Educating Your Clients on Their Rights Regarding Workplace Harassment

What constitutes unlawful harassment?

Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

Harassment becomes unlawful when 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.

Where to file a complaint?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency to call if your clients experience discrimination or harassment in the workplace. The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. A person can file a complaint with the EEOC when their workplace becomes what is considered to be hostile. “Hostile” means intimidating, offensive, abusive and/or otherwise offensive, going beyond rudeness or casual joking. To qualify as a “hostile” workplace, conduct must be intentional, severe, recurring, and/or pervasive to the extent that it interferes with the employee’s ability to perform his or her job.

A complaint must be filed online or over the phone before meeting in person at your local EEOC office. When filing a complaint, it is always helpful if clients bring to the meeting any information or papers that will help EEOC understand their case. For example, if a client was fired because of their performance, he or she might bring in a recent performance evaluation, as well as the letter or notice stating that he or she was fired. If possible, the client may also want to bring the names and contact information of anyone who knows about the incident or ongoing harassment.

The client can bring third parties, such as family members or friends, to this meeting, and should do so especially if he or she needs language assistance. Alternatively, if the client needs special assistance during the meeting, such as a sign language or a language interpreter, let the EEOC office know ahead of time so it can make arrangements. The client can also bring a lawyer, although it is not necessary to hire a lawyer to file a charge.

Please note, an employer must have a certain number of employees to be covered by the laws enforced by the EEOC. This number varies depending on the type of employer (for example, whether the employer is a private company, a state or local government agency, a federal agency, an employment agency, or a labor union) and the kind of discrimination alleged (for example, discrimination based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information). Figuring out whether or not an employer is covered can be complicated. If you aren’t sure about whether coverage exists, you should contact your local EEOC office as soon as possible and they will make that decision. It is also important to keep in mind that, if an employer is not covered by the laws EEOC enforces, the employer still may be covered by a state or local anti-discrimination law. If it is, EEOC can refer you to the state or local agency that enforces that law.

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App Based Employment: Career Counseling Strategies

As many refugees access flexible app-based employment opportunities, such as rideshare, labor, and delivery, how are you preparing clients?

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Planning

For clients interested in entering app-based or on-demand employment, it is important to offer career counseling that provides guidance as to how this intermediate path contributes or hinders their long-term career path. Uber, InstaCart, and other app-based positions may provide flexible, immediate income. However, these gigs are not necessarily sustainable in the long-term and are not appropriate for everyone. When clients inquire about this type of employment, it is important to assist them in exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each opportunity as well as other options that can support their career pathway.

Important Considerations

  • Flexibility in the schedule might allow more time for ESL, GED, or post-secondary education courses.
  • The employer may offer opportunities for employees to further their education and even helps offset some of the cost. For example, Lyft partnered with an education benefits company to provide education advancement programming, including Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, GED, vocational, and English language courses. For more information, click here.
  • All the app based employers require a strong command of the English language.
  • Rideshare apps such as Lyft and Uber or delivery apps such as Postmates and Grubhub require both a driver’s license and a car.
  • How much does the client need to make to be self-sufficient?
  • What is the actual pay per hour after expenses? How do you budget for tips?
  • As an independent contractor, what will the taxes amount to and how will they be paid?
  • Overall, do the pros outweigh the cons?
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Financial Literacy Spotlight: Savings

When working entry-level jobs it can be difficult to contribute to a savings account. However, it is imperative for everyone to build up a savings safety net and therefore crucial for employment specialists to reiterate the importance of savings as a part of financial literacy training. Below are some resources to help you teach and encourage refugees to save:

“Savings” is money that is set aside for a specific purpose such as buying a home or emergency income. Cash left over in a checking account after paying bills does not necessarily count as “savings,” especially if the money is going to be used later in the same pay period. Similarly, if a client “saved” $5 at the grocery store, they have not necessarily increased their savings, but rather refrained from spending what was planned. Saving is not the absence of spending; saving is the intentional act of setting money aside for a specific goal or purpose. Many financial institutions have developed initiatives that include a curriculum covering the basics of money management with specific lessons on saving.  Here is a link to some of our favorites.

As a part of financial literacy training, encourage clients to open a savings account the same time they open their checking account.  When building a budget with a client, it is crucial to build in a line for savings, but how much should a client save each paycheck or month? The National Endowment for Education has developed several useful web-based tools, including Savings for Emergencies and Smart About Money. As clients enter employment, encourage them to put the appropriate amount of income into savings.

Incorporating savings into financial literacy and job readiness courses assists refugees with their long-term self-sufficiency and independence. Whether to buy a car or a house, or just for an unplanned emergency, learning how to save is crucial to success.

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The Immigrant and Employee Rights Hotline for I-9 and E-Verify Violations

Higher is seeing an increase in offices reporting issues with new employers being extra cautious about verifying a new hire’s employment authorization. When establishing a relationship with a new employer, it is best for employment staff to accompany their clients and act as a hiring guide for both parties. It is essential to know that a client has the right to present any combination of documents listed on form I-9 and that it is illegal for an employer to solicit documents from clients beyond I-9 requirements.

If you or your clients are having trouble with the onboarding process due to documentation issues, you can contact the Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER) Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. This agency enforces the antidiscrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Immigration and Nationality Act

This federal law prohibits:

  • discrimination due to citizenship status or national origin in
    • hiring,
    • firing,
    • or recruitment;
  • unfair documentary practices during the
    • employment eligibility verification,
    • Form I-9
    • and E-Verify;
  • and retaliation or intimidation

In job readiness training, be sure to provide clients with the IER worker hotline (1-800-255-7688) and encourage self-reporting outside of resettlement services, when necessary. The hotline provides interpretation services upon request.

Want to practice your knowledge of I-9? The Employee Rights Interactive Quiz is great for staff and job readiness training!

For further questions surrounding worker’s rights, see Higher’s blog post on Worker’s Rights Review.

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The Merits of a Skill-Based Resume for Refugee Clients

Recently, Higher has received many inquiries about how to write resumes for refugees with significant gaps in employment. In addition to the traditional chronological resume, there is an alternative method for producing professional resumes with clients.

A functional skill-based resume focuses on skills and experience, rather than on chronological work history. It is typically used by job seekers who are changing careers, have gaps in their employment history, or whose work history is not directly related to the job. This type of resume de-emphasizes employment information and allows a candidate to show the most relevant skills and abilities without bringing attention to employment gaps, frequent job changes, terminations, or an atypical professional background.

It is important to note that because many employers are accustomed to the traditional chronological resume, some employers are not as familiar with the format of a functional resume. However, for many refugees, a skill-based resume may be the best option and a successful way for a client to find employment. Be sure to notify employers about the merits of this type of resume for your clientele, the more skill-based resumes an employer sees from your clients the more acclimatized they will become to this type of resume.  As a client gains more experience in the U.S., the resume can be adapted into a more traditional model.

How Should a Skill-Based Resume Be Formatted?

To determine the best way to format a skill-based resume, first consider the main requirements listed in the job description. The objective is to arrange the resume in an accessible way that highlights the applicant’s attributes.

Example 1 (see below) illustrates a typical skill-based approach. It includes multiple skills sections with bulleted examples that prove competencies for each respective skill. Notice that employment details, such as the job title, company name, location, and dates of employment, are not included in these sections. As in a regular resume, try to add as much detail as possible for each bullet.

After the skills section, draft a brief work history section more commonly referred to as a professional profile section (see Example 2: Nancy Confidential). No bullet points are necessary in this section; only include the company name, job title, employment dates, and the city and state of the organization. Include volunteer positions (see Example 3), internships, or other relevant experience in this section, but remember that everything listed needs professional value. The skill-based resume highlights clients’ strengths until they gain work experience in the U.S.

                         (Example 3)

 

Do you create skill-based resumes for your clients? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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Do your clients have 21st Century literacy skills needed for today’s workforce?

“The driving force for the 21st century is the intellectual capital of citizens,” the Metiri Group Twenty-First Century Skills.

The term “21st-century skills” is generally used to refer to certain core competencies such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving that advocates believe adults need to know in order to thrive in today’s world.

As technology expands and society shifts, literacy expands to include much more than reading and writing. Information and communication technologies are raising the bar on the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century. Technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, demanding that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies. These literacies are multiple, dynamic, and malleable.

Refugees seeking for job upgrades and forging career pathways should consider their competency in these 21st century skills in their planning.

Digital-age literacy encompasses:

  • Basic literacy: The ability to read, write, listen and speak as well as to compute numbers and solve problems
  • Scientific literacy: A general knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes
  • Economic literacy: An understanding of basic economic concepts, personal finance, the roles of small and large businesses, and how economic issues affect them as consumers and citizens
  • Technological literacy: An understanding about technology and how it can be used to achieve a specific purpose or goal
  • Visual literacy: Visualization skills and the ability to understand, use, and create images and video using both conventional and new media
  • Information literacy: The ability to find, access, and use information as well as the ability to evaluate the credibility of the information
  • Cultural literacy: The ability to value diversity, to exhibit sensitivity to cultural issues, and to interact and communicate with diverse cultural groups
  • Global awareness: An understanding of how nations, individuals, groups, and economies are interconnected and how they relate to each other

Refugee clients have both advantages and disadvantages in accessing these literacies. For example, refugees are versed in more than one culture and interact cross-culturally based on their forced migration. However, they may not have had opportunities to increase their information or computer literacy. Introducing computers in job readiness classes or referring clients to basic computer classes are some ways to grow refugees’ 21st century literacy skills. Using volunteers and donations, resettlement agencies can seek computers to set up volunteer taught computer labs or to give directly to clients as a way to provide digital literacy.

Do you work with employers who value 21st Century Skills? How do you introduce 21st century skills to your clients? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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Partnering on Corporate Days of Service

Partnerships with employers beyond job placements are a strategic way to maintain and grow business relationships. Businesses support refugee resettlement programs through employee giving, event sponsorship, donations, and grants, but did you know that many firms also sponsor employee volunteer days? Many companies offer their employees 1 to 3 days per year to go out into the community and provide volunteer service.  For example, TripAdvisor allows their employees to take up to five days of paid leave to volunteer their time and skills at any nonprofit organization, including those working with refugees. Before reaching out to an employer with a proposal, Higher recommends that refugee programs prepare a list and description of short-term volunteer roles that would be appropriate for such an event. When providing options, be mindful of corporate preferences such as volunteer opportunities that might be done at the business’s location or one-time large group projects.

Here are just a few ways in which refugee employment programs might utilize corporate volunteers:

  • Have the company put on a fair or job readiness class where refugees can learn about different aspects of American workplace culture. This event can also include informational interviews and interviewing or networking practice for clients.
  • Have the company’s employee’s act as career mentors for refugee clients.
  • Seek out professional volunteers that might offer their skills for special projects such as database creation, grant writing, social media, or marketing.

Related Resources from the Higher Blog:

A Few Ways to Engage Volunteers in your Employment Program

Targeted Volunteer Recruitment- for Employment Programs

4 Ways to Utilize Volunteers in Employment Services

Do you have a great corporate partner that you would like to share with us? Please write to us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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Higher’s Guide to Labor Market Information: Occupational Profiles Tool

Labor Market Information (LMI) enables refugee employment teams to utilize data to enhance their career counseling, job development, and job readiness classes.  In this post, Higher will highlight one aspect of Higher’s A Guide to Labor Market Information for Refugee Employment Programs, the Occupational Profile tool, which is available on CareerOneStop, an LMI database.

LMI is data provided by the US Department of Labor that incorporates statistics from employers across the nation. Within LMI, the Occupational Profile is a tool that gathers industry information on various fields and positions and provides data to the public.

How to Use the Occupational Profile – Example

Imagine you are in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, meeting with a client who has returned for long term career planning. The client has experience in crane operation from her country and is interested in returning to that field. You are unfamiliar with that position or industry and need to understand the client’s experience and how to assist the client in crafting an industry specific resume and long term career plan. To start, you open the Occupational Profile and search for the position. After clicking search, the occupational profile opens up with a description of job duties, responsibilities, and a career video. (For more details on the job duties and responsibilities, you may also use O*NET, the second LMI database, which holds similar information as CareerOneStop but in a different format.)

The Occupational Profile also provides details on national and state-specific employment projections. For example, Crane and Tower Operators projections show that job growth in this filed is slower in Alabama, than the United States as a whole. Based on the information provided you could select “Compare Projected Employment button to what other states will have more potential positions in the future. Select View Chart or View Map to compare. The information from the profile also indicates if the field is shrinking. Since the example highlights less potential growth, there could be other positions in the same industry that have more openings in the future. The Occupational Profile includes a list of related occupations for any selected position.

Another component of the Occupational Profile is Education and Experience: to get started as well as Typical Education. The Education and Experience box highlights what credentials people starting in this career often possess and some programs that can prepare a potential worker. Typical Education allows viewers to learn about the average educational level for workers in the field. For the example of Crane and Tower Operators, the diagram shows that 50% have a high school diploma or equivalent, and 24% have some college, but no degree. This information suggests that pursuing higher education for this field is unnecessary.

The Occupational Profile also provides wage information, required certifications and training, and skills and abilities of people in that field.

Accessing the Occupational Profile allows any employment professional to gather data to respect their client’s experience to benefit their future career.

Considerations

It is important to remember that as LMI data is gathered nationally every two years. Utilizing local sources like American Job Centers that collect real-time, local employer, or training information, might help to provide the most concrete information to refugee job seekers.

Of course, LMI databases or toolkits are not meant to replace local relationships and partnerships. To run reports, ask questions, or learn more about your state or local area, contact your state’s LMI expert.

The Occupational Profile is just one of many tools found on CareerOneStop; Higher also recommends discovering local businesses on the Business Finder, using Comparing Local Wages, and Local Training Finder.  For more information on Labor Market Information, check out Higher’s A Guide to Labor Market Information for Refugee Employment Programs.

How do you use labor market information to help inform client’s career pathways? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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Resume Writing for Advanced Positions

Often Higher is asked for guidance on how to help clients prepare a more advanced resume. Outlined in the section below are some of the best rules and advice on how to build a professional U.S. style resume.

The Rules

  • 1-page rule: In the US, job seekers must stick to the one-page rule unless they have a master’s degree or higher; then a resume can be two pages.
  • Get the order right: Move backward in time, starting with the most recent job in each section.
  • 10-year rule: Never recount more than 10 years of employment history.
  • Equal bullets rule: Under every position, there should be the same amount of bulleted information and job duties.
  • Education: Spell out the degree so it will stand out. It is not necessary to include a GPA or GMAT score. Do not list courses. Do list any leadership roles and study abroad experiences.
  • Font rule: Keep the entire document in the same font, and only the name should be in larger font. Use a standard font (Times New Roman, Arial, or Helvetica), so it reads the same on any computer or printer.
  • Avoid the objective: Many people like to start their resume with an objective outlining their purpose. However, every applicant has a similar objective; as they are all seeking employment. Express the objective in a cover letter, and keep the resume for professional and educational history.
  • Addressing Gaps: Use cover letters to briefly and directly address the gap in the career, particularly for refugees who have experienced long periods of time where they were unable to work. For example, “I am returning to the workforce after a period of raising children/living as a refugee.” Then address the strengths, qualifications, and goals. Emphasize the job seeker’s excitement and preparedness to re-enter the workforce now. If the gap is over 7 years or a refugee prefers not to address the time gap, it may be time to consider a skill based resume which will be tackled in a subsequent Higher blog.
  • Creativity rule: Create a new version of a resume for every job opportunity. Similar to a cover letter, a resume should be tailored to a job description
  • Finally, don’t forget to have a friend or colleague help edit and proofread. An outside perspective is most helpful in selecting what is most relevant to each job.

What are some rules or content guidelines that you use when writing advanced resumes? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

Check out Higher’s past blogs for more information on Resume Strategies, Entry-Level Resumes or Cover Letters.

 

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Webinar Alert: Financial Literacy Training Resources

Financial Literacy training is a required resettlement service. On Thursday, June 21st, CORE, the Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange, is providing a 30-minute Money Management webinar on how to engage refugees around key messages on budgeting, financing, and self-sufficiency. The session will draw on CORE’s new resources on Money Management, including a supplemental lesson plan, and also feature additional resources as well as an opportunity to engage with peers on the subject.

To accommodate a range of time zones, the webinar is being offered at 8:00 AM EDT and 1:00 PM EDT on June 21. Note that each webinar will feature the same content.

To select your preferred session time and register, click here.

Other financial literacy resources, such as courses like Understanding Your Paycheck, can be found on Higher’s Online Learning Institute.

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