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How strategic are you? An 8-question test


CEOs want their HR leaders to break outside the operational box and become more strategic players. But many HR pros are so bogged down by daily process, they have trouble lifting their heads out of the weeds. Here’s a self-assessment to help you gauge the strategic value you bring to your organization.

So you need to trim your training budget … but where?


Training programs are among the first areas to take a hit when the economy falters. If you haven’t scaled back training expenses yet, your boss may soon ask. To examine training programs and avoid eliminating those that do work, ask the following questions:

Offering help at interview doesn’t mean you regard applicant as disabled


As an employer, you’ve probably learned to ignore apparent disabilities because you could end up violating the ADA if you inquire about disabilities. That doesn’t mean, however, that you’ll run afoul of the law if you do something as simple as offering assistance to an applicant who is having trouble navigating stairs or getting on the elevator.

Train managers: Watch out for language that could be construed as derogatory


Sometimes, people don’t realize the language they are using may be offensive to members of a protected class. That can happen when a term has been in use for decades or even centuries and has become separated from its original meaning or context. Consider a recent case involving usage of the term “tar baby.”

Carefully track all training to ensure all employees have equal access


Employees are entitled to a workplace free of discrimination. That includes having equal access to training. For example, favoring some employees for training opportunities at the expense of other employees who belong to a protected class may cause a discrimination lawsuit.

Male-dominated mailroom costs Star-Tribune $300,000


The Star-Tribune, one of the 20 largest newspapers in the country, has signed on to a class-action settlement agreement involving two women who filed sexual harassment charges against the company. The agreement was worked out by the EEOC after two women working in the mailroom claimed they were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment.

EEOC sues rehab center for failure to accommodate


The EEOC has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Florida Institute for Neurological Rehabilitation of violating the ADA when it refused to accommodate a disabled employee’s request for training assistance.

Florida Nordstrom employees win harassment settlement


High-end retailer Nordstrom has settled an EEOC lawsuit alleging it allowed harassment of Hispanic and black employees at its Palm Beach Gardens and Wellington stores. Ten former employees will share in the $292,000 settlement.

Ask 5 questions before implementing knee-jerk training cuts


Cutting training willy-nilly just to save money can create more problems than it solves. During economic downturns, companies need efficient, targeted training programs to improve productivity. And effective training positions companies to prosper as the economy recovers. To examine training programs and avoid eliminating those that do work, ask the following questions:

Create an anti-discrimination action plan now


If discrimination has always been a head-in-the-sand issue for you and your organization, it’s time to get serious about your policies and practices. Discrimination complaints of all types—race, sex, age, etc.—have climbed as steeply in the past year as the economy has fallen. Don’t get caught flat-footed.