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You can successfully protest benefit claims if you terminated a former employee for misconduct, and if you can prove misconduct* to the state. 

  • FINAL INCIDENT – The final incident is extremely important in misconduct cases. The final incident cannot be trivial or outside of the employee’s control. 
  • IMMEDIATE ACTION – If termination is warranted because of a final or major act of misconduct, discharge should not be delayed for reasons of convenience. A significant delay may cause the state to question the true reason for discharge. 
  • AVOID HEARSAY – Terminations should be based on firsthand knowledge and competent evidence, not hearsay or conjecture. Also, the evidence should be reviewed with the employee to afford an opportunity for a response. 
  • EXPLAIN DISCHARGE – Specific reason(s) for discharge should be given after reviewing the facts with Prestige, and the reasons should be documented effectively. 

NOTE: The burden of proof is on the employer if the discharge is for alleged misconduct. You must have documentation to prove your case. When dealing with the state unemployment agencies, appropriate written documentation is generally crucial to determining a claimant’s ineligibility for benefits.

* States define “misconduct” in the unemployment process differently. Make sure you understand exactly what is required in your state.

 

If you have questions concerning this, or any other unemployment issue, contact Prestige Employee Administrators, Inc.

Wednesday is Independence Day.  It’s the day we celebrate our history; the day we honor those who fought forAmerica’s independence so very long ago. It’s also the day millions of Americans fire up the grill, pack the car with beach gear and head downtown to the nearest fireworks display.

More than 160 million people who intend to participate in holiday festivities will celebrate the 4th of July by hosting or attending a cookout/barbecue and/or picnic.  As for the fireworks, what would Independence Day be without the fireworks?!  Nearly 115 million people will attend a fireworks or community celebration, and another 35 million will attend a parade.

With Independence Day also being a Federal holiday, millions of people will celebrate their special day off work by taking extra time off to head to the beach, go and see family or simply stay indoors by the air conditioner at home. Approximately 30 million people will brave the traffic this year to escape town for the 4th of July.

No matter how you choose to celebrate, why not take a moment to test your knowledge of the good oleUSAwith this list of 20 Independence Day trivia questions. Don’t worry if you don’t know the answers; they are below.

  1. What are the first seven words of the Declaration of Independence?
  2. How many red stripes are on the American flag?
  3. How many white stripes are on the American flag?
  4. Name all of the original thirteen colonies.
  5. In what year did our current flag with 50 stars and 13 stripes become the current national flag?
  6. Where did the lyrics for the “Star Spangled Banner” originate?
  7. Where did the tune come from for the “Star Spangled Banner”?
  8. Although we only sing once stanza, how many stanzas are there actually in the original “Star Spangled Banner”?
  9. Where was the first battle of the Revolutionary War fought?
  10. Where was the final battle of the Revolutionary War fought?
  11. How was the crack in the Liberty Bell made?
  12. What was the major objection of the American colonists that they deemed the reason for the Revolutionary War?
  13. When and where was the first Independence Day celebrated?
  14. Where did the word patriotism come from?
  15. Two significant American patriots died on July 4th, 1826. Who were they?
  16. Who was the last signer to the Declaration of Independence in January of 1777?
  17. True or False? The names of the first signers of the Declaration of Independence were not made public until after the colonies won their independence from Britain for fear if the names were revealed and the colonies lost, the signers would be prosecuted for treason; a crime punishable by death.
  18. When did Congress declare the 4th of July a federal legal holiday?
  19. Which of the following was not one of the 13 original colonies?Georgia,Virginia,Massachusetts, orVermont?
  20. To show their dislike and disgust regarding British taxes, the colonists threw what imported commodity into theBostonHarborin 1776?

 

Answers:

  1. When in the course of human events
  2. 7
  3. 6
  4. In alphabetical order, they were:Connecticut,Delaware,Georgia,Maryland,Massachusetts,New Hampshire,New Jersey,New York,North Carolina,Pennsylvania,Rhode Island,South Carolina, andVirginia.
  5. In the year 1960 whenHawaiiofficially became the 50th state on August 21, 1969
  6. The lyrics came from a poem called “Defense of Fort McHenry written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key
  7. An old British drinking song
  8. Four
  9. TheBattleofLexingtonandConcordinMassachusetts
  10. TheBattleof Yorktown inVirginia
  11. The Liberty Bell cracked when someone rang it for the first time
  12. Taxation without representation
  13. The first Independence Day was celebrated on July 8, 1776 inPhiladelphia,Pennsylvania
  14. The word patriotism comes from the Latin word “patria” meaning “homeland” or “fatherland”
  15. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams
  16. Thomas McKean
  17. True
  18. 1941
  19. Vermont
  20. Tea

So, how did you do? Did you get a lot right and demonstrate your knowledge of Independence Day Trivia questions? Challenge your friends to see who can get the most right for a great Fourth of July fun-time!  Happy Independence Day from Prestige.

 

The United States Supreme Court upheld a critical portion of the federal health care reform law – the individual mandate – and the four issues before it:

I. Issue – Anti Injunction Act: Does the federal Anti-Injunction Act bar Court action until the tax imposed for not having coverage until that provision of the Act is effective? Held: NO

II. Issue – Individual Mandate: Is the individual mandate to purchase health insurance constitutional? Held: Constitutional under the taxing authority of theUnited States.

III. Issue – Severability: Is the Act severable if portions are unconstitutional (i.e. can portions not related to the mandate stand)? Held: Yes

IV. Issue – Medicaid Expansion: Are the burdens imposed upon the states by the Medicaid expansion portions of the Act constitutionally permissible? Held: The power of the federal government to cut-off Medicaid funding entirely is limited but the provisions are otherwise upheld.

In the five to four decision, Chief Justice Roberts sided with the four liberal justices of the Court (Ginzberg, Kagen, Sotomayor, and Breyer).

Click here to see the complete Supreme Court ruling.

 

According to a study of 573 human resources professionals and 261 employees, companies experience a much higher turnover rate if they do not offer recognition and rewards programs. 

Specifically, companies with subpar appreciation programs have an average attrition rate of 10.5%, compared to the 7.2% attrition rate at companies with top-notch programs.  The study, conducted by the research and advisory firm Bersin & Associates, also showed that to be an effective program, rewards and recognition must be given to employees for achieving business goals or exemplifying the company’s mission and value, rather than focus on tenure.  Unfortunately, 87% of the HR professionals who took part in the study said their company’s recognition programs focus on tenure. 

So how can you boost employee morale?  The study showed that most employees value recognition that speaks to a specific action they took rather than general praise for a job well done.  Also, recognition doesn’t have to come from managers for it to have an impact.   It can come from co-workers, too.

 

If you would like help in implementing recognition and rewards programs in your organization, contact a Prestige HR Business Partner.

How a manager investigates a sexual harassment complaint may determine the outcome of the lawsuit, if there is one.  Here are nine key points to remember when one of your employees comes to you with charges of harassment: 

  1. Take every complaint seriously.
  2. Contact Prestige immediately to review company policies. 
  3. Remember: You’re not a judge or jury.  The manager’s job is to collect the facts. 
  4. Keep your investigation confidential. 
  5. As you investigate, document everything: memos, conversations, reports, etc. 
  6. Evaluate yourself: Do you have any bias about the complaint? 
  7. Don’t take the easy way out.  Some managers solve harassment problems by transferring the person who made the complaint.  This doesn’t serve the accused or the victim, and can lead to serious legal trouble. 
  8. Do the follow-up: Make sure the harassment has stopped, and that the employee who complained is comfortable in the workplace. 
  9. Schedule Sexual Harassment & Discrimination training for all your employees (Prestige offers this, and other training programs, in-person and via live web cast).

 If you have questions concerning this, or any other Human Resource issues, contact Prestige Employee Administrators, Inc.

According to the US Department of Labor, the average employed adult spends 7.5 hours a day on the job. Over time, that adds up to a significant chunk of your life, so (as many people know from experience) an unhappy work situation can make the rest of your life pretty miserable as well.

 

For that reason, you’ll want to avoid working for a miserable company. But how can you spot a bad company to work for? By doing your research and looking for the following seven warning signs during the hiring process. Of course, one or two of these signs aren’t necessarily cause for alarm, but more than a couple should set off alarm bells.

1. Communication with you is unprofessional or disrespectful.

Your treatment during the hiring process is a clue as to how you’ll be treated as an employee. Once you’ve started a dialogue with a hiring manager or recruiter, you should expect to be treated with courtesy and respect. For example, your questions about the hiring timeline and your application status should be answered forthrightly. If that isn’t the case — if emails and phone calls consistently go unreturned, or if interviews are canceled at the last minute without apology — you may want to take your business elsewhere.

2. The recruiters and hiring managers actively distrust you.

Just as you don’t want to make a bad career move, employers don’t want to make a bad hire — so expect a background check and reference check. And if your job will involve working with sensitive information or company finances, expect a bit more scrutiny. But these checks should all be carried out in a nonaccusatory manner. Companies that don’t trust candidates probably don’t trust employees either — and an environment of distrust is no place to spend nearly eight hours a day.

3. The workplace seems unhappy.

You shouldn’t take a job without paying a visit to where you’ll be working. Note the attitudes and interactions of the workers there as well as the overall environment — including employee common areas. Warning signs include unclean or unsafe-looking workspaces, angry-looking posters (such as “ALL EMPLOYEES MUST WEAR BADGES!”) and disgruntled faces on employees. If a visit to the office is depressing, you won’t want to work there for several hours a day.

4. The company has a bad reputation.

The Internet makes it easy to find out what former and current employees have to say about a company. Doing your research into this aspect of an employer — as well as into its financial situation — should be part of how you prepare for a job interview. Several Web sites provide forums where employees can rate companies, but also reach out to networking contacts to get their insights into any prospective employer.

5. You don’t think you’ll get along with your boss or colleagues.

Having a boss you click with can really make a difference in your on-the-job happiness. Be sure to discuss work styles and communication styles with the hiring manager to make sure they’re at least compatible with yours. But trust your instincts. If you actively dislike the manager after the first interview or two, you might not want to take the job.

6. The job’s duties are unclear, or your interviewers can’t define what success in the role will look like.

After you’ve interviewed with one or two people, you should have a clear idea of how your job performance will be measured and what your key objectives will be in your first few months on the job. Walking into a situation where different people give you different answers about job duties, or where there are no clear goals for you to work toward, can lead to a confusing and ultimately disastrous job situation.

7. They want to hire you right away, without any interviewing or reference checks.

This happens for good reason sometimes — for instance, in seasonal jobs that don’t require a lot of experience. But in many cases, desperation on the employer’s part is a danger sign.

In the hiring process, recruiters and managers often rely (at least a little bit) on their “gut” when making decisions about candidates. Trust your gut, too. If it doesn’t feel right, do a bit more research before accepting a job offer.

 

This article was written by Charles Purdy, Monster Senior Editor, and appeared online (http://career-services.monster.com/yahooarticle/bad-company-signs#WT.mc_n=yta_fpt_article_bad-company-signs) on June 13, 2012

From our good friends at TALX…

With the current version of the Form I-9 set to expire August 31st of this year, it is worth noting that USCIS’s I-9 Central website recently issued clarification regarding the question of whether a new I-9 should be completed if an employer completes the wrong version of the form.  ICE has always taken the position that such an error is a technical violation and the employer may correct the form with a notation that the wrong form was used, and providing a date and initials in the notation.  I-9 Central had previously stated that employers must complete a new form, in essence taking a position in direct opposition to ICE policy.  I-9 Central and ICE have recently reconciled their guidance on this issue, so that the “official” stance is now in agreement.  Employers need not complete a new Form I-9 for this technical violation — acknowledgment of the error with a note at the top of the form will suffice.

Theft equals misconduct because it illustrates a willful or deliberate act within the employee’s control that violates company rules and regulations. Theft is dishonest and may be considered criminal, and an action of theft may lead to an employee’s immediate discharge, pending any investigation.

When assessing the case of “alleged” theft, employers must tread carefully. A wronged employee – either one who is innocent or one whose theft cannot be proven – may file charges against the employer with a number of agencies, including the police. An allegation which prompts an employee’s termination where misconduct is not supported can result in the employee filing a discrimination charge with the state or federal agency. Employers should also be mindful that branding an employee a “thief” could result in a civil action such as defamation.

Often an employee suspected of theft can be discharged for violation of policies dealing with cash handling or safeguarding of company property. These cases are generally easier to make than actual theft and can also result in a finding of misconduct and denial of benefits. 

Steps to insuring a proper investigation of theft:

1. Begin the investigation immediately upon notification of the theft (waiting too long allows the “trail” to become cold). Report the theft to your local police or sheriff.

2. Immediately suspend the employee suspected of theft.

3. Work with your security department to ensure a joint effort (a same sex management person should be present during any interrogation by security of any employee).

4. Questioning of employee should either be taped or reduced to writing. Any written statement taken from the employee should be signed and dated.

5. Allow the employee in question to fully explain the circumstances, e.g., was given permission to take the item; has a receipt proving payment for the item.

6. Ascertain exact dollar amount of loss. If amount is insignificant (taking of a candy bar), or was a necessity at the time, (gloves for the cold), while you can certainly discharge the individual you may not prevail at the unemployment insurance hearing. 

Things to bring with you for an unemployment insurance hearing on theft:

• Company policies on theft, cash handling and safeguarding company property

• Signed acknowledgment by employee of company policy/handbook

• Any prior warnings of a similar nature

• Witnesses to the theft including security investigators

• All evidence obtained during the investigation (sales receipts, video surveillance, statements from witnesses, etc.)

 

If you have questions about how to proceed on a specific case, contact Prestige Employee Administrators, Inc.

Before we all head out for the three-day weekend that signifies the unofficial start of summer, let us take a moment to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could enjoy our freedom.

Take a break from the picnics and barbeques to celebrate what others so selflessly defended for our sake.

Recall the words Abraham Lincoln delivered inGettysburg, “that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Do not forget that freedom continues to come at the highest price, and that we are still involved in many conflicts around the world.

Never take our freedom for granted.

Discharges for poor (or unsatisfactory) performance will usually not disqualify a claimant from unemployment benefits.  Most states define poor performance as the inability to meet company standards. The employer must prove misconduct (deliberate or willful violations of the employer’s rules or standards) to disqualify a claimant from benefits.  Confusion occurs when poor performance is erroneously used to explain all or most separations. Intentional violations of company rules or standards should usually be reported as misconduct. 

The key issue is willfulness.  If the employee has the skills, physical and mental abilities to do the job and has shown ability to perform in the past but now chooses not to, that is usually misconduct resulting in a denial of benefits.  On the other hand, if he never demonstrated full capability or if previously adequate capabilities have diminished through no fault of the employee, it will likely not be misconduct.

The Base Year basis of determining claim charging provides employers with a 90-day minimum introductory period whether or not your company has a introductory period.  Employees discharged for any reason during that period will generally not result in any unemployment claim charges to your account.   Poor performers should be weeded out during or at the end of their first 90-days of employment in order to limit your unemployment liability on a claim.

Keep in mind the following:

  • Using the correct terminology is key when protesting an unemployment claim.
  • Do not use the terms: poor performance, inability to meet standards, or inefficiency if discharged for a willful or deliberate violation of rules/standards.
  • Look to the cause of the “poor performance” in determining whether or not a discharge is for misconduct. For example, poor productivity caused by documented failure to follow instructions; excessive personal phone calls (after warnings); or lateness/absenteeism (within the employee’s control) may be misconduct.
  • Be descriptive when reporting a discharge to Prestige Employee Administrators, Inc.  Provide complete details with documentation.
  • If a new employee does not meet company standards because of poor performance, termination should occur as quickly as possible. This will minimize company exposure in an unemployment claim.

 If you have questions concerning these unemployment issues, contact Prestige Employee Administrators, Inc.