April Diversity & Inclusion Update
March 23, 2021

April is Celebrate Diversity Month, started in 2004 to recognize and honor the diversity surrounding us all. By celebrating differences and similarities during this month, organizers hope that people will get a deeper understanding of each other.

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Diversity: Why Talk About Words?
February 08, 2019

Sticks and stones are not the only things that may be hurtful. Words can significantly impact our interaction with others. Regardless of our motive and intentions, they may harm or enhance dialogue.

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Diversity Intelligence Survey
November 08, 2018

Members, Dr. Claretha Hughes, a colleague of Judith Tavano's at the University of Arkansas, is doing research on her theory of Diversity Intelligence. She has a survey instrument (approved by Research and Sponsored Programs at the U of A) that she uses to collect information to support her research. She has asked if it might be possible to survey our membership.

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Coming Soon – New E-Verify User Requirement
October 26, 2016

On Aug. 1, E-Verify will begin deactivating user IDs that have not been accessed for 270 days (approximately every 9 months).

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EEOC Sues McDonald's Franchise for Disability Discrimination
July 06, 2016

Bentonville Restaurant Management  Companies Fired Employee Because of His HIV Status, Agency  Charges

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2016 Annual VEVRAA Hiring Benchmark is 6.9 Percent
June 15, 2016

OFCCP has published the 2016 Annual Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) Benchmark on its Web site based on data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on March 4, 2016.  The benchmark – 6.9 percent – is effective as of that BLS release date.  

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OFCCP Announces its Final Rule Updating Sex Discrimination Guidelines
June 14, 2016

 Today, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced a Final Rule that sets forth the requirements that covered contractors must meet under the provisions of Executive Order 11246 that prohibit sex discrimination in employment.

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April 12, 2016

DHS Releases Published F-1 Visa STEM OPT Regulation

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EEOC Now Releasing Position Statements to Charging Parties
March 04, 2016

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") recently announced its adoption of new nationwide procedures that the allow release of respondent position statements and non-confidential attachments to charging parties upon request. Importantly, the procedures retroactively apply to all EEOC requests for position statements made on or after January 1, 2016. Although the EEOC staff may redact confidential information as necessary before releasing the position statement, there is no guarantee the information will be redacted. Therefore, if a position statement includes confidential information, the respondent should take great care to segregate that information in separate attachments and clearly label such as "Confidential". Respondents should also be prepared to justify the need to shield such information as the EEOC states it will not accept unsupported assertions of confidentiality. Finally, if the charging party requests a copy of the position statement, the EEOC affords the charging party with the opportunity to respond within 20 days. Significantly, however, the charging party's response will not be provided to respondent during the investigation. Employers should keep these new procedures in mind when responding to EEOC charges.

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EEOC to Begin Collecting Wage Data from Employers
February 02, 2016

On January 29, 2016, in conjunction with the seventh anniversary of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) proposed sweeping changes to the Employer Information Report (EEO-1) in an effort to target and enforce pay equity discrimination in the workforce. These changes will impact private sector employers and federal contractors that have 100 or more employees.

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EEOC Releases Guidance on Workplace Rights of HIV-Infected Individuals
December 17, 2015

On December 3, 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released two documents explaining the workplace rights of individuals with HIV infection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including the right to be free from employment discrimination and harassment, and the right to reasonable accommodations in the workplace.

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USCIS Announces Proposed Rule for STEM Extensions of OPT
October 21, 2015

Pursuant to recent Federal court litigation (discussed previously in TSA emails), USCIS has proposed a new rule for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) optional practical training (OPT). Basically the new rule will allow for a 24 month extension for STEM graduates to the basic 12 months of OPT provided to most F-1 student graduates. This would give qualifying F-1 students a total of 36 months of OPT.

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September 29, 2015

On September 25, 2015, the Department of State (DOS) and United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) dramatically changed their September 9, 2015 announcement calling for revised procedures for individuals waiting to file for Adjustment of Status (AOS). In the revised announcement, the DOS and USCIS significantly adjusted Family-Based and Employment-Based preference timelines and released a new October Visa Bulletin, superseding the Visa Bulletin released on September 9th.

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May 21, 2015

USCIS Temporarily Suspends Premium Processing for H-1B  Extensions

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2015 International Women's Day Celebration
February 24, 2015

Equality for Women is Progress for All

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Immigrant Application Process Through DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Starts 2/18
January 30, 2015

On February 18, 2015, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting requests for individuals who are eligible for the Expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program (i.e., people who entered the United States before the age of 16 and lived in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010).  

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University of Arkansas-Career Development
January 28, 2015

The University of Arkanas-Fayetteville would like to invite your company to recruit talented U of A students at our Spring 2015 career events.  

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DOL Announces Final Rule Protecting LGBT Workers from Discrimination
December 04, 2014

The Final Rule implements an Executive Order signed by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2014, making it illegal for federal contractors to discriminate against employees and applicants on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, which protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees from such discrimination. This Executive Order amended Executive Order 11246, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories covering federal contractors.

The implementation of the rule means that covered federal contractors are now required to have Equal Employment Opportunity policies and/or procedures in place to protect employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition to the new protections for federal contractors, federal employees, who are already protected on the basis of sexual orientation, will be protected from gender identity discrimination, which has not been previously protected.     

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E-Verify Record Disposal
November 25, 2014

Time Sensitive Reminder: E-VERIFY RECORD DISPOSAL

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November 24, 2014

 To be clear, on the employment based immigration changes, nothing is different today. All of the proposed changes will require regulations or agency action, which is expected to take several months. Regulations have to be drafted, finalized, sent out to the public for review and comment, and then the comments are compiled and responded to, all before the regulations are effective. The list below is not comprehensive, as much of what is being proposed is still being developed.

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Sixth Circuit Finds Employer Violated ADA by Requiring Employee to Undergo Psychological Counseling
August 27, 2014

The plaintiff, Emily Kroll, worked as an EMT for the White Lake Ambulance Authority (WLAA). Although her supervisors initially considered her to be a good employee, her workplace behavior became problematic following an affair with a married co-worker. WLAA became concerned over Kroll's emotional well-being after she was observed by employees crying in the parking lot, called her Office Manager in tears after finishing a shift, and it was reported she failed to administer oxygen to a patient because she was arguing with a female co-worker during an ambulance run. Another co-worker also reported that Kroll had screamed at a male acquaintance on a cell phone while driving an ambulance loaded with a patient.

The WLAA Director, Brian Binns, advised Kroll that she could continue her employment with WLAA only if she agreed to undergo psychological counseling. Binns admitted at trial that he decided to compel counseling because Kroll's "life was a mess and he thought he could help her." He also explained that he was concerned about Kroll's personal life and sexual relationships. Kroll testified that Binns told her she "needed counseling because of [her] immoral personal behavior." WLAA did not consult with a psychologist or mental health professional before deciding to force Kroll to attend counseling. Kroll refused counseling because she could not afford to pay for it and never returned to work.

Kroll sued WLAA claiming she was constructively discharged because the requirement that she attend counseling violated the ADA. The ADA states: "A covered entity shall not require a medical examination and shall not make inquiries of an employee as to whether such employee is an individual with a disability or as to the nature or severity of the disability, unless such examination or inquiry is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity."

In August 2010, a U.S. District Court dismissed Kroll's lawsuit holding that the psychological counseling at issue did not constitute a medical examination. The District Court also found that Kroll posed a "direct threat" to her own safety and others because of the potential danger of her unsafe driving. 

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OBAMA Signs Executive Order Protecting LGBT Workers!!!
July 21, 2014

Today, July 21, 2014, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order making it illegal for federal contractors to discriminate against employees and applicants on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, which will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees from such discrimination. Currently, there is no federal law in place that provides protection from employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. President Obama's Order amends Executive Order 11246, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories covering federal contractors.

This announcement means that any recipient of federal contracts will be required to have Equal Employment Opportunity policies and/or procedures in place to protect employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In addition to the new protections for federal contractors, federal employees, who are already protected on the basis of sexual orientation, will be protected from gender identity discrimination, which has not been previously protected.

Employers should review all current company policies and procedures, which will likely require an update to employee handbooks, application materials and discrimination policies to ensure compliance with revised Executive Order 11246. If you have any questions regarding this recent announcement, contact an attorney with our Firm.

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Same-Sex Marriage and Employment: What you Need to Know Now...
May 02, 2014

This program, provided by Jess Sweere and Greg Northen, explores how recent rulings regarding same-sex marriage potentially impact the following HR-specific issues:

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Telecommuting is Recognized as an ADA Reasonable Accommodation
April 30, 2014

Whereas ten years ago working from home was an exception afforded employees only under special circumstances, working from home today is the norm for millions of Americans. In fact, many Americans work from home at least one day per week. Many companies even set up employees with home offices in order to minimize the need for office space. The feasibility of working from home has placed the issue of telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation center stage.

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U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Announces New Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace Publications
March 11, 2014

On March 6, 2014, the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued two technical assistance publications about employers' responsibilities with respect to religious dress and grooming in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the new publications, employers covered under Title VII must permit employees to follow religiously mandated dress and grooming practices unless it would pose an undue hardship on the business.

Pursuant to the publication, employers must provide reasonable accommodation to an employee when the employer is put on notice that a religious accommodation is necessary for a sincere religious belief. It would not be considered a reasonable accommodation to have the employee cover or hide the religious article if that would violate the employees' religious beliefs. However, when an exception to the dress code is made for a religious accommodation, the employer may still refuse to allow secular exceptions sought by other employees. Additionally, if a religious accommodation creates an undue hardship on business operations, the employer is not required to provide any accommodation.

An undue hardship is defined as "more than de minimis" burden on the operation of the employer's business. For instance, if a religious accommodation would impose more than ordinary administrative costs, it would pose an undue hardship. This is a lower standard than the undue hardship defense to disability accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, neither co-worker disgruntlement nor customer preference is sufficient to establish an undue hardship.

Employers are advised to make case-by-case determinations of any requested religious accommodations and to train managers appropriately in order to properly adhere to all Title VII requirements.

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EEOC Sues to Limit Protections in Severance Agreements
March 06, 2014

EEOC Sues to Limit Protections in Severance Agreements

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Workplace Bullying Legislation Repeatedly Defeated!!!
March 04, 2014

Public awareness of workplace bullying has never been higher, thanks to high-profile cases such as the one involving Miami Dolphins teammates Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. Yet none of the more than two dozen states that have taken up the issue has actually passed any legislation to tackle the problem.

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OFCCP--Posted New Resources on Web site
February 24, 2014

OFCCP, on February 21, 2014, posted new information and resources on its Web site to assist federal contractors with outreach and recruitment targeting individuals with disabilities, employing and retaining individuals with disabilities, promoting self-disclosure as a person with a disability, assistive technologies that help change corporate culture, and reasonable accommodation. Several of the new items are listed below.

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CVS Slammed by EEOC over Severance Deals
February 20, 2014

CVS slammed by EEOC over severance deals

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Cargill To Pay $2.2 Million After Discrimination Claims In Springdale
January 24, 2014

Cargill Meat Solutions will pay out $2.2 million to applicants who were wrongfully rejected from job considerations at various facilities, including the plant in Springdale, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Closing gender wage gap would add billions to economy
January 21, 2014

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, named after Lilly Ledbetter, was aimed at closing the gender wage gap.

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State Update: Taxation on Same-Sex Spouses
January 19, 2014

In the wake of Revenue Ruling 2013-17 issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a number of states have released guidance regarding state income taxation issues in relation to same-sex spouses.

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Gay marriage rulings trigger big changes to HR
January 05, 2014

The Supreme Court’s decision to declare unconstitutional key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act is expected to mean a major overhaul of federal rules affecting employee benefits administration and payroll operations.

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California grants law license to undocumented immigrant
January 05, 2014

Although Sergio Garcia has lived in the U.S. for most of his life, his struggle to become a licensed lawyer has been a long one.

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March 06, 2013

“Women Leaders as Architects of Change”

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Diversity Champion Award Winners
September 19, 2011

Individual Diversity Champion Award Winner
Assoc. Superintendent for Elementary Edu.
Fayetteville Public School District

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Impact of Cultural Differences in the Workplace--Class April 1st
December 31, 1969

Recent trends indicate a growing need for U.S. businesses to develop cultural competencies for working with foreign nationals and with diverse populations in their own organizations.

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