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What Happened: 2015
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What Happened

  • December 2015: Holiday Celebration 
  • November, 2015Solve Conflict with Ease 
  • October, 2015:  It's Time to Maximize Your 401(k) Retirement Plan!
  • September, 2015:  HR’s Role in Building a Culture of Employee Engagement & No Excuses
  • July, 2015Morris County SHRM Eighth Annual Employment Law Symposium 
  • June, 2015: Racism, Civil Rights, Diversity, Inclusion; Jumping the Hurdles?  
  • May, 2015: Dealing with Toxic/Bullying Employees 
  • April, 2015Affordable Care Act: Information Reporting Requirements 
  • March, 2015Building a Culture for Sustainability:  People, Planet, and Profits in a New Green Economy.   
  • February, 2015Leading Organizational Change: Three Dimensions of Organizations That Leaders MUST Address if Leaders Want Change to Really Happen 
  • January, 2015Managing Social Media Use in the Workplace 

December Holiday Celebration 

The Morris County SHRM chapter hosted its annual Holiday Celebration at the Morris Museum. It was a lovely evening to network, share a few laughs and really great food. Participants brought items in support of the Market Street Mission and Dress for Success. A representative from Dress for Success shared one of their many happy ending stories where a wonderful woman finally was awakened and realized she is a fantastic woman! 

We wish you and your families a warm and wonderful holiday. See you in the New Year!





November: Solve Conflict With Ease


Intelligent and courageous conversations are key to the success of all team, client interaction and business success. Knowing how to maneuver through these conversations is a necessity for every leader and professional.

Key learnings from this session included:
Tactics for formulating strong messages
Important points to keep in mind while navigating difficult dialogue
Asking the right questions to prompt constructive solutions

This is all accomplished within the context of how you handle conflict.  Let’s get a quick science lesson… Visible light is a spectrum of colors, which is clear to anyone who has looked at a rainbow.  When an object moves away from us, the light is shifted to the red end of the spectrum, as its wavelengths get longer.  If an object moves closer, the light moves to the blue end of the spectrum, as its wavelengths get shorter. 

Dr. Rozen leveraged the scientific concept of Red Shift vs. Blue Shift to make her points come alive ~ 
- Red Shift  - actions taken that drive people away from one another
  - Tunnel vision – seeing only your story in a situation 
  - Assuming – thinking that you “know” why the person is acting the way they
  - Avoiding – not addressing conflict directly and avoiding the discussion
  - Having a preconceived solution
  - Handling heated situation while still hot – sometimes it’s better to let both
    parties regroup and cool off

- Blue Shift - actions taken that drive people together
  - Use peripheral vision – take into consideration the other person’s point of
  - Listen not only attentively, but also courageously
  - Ask simple questions to clearly understand – people want to feel like their
    concerns are heard
  - Externalize the problem and team up against it… together

Another notable takeaway was that many complicated situations can be solved by simply asking “What do you want?”  

Dr. Michelle Rozen holds a PHD in Conflict Resolution and specializes in conflict management and in leveraging conflict in order to promote success. As a successful mediator, author of The Effective Mediation and writer for Huffington Post, Dr. Rozen has grown her business and holds offices in New York and New Jersey.
As researcher of conflict management practices and solutions, Dr. Rozen remedies various unique situations daily in which she employs her proven techniques of conflict resolution. Dr. Rozen's mission is to help individuals, teams and organizations diffuse conflicts to instigate courageous conversations, strengthen team dynamics and drive superior performance. Members can click here to view the presentation.

October: It's Time to Maximize Your 401(k) Retirement Plan!


We welcomed over 60 guests at our October dinner meeting which made for great networking prior to the meeting!  

Tom Sokira, a board member of MC SHRM and managing partner at Waypoint Financial, presented "It's Time to Maximize Your 401(k) Retirement Plan!".  It was an interesting presentation filled with great tips and facts. With the increasing complexity of managing 401(k) plans, HR professionals are faced with new challenges in providing their employees with enough information to make informed retirement planning decisions. 

Tom provided interesting facts leading up to today: 
• In 1994, fewer than 5% of mortgages were subprime and by 2005, nearly 20% of new mortgages were subprime. 
• In 2008, stock market drops 38%
• In 2008, boomers between 45 and 54 lost 45% of their median net worth. 
• In 2009, we saw 6000 foreclosures per day
• In times of recession, there is a spike in savings

Tom also discussed different ways that people can start saving for retirement and how to help your associates maximize their 401k plans. Everyone should be aware of the following:

- Have a strategic plan design
- Proactively benchmark fees - be sure you know what you're paying for
- Benchmark your service provider
- Monitor investment trades
- Communicate and educate your associates

MC members can click here to view the full presentation.

The Legal Update "Importance of Disseminating Anti-Harassment Policies to all employees following Jones v. Dr. Pepper Snapple Group" was presented by Alexa E. Miller, Esq. an Associate at Fisher & Phillips, LLP (not sure if this is who actually presented, but the document that I posted to the website has her name on it). 
Alexa explained that the NJ Appellate Division recently took the first step in providing guidance on how lower courts interpret Aguas v. State of New Jersey, which held that an employer may assert as affirmative defense to a hostile work environment sexual harassment claim under NJLAD that is maintained and enforced an effective anti-harassment policy and that the plaintiff employee unreasonably failed to utilize the preventive or corrective procedures. 

In Jones v. Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, plaintiff alleges she was subjected to sexually harassing conduct including sexual touching and lewd comments. The plaintiff claimed that she never received the employee handbook and didn’t receive any anti-harassment training.  Court Holding: Although defendant may have had formal and informal complaint structures in place, in order for these structures to be effective, its employees had to be aware of them. A copy of this Legislative Update is accessible to all MC SHRM members by clicking here.

September: HR’s Role in Building a Culture of Employee Engagement & No Excuses

The last taste of summer was in the air during this beautiful September evening. Members gathered on the patio for our speed networking session, and enjoyed drinks and lite refreshments.

September’s meeting welcomed back close to 75 members who filled the room to capacity.  We said goodbye to outgoing chapter President, Robert Micera, who has served the chapter during these past 2 years with outstanding leadership and passion for the HR profession, our members and our chapter.  Thank you Robert!

The President of GSCSHRM, was in attendance as well, to swear in our newest board appointments:

Lois Nagie was successfully sworn in as new Chapter President
Kristi Telschow to VP of Membership
And Dan Benducci to VP of Programs

Congratulations to all 3 of you and we look forward to what your leadership will bring to the chapter.

September’s featured speaker was Chris Ruisi, an experienced business coaching professional and former Human Resources Executive.  Chris’ presentation, “HR’s Role in Building a Culture of Employee Engagement & No Excuses” walked members through key components necessary for successful employee engagement in our organizations, as well as action steps needed to build your plan to create a culture of employee engagement.

Chris’s light-hearted, but impactful presentation focused on how HR professionals can be the agent of change to help organizations create this culture of engagement. Click here to view the presentation. 

Thank you also to our September Sponsor, Xpert HR!

July: Morris County SHRM Eighth Annual Employment Law Symposium


Morris County SHRM held our 8th annual Employment Law Symposium on July 22 co-hosted by Fisher Phillips. 135 participants enjoyed the informative day.

Kathie Caminiti kicked off the day with a session titled “Background Checks: A Minefield of Potential Liability.  In 2015, there has been a significant increase in the occurrence of claims relating to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA).  Recent activity was shared to bring to life the actions that have been taken against employers.  
Tactics to avoid litigation include-
·        Create a stand alone document
·        Ensure notice is clear and conspicuous
·        Comply with state law requirements
·        Establish and follow FCRA process
Second presentation was lead by Gregg H. Salka on “Marijuana, e-cigarettes and Other Smokey Things.”   It was interesting to learn that employers are not required to accommodate an individual's medical  marijuana request.  There was plenty of time to ask questions about various situations given that marijuana is still illegal under Federal Law.  Net-net, a good workplace drug policy can save employers a lot of headaches whereby employers establish a clear position on marijuana usage both in and out of the workplace.  Any policy needs to comply with state and local laws.
We also discussed the use of e-cigarette and vape pen.  Many states have regulated use of these products in NJ and NY, it's treated just like smoking.  FDA released proposed regulations in April 2014.  While the Federal government do not regulate this yet, you may want to check with your local state laws.  Any policy should be in writing and enforced consistently.  The suggestion was made to simply add vaping can be added to existing smoking policies.  
Gregg continued to educate participants with a session called “Bring Your Own Devices – Just Don’t Bring Me A Lawsuit.”  He talked about the pros and cons of letting associates connect with their own devices to corporate networks to do work.  It's important to mention in your policies, especially for managing non-exempt associates, that when you are traveling to and from work, you are not expected to be doing any work.  You may also consider restricting access and having clear policies regarding recording time for non-exempt associates.  FLSA cases have exploded over recent years.  

Jessica Cook lead a discussion entitled “Immigration Compliance – Tips to Avoid and Handle a Government Investigation.”  Completing I-9 form... In 2009, Department of Homeland Security issued enforcement guidelines.  452 arrests tied to worksite enforcement investigations.  In 2013, $15.8M in fines were issued.  
Basic requirements -
·        All hires after 11/6/1986 must have a current I-9on file
·        Section 1 is completed by the hire
·        Section 2 and 3. is completed by employer.. Be sure all the sections are correctly completed.  
It's recommended that the I-9 be kept in a file separate from the personnel file.  It's a good practice to self-audit I-9 Forms.  

Alicia Miller provided an overview on “Sex, Gender, Same-Sex Marriage & Transgender Employees.”  Title VII does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but there is case law and much public relations backlash when an employer tries to state that it's not covered under Title VII.  
Rosemary Gousman lead a session entitled “Why the NLRB Is Still Snooping Around Your Employee Handbook.”  It was eye opening in that the NLRB makes themselves relevant in non-Union organizations.  Section 7 of the NLRA protects the right of employees to engage in concerted protected activity.  
David Litchenberg hosted a session called “The Best Ways to Get Sued Over Leaves and Accommodation.” Employers need to make sure that they are handling discussions around leave requests carefully.  He shared 
facts that should be considered when terminating someone who has taken or has requested a leave of absence.  Timing is a huge consideration.   Continue the process if someone goes on leave and give perception of fairness
A few important tips are as follows:
·        Documentation is extremely important.
·        Doing a thorough investigation when someone returns from leave shows due process.
·        If there is a pattern of abuse, you can be more aggressive with discipline
·        Be sure to review recent leave takers when reviewing those who would be impacted by a reduction in force
·        Start your communications with associates with "we hope you're feeling better"
·        Before the end of the leave it's okay to ask them if they will need more leave time beyond the 12 weeks of FMLA
·        And finally, Review your job descriptions - it will likely be used to determine whether or not someone can meet the essential requirements of the job

Jason Storipan wrapped up the day sharing a fast paced review of Recent Developments in NJ and NY that HR Professionals Need to Know.  Ranging from Intern Protection Act to "Ban the Box" opportunity to compete Act. Minimum wage is now linked to the consumer price index effective January 1, 2015.

Click here to read the recap written by Melissa A. Silver, XpertHR Legal Editor.

It was a fun and informative day… looking forward to next year!! 



June: Racism, Civil Rights, Diversity, Inclusion: Jumping the Hurdles? 



Legal Update:  Religious Accommodations following EEOC v. Abercombie & Fitch 
On June 1, 2015, the US Supreme Court held that Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc was held liable for refusing to hire an applicant who wore a hijab for religious reasons despite the fact that she never informed Abercrombie why she was wearning the headscarf.  The applicant didn’t request an accommodation to their strict “Look Policy.”  


This decision increases the burden on employers to ensure they accommodate religious beliefs of all applicants and employees even if the request for accommodation was not made. The Supreme Court held that knowledge was not a prerequisite to liability under Title VII. 
The test is whether the employer had enough information to make it aware that there exists a conflict between the individual’s religious belief or practice e and a requirement for applying for or performing a job.  Guidance: Employers need to ask questions and establish clarity on what questions to ask/ not ask.  

Feature Presentation: Racism, Civil Rights, Diversity, and Inclusion

Alma Scott-Buczak a Human Resources Executive with NJ Transit, has extensive Domestic and 

International experience in the conceptualization, design, development and implementation of creative Human Resources management programs.  She has also held significant volunteer roles with the Garden State Council of SHRM. Presently she’s the Council’s Diversity and Inclusion Director.  

Alma led us through an interactive session where we ex;plored the common misconceptions and true definitions of Racism, Civil Rights, Equal Employment, Affirmative Action, Diversity Management and Inclusion. The teachings of Roosevelt Thomas were leveraged to make the show the continuum from Civil Rights to “true” Inclusion. 
Keep an open mind
Develop common understanding
Treat Diversity Management as a business imperative
Be proactive not reactive
Refrain from vilification

These concepts were further reinforced with the fable “Build a House for Diversity” by Roosevelt Thomas.  The moral of the story is that it’s not enough to “let people in.”  We need to be open to adjusting our environment to let people’s “real” self come in too, so they don’t have to conform to our norms.” 



Annual Morris County SHRM Spring Networking Event 

Our chapter hosted an HR Networking Event and Membership Rally on Wednesday evening, May 6th at The Iron Bar in Morristown.   Over 50 HR professionals mingled and ‘talked the trade’ while enjoying great food and drinks.  Morris County SHRM raffled off 4 National SHRM Memberships, free dinner meetings, complimentary Legal Symposium tickets and more!  Our chapter, the largest in the state of NJ welcomed 7 new members as a result of the event! A great time was had by all!





May: Dealing with Toxic/Bullying Employees

Meeting recap to follow. 






April: Affordable Care Act: Information Reporting Requirements 

The Affordable Care Act information reporting requirements is a complex web of forms, timing, and processes for filing… and if you get it wrong, there are big penalties for improper filing. Most employers will find that while the information needed for filing is likely available; it is quite often buried in multiple systems and can be cumbersome to consolidate.  Add to the confusion that judicial and legislative decisions have put pieces of ACA on hold, the average Human Resources leader could find their head spinning trying to keep up.  The moral of the story was to look into your liability and responsibility now to make sure you are well situated by the end of the year.  In addition, there is help out there in the form of information as well as outsource vendors.        






March: Building a Culture for Sustainability:  People, Planet, and Profits in a New Green Economy.  

Spring was in the air briefly for our March meeting.  Our St. Patrick’s Day themed meeting boasted close to 80 attendees.

We were excited to welcome new sponsor Garden Savings Federal Credit Union, a full-service financial institution that is available as an absolutely free benefit to the employees of your organization.  More information can be found by contacting Mairéad Togneri at the Parsippany headquarters at 973-585-3166.

A representative from the College of St. Elizabeth spent some time discussing the various programs and services the school offers for both HR professionals and students alike.  Examples included the Masters in HR Management program, mentoring opportunities, job readiness programs and more.  

Dr. Jeana Wirtenberg, President and CEO of Transitioning to Green and the Transitioning to Green Foundation presented our March topic, "Building a Culture for Sustainability:  People, Planet, and Profits in a New Green Economy.”  Based largely on the content of her recent book of the same title, Dr. Wirtenberg educated the group on how incorporating sustainability into the culture of your organization can not only help increase employee engagement, but also contribute to innovation and business results.

By using various case studies from various companies, including Alcatel-Lucent, Alcoa, BASF, Church & Dwight, Sanofi, Ingersoll Rand, and Wyndham Worldwide, Jean illustrated key concepts discovered through her work.  Each case study used practical examples of the many human resource related challenges and obstacles faced by companies, and how they are being successfully addressed and overcome.  Dr. Jean’s presentation also discussed her Eight Essential Elements of a Culture for Sustainability: Comparing unsustainable to holistic-sustainable:  values; mind-sets; leadership; change process; engagement; learning; intelligence; diversity,  inclusion, and social justice. 

Jeana's book and presentation can help HR professionals create a road map for to support business leaders and managers who wish to create purposeful work environments that ignite employee passion, encourage engagement, reinforce ecological responsibility and increase profit. Jeana is co-founder of the Institute for Sustainable Enterprise at Fairleigh Dickinson University, serves on the “OD Collaborative for a Flourishing World” leadership team, teaches HR/Employees and Organizations in Bard’s MBA in Sustainability program, and is writer/editor for several leading-edge HR/OD publications. Formerly Jeana has held senior HR leadership roles in AT&T and PSEG. Her books are available at her website

February: Leading Organizational Change: Three Dimensions of Organizations That Leaders MUST Address if Leaders Want Change to Really Happen


Legislative Update included a discussion around what are the characteristics of Independent Contractor status.  

New Jersey uses the “ABC” test for unemployment responsibility and hour and wage requirements. It’s up to the employer, to prove that the relationship is that of an independent contract and not that of an employee. Specifically the state would look at the following:

A. Is the person now and continues to be free from the control and direction over the performance of the job? This condition not only has to be in a contract but must be what occurs in fact. If the actual practice is different than what is set forth in the contract, the contract will have little weight.
B. Location of the work: Are the services either outside the usual course of the business or performed outside your physical location? Does the independent contractor work in your office space or do they work from their own location?
C. Is the individual customarily engaged in an independent established profession or business? Are you the independent contractor’s only job or does the independent contractor perform work for several other companies?

About Our Program: Leading Organizational Change
Our guest speaker, Gary Best, provided an insightful presentation on impact and influence that human cognition, organizational hierarchy, and informal networks have on the design and implementation of change efforts. He went on to point out that even John Kotter has included the concept of informal networks in his newest book titled “Accelerate!”
He reminded the audience that change happens in waves. 

• Wave 1:  Someone or some group comes up with the idea of change
• Wave 2:  The idea of change is introduced to a 2nd group of people (usually the next level of mgmt.)
• Wave 3:  The idea of change is introduced to a 3rd group of people (usually those impacted by the change).  At this point in time, the idea makers are onto their next idea and we wonder why the 3rd group hasn’t accepted the change yet. 

About Our Speaker:
Gary F. Best is a performance psychologist. For over two decades, he's designed and delivered creative, strategic consulting services to leaders in diverse organizations across a wide range of industries. His areas of expertise include: Talent Development (Leaders, Managers, Teams and Individual Contributors), Executive Coaching, Organizational Effectiveness, Social Capital Analysis, and Meeting Facilitation. Gary also enjoys speaking to groups and conferences about these topics.

Gary earned a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, Leadership and Sociology of Knowledge from The Ohio State University; a Masters of Public Administration in Urban Management and Public Budgeting from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Thiel College.   


January: Managing Social Media Use in the Workplace


January’s dinner meeting boasted over 70 members in attendance! 
VP of Membership, Lois Nagie, reminded everyone to double check that they are affiliated with the Morris County Chapter as their primary affiliation when renewing their SHRM memberships for 2015.

During an update about the Certification study group and scholarship, the group discussion quickly turned to the new SHRM designations.  Look for further information from our chapter to help members understand the differences between the HRCI and SHRM designations, as well as how current PHR/SPHR members can apply for the new SHRM designation(s).

This month’s feature speakers, from Allyn & Fortuna LLP, spoke to the group about Managing Social Media Use in the Workplace.   Paula Lopez, a partner at Allyn & Fortuna LLP, spent some time illustrating several recent decisions by the NLRB regarding what it considers lawful and unlawful restrictions on the use of social media by employees and the guidelines that should be followed by an employer in designing a social media policy that is in-line with the NLRA and NLRB.  The NLRB has become very active in addressing social media issues in the workplace, in both union and non-union settings. The NLRB monitors social media policies to ensure that employers' policies are not violating their employees' section 7 activity under the NLRA.

Expanding on the examples shared above, Paula also gave the group several suggestions on what an employer's written social media policy should include while at the same time being NLRB compliant. The discussion also reviewed appropriate prohibitions that can be included in the policy and the scope of the policy.  

Nicholas Fortuna, founder and managing partner of Allyn & Fortuna LLP, then spoke to us about social media as evidence in employment litigation.  Nicholas explained how to obtain social media information in discovery, including the obstacles and pitfalls.