House Introduces Working Family Flexibility Act

On December 6, 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Working Family Flexibility Act (H.R. 4301), which will give working Americans the right to request flexible work options in order to balance the demands of their jobs and home life. The legislation is patterned on similar laws in Europe that have been implemented with great success.

Under this legislation:
  • An employee may request to modify his or her hours, schedule, or work location.
  • Employees and employers will engage in an interactive process to discuss the employee's needs and how to address them with no or minimal disruption to the employer’s business.
  • Employers who deny a request must explain the grounds for the denial.
  • Employees who make requests are protected from retaliation.
  • Small businesses are exempt from the law.
  • The Department of Labor will develop regulations to smoothly administer the process, while ensuring the protection of employees' legal rights.

"Between trying to make ends meet and carving out time to care for their young children and aging relatives, parents across America are often stretched thin and need flexibility at work," Senator Clinton said, "I'm pleased to join Senator Kennedy in introducing this important piece of legislation to support our nation's working families."


DHS Requires Employers to Begin Using the New Form I-9 No Later Than 12/26/07

On 11/7/07, the Department of Homeland Security released a new Form I-9, the form employers must fill out for every new hire to verify identity and eligibility for employment in the United States under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). The new Form I-9 reduces the number of documents employers may accept from newly hired employees during the employment eligibility verification process.

The DHS expected employers to begin using the new Form I-9 for new hires and for any reverifications immediately upon release. However, to give employers time to transition to the new form, on 11/26/07 it announced a 30-day grace period during which no fines will be levied for using the previous version. This grace period ends 12/26/07.

After 12/26/07, noncompliance with these new Form I-9 requirements may result in hefty legal and financial consequences in the case of an audit, the risk of which has increased greatly due to the government's renewed emphasis on illegal immigration.

Order your updated forms here.


Form I-9 in a nutshell - What you need to know…

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a revised form I-9 on November 7, 2007. The most significant change to the form was a reduction in the number of documents that employees may present to establish their identity and work eligibility (also known as "List A" of the List of Acceptable Documents on the back of the Form I-9).

All new employees, including U.S. citizens, must verify work eligibility with a Form I-9 when they are hired. Completed forms do not need to be submitted to the government, but employers must hold on to them. Employers are required by law to keep on file a hard copy or electronic version of the Form I-9 for three years after the employee's date of hire or for one year after the date the employee leaves the company (whichever date is later).

The new acceptable List A documents are:

  • U.S. passport (unexpired or expired)
  • Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-551)
  • An unexpired foreign passport with a temporary I-551 stamp
  • An unexpired Employment Authorization Document that contains a photograph (Form I-766, I-688, I-688A or I-688B)
  • An unexpired foreign passport with an unexpired Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94, bearing the same name as the passport and containing an endorsement of the alien’s nonimmigrant status, if that status authorizes the alien to work for the employer

You can no longer accept:

  • A Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561)
  • A Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570)
  • An Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151)
  • An unexpired Reentry Permit (Form I-327) or
  • An unexpired Refugee Travel Document (Form I-571)

The new form must be used starting 11/7/07.

Order your updated forms.


Updated Form I-9 Q & A

The federal government has released the new Form I-9. Among the mandatory revisions, the new Form I-9 reduces the number of documents that employers can accept to confirm the identity and work eligibility of their employees. The new form must be used starting 11/7/07. The following are some common questions and answers regarding the Form I-9.

Q: What is the difference between the revised Form I-9 and the old one?

A: Five documents have been removed from List A of the List of Acceptable Documents:

  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561)
  • Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570)
  • Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151
  • Unexpired Reentry Permit (Form I-327)
  • Unexpired Refugee Travel Document (Form I-571)
One document was added to List A of the List of Acceptable Documents:
  • Unexpired Employment Authorization Document (I-766)
All the Employment Authorization Documents with photographs that are in circulation are now included as one item on List A:
  • I-688, I-688A, I-688B, I-766
Instructions regarding Section 1 of Form I-9 now indicate that the employee is not obliged to provide the Social Security Number in Section 1 of Form I-9, unless he or she is employed by an employer who participates in E-Verify. The section on Photocopying and Retaining Form I-9 now includes information about electronically signing and retaining I-9 forms.

The estimated reporting burden under the Paperwork Reduction Act has changed to reflect the latest estimates and, finally, the format, font, organization, and grammar of the text have been improved to make Form I-9 more readable and user-friendly.

Q: Can I accept documents that used to be on the Form I-9 but aren’t now?

A: No. Employers may only accept documents listed on the List of Acceptable Documents on Form I-9. When re-verifying employees, employers should ensure that they use the new Form I-9 with its updated list of acceptable documents.

Q: Are there any changes in the way the new Form I-9 is completed?

No. The updated form should be completed exactly the same way as the old one was. The only difference is the types of documents that employers may accept in Section 2.

Q: Is the Form I-9 available in different languages?

A: The Form I-9 is available in English and Spanish. However, only employers in Puerto Rico may have employees complete the Spanish version for their records. Employers in the 50 states and other U.S. territories may use the Spanish version as a translation guide for Spanish-speaking employees, but must complete the English version and kept it in the employer’s records. Employees may also use or ask for a translator/preparer to assist them in completing the form.

Q: Are employers in Puerto Rico required to use the Spanish version of Form I-9?

A: No. Employers in Puerto Rico may use either the Spanish or the English version of the new Form I-9 to verify employees. Employers in Puerto Rico may not use the expired 1988 Spanish or English edition of Form I-9.

Q: What versions of Form I-9 are valid for use?

A: As of November 7, 2007, the Form I-9 with a revision date of June 5, 2007 is the only version of the form that is valid for use. The revision date is printed on the lower right corner of the form and states “(Rev. 06/05/07)N”. All previous versions of Form I-9, in English or Spanish, are no longer valid. The 1988 version of Form I-9 in Spanish expired in 1991.

Q: When should employers begin using the version of Form I-9 marked with a revision date of “(Rev. 06/05/07)N”?

A: Employers must use the amended Form I-9 (Rev. 06/05/07)N for all individuals hired on or after November 7, 2007. However, DHS recognizes that employers should be afforded a period of time to transition to the amended Form I-9. DHS will publish a Notice in the Federal Register announcing that it will not seek penalties against an employer for using a previous version of the Form I-9 during a 30 day transition period that begins on date of publication of the Notice. After the transition period, employers who fail to use Form I-9 (Rev. 06/05/07)N may be subject to all applicable penalties under section 274A of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1324a, as enforced by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Q: Do I need to complete the new version of Form I-9 for all my employees or just the new ones?

A: Employers only need to complete the new version of Form I-9 (Rev. 06/05/07)N for new employees. Employers do not need to complete new forms for existing employees. However, employers must use the Form I-9 (Rev. 06/05/07)N when their employees require re-verification.

Order your updated I-9 forms.


New Form I-9 Just Released

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that a revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form (better known as the Form I-9) is now available for use. All employers are required by law to complete a Form I-9 for each employee hired in the United States.

The new form is effective immediately, however, there will be a grace period for companies not yet in compliance.

The document was revised to reflect a reduction of the number of documents an employer can accept to confirm the identity and work eligibility of their employees.

Order updated forms today.


Top 10 OSHA Violations in 2007

We still have two months to go until the new year, but the Director of OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs, Richard Fairfax, decided to preview the top OSHA violations for 2007 a little early. Fairfax presented the list on October 16 at the National Safety Council's 2007 Congress and Expo.

Most violations follow the same trends as previous years. The top 10 OSHA violations for 2007 are:

  1. Scaffolding - 7,592 violations
  2. Hazard Communication - 5,099 violations
  3. Fall Protection - 5,095 violations
  4. Respiratory Protection - 3,145 violations
  5. Lockout/Tagout - 2,973 violations
  6. Powered Industrial Trucks - 2,577 violations
  7. Electrical - Wiring - 2,412 violations
  8. Ladders - 2,113 violations
  9. Machine Guarding - 2,054 violations
  10. Electrical General - 1,848 violations

G. Neil's OSHA solutions help you understand and comply with OSHA, and also assist in training your employees on various OSHA standards.


Celebrate Halloween at Work

BOO! Halloween is right around the corner (next Wednesday, 10/31). This widely celebrated holiday is no longer just for the kids. Many businesses across the country, including our G.Neil team, will celebrate Halloween at work this year.

Holiday celebrations at work can be great occasions to promote teamwork, improve morale, and add some old-fashioned fun to the workday. Celebrating the holidays also can foster a positive company culture in which employees look forward to and enjoy their time at work.

Here are some ways we celebrate Halloween at work:
  • Best decorated workspace and costume contest. In the past, departments have transformed into Latin nightclubs, Italian neighborhoods and hospital emergency rooms.
  • Department pumpkin-carving competition. Each department receives a pumpkin and carving set. Team members work together to come up with funny, scary and some downright disgusting designs.
  • During lunchtime, we set up a "Goodies Table" in the main lunchroom with Halloween-themed treats for all to enjoy.
  • Senior management judges all contests and awards prizes to the lucky winners.

Don't be afraid to get creative and have some fun at the office this Halloween!


New Recruitment Trend: Video

Do you agonize over writing job descriptions? Struggle to find the right words to attract the perfect applicant?

Why not show them how great you are? - make a video.

Popular recruiting sites are joining the YouTube revolution by incorporating video into online recruitment ads. Writing job descriptions may be a thing of the past.

Recently, the online job network began offering video-hosting services. Along with written advertisements, companies can post a video to show job candidates what they can offer.

Another site, CareerTV, allows companies to entertain while recruiting job candidates. Google, Disney, BMW and even the FBI have posted videos to grab the attention of promising applicants.

And it works both ways. Job seekers also can post video resumes. All videos are open to the public to rate on a 1-5 scale. Videos can be viewed by highest-rated, most viewed, and how recently they were posted.

More than just a job description, videos allow insight into a company's culture and can help potential applicants make more informed decisions when job hunting.

Video recruiting is the next big thing for the latest generation of employees, so make a video and show your future employees what you’ve got to offer.

Drug-Free Work Week: Top 5 Affected Industries

Drug abuse is a serious problem in America and especially within our country’s workforce. In 2005, almost 75 percent of drug users in America were employed.* Substance abuse contributes to lower productivity, causes workplace accidents and injuries, and increases health care costs.

The most at-risk industries:

  1. Construction and mining
  2. Food preparation and food service
  3. Arts, design and entertainment
  4. Sales
  5. Installation, maintenance and repair

Small to medium-sized businesses are the most affected by employee drug-use. Smaller businesses are less likely to have an established drug-free workplace program. Without a drug-free policy, businesses seem more attractive to a drug user.

In the spirit of Drug-Free Work Week, why not start a drug-free workplace program of your own? This Drug-Free Workplace Kit helps you get started with eye-catching posters and drug-free policy stickers.

*Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2006)


Healthy Employees Shape-Up Your Bottom Line:
New Methods for Controlling Health Care Costs

It’s always a struggle to keep the rising costs of health care in check. US industry loses $13 billion and 39.3 million workdays every year due to employees’ obesity-related health problems1. Studies also found that 65 percent of American adults are overweight and spend half their waking hours on the job2. With figures like these, companies are looking to new methods for controlling health care costs and improving employees' physical health.

Five easy ways to promote a healthy workplace:
  1. Swap out high fat/high sugar foods in lunchroom snack machines with healthy alternatives. Or, hold a weekly lunchroom fruit-sale. Proceeds can benefit a local charity.

  2. Sponsor a monthly, company-wide event promoting healthy lifestyles. G.Neil employees participate in a monthly "Walk for Wellness," where employees walk as a group around the company’s neighborhood, during company time. When employees return, reward them with healthy snacks, fruit and water.

  3. Team up with a local weight-loss center to hold weekly meetings at the office. We hold weekly, on-site Weight Watchers meetings for our employees. Your local Weight Watchers or similar organization can usually work out agreements to offer employees discounted, or even free memberships.

  4. Contact local gyms and fitness centers to find out if they would give your employees discounts. In return, allow the fitness center to set up a table in the lunchroom to promote their business.

  5. When its time for an office celebration, opt for healthier alternatives as opposed to pizza or donut parties.

1 Department of Health and Human Services

2 Centers for Disease Control


6 simple ways to participate in Drug-Free Work Week (Oct. 14-20)

Mark your calendars: Drug-Free Work Week, an initiative sponsored by the Department of Labor (DOL), takes place nationwide October 14-20. This event helps workplaces reinforce the fact that being drug free is the key to protecting workplace safety and health. Also use this week to encourage employees to seek help for alcohol and drug problems.

Here are 6 simple ways to participate:

1. Launch a drug-free workplace program. If your company doesn’t have one already in place, turn the week into an opportunity to launch a new one.

2. Promote your existing drug-free workplace program. Remind employees about the program, and how it helps keep them safe at work. Use posters, pamphlets or company e-mails to get the word out.

3. Offer your employees free health screenings during company time.

4. Volunteer in a community event promoting drug-free education. Reach out in your community to help inform children about the dangers of drugs and the benefits of following a drug-free lifestyle.

5. Create a drug-free display in a high-traffic area. Use G.Neil's Drug-Free Workplace Poster to send a powerful drug-free workplace message.

6. Organize a social event during company time, such as a bake sale or barbeque celebrating safety and health.


DHS to Step Up Enforcement of Immigration Laws

Fines will increase for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants

Who needs Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill? The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has implemented its own priorities using the laws already on the books. The DHS issued a fact sheet titled "Improving Border Security and Immigration Within Existing Law" on Friday that explains the government's plans.

The fact sheet listed 26 reforms. Some worksite enforcement reforms are detailed below:
  • The DHS issued "no-match" regulations on Friday that will help employers ensure their workers are legal and help the government identify and crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegal workers.
  • In the coming months, the DHS will publish a regulation that will reduce the number of documents that employers must accept to confirm the identity and work eligibility of their employees on Form I-9.
  • As a civil counterpart to the DHS's strategy of using criminal investigations to deter illegal employment, the DHS will raise the civil fines imposed on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants by approximately 25 percent.
  • The DHS will continue to expand criminal investigations against employers who knowingly hire large numbers of illegal aliens.

The entire fact sheet is available at


Work/Life Balance Should Fit Workplace

Work/life balance is a hot topic these days, but whether it's providing dry cleaning, allowing flexible work hours, or encouraging "casual Friday," organizations should be careful and consider the relevance of any perks they are offering employees.

Organizations should consider the following tips before putting together a work/life balance program, according to Ilyse Shapiro, founder of the job search web site
  • Make sure your organization's culture supports work/life initiatives. "Flexibility" shouldn't be just a catchphrase but a concept embraced throughout the organization.
  • Effective work/life balance programs are nondiscriminatory, available to all employees, male or female, with or without children, regardless of income level, job title, exempt/nonexempt status or marital status.
  • Career advancement and training opportunities should be offered to those with flexible schedules as well as to those with traditional schedules.

"If your organization is not currently addressing work/life issues, it will soon be losing out, if it isn’t already," Shapiro said in a press release, noting that firms that offer flexible arrangements are better able to retain current employees and attract new ones.


The Impact of the Federal Minimum Wage Increase on States

Most employers nationwide felt barely a blip when the federal minimum wage increased on July 24, 2007 from $5.15 to $5.85 an hour. That’s because most employers run their business out of one of the 30 states and the District of Columbia that already had minimum wage rates higher than $5.85 an hour.

But the number of states with higher minimum wage rates will decline as the new federal minimum wage increases to $6.55 next year and to $7.25 in 2009. Unless states change their minimum wage laws, only around 20 states will be above the federal minimum wage in July 2008 and around 11 will be above in July 2009. (You can pretty much count on a number of states continuing to change their laws over the next couple of years, though).

Many of the states with higher minimum wages increased them in the last couple of years when attempts to raise the federal minimum wage were being held up in Congress. States that currently have a higher minimum wage than the new federal minimum wage of $5.85 an hour are:

Alaska ($7.15); Arizona ($6.75); Arkansas ($6.25); California ($7.50); Colorado ($6.85); Connecticut ($7.65); Delaware ($6.65); District of Columbia ($7.00); Florida ($6.67); Hawaii ($7.25); Illinois ($7.50); Iowa ($6.20); Maine ($6.75 — will increase to $7.00 on October 1, 2007); Maryland ($6.15); Massachusetts ($7.50); Michigan ($7.15); Minnesota ($6.15) (for employers with annual receipts of $625,000 or more; $5.25 for employers with annual receipts of less than $625,000 — if these employers are covered by the FLSA, they must comply with the increased minimum wage rate); Missouri ($6.50); Montana ($6.15) ($4.00 for employers with $110,000 or less in gross annual sales); Nevada ($6.33) (for employers that do not provide health benefits); New Jersey ($7.15); New York ($7.15); bla bla bla, are you still reading this list?; North Carolina ($6.15); Ohio ($6.85); Oregon ($7.80); Pennsylvania ($7.15); Rhode Island ($7.40); Vermont ($7.53); Washington (7.93); West Virginia ($6.55); and Wisconsin ($6.50).

Clearly, more employers will feel the effect of the next two increases scheduled over the next two years, since those rates will be higher than many state minimum wage rates.

Keep in mind, even where you are covered by the state minimum wage because it is higher, if you are an FLSA-covered employer you need to post the new federal minimum wage poster in addition to your state minimum wage poster. This last paragraph brought to you by Poster Guard Compliance Protection.


Federal Minimum Wage Posting Language Released by DOL

The Department of Labor has issued the final language for the required Federal Minimum Wage postings, which reflect the recent minimum wage increases.

Many G.Neil customers at the SHRM Conference & Expo were asking if we had the new Federal Minimum Wage posting yet. We were expecting the release last week, but it finally came through today.

In response to your questions, orders placed for the new Federal EasyPost®, along with replacements covered by Poster Guard™ Compliance Protection, will begin shipping the week of July 9.

We will follow up with more information, but in the meantime, feel free to visit our Federal Minimum Wage Increase Question & Answer page of the G.Neil website.

G.Neil President Ranks Among Top 10 of 50 Leading Women-Led Businesses in Florida

The Center for Leadership at Florida International University, partnering with The Commonwealth Institute South Florida, recently surveyed Florida’s female business leaders to gain a better understanding of how they achieved success as senior executives and how they balance their professional and personal lives. The report focused on a variety of issues, such as business strategies, business challenges, career history, personal motivation and leadership style.

We're proud to announce that Susan Drenning, President of Everglades Direct (which owns the G.Neil brand) came in at Number 9 on the list — and was featured in the Business section of the Sun-Sentinel on June 14, 2007.

Congratulations, Susan!

You can read the report and review the list of top 50 executives here:

Misleading Poster Sales Pitches - More Businesses Being Duped!

Remember that posting from a couple of months ago, Beware of Deceptive Claims? Well, those deceptive claims are rearing their ugly heads again. The Associated Press reported about a Lansing, Michigan company called the Mandatory Poster Agency that sent out stern warnings to restaurants and convenience stores to convince them they needed to display posters on proper hand-washing or face fines. You can read the article here: Businesses Bilked by Poster Company.

Please keep this in mind, with the new minimum wage law — we anticipate there will be an onslaught of misleading marketing offers from poster companies to businesses of all sizes. You have a number of choices for purchasing your updated Federal Labor Law poster. Many companies have similar sounding names making it difficult to know who's-who and to verify their quality and service standards. Before you buy from any company you don't know through first-hand experience,you should take the following steps:
  • Verify whether posters meet exact agency specifications for font size, poster size, color and layout.

  • Confirm with the seller that the people who monitor changes are labor law experts and attorneys qualified to interpret the posting requirements and ensure any changes are properly communicated.

  • Check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure the seller has a satisfactory rating or if they have a rating at all. You should investigate further any business that is without a rating as it may be an indication that they don't have a proven track record.
When you are dealing with Compliance issues, you don't want to take any chances — you should demand unimpeachable service and uncompromised standards.

If you have received any sales or marketing pitches that leave you suspicious, please feel free to contact us at 800-999-9111 and we'll look into it for you!

President Signs War Spending Bill - Increases Federal Minimum Wage

On Friday, President Bush signed the Iraq war spending bill that included language that will increase the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade.

Title VIII - Fair Minimum Wage and Tax Relief, from the new law, will increase the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15 in three stages over two years. The increases will be done in three phases of 70 cents more an hour. The first increase will bring the minimum wage up to $5.85 an hour, 60 days after signing. The other increases will follow a year apart and will be completed by the summer of 2009.

On Friday, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released the following statement in response to the President signing the minimum wage increase into law.

"While I know that many Americans are deeply troubled about the bill the President has signed today, there is one thing in this legislation that we can all celebrate – a long-overdue increase in the minimum wage. Minimum wage workers have been waiting for this raise for ten long and difficult years. They have worked more than one job. They have saved every penny they can for the future of their children. They have decided each day what food they can afford to buy and what bills they can afford pay. Today, these hardworking Americans have hope for a brighter future. And we are one step closer to becoming the America we want to be – where anyone who works hard and plays by the rules can build a better life for their family."

Please head over to to see what that means for federal labor law posting requirements or read our Federal Minimum Wage Increase Q & A and learn more.


War Bill Signed: Minimum Wage Increase Now Law

President Bush signed the bill which contained the provisions for the increase in the federal minimum wage. We'll be keeping you updated on how this will affect your business, and what you'll need to do to comply with the new law.

But it's Saturday, and it's a three-day weekend, so we'll get back to that on Tuesday.

Enjoy your weekend!

- Helene Kopel, G.Neil Blog Queen

SPECIAL UPDATE: Federal Minimum Wage Passed in Congress

This is it...almost. Last night, Congress approved the first increase in the federal minimum wage, in over a decade. This measure would raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15 in three stages over two years. The bill includes $4.84 billion in tax breaks for small businesses. President Bush has already said he's ready to sign it and once that happens, the wage increase will become law.

We'll be keeping you updated on what this means to you, and how you can ensure compliance with the new laws, so sign up for blog updates on the right side of this page to stay informed (or save this page to your "Favorites" and check back soon)!

You can read more about the news here:
Congress Passes Increase in the Minimum Wage

Federal Minimum Wage - Clearing Up Confusion

Recently, an anonymous comment was left on an old post, Federal Minimum Wage Update: House Combines Minimum Wage Increase to War Spending Bill:

"All of this minimum wage stuff is confusing. Has there or has there not been a bill passed that increases the minimum wage? If so, what is the name/number of the bill?"

As expected, President Bush vetoed HR 1591, which attached the federal minimum wage increase to the emergency war spending bill. Democrats have vowed that the minimum wage increase and small business tax package will happen, one way or another. House and Senate leaders met with the President last week to try to work out a compromise bill and are hoping to wrap it up by Memorial Day recess.

So the answer to the question is – No, a bill to increase the federal minimum wage has not yet been passed. However, analysts are predicting that it should happen within the next month or so.

Can The "I Know It When I See It" Test Be Applied to The Dress Code?

In 1964, Justice Potter Stewart tried to explain "hard-core" pornography, or what is obscene, by saying, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced...but I know it when I see it..."

Now, you're asking, what does porn have to do with my office?

Ever come across an employee that seems to dress just a little too sexy, or has a few too many holes on their face to be dealing with the customers, or is dressed for a day at the ballpark instead of the office park? You review your company dress code and discover that, technically, there are no rules being broken. You've added a general catch-all for "inappropriate attire" to your formal policy, but how do you define it? Return to Justice Stewart..."I know it when I see it."

One of your employees keeps walking back and forth to the copier in her form-fitting dress and spiked heels, causing raised eyebrows from some and lascivious leers from others. In the same department, another employee wears a similar outfit - yet with a different fit and figure, doesn't cause a stir. There is nothing in either case that would technically violate the dress code, item by item - and only one of the ladies is creating a distraction and making people feel uncomfortable. And there is nothing in your policy that specifically spells out what constitutes "inappropriate attire." Does "I know it when I see it" allow you to address the one employee?

Bigger question: can you or should you address only the one causing the stir; or does it create a fairness issue with regards to the other employee not being addressed?

Beware of deceptive claims

As a general rule, I appreciate strong competition. After all, healthy competition is good for our business and for our customers. It keeps us focused on what customers really want and need, and on continually improving our quality and service levels.

But lately we've been hearing about deceptive tactics being used by some labor law poster providers that, frankly, have me incensed. And I'm not alone. This information came to our attention as a result of customers calling us for reassurance and to express their outrage.

One customer received a personal visit to his business from an individual who showed a badge and implied that he was with the worker's compensation department to gain access to the business premises. He proceeded to "audit" the company's postings and then offered posters for purchase.

Another customer was threatened with fines and jail time if she failed to order posters from a caller by 5 p.m. that day. When the customer told the caller that she ordered her posters from G.Neil, she was told that G.Neil was no longer in business.

A corporate manager for one of our larger Poster Guard customers received a call from a branch in another state. A person visited the branch and misrepresented himself as an employee of G.Neil, saying that the branch was not covered by Poster Guard and they were out of compliance.

Unscrupulous tactics like these give our entire industry a bad name. In fact, the Attorneys General in several states are specifically targeting deceptive labor law marketers. Here at G.Neil, we're joining the fight to clean up our industry and we're asking for your help.

If you have had a similar experience with one of these companies, please consider taking the time to file a complaint with your State Attorney General or Consumer Protection office. Click here for direct links to file a complaint online, download a complaint form, or find instructions on filing a complaint in your state.

And finally, selecting a reliable, trustworthy provider for your labor law posters and labor law poster services is critical to protect your business. Before you make a buying decision, be sure to check the seller's Reliability Report from the Better Business Bureau by visiting We also invite you to view G.Neil's Reliability Report.

Where to File a Complaint

District of Columbia
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

Federal Minimum Wage Bill Gets Nudge from Iraq War Vote

On March 29, 2007, the Senate passed the Iraq war spending bill that included language that will increase the federal minimum wage for the first time in 10 years. The raise in the federal minimum wage, however, is unlikely to pass with this legislation since President Bush has vowed to veto it since the bill calls for a March 2008 pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq.

The addition of the minimum wage issue to the Iraq spending bill, however, allows House and Senate Democrats to begin negotiations on the size of small business tax cuts that have divided House and Senate Democrats. In early March, House Democrats attached the federal minimum wage legislation to the budget bill in order to speed the agreement between chambers on the size of the package of small business tax breaks.

Although the federal minimum wage increase is likely doomed when the bill reaches the White House, minimum wage supporters see value in its inclusion. Once a compromise on the size of the tax breaks is hammered out, a new minimum wage bill can be brought forward later and possibly passed, either as stand alone legislation or as part of a less controversial budget package.

Bill Samuel, of the AFL-CIO, said “This is a step forward but not a final one.” Samuel predicts another minimum wage bill could be produced by mid-to-late April. By then, the tax-breaks would presumably be worked out between the House and Senate.

Stay tuned...

Federal Minimum Wage Update: House Combines Minimum Wage Increase to War Spending Bill

So when will the minimum wage bill finally be passed? The answer unfortunately remains uncertain but the House of Representatives is trying a new approach. This week, the House will discuss an emergency spending bill for the Iraq war. The emergency spending bill would pay for the war until October, but require U.S. troops to be out of Iraq by the end of August, 2008.

What does all this have to do with minimum wage? Well, in an attempt to gather the votes necessary to pass the emergency spending bill, the House has been adding lots of extras to the bill, including an amendment to increase the federal minimum wage. The amendment would increase the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15 over two years and grant $1.3 billion in tax breaks for restaurants and other affected businesses.

This approach has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans, and is not likely to succeed. However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, stated that, regardless of what happens to the Iraq spending bill, Congress would give final approval to the minimum wage increase bill before the spring is out.

Workplace Harassment or Compliment?

A colleague of mine was recently presented with a hypothetical situation on her group message board:

A woman walks into work and a male mid-level manager, from another department, smiles and says "good morning." She later gets a voice mail message from him saying "you know, I hope this doesn't offend you, but i just wanted to say you have a nice smile and it really started my day off on a positive note."

I've always thought that in order for a comment to be considered harassment,
a) the receiver has to say "no" in some way - no response constitutes acceptance of the comment.
b) the commentor must continue to make such comments.
c) as long as the comment is not job-related and commentor has been asked to stop, this could be construed as harassment.

Would this exchange constitute harassment?

The quick response is no, it does not.

The reason is not so quick:

This exchange, alone, does not amount to illegal workplace harassment. For workplace harassment to be illegal under federal law, the person who has been offended must prove three things:

1) The harassment must be based on a characteristic protected by law (e.g., gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age or disability). A comment that is sexual in nature usually satisfies this requirement.

2) The harassment must be "unwelcome." "Unwelcome" means the person regarded the conduct as undesirable and did not solicit or incite the conduct. A person is not required to complain or say anything at all to satisfy this requirement, but the reaction will be examined as evidence of whether it was welcomed or not. (As a separate issue, a company can escape liability for a manager's harassment in some cases if the company has a policy in place encouraging employees to report harassment and an employee fails to do so.)

3) The harassment was sufficiently "severe or pervasive" to create a hostile, intimidating or offensive work environment, to unreasonably interfere with a person’s work performance, or to otherwise adversely affect the terms, conditions or opportunities of a person’s employment.

In this scenario, the conduct is not sufficiently "severe or pervasive" to meet the third part of the test. The EEOC maintains that anti-discrimination statutes are not a "general civility code." Federal law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not extremely serious. This type of conduct may be inappropriate and should be discouraged by the employer's zero-tolerance harassment policy, but it is not illegal.

How would you have handled it, if the person had complained to you?

It's Not Me, It's You

Have you ever talked to your employee about performance issues and they decided it was a personal attack?

"My boss just hates me. Joe makes mistakes and he never gets in trouble."

It never crosses their mind that there is an actual problem with their work or their attendance or their attitude. "She just doesn't like me" is the only plausible explanation for why they've been written up. Heaven forbid it may be that they actually made mistakes, broke rules or caused problems.

And somehow, they also know any discipline or lack of discipline that everyone else in the company has had. "Sally screws up all the time but she hasn't gotten any warnings." Our victim must have special supernatural powers - the ability to know everything that goes on in your files, your office and your mind. Pretty impressive. I bet if you knew they had that power, you wouldn't have bothered telling them to stop coming in an hour late and leaving fifteen minutes early. Especially since you let Sally and Joe do it all the time!

Accountability...there are just some employees that just don't have any idea what that is or desire to take it on. The ones that take accountability for their mistakes actually stand a chance. As for the ones that don't, if fear isn't a driver that puts them back on track, then it's only a matter of time before they're gone...or you'll wish they were.

I'm sure there are a few horror stories out there...anybody want to share?

New OSHA Poster Released — Replacement NOT Required

Ashley Kaplan, G.Neil Compliance Attorney

Yesterday, OSHA announced the publication of its new "It's The Law" poster. Since that announcement, we've heard from a number of concerned customers who have received calls from companies promoting sales of their versions of the new poster. Some of these companies have implied that it is mandatory to replace their old poster.

As stated in the news release, issued by the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), "the OSHA poster, also known as the OSHA notice of employee rights, is required to be displayed in every workplace in America. The current edition of the OSHA poster is still valid; employers are not required to replace their existing poster with the new version."

For clarity, the federal OSHA poster was updated with additional language and new graphics. The poster now depicts a variety of employees in various settings – from the medical field to the construction industry – and precisely explains how employees may file a complaint, report an emergency, or seek OSHA advice.

For more information, visit


Federal Minimum Wage Update - Back to the House

It's been quite a busy week for our Compliance and Research Attorneys, here at G.Neil. They're working hard to track the Federal Minimum Wage bill and what that will mean for us and for you, so they've asked me to relay the latest update.

With two key developments in the Senate this week, the potential for the federal minimum wage increase in 2007 has strengthened. We mentioned that on Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted to add a package of tax breaks for small businesses to the bill - this was approved on Thursday in a 94-3 vote. The modified bill is now headed back to the House. Analysts are pretty sure that the Senate and House will reach a compromise and that the final bill will go to President Bush to be signed.

President Bush issued a statement regarding the latest developments that shows his support of the bill. You can read it here.

Helene Kopel, G.Neil Blog Guru

Important Federal Minimum Wage Update

Federal Minimum Wage Bill Still Alive as Senate Moves to Add Tax Breaks for Small Businesses

With the latest development in the Senate this week, the federal minimum wage change is one step closer to being passed in 2007.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted to add a package of tax breaks for small businesses to the bill — this move may ultimately lead to its approval and signing by President Bush.

If the bill passes the vote in the Senate, which is expected to happen this week, it will go back to the House for "discussions." When the House passed the minimum wage bill earlier this month, it was without any tax breaks, so it's got to go back for agreement. Then, if the House and Senate agree on a final version of the bill, it will head to the President.

Leading analysts predict that with the addition of those tax breaks for small businesses, the President is much more likely to sign the bill.

Keep coming back, we'll keep you posted.

Federal Minimum Wage Bill Still in the Senate

Many of you have read that the Senate did not pass the bill to raise the federal minimum wage, this week. (Tax breaks sidetrack minimum wage bill - Yahoo! News) I've gotten a few questions here at the office about what exactly that means, so I imagine some of you are wondering the same.

The bill is still alive. Yesterday, the Senate voted on a motion to end debates on the House's clean minimum wage bill. The House's minimum wage bill only contained an increase to the federal minimum wage (clean increase) and did not include any tax breaks for small businesses. The Senate voted yesterday on whether to end debates (meaning no amendments could be added to the bill like a tax break) and whether to keep the bill as a clean increase.

Unfortunately, the Senate voted against the motion to end debates. This means that now debates will begin to either add an amendment to the House bill that includes a tax break for small businesses or the Senate may introduce their own minimum wage bill. (You can already read about the first failed amendment here: Senators Kill Minimum Wage Amendment)

The Senate's goal was to pass the minimum wage bill this week but now the issue will be debated; it is going to take a bit longer to pass.

Hot Topic: Federal Minimum Wage Increase Passed in the House

There have been talks of a possible federal minimum wage increase for years now and it looks like it may actually come true. On January 10, 2007, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill to increase the federal minimum wage. The last time the federal minimum wage was increased was in 1997.

The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would raise the federal minimum wage by $2.10 from its current $5.15 an hour in three steps over 26 months. It would go to $5.85 an hour 60 days after signed into law by the President, to $6.55 a year later, and to $7.25 a year after that. It is expected that additional minimum wage increases will follow on a state level. There are currently about 15 state minimum wage increase bills pending. If a state raises its minimum wage to a rate higher than the federal minimum wage (as is the case in most states), employers are required to pay the higher rate.

President Bush recently announced he supports a minimum-wage increase if Congress offers tax and regulatory incentives for small businesses. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill by the end of next week. We are closely monitoring the minimum wage developments on a state and federal level, and will post updates here as new information arises.

EEO-1 Report Revised for 2007

The Employer Information Report (EEO-1) changed last year and covered employers should now be using the revised EEO-1 Report format for 2007. Our New Hire EEO-1 Data Sheet complies with the new requirements and was updated to include the new race, ethnicity and job categories for 2007.

Earlier last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the implementation of the first major changes to the EEO-1 Report. The EEO-1 Report must be filed annually by employers with 100 or more employees, or employers with federal government contracts of $50,000 or more and 50 or more employees.

You can learn more about the EEO-1 reporting requirements on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Web site.

Labels :

Copyright (c) 2010. Blogger templates by Bloggermint