Panhandle Human Resource Association
Volume 16, Issue 6
An Affiliate Of Society For Human Resource Management June 2011
From the Desk of the President…
Chapter Meeting Becky Lopez
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
11:45 am – 1:00 pm
So, I’m going to have to start this with a confession. I had no idea what I
Amarillo Club, 30th Floor wanted to discuss with you this month, having just gone through a week long audit
(7th & Tyler) I am suffering from a traumatic case of brain drain. Because of this I decided to
surf the web and see if I could come up with something both interesting to our
$15 for PHRA members
$20 for non-members group as well as timely. Here’s what I came up with: June is National Safety
Month, which includes Preventing Overexertion Week (that would be me), Teen
www.phraonline.org Driving Safety Week, Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls Week and On the
IMPORTANT: Road, Off the phone Week. June is also Goat Trauma Awareness Month which
MUST be made by
the Childhood Goat Trauma Foundation designated. Dystonia Awareness Week;
5 p.m. on the Friday National Cancer Survivors Day; National Headache Awareness Week; National
BEFORE the meeting.
Cancellations Men’s Health Week; National Aphasia Awareness; and National Scleroderma
must be made Awareness Month all in June. The reason I bring this up? As HR we are
by noon on Monday
preceding the meeting, usually responsible for fund raisers, special events, and awareness. If you have
or you will be invoiced.
an event already scheduled for Goat Trauma Awareness Week, please let me
Officers know I would love to see what exactly this would consist of.
Becky Lopez-651-3150 I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Seminar committee for doing
Brad Howard-345-6310 such a fantastic job with our Spring Seminar. I for one learned a lot and truly
Sandy Elliott-477-5538 appreciated all the hard work these folks put into the seminar. Committee
members are: Chairperson - Nephi Ginnett, Josie Vongkhamphra, Kay Acton
and Megan Eikner. Thanks to you all for doing such a great job!
Josie Vongkhamphra-376-6257 I look forward to seeing everyone at our June luncheon!
Polly Turner 350-2200 Becky
By Josie Vongkhamphra
"Enhancing The Best Practices for HR"-
Employees with Disabilities
Presented By Sridevi Veeramachaneni, MBA
*This program has been approved for 1.00 (General) recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and
GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute.*
As the Disability Navigator for Workforce Solutions,
Shree’s job is to increase the employment of
people with disabilities. Her work includes training staff or
doing presentations in the community for partners and
employers. She offers information and resources to
Employers regarding Best Practices, Tax Credits, ADA,
Accessibility, and assistance in improving an organization’s
recruitment and retention strategies of people with
disabilities. She takes a market-driven approach to her work
rather than a compliance perspective.
Shree’s presentation will highlight best practices for HR on
employees with disabilities and other related issues.
It all starts with creating a welcoming environment for
people of diverse backgrounds and practices to
incorporate from recruiting to retention. She will also
provide examples of employers who have proved the business case of hiring
people with disabilities as well as a resource packet of information to get started.
To Be Announced
*Note that the date is later
by Adair Buckner
Case Shows Quandry Employers Face about
Re‐Hiring Employee Who Has Used Illegal Drugs
Recently, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed whether an
employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to rehire
a former employee who completed a one-month drug rehabilitation program.
Mauerhan v. Wagner Corp., (10th Cir. Apr. 19, 2011) The court found that
the employee failed to demonstrate he was not “currently” engaged in the
illegal use of drugs when the decision not to rehire him was made, and
affirmed dismissal of the employee’s claim by the trial court. However, the
Tenth Circuit said such a determination has to be made on a case-by-case
Wagner Corporation hired Peter Karl Mauerhan as a sales representative
in 1994. In 2004, Mauerhan entered a voluntary outpatient drug
rehabilitation program. The employer was aware of Mauerhan’s
participation in the rehabilitation program, even though it did not interfere
with his work schedule. In 2005, his employer requested Mauerhan to
submit to a drug test. When he failed the drug test, his employment was
terminated for noncompliance with the company’s drug policy.
Mauerhan’s supervisor advised him that “he could return to Wagner if he
could get clean.”
Shortly thereafter, Mauerhan entered a voluntary in-patient drug rehabilitation program for approximately one
month. According to his rehabilitation counselor, his recovery prognosis at discharge was described as “guarded.”
The day after Mauerhan completed the program, he contacted the employer and requested his job back.
Mauerhan was advised that “he could return to work, but that he would not receive the same level of compensation
as he had previously received or be able to service the same accounts he had prior to his discharge.” Mauerhan
declined the offer based upon these terms.
Mauerhan later filed suit alleging the company discriminated against him based on his drug addiction, in violation
of the ADA. The company moved for summary judgment that the district court granted. It argued that Mauerhan
“was unprotected by the statute because he was a ‘current’ drug user at the time he sought reemployment.”
Although Mauerhan had abstained from using drugs for one month, the district court held that “one month of
abstaining from drugs was too short as a matter of law to gain the protections of the ADA.” Mauerhan appealed.
The Decision The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s determination, but declined to state “a
bright-line rule for when an individual is no longer ‘currently’ using drugs, as defined by the ADA.” The Court said
that whether an employee is “no longer engaging in” drug use could only be determined on a case-by-case basis.
The severity of the employee’s addiction, the relapse rate for the drugs used, the employee’s level of responsibility,
the employer’s job performance requirements, and the employee’s past performance record were identified as
factors to be considered in determining whether an “employee’s substance abuse prohibited the employee from
performing the essential job duties.”
Here, the employer produced evidence that “Mauerhan’s recovery status was ‘guarded’ and at least ninety days of
recovery was necessary to ensure significant improvement in his condition.” Mauerhan failed to refute this.
Therefore, “[a]lthough thirty days without using drugs may in some cases be sufficient for an employee to gain the
protection of the ADA, the record before us shows that in this case it was not.”
The Bottom Line This case reinforces the difficult review employers must make of situations where employees
with a history of drug or alcohol abuse have attempted rehabilitation and reapply for employment. The court’s
refusal to state a “bright-line” rule makes judgments on this question more difficult for employers. Determinations
will have to be fact-specific and supported by detailed evidence.
Adair Buckner is an Amarillo attorney with Buckner & Cross, L.L.P. She is Board Certified in Labor and Employment
Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Her other areas of practice include business disputes, commercial
litigation, estate planning, and probate. You can reach Adair at (806)-322-7777 or email@example.com.
This material is not intended to be legal advice. The contents are intended for general information purposes only.
Registration Now Open!
√ Expand your horizons AND your network by attending educational sessions and networking
√ Top industry leaders deliver two and half days of educational sessions on hot HR topics
including Healthcare, Employment Law and Talent Management.
√ Over 200 companies on display in the Exhibit Hall demonstrating their latest products and
√ Earn recertification credits toward your PHR®, SPHR® and GPHR®.
Go to http://www.wynjade.com/hrsw11/ to register!
ATTENTION PHRA MEMBERS:
Based on input from our members and an attempt to streamline the check-in process, we have implemented some new options and processes related
to monthly luncheons.
For those of you who utilize American Express, you will now be able to use your American Express when you pay on-line.
For those of you who are required to submit invoices through your company’s Accounts Payable system we are now offering luncheons in a “10-
Pack”. Ten-pack luncheons will be $150.00, can be used at your discretion, are transferable, and must be used within a 2-year period.
We will continue to offer “Standing Reservations”; please contact Cheryl Roberts (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested. Please remember that
both standing reservations and on-line reservations must be cancelled prior to the end of business on the Friday preceding the luncheon in order to
Invoices will be provided prior to the luncheon for all registered members and guests that have not paid on-line. We strongly encourage that you pay
prior to the luncheon, but will continue to accept payment at the door. Please have your check or other method of payment prepared when you
arrive. Any luncheon not paid prior to or on the date of the luncheon will be invoiced $20.00 for members and $25.00 for guests.
We are pleased to be able to respond to our members input to improve the quality of our luncheons – we welcome your input!
Hiring HR professionals: What are we thinking?
When you hire someone for your Accounting department, what do you look for? Accounting experience, undoubtedly, but presumably you look for
someone with some college‐level accounting training as well as basic competencies such as facilities with numbers, conscientiousness, etc.
What about IT support? Again, in most cases you're probably looking for experience with specific hardware or software or general support experience,
but in many cases you're searching that resume for formal education/training in IT‐related topics.
Connection? For many organizational "support" functions, we look not only for experience but educational experiences that would give the individual
a grounding in the basics of the field and (hopefully) train their mind to recognize historical developments as well as connections between concepts.
So why is that when we hire for HR, another support function, our brains fall out our ears and we seem to focus primarily on past experience? This
weakness seems common in the public sector but I'm guessing the private sector is not immune.
Phrased another way: Why don't more organizations place value on formal HR education when hiring?
I'm not suggesting that one needs a degree in HR to be good at it, although I do think it limits people. What I'm concerned about is the apparent lack
of importance placed on these degrees and what that says about the profession.
Is it because formal HR educational programs don't exist? Nope. According to the College Board, over 350 schools exist with a major in HRM.
Is it because formal education in HR isn't as important for job performance as experience? I'm not aware of any research that shows this to be true (if
you are, please enlighten me).
No, I suspect the following:
1) Many HR leaders themselves do not have formal educational training in HR therefore they tend not to think of it as a screening tool (or place much
value in it).
2) Similarly, there is a lack of knowledge about HR educational programs‐‐what they offer, the advantage of having gone through one, and how to
connect to the school.
3) There are relatively few candidates out there that apply for HR vacancies that have a relevant degree (either as a pure function of the number of
individuals that have a degree in HR or because many applicants believe anyone can do HR).
4) HR is still seen as largely transactional and/or not a critical business function, therefore the qualifications sought have more to do with customer
service than they do formal training. (I believe this is a large reason why HR outsourcing is easy to contemplate for many executives)
5) Many are simply passing through HR. Many incumbents do not see HR as a "career", but rather a stopping point on their way to...something else.
But much like Lightning McQueen (or Doc Hollywood if you prefer), they find they have a hard time leaving, either because they come to like it or they
find they're not as employable as they thought.
6) The professional HR organizations and HR publications focus on anecdotes, opinion, and news bits rather than formal study and analysis. SHRM is
So why do I care about this topic? Because I see HR stagnating until it truly becomes a profession and not a loose collection of people who vaguely
care about things relating to people management. And part of becoming a true profession is placing formal structure around the path from education
I'm also concerned because of the relationship between I/O and HR. Ultimately much of what is researched in I/O gets practiced through HR, and
there is a close relationship in many people's minds‐‐in fact I would wager most managers haven't the foggiest idea what the difference is. So what
impacts HR ultimately impacts I/O.
Maybe it's just not there yet. Maybe I need to be patient. HR's a relatively new field and maybe it just needs time to develop, and to figure out
questions like its relationship to I/O.
But given what I've seen, I'm not feeling optimistic. I see HR shops being outsourced or automated, resulting in more IT skills being required than
knowledge about research on human behavior. Inevitably this will lead many organizations to lose out on important efficiencies they could be gaining
(not to mention improvements in the work environment).
What can be done? I don't have all the answers, just some suggestions:
1) A wider promotion of the value of formal HR education. SHRM, I'm looking at you, as well as the other HR professional organizations.
2) More research on the connection between formal HR education and job performance.
3) Effort on the part of HR leaders to at least consider the potential importance of HR education when hiring for their teams.
4) More effort on the part of HR leaders to establish connections to schools that offer HR degrees and begin programs like internships and formal
5) More organizational support (e.g., tuition reimbursement) for staff to obtain HR degrees.
This article was taken from http://hrtests.blogspot.com/2011/05/hiring‐hr‐professionals‐what‐are‐
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