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SSN Mistake Leads To Million Dollar Verdict

Posted By Laurie Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2016

By Robert Neale, Partner and Kim Thompson, Partner - Fisher & Phillips 

Neale will present, Hiring Foreign Workers: Visas, I-9s and Other Considerations, at the Global Workforce Conference tomorrow, September 15th in Santa Clara. If you are local to the Bay Area, and not planning to attend, it's not too late to register (at the door). Get more information here. Qualifies for 6 SHRM PDCs / 6 HRCI Recertification Credits - Global and General. Follow updates from the event on #NCHRAGlobalFisher & Phillips is a  Global Workforce Conference sponsor.

SSN Mistake Leads To Million Dollar Verdict

How Can You Avoid A Similar Fate?

A federal court in California recently ruled that a job applicant’s admission that he used a false Social Security Number (SSN) cannot be the basis for disqualifying him from employment on good moral character grounds. The court awarded the plaintiff over $1 million as a result of the employer’s misstep, which should serve as a wake-up call to all employers when it comes to handling SSN issues.

Employer: “Former False SSN = Lack Of Integrity”
Years ago, Victor Guerrero entered the United States as a child from Mexico. As a teenager, he used a false SSN to seek employment. Guerrero eventually became a lawful permanent resident and then a naturalized U.S. citizen. By legalizing his immigration status, he was able to obtain a valid SSN.

In 2011, Guerrero submitted an employment application to become a corrections officer with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). He passed the written and physical exams and met all of the other job qualifications.

But during his interview and routine background check, Guerrero admitted to previously using a false SSN to seek employment. The CDCR denied his employment application and sent him a rejection letter stating that his past usage of a false SSN showed that he was “not suitable to assume the duties and responsibilities of a peace officer.” The letter also stated that using the SSN showed a “willful disregard of the law” and a “lack of honesty, integrity, and good judgment.”

Guerrero filed a lawsuit against the CDCR in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking damages based on a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He argued that as a Latino job applicant, he was subjected to national origin discrimination because the job application process required him to disclose that he had used a false SSN in the past. 

Court: “Policy As Applied Is Discriminatory”
The court held that while California law required the CDCR to conduct a background investigation to ensure good moral character, the “good moral character” hiring policy had a significant disparate impact on Latino applicants like Guerrero, even though it was facially neutral. In light of that, the CDCR had a duty to apply the relevant EEOC factors – which it failed to do – resulting in the court holding in favor of Guerrero on the Title VII disparate impact claim. The court ruled in his favor and awarded $1,186,307 in attorneys’ fees, $145,972 in expenses, and $140,362 in back pay.

Issue Has Become More Common
As an increasing number of formerly undocumented individuals obtain the legal authorization to work in the U.S, addressing false SSN issues has become a more frequent occurrence facing employers. In 2012, it was estimated that more than 600,000 undocumented individuals were issued temporary employment authorization cards under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

Armed with valid authorization for employment, an individual is eligible to seek a valid SSN from the Social Security Administration. Once an individual has a valid SSN, a current employee, who may have presented a false SSN when originally hired, may now come forward with a new SSN and seek to update relevant employment records. 

Employers, especially those in California, need to tread very carefully when presented with evidence of a new SSN and information that the employee originally presented a fake SSN.  In addition to this recent ruling, the state has enacted laws that prohibit adverse treatment of an employee who comes forward with a new and valid SSN. 

Employers who consider past immigration status and associated illegal activity attributed to that status, such as using a false SSN to seek employment, may find that their actions are challenged as unlawful discrimination. As Guerrero’s attorney, Marsha Chien, said in a statement: “If discrimination like this is allowed to stand, millions of hard working people who are legally allowed to work in the U.S. will be left without the means to support themselves and contribute to our economy.”

What Should You Do?
You need to be aware of the interplay between employment discrimination laws and federal and state immigration laws, in particular when it comes to ensuring that employees are lawfully permitted to work in the United States. If you learn of a possible SSN discrepancy or mismatch, either through a letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA), a third party (such as an individual or a governmental agency), or from the employee directly, you should take certain steps to ensure accuracy in your own records and that correct information is communicated to the SSA. 

The first step should be to check internal records to ensure that the correct SSN is listed in the employee’s files. Taking prompt steps to correct errors or to address the situation will show good faith on your part and diminish any indication that you had constructive knowledge that an employee was working without legal authorization. You should never ignore information relating to discrepancies between an employee's name and SSN.

If you receive a mismatch or SSN verification letter from the SSA, you should check your internal records, communicate the information to the employee in question, correct your records (if there was an error), respond to the SSA as indicated on its letter, and insert any notes of explanation, as warranted, in the employee’s personnel file.

Depending on the credibility of the information received alerting you to the possibility of a false SSN, you may need to take additional steps, up to and including termination of the worker’s employment. However, you should seek legal guidance before making any decisions based on an allegation of using a false SSN.

You are encouraged to adopt a written immigration compliance policy and to train all relevant personnel on the importance of adhering to it. You should avoid “citizen only” or “permanent resident only” hiring policies, unless you are required to do so by federal law or based on a federal contract. In most cases, it is unlawful to require job applicants to have a particular immigration status.  

Finally, you should follow the fundamental rule of workplace law: be consistent with all employees and new hires. Following the appropriate I-9 practices will help you minimize the risk of discrimination charges and exposure for failing to comply with Form I-9 regulations.

Tags:  false SSN  Fisher & Phillips  global recruiting  global workforce  hiring  HR  immigrates  RecruitLoop 

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Where Do You Get In Your Own Way?

Posted By NCHRA Blog Editor for Guest Contributor to the HR+ Blog, Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Contributed by Mike Normant

Do any of these tendencies seem like you?

  • I frequently interrupt others when they are speaking.
  • I am too easily distracted (emails, texts, etc.) during meetings and/or conversations.
  • I talk too much in meetings (i.e., I “take up too much space”).
  • I don’t speak up in meetings (even when something wants to be said).

These are just a few examples of “self-limiting behaviors.” Whether or not you personally relate to these patterns, it’s likely that you know someone who exhibits one or more of them. And I’d bet that it’s easy to see how such behavior can block someone from reaching her/his potential.

What if you turn the mirror back on yourself? If you aspire to reach your fullest potential, it’s helpful to identify and begin to work on shifting your own self-limiting behaviors!

In this article, I will:

  • Provide some context about the importance of working on self-limiting behaviors.
  • Share a list of common self-limiting behaviors.
  • Suggest some action items to use these ideas to help yourself, your team, and your organization.

Behaviors and Professional/Personal Development

Many companies ask their employees to identify development/growth goals in two areas. The first is “The What”, or technical/functional skills. The second is “The How”, which are more behavioral and soft-skill oriented.

It’s easy for employees to identify development areas associated with “The What”. However, many people struggle with identifying behaviors to work on (The How). Those of us in the HR arena know that “how” a person shows up at work has huge implications for her/his overall career success

Think of someone you know that frequently interrupts others. It’s pretty easy to imagine how their baseline career “trajectory” will be constrained if s/he doesn’t work on that self-limiting behavior.

Now imagine a different trajectory if that person starts to make small shifts toward becoming a better listener.  How much more of their potential will they realize in 6 months? A year? Five years?

How many more career-enhancing opportunities may be presented to that person because they are engaged more productively in meetings, or within teams or with their direct reports?

By making small shifts in our behavior we are literally “bending our future” toward realizing more of our potential and being our best selves. 

I want to acknowledge you readers who embrace an emphasis on developing strengths. I’m a huge fan of strengths-based development. And I also believe that each of us has self-limiting behaviors that warrant attention.

By the way, behavior may be a loaded word for some people. I use this word literally and non-judgmentally: “the way in which one acts or conducts oneself.”

It may seem obvious, but most of us don’t simply decide to change a behavior and make it so. We must first acknowledge that one or more of our behaviors (that may have served us in our past!) are now detrimental to our success, whether at work or in our personal life. This requires self-observation and the willingness to identify behaviors that don’t serve us well.

We must also recognize that this will push us out of our comfort zone and will hence often trigger fear and internal resistance. This work is important but not easy.

Example Self-Limiting Behaviors

As noted, it’s often difficult for individuals to identify behaviors that they want to change. Below I’ve listed some relatively common self-limiting behaviors for your review. This list can also be shared with employees to help get them thinking about this topic.

Check out the list below. Do you see yourself in any of these statements? Here’s a hint: don’t beat yourself up….be curious!

  • I frequently interrupt others when they’re speaking.
  • I don’t listen to others when they’re speaking.
  • I succumb too easily to distractions (emails, text messages, etc.) during group meetings.
  • I succumb too easily to distractions (emails, text messages, etc.) during 1:1 conversations.
  • I’m unable to say “no” (when it’s a viable and reasonable option).
  • I talk too much in meetings (i.e., I “take up too much space”).
  • I don’t speak up in meetings (even when something wants to be said).
  • I speak too softly.
  • I solicit the input of others with no intention of changing my position.
  • I take credit for the work of others.
  • I blame others when things go wrong.
  • I talk about others behind their backs.
  • I react too negatively / emotionally when issues arise.
  • I get frustrated too easily / often.
  • I complain a lot.
  • I’m unable / lack confidence to make decisions.
  • I’m condescending and/or dismissive of others.
  • I frequently ‘bully’ others until they acknowledge that I am right.
  • I am consistently late.
  • I treat people as objects (lack of empathy).
  • I don’t solicit advice or help from others when it would help me to do so.

It is common for people to identify with multiple behaviors on this list. However, it’s also normal to not identify with any of the behaviors listed. While it’s possible to not have any self-limiting behaviors, I’ve not yet met anybody who matches that description. 

One way to push through uncertainty is to consider soliciting feedback from people you trust. Ask them to help identify one or more self-limiting behaviors they see that may be in your ‘blind spot.’

Call to Action

I hope you’ll agree that if we aspire to unlock more of our potential, it serves us to always be working on our personal/professional development. This includes addressing our self-limiting behaviors.

These behaviors influence how we impact and are perceived by others. Imagine how powerful it would be for you to minimize, or even remove, one or more of these self-imposed barriers from your life.

Here are some ways you can get value out of the ideas shared in this post.

  • Choose one(!) self-limiting behavior and commit to working on it for at least a few months.
    • Research shows that we are more likely to succeed with behavioral change if we are focused in our efforts.
    • If you can’t think of any self-limiting behaviors that apply to you, consider sharing the list above with colleagues you trust to give you candid feedback. You likely have one or more self-limiting behaviors hiding in your blind spot.
  • Document your goal / intentions somewhere (e.g., personal journal, formal development planning tool).
    • Research shows that the simple act of writing down our intentions increases the likelihood that we will follow through.
  • Share your goal / intentions with one or more trusted colleagues / friends who can help hold you accountable.
    • Expanding the sphere of accountability will help you stick with your plans. You’re not only more likely to stick with it if you’ve shared it with others, you can ask for support from those people as well.
  • Share this list with your team or department, and encourage others to join you / start a larger dialogue. “How can we help each other be more effective at working with each other?”
    • This can be a simple process of encouraging everyone, in the spirit of being his or her best self, to be working on a self-limiting behavior.
    • This helps to create an environment where employees can become more comfortable being vulnerable and feeling like the team/organization is supporting their ongoing development.
    • Here’s a clean one-pager that you can use to share this information with others.

About the Author

Mike Normant is a leadership trainer and executive coach with a 25-year corporate career including running the global Learning & Development functions at both eBay and ServiceSource. His current passion is to help people unlock their fullest potential by removing self-limiting barriers.  His flagship training program, Coach Your Self Up, is bringing the revolutionary concept of Self-Coaching into organizations, allowing them to experience higher levels of employee effectiveness, engagement, and retention. He also works as a leadership coach with individual business leaders. You can reach Mike and/or sign up for his email newsletter on his website, coachyourselfup.com

 

Tags:  executive coaching  HR leadership training  self-coaching 

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Entrepreneurial spirit shows strong at the inaugural HR Pitchfest + Ideathon 2016

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Friday, September 2, 2016

Contributed by The NCHRA Team

 

The entrepreneurial spirit was thick at the inaugural HR Pitchfest + Ideathon 2016 event on August 18th, in downtown San Francisco--the heart of innovation! 

 

We want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who came out and participated.

 

On behalf of of all of us here at NCHRA, Rallyteam and Orange Fab, we enjoyed hearing and facilitating all of your creative, industry-disrupting ideas.


The morning kicked off with individuals and groups pitching the judges their best and brightest ideas for new products and programs. There was a full spectrum of new ideas from health care industry innovations to employee perks. Each of these groups had five minutes to give their pitches:

Pitchfest voting screenshot.jpg-large

Our three winners had a chance to present at HR TechXpo the next day to an audience of several hundred. Obeo Health took first place, Pymetrics was the runner-up, and Resolve won crowd favorite. Congrats to all! 


Please be sure to watch the live interview videos of our Pitchfest participants, including  Lauren Cohen from Pymetrics and Immanual Joseph from Kulture of Kindness at HR TechXpo the following day (August 19th). 


Pre-conference group selfie - Ideathon.jpg-large
That’s a wrap! End of the day group selfie at Orange Fab in downtown San Francisco!


After the pitches, everyone split up into teams made up of HR leaders, startups and students. Their challenge was to identify a problem and develop a solution that they would then present to the judges for a chance to win some fun prizes. We heard solution ideas such as tackling biased recruitment through comprehensive data and whiteboard prototypes.

 

Check out the Ideathon winners’ live interview at HR TechXpo the next day. Congrats to your team!


We had a great time and loved seeing all the creativity. We wish the best for all of your ideas and will see you next year!


Tags:  HR  HR Innovation  HR Management  HR Tech  HR TechXpo  NCHRA events 

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Need Better Networking Success at Your Next HR Conference?

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Contributed by Karen Rodriguez - Exec-Comm 

Fall is quickly approaching and it’s a great time to attend networking events and conferences.  With summer activities coming to a close, you can refocus on meeting new people in your industry and getting out there to support your career and business improvement goals. Do you cringe at the thought? Don’t shy away from these opportunities.

Well-honed communication skills will reduce your anxiety and help you expand your network. Here are a few tips to help you strike up more conversations with new contacts in the months ahead:

Study the headlines. Before heading to the event, scan the headlines and note a few potential topics to discuss.

Maintain eye contact. When introducing yourself, smile and look into the person’s eyes as you speak your name and they say theirs. As the conversation continues, keep your focus on the person you are talking with. Don’t scan the room looking for friends or others to meet.

Gesture openly. Avoid crossing your arms or clutching your drink with both hands as you talk. Instead, keep your hands apart and your arms relaxed. Gesturing makes you appear natural and approachable.

Ask a few questions. Sometimes you’ll need to jumpstart their side of the conversation. Try asking an open-ended question like “What are you hoping to learn here today?” If their answer is short, build on the information they’ve just shared.

Find a connection. As they’re answering your questions, find an element to pick up on. You’re listening for something to keep the conversation going. Find common ground and the conversation will continue without effort.

Speak slowly and pause. Keep the dialogue moving at a casual pace. If you talk too quickly, the listener will strain to keep up or may interpret your speedy delivery as a sign of nervousness.

Disengage politely. After a few minutes, it’s perfectly fine to close the conversation. Exchange contact information, if you’d like. Ask them to join you on a trip to the buffet. Or, simply smile, tell them you enjoyed chatting and move on.

We hope you had a great summer and more importantly, we hope you have the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people in the fall and winter months ahead. Just start with “hello” and go from there.  

Global HR Leaders! Please consider attending the NCHRA Global Workforce Conference in Santa Clara on September 15Qualifies for 6 SHRM PDCs / 6 HRCI Recertification Credits - Global and General . Read more about the agenda and Register Today! Discover innovative ideas for managing key aspects of Global HR, and leave the Global Workforce Conference armed with tactics for succeeding in today’s border-less workforce. Come learn and network with a friend and your friend will receive 50% registration ($270 NCHRA members, General $340). 

About the Author

As the manager of the Exec-Comm brand, marketing and design efforts, Karen Rodriguez oversees the firm’s identity, touching all aspects of the brand (online presence and web site, web-based learning center, advertising, PR, classroom materials, and live special events). Since joining Exec-Comm in 1999 and entering into partnership status in 2009, she introduced (and still manages) the firm’s blog, The Chat, launched the company's quarterly lunch and learn series: The Learning Exchange, and its open-enrollment seminars in New York and San Francisco. Karen holds a B.F.A. from Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, and lives in Aberdeen, NJ, with her husband and three sons.

Tags:  HR Communication  HR Conferences  HR Networking  NCHRA Global Workforce Conference.Karen Rodriguez 

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How to Manage a Multigenerational Workforce

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Contributed by 

OfficeTeam

 

In any company where a wide range of experience exists, chances are you also have a multigenerational workforce. Your finance department likely has baby boomer controllers, Gen X tax managers, Gen Y financial analysts and Gen Z payroll specialists. They may have a lot in common, however being formed by the decade in which they came of age, they also have varying outlooks, values, communication preferences and work styles.

 

If you’re the manager of this disparate group — and depending on which generation you fall in — you may wonder about how to lead such a wide range of ages. Here are four tips on how to lead a multigenerational workforce.

 

1. Understand the various generations

 

To manage a multigenerational workforce, you have to know what makes them tick. The four generations in today’s workforce have unique preferences, from general behavior to decision-making processes.

 

  • Baby boomers (born 1946–1964) are work-centric, independent, tend to challenge the rules and have a somewhat guarded communication style.
  • Gen X (born 1965–1977) grew up in the boomers’ shadows. They’re a little cynical, a lot individualistic and are highly adaptable to change.
  • Gen Y (born 1978–1989) came of age as internet technology emerged and dominated their world. They tend to prioritize family, friends and teamwork.
  • Gen Z (born 1990–1999) are tech natives. They have never known a world without the internet, are constant communicators and, having seen their parents weather the Great Recession, desire stability.

Of course, not every member of these generations can be neatly categorized; there’s a wide range of behaviors within each group. These are general tendencies that can provide business leaders with useful insights about how to manage a multigenerational workforce.

 

2. Promote a mutually respectful workplace

 

For millennials (a term that refers to both Gen Y and Gen Z combined) to work well with older generations, they have to get to know each other on more than just a superficial level. According to Get Ready for Generation Z, a white paper from Robert Half and Enactus, 45 percent of Gen Zers expect working with baby boomers to be difficult. They’re concerned they will be seen as “kids” and won’t be taken seriously. Similarly, boomers may be puzzled by the communication preferences and work ethics of the youngest working generation, and are afraid they will be seen as old-fashioned or irrelevant.


As a manager of an accounting or finance group, one of your roles is to strengthen work relationships and promote camaraderie. Help the generations mix, mingle and learn about each other with team-building activities. Promote the mindset that each generation has much to offer the team. Be generous with your acknowledgement of different cohorts’ contributions. Your employees reflect senior management’s values, so make sure you’re setting a good example.

 

3. Provide professional development throughout the organization

 

Your Gen Z workers are eager to learn and rapidly advance their careers. In fact, our research shows that 56 percent of Gen Z respondents want to be working their way up the corporate ladder or managing employees within five years of graduating from college. This go-getting generation of accountants will need some help getting there. Set them up for success by giving them plenty of opportunities and resources to develop their communication skills, office etiquette, customer service abilities and aptitude for leadership.

 

Gen Z isn’t the only generation that can benefit from continuing professional education and development. Seminars and workshops are effective ways to provide team-wide training. They keep everyone up to speed on the newest developments in the accounting and finance fields. Most survey respondents cited in The People Puzzle, a report from Robert Half and the American Institute for CPAs, said they prefer in-person training opportunities such as on-site workshops (28 percent) and off-site conferences or seminars (23 percent). Encouraging staff to attain professional certifications helps your department gain a deeper knowledge base.

4. Establish mentoring programs

 

Mentoring is an excellent means of solidifying the bonds of a multigenerational workforce. A recent Robert Half survey found that while 86 percent of CFOs interviewed say it’s important to have a mentor, only 26 percent of workers have one.

 

If your accounting firm or finance department doesn’t have a mentoring program, start one. If you have one but it’s inactive, it’s time to resurrect it. You should also encourage reverse mentorships, where Gen Yers and Gen Zers teach senior staff a thing or two about areas where they have expertise, such as social media best practices.

 

Helping members of a multigenerational workforce interact smoothly and productively is a must-do for managers today. Understanding that all employees — from boomer to Gen Z — have much to offer a company will allow you to make the best use of everyone’s talents.

 


A division of Robert Half, OfficeTeam is the world’s leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative and office support professionals. The company has more than 300 locations worldwide. For more information, including our online job search services and the OfficeTeam Take Note® blog, visit roberthalf.com/officeteam

 

 

Robert Half - San Francisco is a sponsor of the NCHRA Global Workforce Conference, September 15, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. Registration is now open.


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