In this issue:

A Growing Crisis: Prescription Drugs

Employers across the country are facing a growing crisis. Drug overdoses now exceed car crashes as the leading cause of unintentional deaths in the United States. Perhaps that’s not surprising, considering the sales of prescription opioid painkillers in the US have risen 300% since 1999.

Despite the widespread nature of the problem, many employers do not have the information necessary to address this issue. According to a recent survey released by the National Safety Council, 80% of employers surveyed in 2015 said they have been affected by prescription drug abuse in their workplaces, yet only 53% said they have a written policy on using these types of medication at work.

Drug addiction is recognized by the American Medical Association as a disease – just like diabetes is. Unfortunately, the stigma of substance abuse keeps many people from seeking treatment. They fear that their employers will find out and they will lose their jobs. However, there are a number of avenues employers can take to fight this growing crisis:

Educate your workforce about the risks of prescription opioid painkillers. Urge employees to ask their doctors if a non-opioid drug can be used. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen can be more effective at relieving pain. Encourage employees to ask their doctors how painkillers will affect their ability to carry out specific work duties.

Train supervisors to recognize signs of potential impairment and understand the company drug-testing policy. They should know that the federal Americans with Disabilities Act may protect an employee’s use of over-the-counter or prescription drugs to treat a disability.

Promote your Employee Assistance Program (EAP). It’s in your best interest to promote confidential access to treatment. A full-service EAP will be able to assess the employee’s situation, recommend appropriate treatment and help find providers. Afterward, the EAP can monitor the employee’s progress by conducting periodic drug tests and ensuring that he or she is attending therapy and self-help groups.

For more information, please visit the National Safety Council website.

5 Steps to Creating the Perfect Job Ad

A well-written job posting is critical to finding the perfect candidate for an open position. The key is giving candidates the information they need to make the decision to apply.

The job posting serves as a checklist for both the employer and the candidate. Advertisements should be specific about the past experience, job skills, and education desired while at the same time provide potential applicants with an honest preview of the job.

According to Jobvite, job seekers want to know most about a potential employer’s compensation, location, work/life balance, and health benefits. Vague job postings also make it more difficult for potential applicants to determine if the organization is the right cultural fit. Explain why it’s great to work at your company – give candidates a realistic idea of the type of work they will be performing (outside of the normal day-to-day tasks).

Job postings should show off a company’s personality. This is an employer’s chance to show the world what it’s like to work at his/her company versus the dozens of other options candidates probably have in front of them. How would you describe your company culture? Fun? Collaborative? Transparent?

When creating your perfect job ad, remember to include the following five elements:

1. A description of the position and requirements. List the most important skills and requirements first
2. An explanation of the specific duties involved
3. A brief, appealing description of the company and the opportunity presented
4. A description of the benefits and intangibles
5. At the end, include a single, clear call to action

If you need assistance in creating new job descriptions and postings, please contact our HR Manager, Michael Lanham, PHR, by phone (443-321-7726) or by email (

How to Protect Your W-2 Information

Cyber thieves are now after W-2s in an apparent effort to file fake tax returns and claim refunds from the federal government.

Posing as company executives, cybercriminals are obtaining sensitive payroll data over email – including W-2s – with Social Security numbers, salary information, dates of birth, addresses, and other personally identifiable data, according to a news release from the Internal Revenue Service.

Every email requesting sensitive data should be suspect and followed up with a phone call. Neither the IRS nor executives needing access to their employees’ W-2 forms will or should request this kind of information via email. Everyone has a responsibility to remain diligent about confirming the identity of people requesting personal information about employees.

According to the IRS, these are some excerpts from the emails:

  • “Kindly send me the individual 2015 W-2 (PDF) and earnings summary of all W-2 of our company staff for a quick review.”
  • “Can you send me the updated list of employees with full details (Social Security number, date of birth, home address, and salary)?”
  • “I want you to send me the list of W-2 copy of employees wage and tax statement for 2015. I need them in PDF file type. You can send it as an attachment. Kindly prepare the lists and email them to me ASAP.”

The IRS lists a number of steps on its site that employers, payroll executives, and others can take to keep information secure, including:

  • Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections
  • Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update
  • Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records you store on your computer
  • Use strong passwords
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails and threatening calls or messages from thieves posing as representatives of legitimate organizations such as a bank, credit card company, or the IRS
  • Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails
  • Protect your personal data
  • Don’t carry your Social Security car around, and make sure your tax records are secure
  • Treat your personal information like you do cash; don’t leave it lying around

HRi takes the utmost precautions to maintain the accuracy and confidentiality of our clients’ and clients’ employees’ personal information. If you have any questions or would like to know more about our security features, please call us at 410-451-4202.

Rising EEOC Retaliation Claims

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently published its 2015 enforcement statistics; the number of EEOC charges rose in 2015 with the agency resolving 92,641 charges. The number one type of claim filed was retaliation – with a staggering 39,757 charges filed, representing 44.5% of all charges filed. The odd of being sued by a current or former employee for retaliation is a real, and serious threat for employer of all sizes.

The charge numbers show the following breakdowns by bases alleged:

  • Retaliation: 39,757 (44.5% of all charges filed)
  • Race: 31,027 (34.7%)
  • Disability: 26,968 (30.2%)
  • Sex: 26,396 (29.5%)
  • Age: 20,144 (22.5%)
  • National Origin: 9,438 (10.6%)
  • Religion: 3,502 (3.9%)
  • Color: 2,833 (3.2%)
  • Equal Pay Act: 973 (1.1%)
  • Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act: 257 (0.3%)

These percentages add up to more than 100 because some charges allege multiple bases.

Importantly, in each of these categories, the agency obtained substantial changes to discriminatory practices to remedy violations of equal employment opportunity laws and prevent future discriminatory conduct in the workplace.

Additionally, the agency’s outreach programs reached 336,855 people during the year through participation in 3,700 no-cost educational, training and outreach events. EEOC’s national Training Institute trained over 12,000 individuals at more than 140 events that focused on the agency’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) priorities, including small businesses, vulnerable workers, underserved geographic areas and communities, and emphasized new statutory responsibilities, issues related to migrant workers, human trafficking and youth.

For more information, please visit the EEOC website.

Did You Know?

Please join us in welcoming Cara Nicholson to the HRi team! Cara is one of the newest members of our Client Services Department. Cara joins us with a strong background in Human Resources Management, including Unemployment Administration, Benefits Administration, FMLA Administration, as well as extensive experience handling Employee Relations issues.

Cara is currently participating in our Client Services Training Program and is looking forward to working with you.

Here is a little information to get to know Cara better:

  • Favorite color: Red
  • Favorite book: anything by James Patterson
  • Favorite movie: The Departed
  • Favorite sports team: Washington Redskins