another employee.
The Vance decision is a positive one for employers. Not surprisingly, employers tend to fare better in harassment litigation where a co-worker is the perpetrator, rather than a supervisor. This decision limits the number of individuals who fit the latter category. In addition, while the Vance decision only technically applies to federal cases (those brought before the EEOC and in federal court), this definition will likely be adopted by Ohio state courts and agencies as well.
Perhaps more importantly, though, this decision also cautions employers about the importance of having effective practices and policies, particularly in two respects.
(1) Job Descriptions. Review your job descriptions and make sure they clearly define which individuals have the authority to take tangible employment actions, and make sure those roles are consistently enforced.
(2) Harassment Reporting and Investigating Procedures. Make sure you have in place proper policies discussing prohibitions on discrimination and harassment, including retaliation; clearly communicate to employees the proper reporting procedure; and make sure your human resources personnel and managers are properly trained on effective investigation techniques.
Because employers remain liable for the harassment of all employees if they don’t take the right precautions, it is only when these policies and procedures are effective that the Vance decision becomes meaningful.
Check out the Fun from the December Luncheon!
~~The Critical Role of the HR Professional in Successful Organizations was the topic and many got up and participated in the great activities!
Upcoming Event: Positive Organizational Change Appreciative Inquiry: How to Create Positive Change
Thursday, April 3, 2014 from 07:30 AM to 10:00 AM
News from the Ohio SHRM State Council
Click here for the Decemer 2013 Ohio SHRM State Council Newsletter.