National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Declared in 1988 by the United States Congress (though its roots go back to 1945 when Congress urged employment for WWII servicemembers with disabilities) , NDEAM is a good occasion for us to celebrate the contributions of people with disabilities to workplaces and the economy. We also recommend taking this time to better understand employer obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and consider how to be more inclusive and accommodating than what the law strictly requires. 

The DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy is commemorating NDEAM this year with the theme “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.” This theme “reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

We’re glad to see this.

People with disabilities (1 in 4 adults in the United States) are at greater risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19. At the start of the pandemic, workers with disabilities lost their jobs at a higher rate than the general population. As the pandemic continued, those with intellectual disabilities were six times more likely to die from the virus than other members of the population. Helping people with disabilities stay safe and succeed as the pandemic continues will be essential to a full recovery, and employers can play a huge role in that. 

Supporting employees with disabilities may also be vital to the success of individual employers—now and after the recovery. According to a CNBC poll, nearly 80% of workers say that they want to work for a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion. With roughly half of small businesses struggling to fill roles, competition for talent is fierce. Employers who don’t appear to believe that it’s important to include and support employees with disabilities put themselves at a huge disadvantage. 

What can you do to help?

First, make doubly sure you understand your compliance obligations related to applicants and employees with disabilities. We have lots of resources for you on the HR Support Center. If you search disability in the search bar, you’ll find articles, forms, guides, law summaries, letters, policies, Q&As, videos, and more.

Second, as the pandemic continues, do what you can to accommodate employees with disabilities who may be at greater risk of severe illness or death. Accommodations to consider may include remote work for those who can do their jobs from home and extra PPE (e.g., N95 masks, face shields, gloves) for those who need or want to work onsite. Other possible accommodations are different shifts, job changes to reduce physical proximity or public interaction, extra breaks (for handwashing or mental health), permission to keep a minifridge or other personal storage device at one’s workstation, and extra cleaning supplies. All in all, when an employee requests an accommodation, do what you can to try to make it work. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.

Third, stress to everyone that respect and empathy are nonnegotiable values. Employees who need extra support so they can do their jobs well aren’t going to ask for it if they believe their concerns will be dismissed or that they’ll be ridiculed or looked down on by coworkers. If they don’t feel like they can ask for an accommodation, they’re more likely to look for a job elsewhere. And if they stay, it’s unlikely that they will be as productive or successful if they feel unsafe and stressed out. That’s a lose-lose. But it’s a win-win when employees feel safe asking for accommodations and those accommodations enable them to succeed.

Minimum Wage Updates 7/1/2021

Effective July 1, 2021, two states and several cities/counties will be increasing their minimum wage – this means payroll processes will have to be updated if you have employees in the specific areas. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25, but many states and cities have their minimum wage set higher than that. Read below for all of the minimum wage updates that are effective July 1, 2021. 

CALIFORNIA

  • Berkeley – $16.32 (including youth work & training)
  • Emeryville – $17.13     
  • Fremont – $15.00 (≤25 employees)
  • Fremont – $15.25 (>26 employees)
  • Long Beach – $15.69 (hotels only)
  • Los Angeles City and Unincorporated Los Angeles County – $15.00 (≤25 employees)
  • Los Angeles City and Unincorporated Log Angeles County – $17.64 (hotels w/ 150+ rooms)
  • Malibu – $15.00 (≤25 employees)
  • Milpitas – $15.65 
  • Pasadena – $15.00 (≤25 employees)
  • San Francisco – $16.32 
  • San Francisco – $14.44 (government-supported employee)
  • Santa Monica – $15.00 (≤25 employees, non-hotel)
  • Santa Monica – $17.64 (hotels)

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

  • District of Columbia – $15.20
  • District of Columbia – $5.05 (tipped employee)

ILLINOIS

  • Chicago – $15.00 (>21 employees)
  • Chicago – $9.00 (>21 employees, tipped employees)
  • Chicago – $14.00 (4 to 20 employees)
  • Chicago – $8.40 (4 to 20 employees, tipped employee)
  • Chicago – $11.00 (youth wage)
  • Chicago – $6.60 (youth wage, tipped employee)
  • Cook County – $6.90 (tipped employee)

MARYLAND

  • Montgomery County – $13.50 (1 to 10 employees)
  • Montgomery County – $14.00 (11 to 50 employees)
  • Montgomery County – $15.00 (>51 employees)

MINNESOTA

  • Minneapolis – $14.25 (>100 employees) 
  • Minneapolis – $12.50 (≤100 employees) 
  • St. Paul – $12.50 (101 to 1,000 employees)
  • St. Paul – $11.00 (6 to 100 employees)
  • St. Paul (≤5 employees)

NEVADA

  • Statewide – $8.75 (employees who receive health benefits that meet certain criteria)
  • Statewide – $9.75 (employees who do not receive sufficient benefits)

NEW YORK

  • Cities outside of NYC – $15.00 (fast food employees only)

OREGON

  • Within Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary – $14.00
  • Nonurban Counties – $12.00
  • All other “Standard” Counties – $12.75
Workplace Harassment

Over the past two years, the #MeTooMovement has changed the landscape of workplace harassment and other workplace issues. Even though the #MeTooMovement changed the landscape, workplace harassment is still is a very serious and common problem.

It is important for HR departments to be educated and aware of types of harassment and how to handle them. When equipped with the right information, HR and employee relations can be critical in identifying and eliminating all different types of workplace harassment before anything escalates. 

Here are the 5 most common types of workplace harassment:

  1. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace is still common, even though the #MeTooMovement empowered victims to speak up. Unwelcome and offensive comments, unwanted physical attention, and requests for sexual favors are all considered sexual harassment in the workplace. 

2. Disability Harassment 

Disability harassment is when unfavorable treatment or harassment of employees with a physical or mental disability occurs. Disability harassment is very widespread in the workplace, so it is important for managers to be aware of the signs of this type of harassment. 

3. Racial Harassment

Racism is something that unfortunately occurs everywhere, but being able to identify it in the workplace is critical. Some common displays of racial harassment include displaying discriminatory symbols, mocking someone’s accent, making unwelcome comments about ones race, telling derogatory jokes, and using racial slurs. 

4. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Harassment

These two types of harassment are when individuals make derogatory, offensive or demeaning remarks based on a persons sexual orientation or gender identity, including transgender status. These two types of harassments are different and here’s why; sexual orientation harassment refers to whether a person is homosexual, heterosexual, or bisexual. Gender identity harassment refers to a persons self-identification as a man or a woman. 

5. Ageism

More than 1 in 3 employees feel that their age has prevented them from getting a job after they turned 40. Age discrimination is still common, even though it should not be. 

If your organization seems to come across workplace harassment issues, and you need help – let us know! AZ HR Hub is your #HRPartner, so you can focus on business!

How to Conduct An Internal Form I-9 Audit

When conducting your internal I-9 form audit start off by outlining your procedure and how you plan to conduct the audit

For Section Two of the I-9 form you’ll need to ensure one document from List A is included and completed or one document from List B and one from List C are listed and completed

When conducting your internal audit, Section Three of the I-9 form deals with reverification which only applies if evidence of employment authorization (List A or List C document) presented in Section two expires

The best way to correct the Form I-9 is to line through the portions of the form that contain incorrect information (preferably in a contrasting ink color), then enter the correct information, initial and date your correction


Dealing with I-9 Forms can be tricky. It’s definitely not the easiest part of your day, and it requires a lot of attention to detail. No one even wants to talk about the possibility of getting audited for your I-9 forms. But what if I told you it was actually pretty simple? In this blog, I am going to list off the six steps you need to conduct your own internal Form I-9 audit. So if you ever hear ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) knocking on your door, you’ll be ready!

Step One: Outline Your Procedure

When conducting your internal I-9 form audit start off by outlining your procedure and how you plan to conduct the audit. Your internal audit should concentrate on key problems that frequently arise during the completion of the I-9 form.

Conducting the Internal Audit – When preparing to conduct your internal audit be sure you account for the need of the following criteria:

  • Unbiased – Make sure the selection of Forms I-9 for an internal audit is not based on the employee’s race or nation origin. Either audit all forms, or audit a truly random sample of forms. An organization may not selectively choose which forms to audit.
  • Annual – This provides a defense against allegations of targeted internal Form I-9 auditing. Internal audit processes should mimic government compliance audit processes. This not only verifies Forms I-9 on file, but it also trains the Human Resources Department to prepare for actual government compliance audits.
  • Consistent – Either keep copies of all I-9 verification documents, or none of them. If your records are not complete, then you must either obtain the missing documents, or dispose of all collected verification documents.
  • Knowledgeable – Designate an “I-9 Officer” or Company Representative, responsible for knowing and applying Form I-9 rules. The authorized I-9 Officer should achieve the following:
    • Become well-versed on the correct completion of the Form I-9
    • Develop and enforce a compliant program
    • Create and implement internal training procedures
    • Conduct regular internal audits
    • Have a plan of action in the event of an ICE audit

Step Two: Auditing Section One of the I-9 Form

You’ll need to make sure you’re gathering all of the information below to complete step two, auditing Section One of the I-9 form.

Employee Information

  • Employee first and last names completed
  • Maiden name or other names if it is applicable; “N/A” for “Other Names Used” if it does not apply
  • Full address fields completed – No PO boxes allowed
  • Date of birth in mm/dd/yyyy format
  • Social Security Number (optional); Social Security Number mandatory for
  • E-Verify participants

Citizenship/Immigration Status

  • Status is selected (not more than one)
  • Lawful Permanent Resident – including alien registration number
  • If employee is not a permanent resident but has authorization to work in the United States, the alien number or admission number must be included and correctly stated
  • Expiration date of employment authorization is included and correctly stated

Employee Attestation

  • Employee’s signature
  • Date of employee’s execution of form
  • Form I-9 signed on the first day of employment or the period between the job being accepted by the employee and the first day of employment
  • Preparer/Translator Certification
  • Signature of preparer/translator if applicable
  • Name of preparer/translator correctly stated
  • Address of preparer/translator correctly stated

Step Three: Auditing Section Two of the I-9 Form

For Section Two of the I-9 form you’ll need to ensure one document from List A is included and completed or one document from List B and one from List C are listed and completed.

List A (Identity and Employment Authorization)

  • Appropriate document listed
  • List A document title correctly stated
  • List A document issuing authority correctly stated
  • List A document number correctly stated
  • List A document expiration date, if applicable, correctly stated
  • Receipt showing application for document accepted; awaiting original to be presented within 90 days

List B (Identity)

  • List B document title correctly stated
  • List B document issuing authority correctly stated
  • List B document number correctly stated
  • List B document expiration date, if applicable, correctly stated
  • Receipt showing application for document accepted; awaiting original to be presented within 90 days

List C (Employment Authorization)

  • Employee’s first day of employment correctly stated (mm/dd/yyyy)
  • Signature of Employer/Authorized Representative present and in correct box
  • Date of certification correctly stated (mm/dd/yyyy)
  • Certification signed by the third business day after the hire date
  • Title of Authorized Representative correctly stated
  • Last Name and First Name of Authorized Representative correctly stated
  • Employer’s Business or Organization Name correctly stated
  • Address of business correctly stated – No PO boxes allowed

Step Four: Auditing Section Three of the I-9 Form

When conducting your internal audit, Section Three of the I-9 form deals with reverification which only applies if evidence of employment authorization (List A or List C document) presented in Section two expires. Step four also covers what to do if you’re missing any I-9 forms.

  • Do not reverify: US Citizens and Noncitizen Nationals, or Lawful Permanent
  • Residents (I-551)
  • If employee listed an expiration date in Section 1, employment eligibility
  • reverified on or before expiration date
  • Date of rehire, if applicable (mm/dd/yyyy)
  • New name listed, if applicable
  • Document title correctly stated
  • Document number correctly stated
  • Employment authorization document expiration date (mm/dd/yyyy)
  • Signature of Authorized Representative present and correctly placed
  • Date of company certification (mm/dd/yyyy)
  • Printed name of Authorized Representative

Missing Forms I-9

For current employees – require employee to present documentation and complete a new Form I-9 with current dates. Date of hire will be the employee’s actual date of hire, which may have been years earlier. Attach a memo to the Form I-9 explaining the discrepancy between the date of hire and the date of completion of the Form I-9. Sign and date the memo.

For former employees – date and attach a memo to Forms I-9 for any terminated employees with missing or incorrect Form I-9 information. Retain it with other Forms I-9. Documenting this demonstrates an employer’s good faith effort to correct the forms by performing an internal self-audit.

Step Five: Addressing Form I-9 with Errors

Errors are bound to happen. Especially when you’re dealing with I-9 forms. But here’s what you do to ensure you keep on trucking!

Easily correctable – you may do so on the form. The best way to correct the Form I-9 is to line through the portions of the form that contain incorrect information (preferably in a contrasting ink color), then enter the correct information. Initial and date your correction. Never use white correction fluid. If you have previously made changes on Forms I-9 using white correction fluid instead, USCIS recommends that you attach a note to the corrected Forms I-9 explaining what happened. Be sure to sign and date the note.

Not easily correctable – complete a new Form I-9.

The old Form I-9 is attached to the new one, along with a note explaining the reason for creating a new Form I-9. Do not throw away the old form.

Step Six: Administrative Wrap Up

You’ve just completed conducting your internal I-9 Form! But you’re not completely done, yet. There are still a few administrative things you’ll need to wrap up.

Photocopies of List 2 documents – if they exist, are attached to the Form I-9 and are readable. It is not mandatory to make photocopies (except in Colorado), but if they are made, they must be kept. If photocopies are made for one employee, they must be made for all employees.

Employers enrolled in E-Verify must keep copies of the following documents if they are presented by the employee – US Passport or Passport Card, Permanent Resident Card (I-551), or Employment Authorization Card (I-766).

Manual Audit Log – The list of the Forms I-9 containing errors is completed. (This is the audit log that shows you have made a good faith effort to ensure Form I-9 compliance. The log should contain three columns: employee’s name, the errors, and the actions taken to rectify the errors.)

Why You Need To Do This, Right Now

Now you’re on your way to conducting a flawless Form I-9 internal audit. But why was this so important? Recently there has been an increase in enforcement for Form I-9 audits for employers. So what exactly changed?

On January 10, 2018, early morning reports of raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed what had been assumed – worksite enforcement has been increased and employers need to take note. The continued reports of high-profile ICE raids are definitely intentional. ICE wants employers to know that they’ve increased enforcement and they want you to take this very seriously. The current administration also appears to be building upon successful tactics that were used during both the Bush and Obama eras by focusing on administrative arrests of employees and requests for Forms I-9 through a Notice of Inspection (NOI) to employers. ICE conducted 1,279 audits of I-9 forms in 2016 and that number is expected to rise dramatically under the new enforcement focus.

Sure this can be scary, but knowing how to conduct your own internal I-9 form audits can help. And the word to remember for this process is “thorough.” An internal audit should include an in-depth review of all of an organization’s Forms I-9. Considering the limited resources and time of an organization, a comprehensive review of all I-9 records may not be feasible. In this case, organizations are encouraged to review a significant and fair sample of Forms I-9 to determine where the majority of errors/omissions occur, how to correct these, and how to implement better training and policies to ensure proper completion and compliance moving forward. For more information on self-auditing guidelines see the Department of Justice publication: Guidance for Employers Conducting Internal Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 Audits.

Let AZ HR Hub know how we can help your company.

7 ways to screw up the ADA process

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) not only prohibits discrimination based on disability, but it also requires that employers provide workers with disabilities reasonable accommodations.

And while it’s not a per se requirement, the law favors an “interactive process” for determining whether an effective accommodation is available. An employer causing a breakdown in these informal discussions — or refusing to engage in it altogether — can serve as evidence of discrimination.

It’s not a terribly complicated idea, but many employers fall short in the execution. The interactive process is such an important step for employers and it’s totally in the employer’s control to get right or mess up. Here are seven common mistakes.

1. Uncertainty from the start

For employers, the hard part often is knowing when to kick off the process.

You rarely see an employee who knows about the ADA and asks for a reasonable accommodation. You need to start the process even if they haven’t used any magic words.

2. Resistance to the process

Often, supervisors don’t recognize an accommodation request or ignore the request. If an employee mentions some type of limitation or problem, the supervisor should err on the side of caution and move to talk to the employee.

Sometimes the supervisor just doesn’t like the employee and doesn’t want to help the employee. If the employee is not a top performer or a malingerer, the supervisor doesn’t want to engage; that’s when things go wrong.

We advise employers to bend over backwards to help somebody who is saying, ‘I need some help’ for something that might possibly be a disability, whether or not you like the person.

3. Inadequate training

Even if a supervisor harbors no ill will toward an employee, inadequate training can cause things to fall apart. Recognizing when someone has requested an accommodation is not always an easy thing to do, especially because there’s no bright-line event or statement that triggers the employer’s obligation to participate in the interactive process.

Often the request doesn’t come until, for example, there’s a performance management action that’s going on.” For example, an employee who is chronically late for work and starts receiving write-ups and warnings. Finally, the employee says, “I’m really having trouble getting out of bed in the morning.”

Has that triggered the need for an interactive process? You don’t want the front-line supervisor feeling like he needs to answer this question and it’s not realistic that every manager/supervisor will become an expert in the interactive process. But the supervisor should have enough training to know when it’s time to go to HR.

Training for front-line supervisors is crucial: Not on the entire ADA, however: focus on how to recognize when an employee is making an accommodation request.

4. Making it too complicated

When a request is made, employers should first look for a quick, simple and easy solution.  For example, if an employee has a couple of doctor’s appointments during the next few weeks and needs to come in a little late, let the person do it.

AZ HR Hub also advises documenting the following:

  1. What the person said when he or she came to the supervisor. (For example, “I’m getting headaches from the glare from my computer screen.”)
  2. That the supervisor said, “How can I help you?”
  3. The employee’s request. (“I need an anti-glare screen.”)
  4. That the employer has provided what was requested.
  5. That the supervisor didn’t ask anything medical. (Supervisors should stay out of medical details as much as possible.)
  6. That there was followup, but that it stayed away from medical details.

If there isn’t a quick fix, then the formal ADA process should started not by supervisors, but by HR or legal. But this all counts as the interactive process.

5. Sharing or requesting too much information

When implementing an accommodation, supervisors sometimes disclose medical information. Focus on disclosing only information that is need-to-know. For example, if an employee needs an accessible parking space, coworkers need to know only that this person has a specific space — not why.

Additionally, employers sometimes request or gather too much medical information. Employers need only enough to show (1) that there’s a disability, and (2) the employee needs an accommodation. Also, employers should not be getting periodic updates when the initial documentation states that the condition is not going to change.

6. Inadequate documentation

If you’re trying to determine whether an accommodation will work, good documentation and particularly a good and accurate job description is the key. It’s hard to convince a jury or agency that an essential function truly is an essential function if it’s not in the job description, or if other employees in the role weren’t performing it.

Document the whole thing from start to finish — either you did the process or you didn’t. If it won’t work, you can show you did all you could have done. If you are claiming undue hardship, you need to be able to articulate why you’ve met that standard.

On the communication side, one of the really useful tools is documentation. Written follow-up in both directions that confirms what the discussion has been.

Clarity is important, and getting things in writing adds to clarity.

7. Not trying hard enough

Often, employers cause a breakdown in the interactive process because they’re just not trying hard enough. Organizations don’t invest enough time looking for accommodation options and don’t document where/how they have looked. If there is no solution, the best thing is your documentation showing that you did explore accommodation options. Use JAN as needed — we are free, and an outside resource. A lot of times we can find an accommodation.

When you get into any of this, call AZ HR Hub. We can assist your company by taking the burden off your shoulders.

When ADA issues are intertwined with performance issues, employers should always consider how its actions will look to the employee — and to a jury a year from now. If there is a termination, all the cards are on the table. What was the motivation, and did the employer meet its duty?

The interactive process should be ended only after people have taken a hard look and decided there’s really nothing else to say about the matter. Don’t prematurely end the process. That’s what courts will look at: [whether there was] a thorough, fair effort to communicate and find an accommodation.

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