Should Google Be Allowed to Fire Employees for Their Beliefs?

Human resources expert weighs in

Google FiringThe recent controversy over the now infamous Google Memo (and the author’s subsequent firing) has many Americans wondering if free speech is allowed in the workplace. What rules govern our ability to express ourselves in the office, and was the termination of the senior software engineer fair?

Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and human resources expert, says, “Google ultimately decided to fire employee James Damore because they said that his memo advanced harmful gender stereotypes, stereotypes which were offensive towards Google’s female staff and clients. However, many people are furious with Google’s decision, saying that it proves free speech is no longer allowed in the American workplace.”

Wilson further says, “Damore did not send this memo to his friends or family, or even post it on his own social media. He used company property to send this memo to his coworkers. This gives Google the grounds to fire him, as he is expressing controversial beliefs on company time and distracting his coworkers with his opinions.”

Whether or not you agree with Damore’s opinions, the fact remains employers have the right to prevent and punish speech which is political and divisive in nature. “Whether it’s an email saying nasty things about President Trump or an email complaining about diversity hiring, employees need to be cognizant of the fact that free speech does not mean freedom from consequences. If your employer finds your opinions to be distracting and offensive to other employees, they are within their rights to reprimand you for this.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

What Employers Need to Know About the Evolution of Marijuana Laws

How to make necessary changes to your employee handbooks and company policies

The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017A new congressional bill named “The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017” was just presented today by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. If passed, it would lift the federal prohibition on the substance. 26 states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form. This number is only expected to grow as more patients turn to this treatment and as marijuana is being approved as treatment for more conditions, such as PTSD.  But, if The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 is passed, how should employers tackle this issue in the workplace?

Rob Wilson, human resources and employment expert and President of Employco USA, says, “The federal government still classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 substance, which is the same class as heroin and ecstasy,” he says. “However, many states now permit the use of marijuana, either medically or recreationally. This leads to very murky waters for employers, especially as some states prohibit the discrimination of employees with a medical marijuana card, while other states do not.”

So what should an employer do to navigate this issue?

First, Wilson advises employers to get familiar with their state’s specific legislation. He also says, “If your employees are part of a collective bargaining unit, then it is likely that drug stipulations already exist, including specific limits for drug use. For example, in a recent case, an employee was found to be under the influence while on the job, but he claimed his medical marijuana card gave him permission to use while working. However, a drug test revealed that he was 10 times above his prescribed limit.”

For this reason, Wilson stresses that employers should not just rely on the results of a rapid drug test, as these results do not hold well in a court of law. “If you live in a state such as Illinois that does not permit the discrimination of employees who use medical marijuana, then you should definitely send the drug test results out to a lab in order to back up any fears that an employee might be using more than he should. However, if you live in a pass/fail state, this won’t be necessary.” Continue reading

New Study Says Half of Workers Will Be Replaced by Robots

Employment expert weighs in

A recent study has just revealed that technology could replace as many as half of all low-skilled jobs in the United States. The findings confirm earlier findings which say that fast-food workers could be at serious risk of losing their jobs to robots in the next several years.

Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and employment trends expert says, “While the technology industry does offer employment, it also will eventually end up taking millions of positions away. And, not only do they take positions away, they also lower wages. A recent study found that each new robot added per 1,000 workers causes wages to drop in the surrounding area by around 0.25 and 0.5 percent.”

Wilson says minimum wage hikes could also make robots the preferred option for employers. “Robots don’t need raises,” he says. “They don’t need healthcare or sick days. For employers who are looking down the barrel of ever-increasing business costs, robots are a cost-saving option in the long-run.”

However, Wilson assures Americans that automation is far from a death knell for the economy. “Yes, automation is going to change the economic landscape, but it’s not going to turn the country into a dystopia run by robots. However, workers do need to make sure that they diversify their skills and become adept in many different functions, as robots (such as the automated burger flippers in fast-food joints) have limited abilities. It’s no longer enough just to show up and do your daily duties. A worker has to be engaged, present and connected to their fellow workers and their customers, as this human connection is something that a robot can never achieve.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

The Fearful Cost of Going Freelance

Employment expert reveals the hidden dangers of the gig economy

RideshareOver 25 percent of Americans are now participating in the new “gig economy,” in which they work part-time or contracted positions, instead of dedicated full-time positions. However, a new study warns that the gig economy could be destructive for Americans’ health and well-being.

Rob Wilson, employment trends expert and President of Employco USA, says, “The research shows that a gig economy leaves most part-time workers without health care, retirement funding, dental care, or disability benefits. Meanwhile, many of these ‘giggers’ often have to work more than one job in order to make ends meet, and this is particularly increasing among female workers.”

In fact, Wilson says that holding multiple part-time jobs can actually be destructive to a woman’s earning potential, saying, “One study showed that women who held a number of part-time jobs in their 20s saw absolutely no increase in earnings in their 30s, meaning that even as their experience and their families’ needs grow, they do not earn a dollar more.”

The gig economy can also be destructive to a worker’s physical health. “An Italian study found that contract workers are more likely to suffer from depression and require prescription anti-depressants,” says Wilson. “Which is ironic considering these workers often don’t have health insurance which makes this medication extremely cost-prohibitive.”

Furthermore, Wilson says that these workers are offered very little protection under the law, which has led to many gig employees complaining about inhumane work environments and harassment. “Those who work for companies like Uber don’t have much in the way of legal protection, nor do they have any certainty of their earning potential even a few months into the future. It’s clear that the gig economy is not kind to workers on many levels, which is why the focus right now needs to be on creating permanent full-time positions for employees of all ages. While it is possible to make a lucrative living solely off freelance work, the reality is that it comes at a cost, and not many Americans are prepared to pay the price.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Why More People Are Lying on Their Resumes

H.R. expert explains the uptick in falsified resumes…and what to do about it

A recent survey found that over 85 percent of people lie or embellish on their resumes…and deception is on the rise.

Rob Wilson, human resources expert and President of Employco USA, says, “In today’s competitive job market, many people are ‘padding’ their resume to help them get in the door. Many people don’t even consider it to be a dishonest thing to do. They figure it is like taking the shampoo bottles from a hotel room, something that is expected and allowed.”

So what are these applicants lying about, and what should employers do about it? Wilson says:

  1. Education. “Applicants tend to falsify their education histories. While most don’t outright lie about their B.A., they might pretend to have certifications or training that they actually don’t have. If an employer sees certificates on a employees’ resume, it would behoove them to inquire about it during the interview. Whether it’s a proficiency in Excel or knowing a second language, applicants tend to fudge their expertise in order to sound more impressive.”
  2. Length of employment at past jobs. “Many applicants try to hide a period of past unemployment by making it seem as though they worked longer at past jobs than they actually did. It’s one of the most important things to check up on when calling references.”
  3. References. “Speaking about references, many people use past coworkers as references, rather than actual managers. It’s an easy thing to fudge on a resume, which is why H.R. personnel need to actually look up the company’s director and find the actual executive in charge. Otherwise, you could be speaking with someone who knew your applicant as a Happy Hour buddy rather than an employee.”
  4. Job duties. “Applicants may pad their past job duties in order to sound more experienced. For example, an applicant may say that they had direct supervision over other employees or that they spearheaded certain initiatives at their past company. These are all things that need to be addressed both during the interview and when speaking with the applicant’s references.”
  5. Salary history. “People may lie about their salary history in order to help them gain an upper hand during salary negotiations at their next job. In fact, many people are now saying that employers should not even inquire about salary history due to wage inequality issues, and in fact New York City just passed a measure to ban employers from asking job applicants about their salary history.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Study Says $15/Hr Minimum Wage in Seattle Harms Workers

Employment trends expert discusses troubling new findings

Rob Wilson, president of Employco USA and employment trends expert is unsurprised by these latest findings. He says, “Past numbers show that increasing the minimum wage has a direct and negative impact not only on businesses, but on workers themselves. Research by economists Jeffrey Clemens and Michael Wither of the University of California-San Diego showed that minimum wage increases were responsible for 14 percent of the job losses suffered between 2006 and 2012.”

Furthermore, Wilson says, only 1.8 percent of Americans earn minimum wage.

Wilson explains, “The reality is that most companies endeavor to pay a competitive wage to lure talent and ensure employee loyalty. However, certain positions (such as retail and hospitality) have a very thin margin of profit. These employers can only afford to pay workers minimum wage if they want to stay profitable and remain in business. An increase hits their businesses hard, which is why so many people have actually lost their jobs due to the minimum wage increases across the country.”

There is another downside as well.

“Traditionally, minimum wage jobs have been employment opportunities for young adults and those first entering the workforce. When these jobs are reduced, teens and other inexperienced workers suffer as a result.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Why 74% of People Want to Leave Their Current Job

Employment expert reveals the reasons behind why people leave their jobs

A recent survey found that 74 percent of people say that they are looking for a new job. Although that number might sound high, employment expert Rob Wilson says that the number is accurate. And here’s something else: Hating your job now can equal poorer health even years in the future.

“Many people are dissatisfied at their current place of employment, so even if they aren’t actively searching for new employment each day, they are passively keeping an eye out and networking when possible,” he says. “And now a new study shows that poor job satisfaction in your late 20s and 30s can have a huge negative impact on your physical and emotional health even decades in the future.”

So what is the reason why so many Americans aren’t happy with their jobs?

“The number one reason that people say they leave their jobs is because they aren’t happy with the possibilities for advancement,” says Wilson, CEO of Employco USA. “No one likes to feel like they are spinning their wheels. And the corporate culture itself is changing. Staying at a job for decades used to be a mark of accomplishment and loyalty. Now, today’s generation view that as stagnation—they are always looking for the next best thing.”

What are the other reasons people give for why they want out of their current jobs?

“The other two reasons are that people are unsatisfied with their management and/or their office climate,” he says, “Overly restrictive bosses or unfair management practices can make people feel like their work isn’t appreciated or as though they are being treated like children, rather than as valued employees.”

For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at rwilson@thewilsoncompanies.com.

Are Summer Dress Codes Unfair to the Trans Community?

Employment expert explains how companies can ensure their dress codes are equitable for all

With summer temperatures climbing, employees are looking for ways to keep cool while in the office. But what happens when office dress codes are biased towards the cis community?

Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and employment trends expert, says, “Summer dress codes present a big issue for many companies. This is a particularly important to discuss as June is Pride Month, and many dress codes are seen as transphobic.”

So how companies create a comprehensive and equitable dress code for men and women, including those in the LGBTQIA community?

Here, employment expert Wilson outlines the important steps that companies of every size should take:

  1. Don’t use gender-specific language in your company policies. “For example, instead of saying ‘Women should not wear miniskirts’ or ‘Men must wear a tie’ simply state ‘No miniskirts’ or ‘Business professional attire required.’ Don’t assume that all of your employees identify as cissexual or that they all dress according to specific gender stereotypes.”
  2. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. “If you allow your female staff to wear dark nail polish and edgy hair styles like pastel dye, then realize that is setting a precedent for the entire office. This means that all of your employees, including transwomen or men or those who identify as non-binary, will expect to have equal rights when it comes to expressing their fashion tastes. If you want to limit such expressions of individuality, then make a policy that only light nail polish is allowed and that no extreme hair colors or styles are permitted.”
  3. Send out a reminder at the start of each season. “As the weather gets warmer, more people are going to start reaching for open-toed shoes and sundresses,” says Wilson. “Now is the best time to send out a mass email to your staff with clear and concise instructions about summer dress.” Continue reading