Welcome to the HR Certification Podcast: a podcast for HR leaders working towards their human resources certification with HRCI and SHRM. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com and HR certification prep program, Ace The HR Exam, as she shares study tips, exam insights, and topical review for HR exams, including the aPHR, PHR, SPHR, SHRM-CP, and SHRM-SCP. Now, here's Jessica with this episode of the HR Certification Podcast.
HR Certification Podcast Episode 6: Employment Law Review for SHRM and HRCI
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:00:38.60] Hi there and welcome to the HR Certification Podcast. I’m your host, Jessica Miller-Merrell, and I am so very excited to have you here. For those of you who are new, my mission, purpose, and passion is elevating the human resources industry. All of it. I am focused on HR certification and that is with SHRM and HRCI. I help HR leaders in their professional and personal development. We focus solely on HR certification for the SHRM and HRCI exams. That’s the for the for the SP, for the CP and the Sherm scope. This podcast is powered by Workology‘s HR Certification prep program. We have courses and resources. If you want to learn more about those, go to www.HRCertificationPodcast.com. You can go there to learn all about what we do and how we do it and what is new, interesting, and different about our programs focused on HR certification prep. Now before I dive into this podcast episode today, I want to hear from you. I love meeting some feedback, comments, suggestions, opinions from you. Please text the words “HR CERTIFICATION” to the number 512-548-3005. You can ask me questions, leave comments, make suggestions for future topics on the HR certification prep podcast. This is my community text number and I really do want to hear from you. So send a text to that number and let’s get chatting about HR certification prep.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:02:28.26] So in every single episode, I cover information and resources to help you ace your HR certification exams. We do this for SHRM and HRCI exams. This podcast is designed to be short. I want it to be to the point. I want you to get in your review and move on to your busy day, your busy lives. The HR Certification Podcast, each episode is divided into different segments, all right? And each episode is going to address a common question or something HR leaders have, questions about related to HR certification. This could be a topical area, so we’ll talk briefly about that. Then we also review an HR glossary term, that’s a new segment. And then lastly, we walk through an HR certification exam question. The more questions that you do to test your knowledge, the better. Again, this podcast is designed for SHRM and HRCI exams and those include the aPHR, the PHR, the SPHR, the SHRM-CP and the SHRM-SCP. I will also include in the transcript notes of each podcast, there will be different resources and information for you to get more from. Sometimes it’s a video, sometimes it’s a TikTok, sometimes it’s something from our YouTube channel or on our blog, or just a resource that I want you to check out. You can see all that information by episode over at www.HRCertificationPodcast.com. So in this episode, we’re talking about US-based employment law and that is important for all certifications. The aPHR, the PHR, the SPHR, the SHRM-CP and the SHRM-SCP. You, if you’re taking any of those exams, will be answering questions on US employment law, guaranteed.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:04:35.06] This is different if you are taking the aPHRi, the PHRi, or the SPHRi, you will not be required to answer any US-based employment law question. So you can skip this episode of the podcast if that’s you. You can also skip this episode if you taking the SHRM-CP or the SHRM-SCP and you are living and located outside of the US. You are not going to have any US-based employment law questions on your SHRM exams if you’re located outside the US. We cover this as well in our Ace The HR Exam course, so if you access our course at AceTheHRExam.com and you’re taking an HRCI exam that’s international or you live outside the US and you’re taking the SHRM exams, you skip those sections. In these exams, if you are an international person, you’re going to have more global topics and more content that is non-US based focus. So I talk about this a little bit more on my TikTok. We’re doing some more videos on the difference between the SPHR versus the SPHRi, the aPHR versus the aPHRi, and so on. So if you’re on TikTok, head on over to @WorkologyBlog and give me a follow. It’s an important resource. This topic is important for you to know whether you’re taking the exam or not, employment law is essential. It’s foundational for everyone, especially managers. All right. And people who are not working in HR. But as HR leaders, it is even more important for us to understand because we are consulting and training managers and they don’t know the do’s and don’ts. This just isn’t something that they focus on and it should be. And that honestly, is where managers and organizations really get into trouble. For example, let me give you an example here why this is so important. If I am talking about at-will employment and people are thinking it’s simply just firing people at any time, I can fire you at any time for any reason. I don’t need cause, it’s at will. But it’s so much more than that. If you fire somebody at will, yes, that exists,but you’re discriminating based on a protected class and the employee or ex-employee goes to a government agency like the EEOC, you’re in a whole hell of a lot of trouble, okay. So that’s why employment law is essential.
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Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:07:09.30] Speaking of the EEOC, we’re moving into a different segment here. The investigation and charge process are ones that I find managers really have a hard time with. And so that is why I’m including a recap here in this segment of the HR Certification Podcast. So when I had my first EEOC charge, I drew a flow chart to help managers understand because it is crazy. It doesn’t make sense necessarily the first time. And it’s one of the reasons why I’m sharing a video link to in the resources section at the bottom of this podcast where you can share with your managers so they can better understand. I have a flow chart included in that video too. This is just going to be an audio, but I will tell you that this by far the EEOC charge process is one of my busiest and most requested videos, and I shared a couple times a week. Also in this section, I’m including some information on the basics of the Family Medical Leave Act because it’s another area that I believe is foundational. And in order for us to influence and educate managers and leadership, we really have to have this one nailed down. So you need to not only be able to answer FMLA and EEOC questions on the exam, whether it’s SHRM or HRCI, but you really need to know this because we’re the experts at our organizations. So we are the point of contact for HR leaders. I’m adding the links to the videos in the transcript of the podcast over at HRCertificationPodcast.com, so you’ll be able to grab those. So let’s listen in to some audio snippets on EEOC charge process and FMLA.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:08:53.49] The EEOC was established on July 2nd of 1965, and this happened by way of Title Seven of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of religion, sex, color, national origin, age, and discrimination. I will say that there’s nothing quite like the panic you feel when you receive your first EEOC compliance charge letter. It is so aggravating. It’s so confusing. It’s so anxiety-filled that it’s hard for you to not get freaked out. Now, if you’ve been through a process like this a couple of different times, you know what to expect as an HR leader, but it’s entirely new likely with your leadership and executive team. So not only do you have to understand the process, but then you have to explain the process to your leadership. Now, I mentioned the letter. That’s really step one of the EEOC compliance process. But first, your employee will contact, to get in contact and visit the EEOC website to file a charge. Basically, they feel like they’ve been discriminated against one of the protected classes as listed and outlined in Title Seven. Once they have received the charge and sometimes they have an initial conversation, and by they I mean the EEOC with the particular employee or candidate in question, and then at that point, they’ll notify you via letter. When you receive the letter, normally you have to provide a response. So it’s helpful if you’ve already conducted an investigation, so you have copies of notes and information. Oftentimes this is the moment when you need to talk to your counsel or your employment law attorney to walk through exactly what needs to be done. However, in my experience, when we’ve had our EEOC charges and my HR experience, I luckily had documentation. So I had record of what was said and how it was said in the investigation that was done.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:11:00.85] You’ll send that information directly to the EEOC where they’ll review that information. Sometimes they might call you back for a little bit more information, but they often then conduct an interview with the person who has filed the charge. So they’re going to ask specific questions, try to gain more information before they decide those next steps. One of the biggest misconceptions about an EEOC charge is that it automatically becomes a lawsuit. The EEOC here really wants peaceful reconciliation. They want you to work this through before it goes to courts. What they’re looking for when they conduct their investigation is what they call reasonable cause. And that’s reasonable cause that discrimination under one of those protected classes I mentioned before has occurred. So there are really three different outcomes that are going to happen as a result of the investigation. Once the EEOC has concluded there is reasonable cause has been found, at which point you’ll get a letter of determination. Option two is no determination at all. So there is no determination either way. They are neutral in whether or not discrimination has been found. The third option by the EEOC is they will tell you that reasonable cause has not been found. Discrimination has not been found as part of this particular charge or request for investigation. A walk through what each of those three outcomes mean in more detail.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:12:34.34] You might be surprised at the sheer number of charges that are issued every single year. Request for an investigation by employees through the EEOC. In 2019, there were 72,000 and 675 charges. Now, we talked about the three different options. Let’s walk through if reasonable cause is found. Once again, the goal of the EEOC is to find a peaceful settlement. So if reasonable cause is found, you will be working through a mediator and they are going to ask the charging party to say about what they would like to be fixed, what needs to happen for everyone to be able to move forward. If a peaceful mediation and decision isn’t found, that is when you can move forward, the charging party can move forward in private court. If the EEOC does not make a determination, the charging party, your employee or candidate can request a right-to-sue letter, but only after 180 days from the charge being filed. Now, after that point, that individual doesn’t have infinity to be able to file a lawsuit. They have 90 days from receiving that right-to-sue letter to make a determination to move forward against you as the employer. Scenario three, if the EEOC does not find any reasonable cause to discrimination occurred in this situation, they will issue you as the employer and the charging party a letter letting them know that reasonable cause has not been found. At which point the same thing happens in scenario two, the charging party can request their right to sue letter after 180 days and that individual within 90 days from that point can file a suit against the business.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:14:32.63] It is not going on for infinity and I think that’s one of the concerns for employers is it doesn’t happen forever. Once that right-to-sue letter is issued, there’s a 90-day window. So if they decide to sue 91 days, it is not, it’s going to be dismissed, which is an important thing for you to know as an HR leader. The EEOC compliance and charge process is a complicated one, and it’s easy to get tripped up whether you’re preparing for your HR certification exam with HRCI and SHRM, or you’re in a situation where you have received notification that an investigation is happening. This is why I do like the flow chart option, because it is important to communicate to your leadership and executive team not to be freaked out. I certainly was freaked out the first time I received my first EEOC charge letter. It’s important to work with your attorney and have a plan. This is why we have open-door policies and we also work to investigate every complaint or question or concern that comes into our offices within HR.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:15:40.95] FMLA is a federal law that provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks of protected time off for things like their own serious health condition, loved one or family members, allowing them to take care of them up to 12 weeks if they have a serious health condition or for things like childbirth, pregnancy or adoption of a child. One of the biggest questions and most common questions you’re going to receive from employees is if they can go on FMLA leave. Well, companies, these are private entity companies with 50 or more employees that have worked at least 20 weeks, consecutive weeks in the current or previous calendar year must comply with the Family Medical Leave Act. Now, public sector organizations and agencies are not out of the cold. They are required to offer family medical leave regardless of their size. This includes schools as well as school boards. So if an employee comes to you and has a question about an FMLA leave, whether it’s long-term or intermittent, if you meet these requirements, you have to provide them an opportunity to go out on the Family Medical Leave Act. Now that we’ve established what the requirements are for companies to be eligible to provide the FMLA leave, let’s talk about employees. Employees need to be employed for at least 12 months. It doesn’t have to be consecutive, but it needs to be 12 months over the course of seven years, they need to have worked at least 1250 hours over a rolling 12 months to be able to take their family medical leave. Now, remember, that’s 12 weeks. What’s interesting about the Family Medical Leave Act is they can take off time for themselves or to take care of a family member or a child or to do things like go to the doctor’s appointment so it can be a long-term leave in one lump sum that 12 weeks, or it can be intermittent in short bursts of maybe 2 or 4 hours so that they can go to the doctor.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:17:43.75] The important thing to remember is that the employer has to keep track of the amount of leave that is used, and that normally happens with your human resources information or HRIS system. That gives you a breakdown of how the hours are used. Let’s talk about how an employee goes through the approval process of requesting and then getting approved for the FMLA leave. One thing that’s important to note is when an employee returns from their FMLA leave, they need to be placed in a same or similar position. Their job is protected, so you can’t let them go out on FMLA as a manager or supervisor and return them as maybe a cashier, if you’re working in a retail environment. It needs to be the same or similar level and type of position. Now, if an employee requests an FMLA leave, there’s normally documentation that they have to fill out. So as an HR leader, your company will likely have a FMLA certification process and it involves going to the doctor and then returning with information for you to be able to complete and process the FMLA paperwork. That gives you some insights into the Family Medical Leave Act and the process for requesting leave, and if your company is eligible to offer FMLA to the employee.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:19:08.59] All right, I hope you enjoyed that audio snippet. I will be linking to both these YouTube’s videos, these videos from our YouTube channel. And again, it might be helpful for you to listen in a second or third time, but also share with your managers and leadership team. They need to understand this because this is where so many litigious acts start with managers and leaderships. Again, it’s a foundational area. These videos will help also give you a taste of what you will have in store when you purchase our Ace The HR Exam course. Now this is my signature HR certification prep course. We have an offering for SHRM and we have an offer for HRCI because there are some subtle differences. I have courses for each of those certifying bodies to help you prepare for the exam. Ace The HR Exam has over 60 hours, yes, 60 hours of review and it’s organized by topic. So we have an employment law section with just US-based employment law and I’m excited to share that we have a monthly subscription offering and you can access the 60+ hours of audio and video plus over 1200 test questions. Again over 60 hours of video and over 1200 test questions and counting. These videos are in short form, they’re in long form, there as well as audio and a ton of digital downloads and resources. I have flashcards available for you that are digital as well as downloadable. This course has a new monthly subscription rate of $49.99 per month. Cancel at any time. Grab this deal at www.AceTheHRExam.com. www.AceTheHRExam.com.
Break: [00:20:58.73] Wow. I know that was a fast review, but I want to move into our reset and then we’ll move into our next segment here at the HR Certification Podcast, which is powered by Workology. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell. I’m your host and I am here to help you prepare for your SHRM and HRCI exams. Workology offers HR certification prep courses and resources. If you want to learn more about that, you just head on over to the internet and you can look at all the resources we have available at www.HRCertificationPodcast.com Or you can head over to our learning platform at Learn.Workology.com. We offer a variety of prep resources, including physical items like flashcards. I have HR, test question flashcards that are a lot of fun and really popular, along with study guides and courses for all different types of learners. Okay. Most importantly, it is accessible for you wherever and whenever you need. 24/7. These are all available on-demand, accessible to you, and they’re also available on our Workology mobile app, which I think is super fun and super convenient. Grab that on your phone for Google, so Android users, and also Apple users over on iOS. Before we get back to the episode, I do want to hear from you. If you have questions, suggestions, ideas, just want to chat, text the word “HR CERTIFICATION” to 512-548-3005. Ask me questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future certification, HR certification prep topics and episodes. This is my community text number and I really want to hear from you.
HR Glossary Term(s) – Reasonable Accommodation
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:23:01.61] All right. We are now moving into a special segment on the HR Certification Podcast where we review an HR glossary term. And this is for every single episode that we do this. These are all human resources terms that are part of the body of knowledge or the body of applied skills and knowledge, whether you were SHRM or HRCI, and they’re going to be covered on your exam. And that includes the aPHR, the PHR, the SPHR, the SHRM-CP and the SHRM-SCP, all the exams with SHRM and HRCI. When it comes to becoming familiar with HR terms that are part of the SHRM or HRCI knowledge bases, it is incredibly important for you to have the highest level of memory retention and understanding. So that means you want to review these terms repeatedly and use reviewing with different learning styles. This is one of the reasons our Ace The HR Exam course offers things like audio lessons, short-form video, long-form video, and those downloadable resources and digital flash cards. I also encourage you to take notes, make your own flashcards and use the content differently. Draw pictures. I love using Post-it notes. I’ve got Post-it notes in front of me and markers to make things more colorful because it really helps with that memory retention.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:24:31.08] I like to focus on a single subject in our review. It’s the cornerstone of our Ace The HR Exam course, because I want you to focus on just employment, become competent in that, and then once you have a high level of competency, you can move on to the next area of the exam. You pick topics that are most likely to be on your exam. There’s more questions than other sections and then, two, areas that are not your strong points and you focus on those first and make those into your strong points and then you move on. This is how we structure all our review. So let’s get to the review of our HR glossary term for today’s episode. Today we are focusing on a single term and I’m going to review it a couple times for you. Actually twice. This is a term that I feel like again is foundational under employment law and it’s one that people often don’t necessarily get right. So the term is Reasonable Accommodation. Reasonable Accommodation is assistance or changes to a position or workplace that will enable an employee to do his or her job despite having a disability. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the ADA, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations. They have to provide these reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship. There are several terms in here that you need to remember. I’m going to read this again for you. Reasonable Accommodation. Reasonable Accommodation is assistance or changes to a position or workplace that will enable an employee to do his or her job despite having a disability. This falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the ADA. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to their employees. These are qualified employees with disabilities. Unless doing so providing that reasonable accommodation, it would be, it would be an unreasonable accommodation in this case because it would pose an undue hardship.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:27:03.99] If you are looking for more resources on the topic of accommodations and specifically Reasonable Accommodations and are conducting an accommodation audit to determine if this is a qualified accommodation, I would suggest that you check out this resource. It’s www.Askjan.org. A S K J A N.org. They offer a list of accommodations by disability and a worksheet that is incredibly helpful. That’s Askjan.org. This is really driven by the Department of Labor. Understanding the reasonable accommodation process will help you not only pass the exam but also in your job as HR leaders. Again, this is one of the areas I see a lot of HR leaders and managers struggle with is accommodations, and that’s because we don’t get accommodation requests every day. It’s not like we have lots of job requisitions, so maybe we do a lot of recruiting. We deal with payroll every two weeks. But accommodation requests sometimes are unfamiliar and this is where we make missteps and that can get us in a lot of legal trouble. So most accommodations cost organizations under $500. So if you’re looking for additional review, Askjan.org is the place to go. I will link to this in the show notes of this particular episode. So this is a great place to get access to more review to help really let that information settle in. I want this to go into your long-term memory banks. So recall is easy come exam day.
HR Test Question Review for SHRM and HRCI Certification Exams
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:28:51.59] We are now moving into a special segment of the HR certification podcast where we review an HR test question. And I do this for every single episode again. The more test questions you have access to, the better. It helps you understand where your weak spots are so they can become strong points for you. The questions I answer, I ask here in this podcast in all, our episodes are covering basic questions for the HRCI and SHRM exams. Again, I’m covering the BASK and the BoCK here, so kind of that cross point. Before I share the specific test question, I want to give you a quick review of my HR test question framework. More information about our HR test question framework is available on the Workology YouTube channel, so you can head over to the Workology YouTube channel. I’m going to link to the specific video on the test question framework in the transcript of this specific podcast episode for you too, so you can go there. So there’s five different steps to the HR test question framework. So let’s go ahead and walk through each one very quickly.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:29:58.71] Step one, read each question slowly and concisely. Step two, identify the HR competency. Step three is to eliminate wrong answers. If you know that it’s wrong, don’t even think about it. Step four is WWSD or WWHD and that is What Would SHRM Do or What Would HRCI Do if they were answering this question and taking this test. Think about the test question from this point of view. Our jobs in HR are very fuzzy, but there’s only one correct answer for each test question, whether it’s SHRM or HRCI. Remember that. And step five, above all, if you’re not sure, go with your gut. You need to answer every single question. Let’s get to this episode’s featured HR certification exam practice test question, shall we?
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:30:56.58] I’m going to read this question and the options twice for you, and then we’ll get to the answer. Here’s your question. In order to address increased turnover, what is the first action the HR manager should take? A, study all turnover data, including voluntary and involuntary, business locations, departments, and employee demographics. So reviewing all that information, that’s option A. Option B is to review the company’s compensation, especially for employees who have participated in exit interviews. Option C is to meet with leadership, meet with leadership, to hear about why they think employees and employee turnover has increased. And option D is to suggest holding employee focus groups to better understand trends in engagement at your organization. Here’s the question one more time with our options.
In order to address increased turnover, what is the first action the HR manager should take?
A) Study all turnover data, including voluntary and involuntary turnover by things like business locations, departments, and employee demographics.
B) Review the company’s compensation, especially for employees who have participated in the exit interview process.
C) Meet with leadership to hear about why they think employees and employee turnover has increased.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:33:38.12] So why do managers and leaders think that employee turnover has increased? That’s C and then.
D) Suggest holding an employee focus group or groups to better understand trends in engagement at your organization.
Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:33:58.50] Those are your four options for this particular test question. What do you think the answer is? Drum roll, please. The answer is A) Study all turnover data, including voluntary and involuntary turnover. Also turnover data by business locations, departments, and employee demographics. This is the first thing that you should do. First and most important thing. If you didn’t get this test question right, don’t worry. This is why practice. Practice makes better. That’s what we’re here to do. Just make a note for yourself that you need to review the topic of maybe turnover and the steps to analyzing or coming up with a solution. Maybe your consultative side. I suggest adding this topic or topics to your daily review and then you have a short bulleted list of things that you can review very quickly. I do have more test questions you can access in our test question bank. We have 25 free test questions that you can snag at www.HRTestQuestion.com 25 Free test questions at www.HRTestQuestion.com.
Closing: [00:35:18.15] HR certification is such an important step in your career, whether you are looking to increase your HR knowledge base that’s important. Or if you’re looking to gain credibility at your office. Also important. If you’re looking to increase your potential income or prove to yourself that you deserve to be in that seat as an HR leader, you do. And all of these are valid reasons to work towards HR certification. Together, let’s elevate the HR profession. Thank you for joining me on this episode of the HR Certification Podcast. Today we talked about employment law. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell. I’m so excited to have you here and helping you on this journey to help you ace your HR certification. This is an important step in your career. I want to help you just like I’ve helped thousands of other HR leaders. Workology does offer a host of courses and resources to help you ace your HR exam. If you want to learn more, you can visit www.HRCertificationPodcast.com. You can learn all about how we help elevate HR leaders and help them ace their certification exam with our courses and resources. Whether you’re taking the aPHR, the PHR, the SPHR, the SHRM-CP or the SHRM-SCP, we have a course and a resource to help you get there. If you have questions or suggestions for a future episode of the HR Certification Podcast or you just want to chat, go ahead and shoot me a text. You’re going to text the word “HR CERTIFICATION” and you’re going to text it to 512-548-3005. That’s “HR CERTIFICATION” to 512-548-3005. This is my community text number, and I want to hear from you. Thank you so much for joining me on this episode. Until next time on the HR Certification Podcast.
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