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Could the University of Missouri System’s HR department have prevented the race-related campus protests that led to the November resignations of the system’s president and chancellor?
In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding the dress code of a major clothing retailer, how can employers know if workers’ apparel, head coverings, jewelry or body markings are tied to religious beliefs?
And is there a way HR can accommodate the hot flashes, insomnia, irritability, memory lapses and mood swings that can play havoc with the working life of women going through menopause?
Those were among the questions explored in the best-read SHRM Online diversity and inclusion articles of 2015.
Mizzou Resignations Raise Question: What Might HR Have Done Differently?
The resignations of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin following complaints that they failed to address racial discrimination on campus and to hire more- faculty of color raised the question of how HR professionals should try to avert similar crises at their own organizations.
Both announced their resignations Nov. 9 after student groups pressed for their departures, one student went on a hunger strike, black student football players threatened a boycott of future games, and the university’s faculty planned a walkout to press for more diversity in hiring and curricula. SHRM Online interviewed several HR experts to get their take.
Abercrombie Case Leaves Companies in Dark on Dress Codes
After clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch ended its “appearance and sense of style” hiring rule in April—a rule that was the subject of a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court—questions remained as to how employers could enforce their dress codes without violating anti-discrimination laws.
How can employers know if workers’ apparel, head coverings, jewelry or body markings are tied to religious beliefs? Are they expected to ask if an employee’s apparent dress code violation is based on a religious adherence? If they do ask, might they be sued for asking? And how should a company reconcile a worker’s religious beliefs with a dress code designed to ensure that same worker’s safety? This SHRM Online article explored some possible answers.
Accommodating Menopause at Work
One controversial SHRM Online article explored a topic that probably doesn’t come up a lot in HR meetings, even though it will eventually affect the energy and productivity of many female employees. That topic was how to accommodate menopause and its symptoms, which can include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, irritability, memory lapses and mood swings—and which can significantly affect a woman’s working life.
“With 50 million menopausal women in Canada and the United States at any given time, I think it wise and prudent for human resources departments to address and support this sector of the workforce,” said Donna Faye Randall, who has written about how menopause affects a woman’s working life.
EEOC Issues Proposed Wellness Incentive Rules
In April, SHRM Online reported that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a proposed rule to help clear up confusion over using financial incentives in workplace wellness programs. The proposal would amend regulations implementing the equal employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to address the interaction between Title I of the ADA and financial incentives as part of wellness programs offered through employer group health plans.
Millennial Dads Demand Flexible Hours, Robust Benefits
Finally, an article about how Millennial dads are demanding flexible hours and robust benefits to help raise their kids generated a lot of reader interest.
The story found that as Generation Y fathers shoulder more parenting responsibility, their workplace expectations are on the rise. Among these 18- to 33-year-old workers, fathers increasingly expect their employers to help them be in a position to play a key role in their children’s rearing, according to The Hartford’s 2015 Millennial Parenthood Survey.
Dana Wilkie is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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