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9.19.18

MFG Day Events in the Hudson Valley

Students at Mfg Day

We will kick off Manufacturing Day here in the Hudson Valley early with Pine Bush High School’s First Annual Career night on October 4th from 6:30 – 8:30 at PBHS. We are inviting HV Manufacturers to register for an exhibitor booth to help inform students and parents about manufacturing jobs in the Hudson Valley.

Join over 30 Hudson Valley Manufacturers already committed to help educate parents and students about the importance of Manufacturing and potential career paths. Participating companies will have the opportunity to connect with over 250 students, their parents, and educators and discuss current and potential jobs including internships, part-time employment and apprenticeships. Help us spread the word about the importance of Manufacturing in the Hudson Valley. Find out what companies will be there below.

Then on MFG Day, October 5th we will be broadcasting live from EFCO Products, Inc. in Poughkeepsie with Tom Sipos on Hudson Valley Live. You can tune in at News Radio 1450 WKIP on iHeartRadio or 1450 on your AM radio dial. The show starts at 6 am and will feature a lineup of local manufacturers discussing the issues affecting their companies. We hope you will listen in.

Later in the day, several companies are hosting local students for tours. Ametek Rotron in Woodstock will be hosting students from Pine Bush and Sono-Tek in Milton will be giving tours to students from Highland. Nexans will be holding an event at their facility in Chester, NY as well.

It is never too late to take part in MFG Day. You can still sign up for the career fair with this link. You can also contact us if you would like to host a tour or open house. Events are not limited to October 5th, you can make any day MFG Day by opening your door to the public and raising their awareness of the importance and rewards of manufacturing.

Companies taking part in the Career fair at PBHS:

  • Pratt & Whitney, Aerospace Company – Middletown, NY
  • Allendale Machine Systems, Machine Tool Distributor of HAAS equipment – Allendale, NJ
  • Lloydz Motor Workz, Performance Parts to Riders of Victory and Indian Motorcycles, Pine Bush, NY
  • Ametek Rotron, Military & Aerospace Products – Woodstock, NY
  • Fala Technologies, Industrial Equipment Manufacturing, Semiconductor & Green Energy – Kingston, NY
  • Nexans, Advanced Cabling and Connectivity Solutions – Chester, NY
  • LoDolce Machine, Manufacturing Parts and Components for Military, Transportation and Computers – Saugerties, NY
  • Stanfordville Machines, Precision CNC Machining – Poughkeepsie, NY
  • Tompkins Mahopac Bank, Associate Member and Supporter of Mfg Workforce Initiatives
  • SUNY Orange, Middletown and Newburgh Campus, NY
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) – Albany Region, NY
  • Society for Manufacturing Engineers – SME
  • Mechanical Rubber, Custom Manufacturer, Transportation, Defense, Industrial – Warwick, NY
  • METCAR, Engineering Carbon / Graphite Solutions, Ossining, NY
  • Usheco, Inc, Manufacturing Custom Plastic Parts – Kingston, NY
  • Selux, Innovated Lighting Solutions – Highland, NY
  • Cambridge Security Seals, Manufacturer of High Security Loss Prevention Seals – Pomona, NY
  • SUNY Ulster, Community College offering Credit and Non-Credit Courses – Kingston and Stone Ridge, NY
  • Zierick, Manufacturing Complex Interconnection Requirements for HVAC, Automotive, Industrial, Medical and Security – Mt. Kisco, NY
  • Princeton Upholstery Co, Furniture Manufacturer – Middletown, NY
  • Mokai, Designers, Engineers and Manufacturers of Unique Watercraft – Newburgh

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Using Criminal Histories, Arrest Records, and Background Checks in Employment

By: Stephanie H. Fedorka, Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, A Council of Industry Associate Member

Every employer wants to promote and sustain a safe workplace. One way in which employers try to accomplish this goal is to conduct background checks on its applicants or new hires to assess whether they might pose a risk to other employees, customers, or other individuals they might encounter during their employment. However, when inquiring about applicants’ criminal histories or arrest records and when basing employment decisions on information obtained through background checks, employers should make sure that they are in compliance with relevant federal, state, and local laws.

Federal Law

Currently, there are no federal statutes or laws that prohibit employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history. However, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act expressly requires employers to provide a stand-alone disclosure and obtain a signed authorization form prior to conducting a background check. The authorization form must be separate from the application.

Although there is no specific federal law that precludes an employer from considering an applicant’s criminal history in making an employment decision, employers should nevertheless be careful not to treat applicants with similar criminal records differently, because such differential treatment could result in a discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or another federal employment discrimination statute. For example, if a female applicant is rejected for a particular position because of a DWI conviction, but a male applicant is later hired for the same position despite having a DWI conviction, the female applicant might have a potential sex discrimination claim under Title VII.

Employers also should make sure that they can defend against any disparate impact claims that might arise from screening applicants based on their criminal history. If individuals in a particular protected category are disproportionately disadvantaged by the employer’s policy or practice, then the employer must be able to articulate a legitimate business justification for the policy or practice. In other words, an employer must be able to demonstrate that its policy of considering certain types of criminal convictions in making hiring decisions helps to accurately predict whether the applicant is likely to be a responsible, reliable, and safe employee.

New York Law

The New York Human Rights Law and the New York Correction Law prohibit an employer from denying employment to any individual based his or her criminal conviction record, unless: (1) there is a direct relationship between one or more of the criminal offenses and the employment sought or held by the individual; or (2) the granting or continuation of employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety of particular individuals or the general public. Employers are required to consider eight factors when evaluating qualified applicants to make a determination regarding whether there is a direct relationship or unreasonable risk. The eight factors to consider are:

  • New York’s public policy of encouraging employment of persons with prior convictions;
  • The specific duties and responsibilities necessarily related to the employment sought;
  • The bearing, if any, the criminal offense(s) for which the person was previously convicted will have on his ability to perform one or more such duties or responsibilities;
  • The time which has elapsed since the occurrence of the criminal offense(s);
  • The age of the person at the time of the occurrence of the criminal offense(s);
  • The seriousness of the offense(s);
  • Any information produced by the person, or produced on his behalf, in regard to his rehabilitation and good conduct;
  • The legitimate interest of the public agency or private employer in protecting property, and the safety and welfare of specific individuals or the general public.

It is best practice to consider each and every one of the factors, balancing the factors that weigh against hiring an applicant against those that support a decision to hire an applicant. No single factor should be determinative of the hiring decision. Employers should document their consideration of each of the factors and the reasoning for their decision not to hire an applicant. It should be noted that this law also protects current employees from adverse employment action based on their criminal conviction record.

The New York Human Rights Law also prohibits employers from inquiring, in a job application or otherwise, about any previous arrest or criminal accusation which was resolved in the individual’s favor or taking any adverse employment action against an individual based on an arrest or criminal accusation that was resolved in the individual’s favor. It is also unlawful to inquire about youthful offender adjudications or certain convictions that have been sealed under the criminal procedure law. It is not unlawful, however, to inquire whether an applicant has any pending arrests or criminal accusations filed against him or her, nor is it unlawful to make an adverse employment decision based on a pending arrest that has not yet been resolved.

Local Laws

Some cities and counties in New York have enacted ordinances that prohibit employers from asking applicants about their criminal record on an employment application or at any time prior to making a conditional job offer to the applicant (often referred to as “ban the box” or “fair chance laws”). Some of the cities and counties that have enacted such ordinances include:

Employers that have employees in the above local areas should confirm with their employment attorney regarding whether the law applies to them, and if so, what the law requires.

Conclusion

Employers should be careful in conducting background checks and using the information obtained when making hiring decisions. If an employer routinely conducts background checks in the course of its hiring practices, the employer should understand the legal limits of using the information. Managers, supervisors, and any other hiring staff who conduct interviews should be trained so that they do not inadvertently make prohibited inquiries regarding an applicant’s criminal convictions or arrest record.

If you have any questions about this Information Memo, please contact Stephanie H. Fedorka, any of the attorneys in our Labor and Employment Law Practice, or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

 

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New York State Issues Draft Guidance on Required Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies and Training

By Lori D. Bauer, Richard I. Greenberg, Samia M. Kirmani, Jonathan L. Bing and Daniel J. Jacobs, Jackson Lewis PC, a Council of Industry Associate Member

The State of New York has issued draft guidance for employers on the mandatory sexual harassment prevention policies and annual employee training required by legislation passed earlier this year. Starting October 9, 2018, the enacted legislative package requires, among other things, that employers in New York adopt the state’s model sexual harassment prevention policy or modify an existing sexual harassment policy to meet the state’s minimum standards, and provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all employees.

For more, see our previous article, New York Legislature Passes Significant Changes to Laws Combating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.

Draft Guidance

The state’s newly created dedicated website contains a model sexual harassment prevention policy, an accompanying model complaint form, a “Combating Sexual Harassment: Frequently Asked Questions” publication, and model sexual harassment prevention training materials. Additionally, the website contains proposed “minimum standards” guidelines for employers to use in tailoring their own policies and training programs.

The state’s model policies, complaint form, FAQs, and minimum standard guidelines are in proposed form. New York State has invited comments on the draft guidance. The comment deadline was September 12, 2018.

Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

The state’s model sexual harassment prevention training includes a sample script for trainers, model scenarios, and steps for reporting complaints. While the current guidance does not specify how long the required training must be, it explains that the training must include “some form of employee participation, meaning the training may: be web-based with questions asked of employees as part of the program; accommodate questions asked by employees; include a live trainer made available during the session to answer questions; and/or require feedback from employees about the training and the materials presented.”

For an employer that chooses not to use the model created by the State Department of Labor and Division of Human Rights, the training must meet or exceed the state’s minimum standards, which means that it must:

  1. Be interactive;
  2. Include an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the state;
  3. Include examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment;
  4. Include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment;
  5. Include information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints; and
  6. Include information addressing conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities for such supervisors.

The FAQs clarify that by January 1, 2019, employers must provide all employees with sexual harassment prevention training, either using the model created by the state or a comparable version that meets the state’s minimum standards. Furthermore, new employees or employees who start after January 1 must complete the requisite annual sexual harassment training within 30 calendar days of hire. It is possible that this date will be pushed back based on comments from the employer community. For many industries, completing training in such a short period (October-December) will be very difficult.

Lastly, the FAQs also state that employers are “required to ensure that all employees receive training,” including temporary/transient employees, or even if someone works for one day for the employer.

Note that for New York City employers, these requirements will need to be integrated with New York City training requirements effective in April 1, 2019. For information regarding these requirements and other pieces of the New York City “me too” legislation, please see our articles, New York City Commission on Human Rights Issues Mandatory Sexual Harassment Notice and Fact SheetNew York City Enacts Anti-Sexual Harassment Legislation that Includes Training RequirementNew York City Council Passes Legislative Package Aimed at Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, and New York City Legislation Would Mandate Sexual Harassment Training, Expand Employer Coverage under Human Rights Law.

Model Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy

The website also includes a model sexual harassment prevention policy. Employers may choose to distribute this model, which also includes a complaint form for employees to use, or modify an existing written policy to meet or exceed the state’s minimum standards. If so, the sexual harassment prevention policy must:

  1. Prohibit sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the state;
  2. Provide examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment;
  3. Include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, and a statement that there may be applicable local laws;
  4. Include a complaint form;
  5. Include a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties;
  6. Inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially;
  7. State that sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against individuals engaging in sexual harassment and against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue; and
  8. State that retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful.

The FAQs clarify certain aspects of the required sexual harassment prevention policy. For example, an employer must provide employees with a policy in writing, but can do so electronically, so long as employees are able to access the policy on a computer provided by the employer during work time and print a copy. Additionally, while the FAQs note that an acknowledgment of receipt of the policy is not required, it is recommended.

New York State contractors also must submit an affirmation that they have a sexual harassment prevention policy and that they have trained all of their employees, beginning January 1, 2019.

Nondisclosure Agreements

The FAQs also address other aspects of the state’s anti-sexual harassment legislation, such as nondisclosure agreements related to sexual harassment. In particular, the legislation allows only nondisclosure agreements related to sexual harassment settlements when the condition of confidentiality is the explicit preference of the complaining party. The law also requires a three-step process to memorialize the complaining party’s preference in a signed agreement:

  1. Any such term or condition must be provided to all parties, and the person who complained shall have 21 days to consider it.
  2. If, after 21 days, such term or condition is the preference of the person who complained, such preference shall be memorialized in an agreement signed by all parties.
  3. For a period of 7 days following the execution of an agreement containing such a term, the person who complained may revoke the agreement and the agreement shall not become effective or be enforceable until such revocation period has expired.

The FAQs state that as long as the statutory process and timeline are followed, the law does not prohibit the employer from initiating this process.

Next Steps

The state’s guidance is not yet finalized and additional FAQs or guidance may be released after the September 12, 2018, comment period closes.

Jackson Lewis will continue to monitor updates regarding the final versions of these materials and any newly issued guidance. Please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney with any questions related to harassment prevention policies, training, and other preventive practices and for assistance in submitting comments.

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Do We Really Need Job Descriptions?

By Rebecca Mazin, Recruit Right, Council of Industry Certificate in Manufacturing leadership Instructor

On a recent Friday afternoon, I sat down to write a job description. Then I took a nap.

To create a job description, I don’t use a formula and simply change a few words, it’s not a rote task. Good job descriptions include required education, experience, competencies, essential functions and reporting relationships. I know the process takes one to one and a half hours. It’s just a boring task. So, I am likely to procrastinate and wait for a slice of unscheduled time.

The employer reviewed this job description and made only a few suggestions. Revising the document brought a familiar question; do we really need job descriptions? In this situation the job description was written to clarify roles, responsibilities and reporting structure. It will be presented to the incumbent in the job to ensure understanding, making certain everyone is on the same page. So, yes, I think it’s a good idea.

Job Descriptions as Living Documents

Many job descriptions reside on shelves in binders or inhabit personnel files as hard copy or in digital folders. They’re consulted so infrequently they could be hibernating. Job descriptions will be more effective if they are dusted off and checked for accuracy and revised regularly.

For employers who conduct a formal performance rating process the job description can be used as a baseline for responsibilities. Promotions or job postings are also perfect times for a job description check. Systems, structures and responsibilities change, particularly items that related to ever changing technology.

Job descriptions are important parts of any discussion about accommodations for a disability. They form the basis for the interactive conversation that identifies essential tasks and potential modifications.

New hires will appreciate a job description. It should be one they understand and has been checked to make certain it is current. Telling a team member, “Don’t worry about this section, we haven’t done that in years,” is not an engaging onboarding statement.

Other Duties As Assigned

No employer wants to get boxed in by a job description that’s treated as a complete list of all responsibilities. To avoid, or respond to, “it’s not my job,” descriptions include a statement that allows for changes, new assignments, something like, “other duties as assigned.” Good idea but not something that should be stressed as the focus of the job description.

An acknowledgment of receipt of the job description, that often includes language about “other duties” is part of many employer’s documents. If these are used, they too should be user friendly. Don’t hand the job description to the employee with a pen and say, “sign here, I’ll give you a copy.” Think about whether asking for the signed acknowledgment is a welcoming statement and if it is your practice frame it as a benefit for everyone at your workplace.

Flip the Format

There is no one format for a job description. Think outside the usual constraint and use a format that works for your organization. I have written what I called, “Job Expectations.”

These include basic headings and simple language such as:

  • Your job title
  • Who you report to
  • Your work hours
  • Your basic responsibilities
  • Here’s who you interact with
  • Some things you will need to learn

User friendly content can also note that duties can change.

Get Employee Input

Staring at a blank document makes a job description even harder to write. When there are incumbents in a position I use a questionnaire to help identify goals, education/experience required, knowledge and skills needed and major and minor duties. It’s important to remember that a good job description is not simply a reflection of what the incumbent is doing in the role. They may have a non-traditional background and be working to stretch into new tasks.

Having a staff member write their own job description can be a tool for engagement if they too don’t start with a blank page. Provide a format or list of content required to avoid a simple list of daily routines. This exercise could be combined with goal setting to set the stage for growth and contributions.

Job Descriptions as Postings are Boring

Job descriptions are not effective job postings. Particularly in a job seekers market 2 – 3 pages of dry language does not inspire a candidate. We seem to forget that a job posting is an advertisement. Just because online sites give plenty of room for job posting content doesn’t mean it should all be used. When a job seeker is using their phone for a search they may only catch the first 4 lines. Will they really read past a 15+ line description of the company to get to details about the job?

When we make it hard for candidates we shouldn’t be surprised to receive so many resumes from individuals with unrelated backgrounds. So keep a job posting as direct and brief as possible with a compelling 2-3 sentence description of the company.

A Resume is Not a Job Description

On the other side of the job search, too many candidates quote, or cut and paste, a job description to write a resume. Employers can spot these resumes right away. They demonstrate minimal preparation and thought. And let’s remember that resumes are not thrilling documents either, no reason to add content that is truly snooze worthy.

Toss the Poorly Written Job Descriptions

I frequently see organizations copy and use documents from other employers. They cut and past a logo and presto: a performance evaluation, job description, form or even employee handbook.

You are better off having nothing than simply bringing job descriptions from other employers, changing a logo, and putting it in place. The concept doesn’t work on so many levels. There’s the obvious, it’s not accurate and the roll out was so poor that no one understands the document. It becomes embarrassing when employees spot content that still includes the name of the employer that was the document source. Even worse when it includes names of senior managers and/or owners.

As I revise this document I can conclude that we don’t need second-rate job descriptions. When they’re sloppy, poorly written and don’t reflect the jobs, toss them.  Job descriptions are valuable when they’re written well and used effectively.

 

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