TPO's Employment Update


n  TPO Conference

n  Upcoming Training Calendar

n  Conference Spotlight

n  News From the Courts

n  Tell Me a Story

n  HR Rumors


All of us at TPO wish to extend a heart-felt thank you for choosing TPO as your HR partners, and for the many wonderful relationships that have evolved over the past fifteen years we have been serving our business community's HR needs.

We wish you health and prosperity in 2006, and look forward to the opportunity to support your HR goals and objectives next year and in years to come!


Training Calendar

HR101 Gets a NEW NAME for the New Year:

CA Employment Essentials (HR101)

Hiring to Separation: What Management & HR MUST Know!

- 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  January-February

n  April


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

n  November-December

n  February - March


n Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination -
February 15 &
May 17

n Uncomplicating Retirement Plans & Administration
March 22

n HR Automation:
Data Management Made Easy!
April 19

n Can’t We All Just
Get Along?
June 21


Featured Keynote Speaker: RICHARD J. SIMMONS, Esq. back by popular demand!

If you have seen Richard Simmons present before, you know you will be entertained while you learn from one of America's leading employment law experts. The only way we know to combine amusement with getting up to speed with new and updated laws and developments affecting ALL California employers in 2006!

Richard J. Simmons is a nationally known labor attorney and partner with the LA law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton. He has lectured extensively nationwide, authored numerous publications, and been interviewed by national networks including CNN, CBS and NBC. He was appointed by the California Industrial Welfare Commission as a member of the 1987, 1984 & 1982 Minimum Wage Boards for the State of California.

Special Lunch-Time Speaker: BRUCE McPHERSON, California Secretary of State

Bruce McPherson became the 30th Secretary of State of California on March 30, 2005, after being nominated by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and unanimously confirmed by both the Assembly and the Senate.

Secretary McPherson will present an insightful message for CA employers.

Informative Break-Out Sessions:
Choose Any Two!


An engaging international speaker, OD consultant, group process facilitator and author of "The Strategic Use of Stories in Organizational Communication and Learning", "Making Stories, A Practical Guide for Organizational Leaders and HR Specialists", and co-author of the inspiring tale, "On Cloud Nine", Terrence shows how story making and telling skills help us understand business processes, create and modify corporate culture, manage change, manage knowledge and improve training outcomes.  For more information: 


The author of several books, including co-authori of "On Cloud NineWeathering the Challenges of Many Generations in the Workplace", Robert is Managing Director of the Center for Generational Studies and a leading specialist in generational issues at work. Robert will give you real guidance to improve communication and teamwork in your multigenerational workplace; how to reconcile the often differing values and conflicting views of Boomers, GenXrs, Millenials, & Matures.

For more information:


How can you realize a whole new level of creativity, endurance, and commitment to your company's most important goals?  A specialist in leadership and communications and author/co-author of nine books, including "Find Your Calling, Love Your Life", Martha has dedicated two decades to studying leadership trends and work in America. She will share her Five Principals Of True Engagement, and why True Engagement is a Company's Most Potent Competitive Advantage.

For more information:


Entrepreneur Magazine's Success Coach and author of the Kick Start series of books, including "Kick Start Your Success," Romanus has dedicated his life to helping people achieve their goals by inspiring others to help them. He will share four powerful steps for achieving important goals in life and work. Gain the discipline and mastery necessary to bring your purpose into focus, find your voice, and propel your goal to reality through conversations that help you gain the conviction to accomplish anything.

For more information:

Book Signings & Exhibitor Connections!

You will have opportunities throughout the day to visit with our author/presenters for book signings. We will also have talented exhibitors available to visit with, ask questions of, and learn about the services they provide to support your Human Resource Management needs and initiatives!

WHEN:    FEBRUARY 9th, 7:45am – 4:15pm (Cont.Breakfast & Lunch included!)

WHERE:  Embassy Suites Hotel Mty Bay, 1441 Canyon Del Rey, Seaside

COST:      TPO Members attend FREE* as part of their Annual Membership!

*Participants above the number of your authorized representatives can attend for just $199 each!

           Non-Members: $299 per seat (Teams of 3 or more: $249 per seat)

Click here to register!


Up until the conference, we will be announcing our exciting afternoon breakout presenters.
Let us begin by introducing (drum roll please!):

TERRENCE L. GARGIULO (pronounced Gar-ju-lo) who will present:


An engaging international speaker, OD consultant, group process facilitator and author of "The Strategic Use of Stories in Organizational Communication and Learning", "Making Stories, A Practical Guide for Organizational Leaders and HR Specialists", and co-author of the inspiring tale, "On Cloud Nine", Terrence will show how story making and telling skills help us understand business processes, create and modify corporate culture, manage change, manage knowledge and improve training outcomes.

"Everyone claims that stories are a great tool for leaders and managers, but finally there is a definitive guide to show why and how they work…A must read for any serious leader!" Jim Noble Sr. VP AOL Time Warner

To learn more, go to:

Important CA District Court of Appeals Decision:

Meal & Rest Period Violations Ruled a Penalty, Not Wages

Why is this important?  In a recent (December 2, 2005) California District Court of Appeals decision, the court held that the one-hour-of-pay remedy for meal and rest period violations in the Wage Orders and Labor Code section 226.7 is a penalty, not wages. As a penalty, claims have a one year statute of limitations rather than a three or four year limit.  Meal and rest period claims have been extremely popular for class action lawyers for several years.  Richard Simmons will be talking about this at TPO's Annual Conference on February 9. The court further emphasized that the legislature intended this remedy to be a penalty, not additional wages. 

While this decision is not yet final, and may be subject to review by the California Supreme Court, it is still an important decision for California Employers. Additionally, employers must still be wary of waiting time penalties which, baring a successful "good-faith-dispute defense", may still be applicable. 

A Quick Reminder about CA Meal & Rest Period Laws

Generally, you must provide a meal break of at least one half-hour for every work period of more than five hours. However, if six hours of work will complete the day's work, the employee may voluntarily choose not to take the meal break. Meal breaks may be unpaid only if: 1) they are at least 30 minutes long; 2) the employee is relieved of all duty; and 3) the employee is free to leave the premises. A second meal break of no fewer than 30 minutes must be provided for all workdays on which an employee works more than 10 hours.

Rest breaks of no less than 10 consecutive minutes must be provided for each four hours (or major portion thereof) worked, occurring as near as possible to the middle of the work period. Rest breaks cannot be combined or added to meal breaks, even at the employee's request. Nor may they be used to allow an employee to come in 10 minutes late or leave 10 minutes early. You control rest breaks, thus, you must pay break time as time worked. You may require employees to remain on the premises during the rest break.

Penalty for Non-Compliance

For each workday you fail to provide an employee meal break as required, you owe the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee's regular rate. For each workday you fail to "authorize and permit" an employee to take a required rest break, you owe the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee's regular rate.

The Labor Commissioner has clarified what is meant by an employer who fails to provide a meal break, stating that, "the employer has an affirmative obligation to ensure that workers are actually relieved of all duty, not performing any work, and free to leave the worksite."  In other words, you must take all reasonable measures to ensure employees are actually taking meal breaks.

Regarding rest periods, the Labor Commissioner clarified the employer is merely required to "authorize and permit all employees to take rest periods." An employer is not subject to any sort of penalty or premium pay obligation if an employee, who was truly authorized and allowed to take a rest break, freely chooses without any coercion or encouragement to forego or waive a rest period. Note that CA requires specific break and facility requirements for nursing mothers.  

Recent EEOC Stats on Harassment Claims

While approximately 15,000 sexual harassment cases are brought to the EEOC each year, this makes up only 22% of all harassment claims. The remaining 78% of the claims involve harassment based on one of the other proscribed protected categories (race, religion, age, national origin, etc). Further, the number of harassment claims filed by men has more than tripled in the last few years, and approximately 11% of claims involve men filing complaints against female supervisors.

So much has been written about the "art," and "science," of management. We are guilty of gobbling up whatever latest quick-fix fad is out there while we console ourselves for falling short of finding the holy grail of management. People are not simple. When you put lots of them together with the aim of rallying around an organization's mission, everyone's needs, desires, and fears muddy the waters. Complicated theories will not lift the shroud of mystery, but simple principles out of which very complex behaviors emerge are our best hope. Stories are not the unified theory of management but they do offer us some important clues about communication and relationships.

Do you ever feel like you are not heard or understood? It's no surprise that our relationships at work and at home are often riddled with problems. We do a horrible job of listening to each other. To make matters worse, we do not treat our experiences with circumspection, therefore we fail to garner insights and learning from them. We stumble along oblivious to other people's perspectives and unaware of what experiences have contributed to the development of the perceptual filters that color each person's world view. The following short story provides a glimpse of the problems that occur when we become engrossed in our own perceptions:

The Train Story…

Four travelers shared a train compartment: a beautiful young woman, the young woman's grandmother, a distinguished general, and a young officer. As the train sped along at night, the lights in the compartment suddenly turned off. In the darkness two distinct sounds could be heard from the compartment – the sound of a wet juicy kiss and the sound of a hand slapping the side of a face. When the lights turned back on, the faces of the travelers told a story. The young woman's face was red from embarrassment. She was mortified to think that the young man had kissed her in the dark. She was very thankful that she was traveling with her grandmother who slapped the young man. The grandmother's hands were clenched in fists of rage and she was fuming. She could not believe that the general would try to take advantage of her granddaughter, but she was glad she had taught her granddaughter to never let a man touch her without permission. Her granddaughter had done the right thing to slap that dirty old man. The veins in the general's neck were bulging. He was furious. He had tried to teach the young officer about respect and discipline. The general couldn't believe that the young whipper-snapper had kissed the beautiful woman who then mistakenly had slapped the general. The young man was grinning from ear to ear. He couldn't believe his good fortune. How often do you get to kiss a beautiful young woman and slap your boss at the same time?

Everyone is mixed up in this story except for our friend the young officer. Emotions run high and the characters are operating literally and figuratively in the dark. Isn't this story representative of how we are guilty of acting sometimes? We seldom know the "real story" behind someone's feelings, beliefs, or actions. Worse yet, we do not make the effort to discover their story. Convinced of our opinions we prefer to keep our mental world neat and orderly by staying focused on our perspective rather than entertaining another point of view. Stories allow us to move in and out of a different frame of references. We are in essence, "standing in someone else's shoes."

Hearing someone else's story may not change our perspective but it opens up dialogue and increases the chance of a mutually satisfying resolution. While we may not become expert listeners overnight, stories help us understand another's perspective because they require active listening. Stories catapult our imaginations into new directions. Many of our habitual ways of looking at things can be altered by a stories' capacity to engage us. Our connection to others and our understanding of their perspectives is deepened by a story's ability to inform us in ways that words by themselves cannot do.

I am reminded of the wonderful cliché:
"A wise old owl, lived in an oak; the more he saw, the less he spoke; the less he spoke, the more he heard. Why can't we all be, like that wise old bird

Managing is an art of bringing our attention into the moment. Like the wise old owl, the more we strive to hear people's stories the more we will be able to manage by not managing. Put another way, as we listen to each other's stories it becomes possible to negotiate differences. More often than not, our conflicts are a function of not hearing and understanding one another. Spontaneous solutions and resolutions arise when we enter someone else's frame of reference. Sharing our stories generates vivid pictures for others because when we listen actively we bring our experiences to their telling. Therefore, a bridge of understanding is constructed between two or more people. Our greatest challenge as a manager is to create an environment of genuine interest, trust, openness, and reciprocity where people willingly share their stories.

(Pieces of this article have been adopted and reprinted with permission from, Stories at Work: Using Stories to Improve Communications and Build Relationships, Praeger)

About The Author:

Terrence Gargiulo is an international speaker, author, organizational development consultant, and group process facilitator. Learn more about the power of story telling by attending Terrence's afternoon session "THE STRATEGIC USE OF STORIES FOR SUPERIOR ORGANIZATIONAL OUTCOMES" at TPO's 2006 Annual Employment & Leadership Conference (link).  He can be reached at, 781-894-4381, or

HR Rumors: Get Your Facts Straight from the Experts!

RumorWhat do I do if an employee can't or won't put a harassment complaint in writing when my handbook says it must be in writing?

FactWhile it is a good idea to get all complaints in writing when possible, requiring it is not something we recommend. There may be literacy issues or cultural issues or other reasons why an employee can't or won't put concerns in writing.

If an employee comes forward with a report of what he/she believes is harassment or discrimination, it is a good idea to ask him/her to write down whatever he/she is able to and comfortable with writing. You may get only dates and some names of witnesses or you might get the entire story. Anything is better than nothing in writing.

If the employee does not put it in writing, then the supervisor/manager should collect enough information to pass along to the appointed organizational contact who deals with such reports. This information might include things such as the following:

n "What was done/said?"

n "Who was involved including participants and witnesses?"

n "When it happened including all incidents where similar things occurred."

n "What the reporting employee did about the incident and what he/she may have done about previous incidents."

The supervisor/manager should not attempt to conduct an investigation. This information should be passed along IMMEDIATELY to the appropriate persons for review and possible action.

The supervisor/manager should also tell the employee:

n "Thank you for bringing this to the company's attention."

n "Only those who need to know will be advised of this issue." DO NOT PROMISE CONFIDENTIALITY.

n "The company takes these actions seriously and will review promptly."

n "No retaliation against the reporting employee will be allowed and he/she should notify the supervisor/manager if there are any such instances or if the reported actions continue to occur."

We recommend training on Harassment and Discrimination Prevention in the Workplace for all employees. If you have not yet scheduled your company for this training and would like to do so, you can contact TPO for either a customized training course for your company or information on our Open Enrollment classes.

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