Labor Law Updates

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An ongoing series of informational entries

Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

March 15, 2017

Nestlé Waters North America To Pay $300,000 To Settle Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

TAMPA, Fla. -- Nestlé Waters North America, a Stamford, Conn.-based division of Nestlé Waters, the world's largest bottled water company, will pay $300,000 and furnish significant relief to resolve a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced recently.

According to the lawsuit, Nestlé violated federal anti-discrimination laws when it failed to select Dawn Bowers-Ferrara, a 20-year Nestlé veteran finance and budgeting manager, to the position of Florida Zone business manager because of her gender. Instead, the EEOC said, Nestlé selected a male employee for the newly created position, even though he failed to meet the minimum requirements for the role according to Nestlé's own job description. Nestlé then terminated Bowers-Ferrara's employment because of a "consolidation." Out of 14 Florida zone managers and zone manager supervisors, Bowers-Ferrara was the only female (and the only person) who lost her job as a result of the "consolidation."

Sex discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against Nestlé in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division (EEOC v. Nestle Waters North America, Case No. 8:15-cv-2197-RAL-TGW (M.D. Fla.)) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement though its conciliation process.

In addition to the $300,000 in monetary relief to Bowers-Ferrara, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit also requires Nestlé to provide her with 12 months of outplacement services. Nestlé is also required to develop and implement an anti-sex discrimination policy and to provide annual training regarding all forms of sex discrimination, including sex stereotyping, to its ReadyRefresh Florida managers and employees. The bottled water company must post notices throughout Florida regarding the settlement and report to EEOC bi-annually on its compliance with the consent decree, including its handling of complaints of sex discrimination.

"Women in the workplace deserve to advance as far as their talents and abilities take them without having the artificial barrier of sex stereotypes forced upon them," said EEOC Tampa Field Director Evangeline Hawthorne.

EEOC Miami District Office Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg added, "Employment decisions should be based on true qualifications, not stereotypical ideas of a candidate's qualifications. EEOC hopes that this resolution will result in Nestlé examining its subjective internal promotion decision making process to ensure that it does not have an adverse impact on women seeking advancement into management positions."

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.

Writing an Effective Cover Letter

May 10, 2017

    Just yesterday I hosted a wonderful seminar entitled,  Recruiting & Retention Strategies for Small Businesses.  We covered new trends and talent acquisition strategies such as hunting for talent continuously, pumping in talent at all levels, resume review tips, breaking compensation rules to attract the right candidate and finding ways to reach passive candidates.  While the seminar was received really well by the attendees, I walked away thinking that I would like to share some tips for the job-seekers in today's market.  Hence, this blog.

    Competition is fierce.  Today's job seekers are well educated, polished and competitive.  Applicants are constantly seeking new ways to stand out in hiring processes.  One way they accomplish this is by having a compelling, creative and concise cover letter.  Since a cover letter is usually the first step in catching the attention of the hiring manager, applicants know a lot is riding on having a sharp cover letter.  However, what most applicants do not realize is that key words play a vital role.  It is important to keep in mind that in today’s fast-paced and technology-infused market, most large employers are utilizing Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to search by “key words” on cover letters and resumes to attract the right talent. Sure, a well-written cover letter can set you apart from your competition if it’s appealing and captivating, but if it has not been sprinkled with key words, it may get overlooked. It is critically important to closely study the job posting or advertisement and incorporate some of the qualifications, attributes and buzzwords into your cover letter. Doing so will increase your chances to getting noticed.

For more information, please visit my latest published comments at http://www.lifehack.org/578357/killer-cover-letter-tips-nail-every-interview-opportunity

Interview Success Tips

June 26, 2017

Being that I've been interviewing candidates for most of my career, I'm frequently asked for interview tips.  Here are some of my top tips to rock your next interview!

KNOW THE COMPANY: Preparation is key. Review basic details on the company. Setting up Google Alerts, for example, will allow candidates to remain up to date on company news.

RESEARCH THE PEOPLE: It’s important to know what the company does, but it may be even more important to know who you’ll be talking to once you arrive. It’s a good idea to ask who you’ll be interviewing with. Then get familiar with his or her staff biography and LinkedIn profile.

STUDY YOUR RÉSUMÉ: Your résumé should be well tailored to the job that you’re applying to, so much that it should serve as a kind of outline and study manual for your interview preparation.

INVESTIGATE THE COMPANY CULTURE: In recruiting, we often talk about the 80/20 rule: If you’re brought in for a face-to-face interview, approximately 20 percent of the time will be spent verifying you have the necessary skill set. The remaining 80 percent will be spent determining if you’ll be a good culture fit.    

For more information, please visit my latest published comments at https://careerresourceinstitute.com/blog/general/job-interview-success?utm_sq=fgui8t1dm1 

2017 Best Human Resources Firm, Coastal Biz Magazine!

July 20, 2017

We are thrilled to announce that Woodard & Associates, LLC won GOLD as Best HR Firm in Hampton Roads! Thank you to all who voted for us. Your support means a lot and we are excited to be able to continue serving as your HR firm of choice! 

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Orders of Immediate Freeze on Pending Regulations, 

by President Trump

January 31, 2017

Shortly after taking office, newly sworn in President Donald Trump directed White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, to issue a memorandum to executive department heads and agencies directing them not to send any regulations to the Federal Registry until further notice, to withdraw any proposed regulations that have not been published and to postpone for 60 days the effective dates of regulations that have been published by the Officer of the Federal Register. 

This means that any proposed or pending regulations are now facing uncertainty as to whether they will pass, be overhauled or thrown out. The most sought after pending regulation that this could impact is the Final Overtime Rule.  While the Final Overtime Rule was set to go into effect December 1, 2016, it was blocked from taking effect by U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant in his November 22, 2016 ruling.  According to labor law offices, employers should not act on the pending regulation until the matter is resolved.  

The NEW I-9 Form is Ready to Use!

February 7, 2017

Effective January 22, 2017, the use of the newest version of the I-9 form will be required by all businesses across the United States.  The I-9 form is used to verify the employment eligibility of employees.  Completed Form I-9 must be retained by employers for as long as the employee is on payroll.  After the employee leaves the company, business owners will need to decide how long to keep and store the Form I-9:  either for a minimum of one year after the employee's last day worked or three years from the start of employment, whichever is later.  The new form can be accessed on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. Failure to use the new form beginning Jan. 22 will expose companies to penalties, which were recently nearly doubled. 

Contact us for more information on Form I-9 compliance.


The Labor and Employment Law Update and blog is provided for information purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.