TPO's Employment Update


n Pay Increases

n Membership Promotion

n Upcoming Training Calendar

n AB 1825 Requirements

n News From the Courts

n HR Rumors


Training Calendar


- a training series focusing on the regulatory compliance and HR best practices - the information & skills supervisors & managers need to keep themselves and the organization out of hot water!

n  October-November


- a training series focusing on practical leadership and communication skills to help managers develop or refine their effectiveness as leaders!

n  September


n Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination

September 29

n Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination -
October 5 & December 8

n FMLA/CFRA/PDL - October 11

n Workers' Compensation - November 16

Back in the late 1990's we all got used to pretty much expecting a 4-4.5% increase in base pay each year. Those days have been gone since around 2000, but things are looking up again.

Surveys by industry experts and organizations such as Mercer Consulting, WorldatWork and Business and Legal Reports show that salary budgets are beginning to inch up after being stuck at 3% or a little more since 2001 projections. Many companies will actually be moving back into the 4% plus, which hasn't been seen since the late 1990's.

Although the economy has certainly been responsible for much of the decrease in base pay increases, it is also true that a growing trend is to put less emphasis on annual base increases and more into variable pay.

The percentage of employees eligible for bonus or variable pay is up at about 76% of firms in a recent WorldatWork study reporting that they offer variable pay programs. The average payout this year of such programs to hourly workers is expected to be around 5.3% with about 5.7% to nonexempt salaried workers and 11.8% for salaried exempt workers.

Companies are using programs as:

n Pay for performance for both union and nonunion workers (offered by about 79% of organizations)

n Spot bonuses especially in IT jobs (about 82% of reporting organizations)

n Signing bonuses are waning, but still used by about 65% of organization for specialty or hard to fill positions

n Project based pay

n Management by Objective systems

n Goal based pay

There is movement in some industries to set base pay at a market average with reviews every 2-3 years and provide only bonuses during the interim. This method rewards for goals accomplished without making reward pay become part of pay even in years when performance does not meet expectations.

TPO can help you develop systems that meet the specific needs of your organization. Whether you are interested in a variable pay program or in making sure your rates are market competitive, we can help. Give us a call and we can talk about how you can get the most for the dollars you spend to attract and retain good employees.

Now you too can be a TPO member & qualify for great additional benefits at no extra cost! 

Already a member? Refer a NEW member and you qualify too!

Join Membership
before September 15, 2005

and add 1 of the following special money saving options

n  3 more months to your 12-month membership

n  1 additional "authorized representative" to receive member benefits ($500 value)

n  1 additional seat at TPO's Annual Conference ($250 value)

Click here to find out more!


Ignoring it won't make it go away!
     You only have four months to get it done!

Organizations with more than 50 employees MUST provide at least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment by January 1, 2006, to:

1. All supervisory employees who are employed as of July 1, 2005,

2. All new supervisory employees within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position.

After January 1, 2006, each employer covered by this section must provide sexual harassment training and education to each supervisory employee once every two years.

Content of Training:

The training and education required by this section must include information and practical guidance regarding the federal and state statutory provisions concerning the prohibition against and the prevention and correction of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in employment. The training and education shall also include practical examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, and must be presented by trainers or educators with knowledge and expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.


Any employer who has provided such training and education to a supervisory employee after January 1, 2003, is not required to provide training and education by the January 1, 2006, deadline. Therefore, the next training is required to be provided before January 1, 2008.

TPO Recommendations:

First determine what supervisors/managers will need the training and create tickler files to ensure that the requirements are met. Second, choose a trainer that can meet the requirements ... lucky you, TPO already has this covered (in Spanish too). Next, set-up the training:

1. Ideally: Provide training for all of your employees (line staff and supervisors/manager). TPO can come to your location and train all of your employees in a two-hour training with a supervisor/manager specific two and a half hour training. While more than the new law requires, such training supports your efforts to maintain a harassment-free workplace, demonstrates to employees that you care about their work environment, and helps to ensure that all employees know the reporting requirements.

2. Next Best Option: Send your managers/supervisors to TPO's 3-hour Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination at Work training. TPO has scheduled numerous programs throughout the 2005 calendar year.

An Unwanted Nickname Spells Trouble

Mamdouh El-Hakem, who is of Arabic heritage, claimed that his employer and manager discriminated against him by repeatedly referring to him as "Manny." The manager expressed the belief that a "western" name would be more acceptable to clientele. Though the company appealed, arguing that no racial discrimination occurred because the name "Manny" is not a racial epithet, recently the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that there was discrimination based on race and, due to the frequency and pervasiveness, the conduct created a hostile work environment. El-Hakem was awarded $30,000.

n How you might be impacted: Many employees might choose a nickname to go by and that is okay. But, when it is the employer who is dictating the nickname, that is another story altogether. Make sure nicknames are not used in a way that is offensive and that could be perceived as discriminatory.

"Same-Actor Inference"…what does that mean?

Not something cooked up by Hollywood. Rather, the "same-actor inference" relates to a situation where hiring and then firing occurs within a relatively short time and involves the same decision-maker (i.e., manager). The courts have determined in many situations that there was no discriminatory discharge because since the same decision-maker recently hired the individual, it is unlikely that the termination was for discriminatory reasons.

A recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision has broadened the concept to include situations where an employee is discharged shortly after being promoted. Of course, employers will still be expected to prove a non-discriminatory reason for the decision to discharge, but the recent decision is considered a win for employers.

n How you might be impacted: Make sure all managers and supervisors are trained in appropriate hiring, performance management and termination procedures, as well as how to avoid discrimination in the workplace.

Favoritism Can Create a Hostile Work Environment

A manager who gives special treatment to an employee with whom he/she is romantically involved, may create a hostile work environment for other employees who, even though more qualified, are passed over for assignments.

In a recent case, two female employees claimed that a manager was having sexual affairs with several female employees and these employees received promotions, favorable assignments and other rewards. Though the lower courts could not establish a claim for sexual harassment under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the CA Supreme Court disagreed. The CA Supreme Court clarified that sexual harassment does not occur when there is an isolated instance of favoritism granted to an employee with whom a supervisor has a consensual sexual relationship. However, as in this case, extensive sexual favoritism in a workplace can create a hostile work environment, in which female employees can reasonably conclude that management views them as 'sexual playthings' or that women must engage in sexual conduct with their supervisors to receive favorable consideration.

n How you might be impacted: Consider implementing policies around romantic relationships at work. Many employers prohibit mangers from having romantic relationships with subordinates.

HR Rumors: Get Your Facts Straight from the Experts!


"We pay all of our employees on a salaried basis. Therefore, we can consider them EXEMPT from overtime as well as meal and rest periods."


Most employees are really in non-exempt positions. Method of pay (salary versus hourly) and titles are irrelevant to the determination of whether a position is exempt or non-exempt. In order to be exempt a position must meet certain tests relating to both the duties and the rate of pay. Typical exemptions fall under the headings of "executive, administrative, or professional". Other types of exempt positions are certain artists or outside salespeople. Each of these exemptions has specific definitions under the law.

Failure to classify employees correctly leaves the organization vulnerable to legal action, payment of back wages and substantial fines.

Check out your Wage Order for further information or contact your TPO representative to make sure your positions and employees are appropriately classified.

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Employment Upd@te is a publication of  TPO HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. Copyright ©2004. All rights reserved.
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The information provided is designed to be accurate in content. TPO provides human resource consulting and is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. Readers are advised to consult legal counsel on matters involving employment law or important personnel policies & practices before adoption or implementation.