The SESCO Report – August 2010


DOL Audits Employers Must Be Prepared

As we have reported, the Department of Labor has initiated strategies to enforce regulations to include the Fair Labor Standards Act Wage and Hour rules. We have experienced more client investigations in the past 18 months than we have in literally 20 years or more providing professional service to our clients in the area of Wage and Hour Accounting. And as most know, SESCO was founded in 1945 by an ex-Wage and Hour investigator, so our history is rooted in Wage and Hour and we consider ourselves as experts in Wage and Hour Accounting.

The following is a common "story" when contacted by a SESCO client:

"We were contacted by the Department of Labor and subsequently the Department of Labor conducted an investigation. We cooperated with the investigator thinking we were doing nothing wrong. The investigator has now submitted their findings which includes significant back wage liability. What do we do now? We asked the investigator if we could appeal and the investigator told us no. The investigator told us that if we do not pay the back wages immediately, that each employee will receive a letter notifying them of their rights to contact an attorney and sue us. We feel trapped and don't know where to turn."

This conversation is unfortunately too common, and it is extremely accurate. We know that investigators are trained to "strong arm" employers to pay by threatening to inform employees of their rights. This is a very effective tactic in that through a private lawsuit, employees are available for liquidated damages which includes two (2) years back wage liability, two (2) years liquidated damages, plus the employer must pay employee attorney fees — which many times the attorney fees are more than the actual damages.

So what should employers do when contacted by the Wage and Hour Division/investigator?

Be cooperative, do not become adversarial and contact SESCO.

SESCO will help coordinate the efforts of the investigator. It is critical to inform the investigator that there is a professional looking over their shoulders. We must know that investigators are under high stress to include quotas, closing cases within specific time limits and incented based on back wage collections. We must also know that investigators, "just because they work for the government," are not necessarily morally correct, want to do what's fair and, frankly, not experts in Wage and Hour Accounting. Most of the cases we represent are reduced or completely thrown out. Employers must understand that investigators are not intentionally misapplying the regulations, but we must know that they may not be completely trained or thoroughly aware or apply applicable regulations to include partial exemptions that employers may take advantage.

SESCO may also conduct an initial audit so that we can prepare for and understand what the investigator may find. However, many times we will simply allow the investigator to conduct their work and then review, assess and consider their findings. This is where we can challenge findings where appropriate, thereby reducing back wage liability.

Employers must know that there is help available, help is affordable and certainly retainer clients receive such help and assistance at no charge by telephone. We fully expect more enforcement action, so it is critical that employers be aware, be prepared and contact SESCO immediately to manage and hold investigators accountable.

In summary, the current U.S. Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis, promised to "refocus the agent on its important responsibilities." The truth is they have increased the Department of Labor investigator staff by a whopping 33%. Your organization may be the next target.

SESCO clients may contact us to receive a free copy of "What To Do Should The Wage and Hour Investigator Arrive at Your Place of Business."


SESCO's Professional Development Institute — Developing Employees and Managers

A Special Report

ASSESSING POTENTIAL

Individuals have many personalities; they may be shy, reserved or concerned about losing control of a situation. We all think, feel and act the way we do because of a pattern of behavior that has occurred over time. In fact, we call that pattern of behavior a "style" because it has become so ingrained in us that it is in fact, second nature. Whatever the reasons, unless we understand ourselves better, it will be more difficult to understand others.

Based on the conclusion that the most effective managers are those who know themselves, recognize the demands of the situation, and adapt strategies to meet those needs, managers must be able to identify their behavioral profile; capitalize on their behavioral strengths; increase their appreciation of different profiles; and, anticipate and minimize potential conflicts with others.

The DiSC Personal Profile System presents a plan to help managers understand self and others in a specific environment. You are the central focus as you heighten understanding of your behavioral profile and identify the environment most conducive to your success. At the same time, you learn about the differences of others and the environment they require for maximum productivity and teamwork in the organization.

Promoting Self-Understanding

DiSC Dimensions of Behavior provide a nonjudgmental language for exploring behavioral issues across four primary dimensions:

Dominance: Direct and Decisive. D's are strong-willed, strong-minded people who like accepting challenges, taking action, and getting immediate results.

Influence: Optimistic and Outgoing. i's are "people" people who like participating on teams, sharing ideas, and energizing and entertaining others.

Steadiness: Sympathetic and Cooperative. S's are helpful people who like working behind the scenes, performing in consistent and predictable ways, and being good listeners.

Conscientiousness: Concerned and Correct. C's are sticklers for quality and like planning ahead, employing systematic approaches, and checking and re-checking for accuracy.

SESCO provides the DiSC Profile for screening and hiring, individual and team development and individual awareness. It is an extremely effective tool and can be completed in just a few minutes online. Please contact us should you wish to implement this program in all screening and hiring efforts or on an individual basis.

COACHING, DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING

In considering the coaching and counseling process, we must first understand that there is a clear link between an organization's level of success and the effectiveness of its top management. Effective organizational leaders rely on sound business analysis to assess the implications of their behavior and to make strategic business decisions. Top leaders are visionary in their approach, proactive in their decisions, innovative in their actions and aggressive in the business opportunities they seek. Most importantly, organizational leaders work intimately with their management team to provide daily guidance and leadership to every person they employ.

Every leader defines leadership in a different fashion; a mix of culture, technique, communication and tools that have made them successful — patterns of behavior that have been developed over a lifetime. Every successful and striving leader also recognizes that leadership is a fine art that must continually be refined and honed to maximize its potential.

SESCO strives to assist leaders in this process of self-discovery and ongoing transformation. We implement processes that allow the strong leader to develop into a superior leader. SESCO's core leadership principle recognizes that unless we understand ourselves better we cannot attempt to understand and effectively lead others. Based on the initial assessment of the leader, SESCO will select and utilize self-evaluated measurements to help develop a coaching plan of action that is specific to him or her to foster the greatest degree of success.

Upon evaluation, we subsequently coach the leader through the designed plan of action program. This program often includes four (4) major components: strength evaluation, trend analysis, goal setting and goal measurement.

Strength Evaluation We work with the leader to produce a thorough S.W.O.T. analysis based upon self-observation, feedback, assessments and evaluative measures. The candidate and the SESCO coach will candidly define strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats which are present and measurable.

Trend Analysis We recognize that there are ever-present forces that impact the way we behave and manage which subsequently affect the decisions we make on a daily basis. The trend analysis process examines what trends may be present that may negatively impact the achievement of the defined goals.

Goal Setting and Goal Measurements This critical phase is the culmination of the steps previously discussed. Goals will be defined and action items will be implemented that will refine and strengthen the leadership style and skills of the candidate; hence, his or her performance within the organization. This process is implemented under the ongoing guidance and coaching of the SESCO consultant.

Please contact SESCO should you wish to discuss individual coaching and counseling of employees and leaders.


SESCO's Professional Development Institute Certified Managers and Trainers

Joel Cullum, Senior Vice President Provides senior, high-level consulting in all areas of human resource management specializing in training and development. Joel has represented clients in unfair employment practice charges, Wage and Hour investigations and OFCCP actions. He has spoken before national and state associations, Chambers of Commerce and business groups to include topics on management, supervision, organizational development, hiring and firing, harassment, social media, Wage and Hour Accounting, performance management and evaluation, executive and employee screening and many other topics. He is a certified trainer.

Jamie Hasty, Senior Consultant Jamie is a generalist providing consulting in all areas of human resource management. Jamie provides training as a certified Vital Learning presenter to include harassment, improving workplace habits and morale, coaching and counseling, communications, DiSC Personality Profile and team building, supervisory courses and compliance topics.

Kelly Ison, Senior Consultant Kelly brings a significant labor relations and financial background to SESCO's clients. Kelly is highly educated to include receiving his Master's Degree in the Sloan Fellowship Program at the London Business School in the UK. He also holds a Bachelor's Degree in Labor Studies from the National Labor College. Kelly served as lead negotiator as Chairman of the ALPA Negotiating Committee ultimately, resulting in successful collective bargaining agreements between ALPA and US Airways, thereby in essence saving the airline. Kelly brings a number of unique skills to SESCO and our Professional Development Institute to include leadership, employee relations, negotiations, management credibility, finance to include business renewal (particularly during difficult times) and other senior-level consulting activities.

Randall Blevins, DBA, MBA, Ph.D. Randall brings significant experience and expertise to our valued clients to include Dean of Business, King College; Business Administrator, McLeod Cancer and Blood Center; Marketing Manager, Albers Drug and significant medical consulting experience including Holston Medical Group and Care Centers. Areas of expertise include focus in the healthcare industry including developing corporate image, strengthening public relations as well as advertising efforts. He also focuses in healthcare on the areas of growth, profitability as well as general management and supervisory development.

Dr. Heather H. Williams Heather is highly educated to include a Ph.D. in Social Psychology Leadership Focus, Master's of Science in Social Psychology and a Bachelor's in Psychology. Heather's experience includes Sales Manager for Phillip Morris; Director, Virginia Commonwealth University and currently a member of the Professional Development Institute focusing in areas of organizational and individual transformation, leadership development and improved business/financial results through behavior change management. She also provides expertise in the area of employee and customer engagement, sales and strategic planning.

SESCO is very proud to have these individuals on our team at the Professional Development Institute.

Special Thanks to SESCO Clients!

Citizens Bank
New Tazewell, TN

USA Rice Federation
Arlington, VA

Raffield Tire Master
Macon, GA

B.E. Hurd, Inc. (Dominos Pizza)
Kingsport, TN

Plano Community Health
Plano, TX

Berglund-Ferrell Auto
Roanoke, VA

Western Virginia Emergency Medical Services Council
Roanoke, VA

Pineville Community Hospital
Pineville, KY

Caregivers Home Health
Falls Church, VA

Galloway Ridge, Inc.
Pittsboro, NC

Baptist Homes Society
Pittsburgh, PA

ACTS Retirement-Life Communities
West Point, PA


SESCO Client Inquiry Staff Response

Question: Can employment be denied to an applicant based on their prior criminal history?

Answer: A distinction must be made between arrest records and conviction records. Because arrest records are not reliable evidence that a person has committed a crime, an employer would have difficulty justifying inquiries about an individual's arrest record. It is not recommended that employers inquire about arrest records on the employment application or during interviews.

Unlike arrest records, conviction records are reliable evidence that an individual actually committed a crime. However, a criminal conviction should not automatically eliminate an applicant from employment. The employer should consider when the crime occurred, the applicant's attitude about the crime, and the nature of the crime in relation to the job duties. For example, a bank would probably not hire a teller who had been convicted of embezzlement. On the other hand, a conviction for drug possession ten years ago might not exclude hiring a mechanic. Employers should check state laws for additional requirements regarding the use of criminal records in employment. Certain occupations such as child care workers and persons caring for the elderly may be subject to laws concerning criminal records.