BWSI has written and spoken quite a bit on social media in the workplace as it pertains to users of our staffing software, TempWizard. I am always on the lookout for new social media outlets and while I was familiar with Vine, the new six second video app developed by Twitter, a recent Wall Street Journal article The Latest Social Media Concern for Employers opened my eyes to uses of Vine that I was not aware of. Many new workplace videos are appearing on Vine, some of which shed less than a positive light on employer’s workplaces. The article mentions finding a video of a rental car employee (we won’t say which one) in his uniform smoking from a bong—all you have to do is type into the search box the phrases “hate work” or “bored at work” to get a plethora of videos I am quite sure you wouldn’t want to see your employees in.
As with any new communications medium it takes all of a nanosecond for someone to figure out how to use it inappropriately which is why it is critical to have a proper social media policy. I think as part of your social media policy a business should not only outline what their expectations are, but use it as an educational opportunity for employees to discuss privacy and decorum on their personal accounts. Staffing presents an even bigger issue—imagine if it was one of your contingent workers placed at that rental car agency and the damage that would and could do. The WSJ article mentions that food and retail service industries are particularly vulnerable to this type of thing, but it could happen to anyone at any time frankly. Given that it takes very little time for a particular video to “go viral”, protecting yourself and educating your workforce is a paramount concern.
I love my job working with our staffing industry clients and in developing our staffing software, TempWizard. One of the things that consistently amaze me is how many roadblocks are seemingly thrown in the way of an employer in the manner of employment law, discrimination actions, and worker’s compensation issues. You almost have to have counsel on speed dial to keep up with all the laws, agency guidance, and court decisions. One item I have been particularly following with interest is the arguments regarding a flexible work schedule as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A recent decision, but far from final in my opinion, by the Tenth Circuit says that a flexible work schedule is not a reasonable accommodation if it will not allow the employee to perform the essential functions of their job. Essential functions can include regular and punctual attendance, particularly if it is stated as being required in the job description. In Murphy v Samson Resources Co. (10th Cir. May 8, 2013) the court affirmed summary judgment in favor of Samson Resources saying that the employee was not qualified for her position due to excessive absences for migraine headaches.
The court in its decision held that an employee’s request to be relieved of an essential function (in this case punctual and regular attendance) is not reasonable or even plausible as far as accommodation goes. The employee argued that a flexible schedule was a reasonable accommodation to perform her job so she should be qualified under ADA. The employer provided evidence that the employee was making mistakes and not making up all the time missed from the migraine absences. Furthermore, the employee said she should be granted leave under Samson’s short term disability policy as reasonable accommodation to which the courts said it was “uncertain if or when Murphy would be able to return to work given the sporadic nature of her migraines.”
The Tenth Circuit’s decision is by no means the final word on this matter—there is serious division on the EEOC regarding this matter and it will probably have to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. As far as staffing agencies go, I don’t think any of them would disagree that attendance is an essential job function (and I am certain their clients would think so!) It is important to realize that the ADA serves a necessary and important need, but seemingly with any well-intentioned legislation there are unintended consequences as well. BWSI will update our blog and communicate with our clients as this issue works its way through the court system. I think the Tenth Circuit’s decision clearly points to the need to include “regular and punctual attendance” in any job description or posting if you are not already doing so.
BWSI’s exclusive focus is on our staffing software, TempWizard, and services for the staffing industry. Because of this, we are also fortunate to have a broad and deep base of experience working closely with our clients on many issues. Staffing is different from most other businesses in that having a candidate not being selected isn’t the end of the relationship as it is with candidates at other businesses—you still want to have the opportunity to help your candidate be placed at another suitable position. This creates a somewhat fine line that recruiters have to walk—how do you inform a candidate they were rejected by your client while still maintaining a positive relationship with both the applicant and the client? The manner in which one handles this has a direct effect on your reputation and a bad experience for either the candidate or your client is not good for business irrespective of the fact that how your company handles these rejections can show how they treat their employees in general.
The simple solution and one that gives the least amount of opening for potential discriminatory complaints is to give a neutral answer. “The client decided to go with a different option” is as neutral and nonspecific as it comes. The possible problem with this is, as a recruiter, you want to be able to help place the candidate in a position—this is your major job function and a neutral rejection doesn’t give a candidate much information for future improvement. If your client provided specific reasons why they didn’t select the candidate, you have to decide how much to share. This type of feedback could be very helpful for a candidate with limited or poor interviewing skills, but could also leave you open to debate with the candidate or the candidate feeling they were denied employment for unjust reasons. I can tell you horror stories from this not being handled correctly over the years and there is no right answer frankly. You may have to judge on a case by case basis how to handle a candidate rejection or you may have a corporate policy to only give the simple and neutral response. BWSI has generally found that recruiters that “coach up” candidates have the greatest success rates and most satisfied clients so we would probably lean toward trying to give some sort of constructive feedback.