The Point: June 28, 2013

Recognition Round-Up

Kirk Kordeleski, president/CEO of Bethpage FCU, has been selected by Long Island Press as one of the region's "50 Most Influential Long Islanders of 2013." In a celebration held earlier this week, Kordeleski was additionally inducted into the Long Island Press Power List Hall of Fame-a special honor presented to individuals who make the list at least five times.

The Power List ranks leaders from the fields of business, government, academia, health care, not-for-profits and the public sector.

About Recognition Round-Up:
Credit unions and/or credit union leaders receiving a significant local, state or national award are encouraged to complete and submit the Credit Union Announcement Form for recognition in The Point and on the Association's Facebook page. Photos and related press releases may also be attached with the form. Note: Announcements regarding an award received from the Association (e.g., Dora Maxwell, Louise Herring, Desjardins Awards) do not need to be submitted.

CUNA Mutual Group offers insights on anti-harassment policies

Last month, a Utah construction company was required to pay three former employees a total of $230,000 when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) successfully sued the company for harassment.

According to CUNA Mutual Group, credit unions should take note of this case-not because the company was punished for harassment, but because the company increased its liability with two common mistakes:

  • The company's HR policy directed employees to report harassment to their immediate supervisors. Employees had no other option.
  • The company fired an employee in retaliation for his complaint.

To promote effective anti-harassment policies, CUNA Mutual Group suggests that credit unions observe the following guidelines:

  • Anti-harassment policies must be professionally written.
  • The anti-harassment policy should be part of an overall employment practices policy that is 1) written by an HR professional and/or employment attorney who ensures it complies with federal and state laws; 2) approved by the board; and 3) read and signed by all employees annually to reduce claims that employees are unaware of the policies.
  • Employees must have the opportunity to report harassment to someone other than the alleged harasser.
  • The policy must document how employees can bypass their harasser to lodge a complaint. Therefore, at least two people should be designated to accept these complaints.
  • Employees should be offered the option to lodge harassment complaints with a neutral third party if an internal "safe avenue" can't be guaranteed.
  • Retaliation against an employee who reports harassment should be prohibited.
  • The policy should state that reports of harassment will be investigated promptly, and that retaliation-by firing or other means-is not permitted against the person who complained or those who participate in the investigation, such as witnesses to the harassment.
  • The policy should be clear about work-related harassment off premises or by non-employees, and harassment at work-related functions held outside the workplace, such as a holiday party at a local establishment, should be prohibited.
  • The policy must protect employees from being harassed by directors, contract employees, third-party vendors or others with whom the employees interact as part of their jobs.

To learn more about CUNA Mutual Group's risk management offerings, call (800) 356-2644. Current policyholders can access free white papers, sample policies, online training and more by logging in to CUNA Mutual Group's Credit Union Protection Resource Center.

Legal Spotlight: Ruling redefines ‘supervisor' in discrimination claims

When does an employee become a supervisor for purposes of discrimination claims under federal law? A sharply divided Supreme Court recently answered this question, and its ruling has important implications for credit unions in New York. According to the Supreme Court, a person is a supervisor for purposes of federal discrimination claims only when he/she can take "tangible employment actions" against an employee.

Under Title VII, if a supervisor sexually harasses or discriminates against an employee, the supervisor's employer is vicariously or directly liable for the harassing conduct. An employer can only minimize its liability by showing that it has procedures in place to enable employees to report misconduct and have it resolved.

In contrast, when the allegedly discriminatory or harassing conduct involves a co-worker, no vicarious liability attaches. Instead, an employer is only responsible for harassing conduct that was the result of negligent supervision.

In Vance v. Ball State University, a food service worker appealed to the Supreme Court after unsuccessfully trying to sue the university. She had evidence that a co-worker was racially hostile toward her and contended that the co-worker was her supervisor because she occasionally directed her food preparation. The university argued that the offending employee was not a supervisor, as she only occasionally supervised the plaintiff and wasn't responsible for promoting or disciplining the employee.

The Supreme Court agreed with the university. "We hold that an employer may be vicariously liable for an employee's unlawful harassment only when the employer has empowered that employee to take tangible employment actions against the victim; i.e., to effect a significant change in employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits," Judge Alito opined for the five-justice majority.

In dissent, an impassioned Justice Ginsberg accused the Court majority of embracing "a position that relieves scores of employers of responsibility for the behavior of the supervisors they employ. Trumpeting the virtues of simplicity and administrability, the Court restricts supervisor status to those with power to take tangible employment actions."

The decision reverses existing law as followed by New York's federal courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Under this competing, more expansive approach, an employee doesn't have to have the authority to hire, fire or discipline an employee to be considered a supervisor.

For more on this topic, view the related New York's State of Mind blog post.

NYIB collecting data on CU classroom presentations

Credit unionists are encouraged to report their financial education classroom presentations to the National Youth Involvement Board (NYIB). The deadline to report data is this Sunday, June 30.

Top presenters will be recognized at the NYIB's 2013 annual conference, July 29-Aug. 1, in San Diego. State rankings from data reported through the NYIB website will also be announced.

NYIB is a national system designed to disseminate information and resources regarding youth participation in the credit union movement. Credit unionists can share and access presentations, youth marketing materials and more by visiting the NYIB website.

Helpful Links

CUNA News Now

Don't Tax My Credit Union Website

CUNA Tax Exemption Advocacy Toolkit (CUNA member log-in/ registration required.)

CUNA Regulatory Advocacy Report (CUNA member log-in/registration required.)

CUNA Legislative Update (CUNA member log-in/registration required.)

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