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LAW AB 168: Important Notice for Employers

On October 12, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed into law a state-wide ban on employer inquiries into an individual’s salary history. The new law (AB 168) will apply to all employers, including state and local governments, and will take effect on January 1, 2018.
Under AB 168, no employer may rely on an applicant’s prior salary history “as a factor in determining whether to offer employment . . . or what salary to offer an applicant.” Salary history information includes both an individual’s rate of compensation as well as other benefits. Moreover, an employer cannot-orally or in writing, directly or indirectly-seek this type of information about an applicant. Accordingly, employers and their agents can no longer ask candidates, or their current or former employers, what candidates have earned in the past. An employer must, upon reasonable request, provide an applicant with the pay scale assigned to the position sought.
There are certain exceptions to the salary history restriction. First, employers may review and consider salary history information that is publicly available pursuant to federal or state law. Second, salary history may be discussed if an applicant “voluntarily and without prompting” discloses his or her history to a potential employer. In that event, the employer may consider and rely on that history in setting that applicant’s salary.
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7 Highly Effective Ways to Maximize Your Online Brand Presence

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Photo courtesy of Brand Driven Digital

This article by R. Kay Green was first published on the Huffington Post in 2013
It is no secret that in this day and age, online presence = brand awareness. In fact, most marketing experts agree that how you present your brand online is the 21st century equivalent of your first meeting with a customer. Your online brand is what people think of you when you are not available. In fact, your online brand is as important as any of the traditional forms of branding and becoming more important each day. Most customers today are technologically savvy and typically rely on a company’s online presence as a validity test of its credibility in the market.

 

In the competitive-age we live in, in order for your brand to succeed online, it must be highly recognizable, relatable, and authentic; thereby setting itself apart from the competition. High visibility of your brand increases credibility and customers will be more willing to retain your product/services. Creating an online brand presence is about capturing the attention of the targeted audience. At present, consumer’s today look to connect directly with business owners and hear their stories before they make a decision on whether to buy their products/services. With that in mind, let’s examine seven key insights as to how to effectively maximize your online brand presence:

 

1. Be Consistent With Branding. Ask yourself one question: “What is my business really about?” It is very important to display a consistent branding strategy across all online channels. This creates brand recognition and helps to reinforce the brand. It is common for a business to use several channels to reach out to customers. For example, a business may use its website, several social networks, blogs, document sharing sites, and more.

 

2. Optimize Your Website. As we know, creating and maintaining a website is one of the most important branding tools for any business. Website optimization for optimal performance on search engines is one of the first things companies can do to drive traffic to a website and improve the brand’s visibility.

 

3. Social Media. Social Media Marketing is one of the most effective and cost effective ways to promote both small businesses and corporations; and, enhance the visibility of your brand. Social Media Marketing promotes visibility, brand loyalty, recognition, and can also grow your sales. In addition, social media marketing allows small businesses and established ones to compete with an advantage. It enables businesses to reach worldwide audiences.

 

4. Produce and Distribute Great Quality Content. Creating and distributing quality content is the best way to gain visibility online. It is one of the most effective marketing strategies to promote your business and create brand recognition online. Creating quality content has become essential to any successful marketing strategy today.

 

5. Press Release Marketing. Press release distribution is a very effective and inexpensive way to enhance brand visibility and recognition. If it is picked up by Google News, your company will receive additional coverage for your brand.

 

6. Leverage Video Marketing. Businesses of all sizes and scale can benefit from video marketing i.e., YouTube, Vimeo, Metcafe, etc. Posting branded videos relevant to your niche is a very effective way to promote your business, drive traffic to your website, and get your brand noticed in front of a targeted audience.

 

7. Start a Blog. Having a blog can enhance brand visibility and improve your chances of success. In fact, blogging is one of the most effective ways to improve the visibility of your brand online. Blogging greatly improves your search engine rank, establishes validity in your brand and increases reach. In addition, blogging helps to cultivate relationships with customers and other influencers.

 

As a final point, when creating an online brand presence, don’t attempt to create your online brand like any other brand in the market. Be authentic. If you can be open and honest with yourself about your brand’s value, you will be able to authenticate this value when creating your online brand presence.

Unpaid Internships Are Not Uncommon-But Are They Legal?

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BY ALAN S. LEVINS AND KATHERINE M. KIMSEY|MARCH 1, 2016

Internships have become a rite of passage in the United States for many aspiring workers. There are published estimates indicating that that “70 to 75 percent of students at four year [colleges] undertake at least one internship.” See Ross Perlin, Intern Nation: How to Learn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy (Verso 2012) at 26.
Many of those internships are unpaid (Id. at 27), which raises a substantial legal question about-and the specter of substantial liability for-failing to treat “interns”as employees. To further complicate the matter, the legal test for determining just who qualifies as a true intern, and who must be treated as an employee entitled to wages and benefits, has not always been clear.
Indeed, the law regarding unpaid internships is in conflict at the federal appellate court level.In contrast, the State of California has established a relatively clear set of guidelines to follow to ascertain when an “intern” must be paid the minimum wage and provided with employment benefits. In most cases, however, employers must comply with both state and federal law.
FEDERAL STANDARDS
Nine years after the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq.) was enacted by Congress, the Supreme Court issued a brief decision carving an exception to the protections embedded in what was then a relatively new law. The Court decided that persons who were given training by a railroad company before they were eligible to be hired were not ’employees’ under the FLSA during the course of that training.For that reason, the railroad was not required to pay the trainees the minimum wage set out by the FLSA during the approximately week-long training.
See Walling v. Portland Terminal Co., 330 U.S. 148, 152-153 (1947).
Over the years since the Portland Terminal decision was handed down, the DOL has articulated six key factors that must be met in order to avoid having a “trainee” classified as employee. The factors are:
1.The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
2.The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
3.The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
4.The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage fromthe activities of the intern;
and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
5.The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship;and
6.The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
See Wage & Hour Div., Fact Sheet #71, Internship Programs Under the Fair LaborStandards Act (April 2010), available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm(hereafter “DOL FactSheet”).
Although this seems reasonably straightforward, federal appellate courts have notbeen consistent in interpreting and applying Portland Terminal or the DOL factors.
Some courts have eschewed the six-factor test altogether.See, e.g., McLaughlin v. Ensley, 877 F.2d 1207, 1209-10, n.2 (4th Cir. 1989) (applying a “primary beneficiary” test); Solis v. Laurel brook Sanitarium and School, Inc., 642 F.3d 518, 525(6th Cir. 2011) (applying a “totality-of-the-circumstances approach” and “primary beneficiary” test).Other courts have applied the test exactly as written by the DOL.See Atkins v. General Motors Corp., 701 F.2d 1124, 1128 (5th Cir.1983) (stating the six factor test “is entitled to substantial deference by this court”). Still other courts have noted the usefulness of the test, but refused to apply it strictly. See Reich v. Parker Fire Protection Dist., 992 F.2d 1023, 1026 (10th Cir. 1993) (using a balancing of the six factors).

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How the 80/20 Rule Can Help Improve Productivity

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This article by F. John Reh was last updated on thebalance.com on August 8 of this year. I included it in The Temptimes because keeping a productive office and an organized office are two inextricably linked goals. Since the Monroe theme of October is organization, this seemed an apropos edition to our blog collection. Enjoy! 

In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country. Pareto observed that twenty percent of the people owned eighty percent of the wealth. In the late 1940s, quality guru, Dr. Joseph M. Juran, attributed the 80/20 Rule to Pareto, calling it Pareto’s Principle. Pareto’s Principle or Pareto’s Law is a useful tool to help you prioritize and manage the work in your life.

This article offers an overview of the rule and examples, and how it can help you improve your personal and professional productivity and effectiveness.

What It Means

The 80/20 Rule means that in any situation, 20 percent of the inputs or activities are responsible for 80 percent of the outcomes or results. In Pareto’s case, it meant 20 percent of the people owned 80 percent of the wealth. In Juran’s initial work applying the 80/20 rule to quality studies, he identified 20 percent of the defects causing 80 percent of the problems. Project managers know that 20 percent of the work (the first 10 percent and the last 10 percent) consume 80 percent of the time and resources.

Other examples you may have encountered:

  • 80% of our revenues are generated by 20% of our customers.
  • 80% of our complaints come from 20% of our customers.
  • 80% of our quality issues occur with 20% of our products.

Or:

  • 20% of our contributors provide 80% of our funding.

Where Should You Keep Your Money?

  • 20% of our employees are responsible for 80% of sick days.
  • 20% of my ideas generate 80% of my traffic on my blog.

There are a nearly unlimited number of examples that we tend to apply the 80/20 rule to in our personal and working lives. Most of the time, we are referencing Pareto’s Rule without applying rigorous mathematical analysis to the situation.

We generalize about this 80/20 metric, but even with this sloppy math, the ratio is uncannily common in our world.

7 Areas the 80/20 Rule Can Help Your Productivity:

  1. If you scrutinize the items on your “To Do” list, chances are just a few of the items are tied to important issues. While we may take satisfaction in crossing a large number of the smaller issues off our task lists, the 80/20 rule suggests we should focus on the few, larger items that will generate the most significant results. The list might not grow much shorter, but you will be practicing effective prioritization.
  2. In assessing risks for an upcoming project, not every risk carries equal significance. Select the top risks that pose the highest potential for damage (given the probability of occurrence) and focus your monitoring and risk planning activities on those items. Don’t ignore the others, however, distribute your focus proportionately.
  3. As a sales representative, work hard to understand the attributes of the 20 percent of your customers that make up the majority of your revenues and invest your prospecting time on identifying and qualifying similar customers.
  4. Regularly evaluate the 80 percent of your customers that generate approximately 20 percent of your business and identify opportunities to shed those customers for those that drive better results. Some managers and firms actively cull their customer listings every few years, effectively firing the bottom performing customers.
  5. If you work in customer support or a call center, look for the 80/20 distribution where 80 percent of your customer calls or support issues are attributable to either 20 percent of your offerings or 20 percent of your total number of customers. For the offerings generating all of the calls, focus on root cause analysis to identify quality or documentation issues, and then take corrective action. For the high call volume customers, strive to understand the reason for their calls and offer alternative methods of obtaining answers.
  6. Entrepreneurs, soloists, and independent professionals should evaluate their workloads and assess whether the gross majority of their time is spent chasing small value activities, including administrative work that is easily and inexpensively outsourced.
  7. When evaluating your mid-year progress on your goalsfocus on the few goals or activities that are most critical to your development or success. Similar to the task list, not all duties and goals are created equal.

Practical Limits to the 80/20 Rule:

As we’ve explored, the 80/20 Rule has many applications in our work and personal lives. However, there are opportunities to misapply this tool and make critical mistakes.

  • You should not focus on just the 20 percent of top performers on your team at the expense of the other 80 percent. You are accountable for increasing the number of top performers as well as assessing and potentially eliminating those who are consistently poor performers.
  • The 80/20 rule might suggest reducing the level of diversification you strive for with investments. Careful attention must be paid to your overall portfolio mix and adjustments made if only 20 percent of your investments are driving 80 percent of the results.
  • While 20 percent of the time invested in a project through planning and execution might generate the majority of the results or progress, you cannot afford to ignore the details of the initiative. 

The Bottom Line:

Pareto’s Principle or the 80/20 Rule is a useful construct when analyzing our efforts and outcomes. It is priceless when applied to task or goal lists, and it provides a useful analytical framework for many problem situations. Use it liberally, but don’t accept it as an absolute or you are likely to misstep.

5 Tips to Improve Your Career Development: You Owe Yourself a Career Development Action Plan

This is an excerpt of an article that was last updated on August 22, 2016, on the balance.com 
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Image courtesy of the thebalance.com

Career management isn’t just a nice-to, it’s a must do if you expect to gain maximum success and happiness from the hours you invest in work. Face it, you are likely going to work 40 hours a week for your adult life. Why not make it the best 40 hours that you can create?
Career management in which you plan and work to obtain new skills, capabilities, and experiences, is the answer. Share your goals with your boss and you have a partner who can help you broaden your experience.
When most employees think about their careers, they have not thought past their current job or the next promotion that they’d like to receive. They need to broaden their short term thinking. As employees are promoted up the organization chart, fewer jobs become available, yet continuing to grow skills and experience should still be a priority for people obtaining value from their career.
Here are a few ways in which you can collaborate with your boss to manage your career.
  • Job shadow other employees in your company to learn about different jobs.
  • Explore lateral moves to broaden and deepen your experience.
  • Attend classes and training sessions to increase your knowledge.
  • Hold book clubs at work to develop knowledge, and share terminology, concepts, and team building with coworkers.
  • Seek a mentor from a different department that you’d like to explore.

10 Productive Things to Do on a Slow Day at Work

It’s the slow season at work, and if you waste one more day playing “wastebasket ball”, you’re going to go crazy. But all your work for the day is done, and aside from counting down the minutes until lunch break, you’re out of ideas for things to do. Take control of your extra time and try these 10 ideas for productive things to do to fill your slow days at work.

 

  1. EVALUATE GOALS AND INTENTIONS 

Both professional and personal intentions for the upcoming months or year are crucial for growth and prosperity. Make your intentions visible for you to see every day and share them with freely with others — so take time to evaluate your current goals and intentions, and consider setting some new ones.

  1. IMPROVE A PROCESS

“Noises” always come up when you’re running a process; especially a process is dynamic and changing all the time. To better your work and enhance your productivity, use the slow times to evaluate a particular process you use rather frequently and create more efficient ways to work.

  1. MAKE A TO-DO LIST

It’s hard to be productive when you’re low on mental energy. Try to manage your time wisely and organize your specific activities prior to the start of the day. The best way is to make a TO-DO LIST, which helps you to choose and complete tasks with better focus, and to reflect on your overall role and whether you’re achieving your larger objectives.

  1. TIDY DESK, TIDY MIND

On a normal day, it can be hard to find the time to organize your files properly. On slow days, clean off your desk, label your folders, clean up your inbox and archive your emails, and otherwise straighten out your notes and files. That way, you’ll be more prepared when you get busy again.

  1. GET AHEAD

Your work for the day may be done, but what about tomorrow’s work? Or next week’s work? If there’s anything you can do to get ahead, DO IT. Your workday may be slow today, but you never know when a crisis will hit and interfere with your regular workload.

  1. FIND A NEW PROJECT

It never hurts to ask your supervisors for an extra project if you’ve run out of things to do. They will be impressed by your initiative, plus you won’t be bored anymore. Make sure this is just a side project without a strict deadline though, in case you do get busy.

  1. HELP YOUR COLLEAGUES

Take a walk around the office and check in with your colleagues. If anyone looks overwhelmed, offer to help them out with something. Not only will you be building a rapport with your co-workers, but you’ll be able to call in a favor in the future if you ever need some help yourself.

  1. NETWORK WITH OTHERS

When you’re busy, your calls to clients are likely short and straight to the point. Take advantage of your free time and make a few courtesy calls to your customers, just to chat and check in; or write a thank you card. Building good relationships with your clients will help you to become more well-known in your industry.

  1. READ ARTICLES

Stay informed about your industry by subscribing to newsletters and reading the latest news in your field. Staying knowledgeable will give you an edge over your colleagues. If your industry is slow, read articles about current events instead to keep yourself up-to-date on world news.

  1. EXERCISE DAILY

It’s time to take action when you’re feeling bored. Exercising before work will give you an extra energy boost to carry you through the day. When you’re in the office, you can lift 5 pounds weights, or do some yoga and stretching poses designed to be done anytime and anywhere. Taking a quick break and walking around the block also refreshes and reenergizes.

The End of the Office Dress Code

Below are excerpts from an article first published on May 25, 2016 in the New York Times.
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Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver in a publicity still for the film “Working Girl.”CreditHerbert Dorfman/Corbis, via Getty Images via the New York Times
We live in a moment in which the notion of a uniform is increasingly out of fashion, at least when it comes to the implicit codes of professional and public life. If once upon a time Melanie Griffith’s character in “Working Girl” could manipulate viewers’ assumptions about her job and background simply by swapping leather jackets and minidresses for greige suits, today it would be impossible. “We are in a very murky period,” Ms. McClendon, assistant curator of costume at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, said.
The slippery slope may have started as a gentle incline way back in the 1970’s, and become a bit steeper during the Casual Friday movement of the 1990’s and the success of the Facebook I.P.O. in 2012 with its hoodie-wearing billionaires. But today, we are speeding down it at breakneck pace, partly thanks to the hot-button conversation around gender equality, and fluidity.
“There has been a dramatic change very recently,” said Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University and founder of the Fashion Law Institute. She noted that last December the New York City Commission on Human Rights announced new guidelines for the municipal human rights law that expressly prohibited “enforcing dress codes, uniforms, and grooming standards that impose different requirements based on sex or gender.”
As a result, no employer may require men to wear ties unless they also require women to wear ties, or ask that heels be worn unless both sexes have to wear them. And though this applies only to “official” dress codes, the trickle-down effect is inevitable.
“Dress is now open to the interpretation of the individual, rather than an institution,” Professor Scafidi said.
This has created an even greater tension in the more ambiguous areas of office dress, especially as the boundaries between home and work become ever blurrier. And that has led to all sorts of complications. One person’s “appropriate” can easily be another’s “disgraceful,” and words like “professional,” when used to describe dress requirements, can seem so vague as to be almost meaningless. Kanye West wearing ripped jeans and a jeweled Balmain jacket at the Met Gala: cool or rude? Julia Roberts at the premiere of “Money Monster” at Cannes this year in bare feet: red carpet pioneer or a step too far?
These issues are only going to get more complicated. “We are moving into an era where personal expression is going to trump the desire to create a corporate identity,” Professor Scafidi said. “It’s a huge power shift.” And it has already begun.
**** Editor’s Note:  This article was written two years ago.  It seems particularly timely given that our current President has been reported to want women who work in the White house to “dress like women.” ****