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BasicLegal AspectsAngelaSpencerWashingtonState Personnel Association               AbstractThis paper will reviewwhat was learned from researching the necessary basic legal aspects of humanresources which include Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Family MedicalLeave Act, American Disability Act, Fair Labor Standards Act and Title IX. Youwill read about the legal workshop that was attended and how it relates to thepractices of the Nine Mile Falls School District.

  Interviews were held with the payroll officerMandi Stack to discuss how the district is compliant with the Fair LaborStandards Act, this paper will report what was found. After researching thebasic legal aspects of human resources and how they relate to our district youwill see why understanding the basic legal aspects of human resources isimportant.                 Meeting with the Human ResourceAdministrator            The Nine Mile Falls School District is a small ruraldistrict which is why the superintendent is the Human Resource Administrator.My position in Human Resources supports, informs, documents and educatesadministration so all administrators have the information needed to make sounddecisions in regards to Human Resources. Our district often reaches out forlegal counsel when  dealing withemployment issues so we can ensure fair labor practices.             The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission purpose”is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal todiscriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’srace, color, religion sex (including pregnancy, gender identity and sexualorientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or geneticinformation.

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” It is my role to follow and educate all administrators whoare hiring any staff for any position in the rules of the Equal EmploymentOpportunity Commission to prevent discriminatory hiring.             The Family Medical Leave Act “entitles eligibleemployees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave forspecified family and medical reasons with continuation of group healthinsurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if  the employee had not taken leave.”Family Medical Leave is offered to all eligible employees that report the needfor any time off due to specified family and/or medical reasons. The paperworkis generated by me and signed by the superintendent. By generating thepaperwork and explaining what the Family Medical Leave Act is to employee’s,they can then understand that this is not paid time away from work but insteadunderstand that this is job protection.              The purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act is”to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the eliminationof discrimination against individual with disabilities.” The term”disability” refers to a physical or mental impairment thatsubstantially limits one or more major life activities.

In general these aredescribed as performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping,walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading,concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. Accommodation must be madefor an employee which has a disability. When hiring new staff the mostqualified staff must be offered the position with no regard to disability. ScottFriedman is the Section 504/ADA Coordinator if any questions arise.             The district is incompliance with Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1974. Title IX requiresschool districts to provide opportunities for all students and personnel in allareas, regardless of gender.

Any questions that may arise from Title IX aredirected to the superintendent as he is the Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator.            It is important for all of our district office staff thatresponsible for human resource duties to attend continuing educationalopportunities as the rules in many of these areas continue to change.  It is a practice of the Nine Mile FallsSchool District to send employees responsible for these areas to workshops thatare presented either through our local Educational Service District or otheroutside vendors so they can keep current on the ever changing rules thatsupport Human Resources. Review District Policy            The policies that pertain to Human Resources werereviewed with Kathy Fairbanks who is the Administrative Assistant to thesuperintendent.

Not all of the policies have been updated but it is thepractice of the district to include updates to policy and procedure monthly oras time allows.  After seeing what ittakes to update policy I have volunteered to update the 5000’s as that is thesection that relates to personnel.  Ithas been the past practice that the administrative assistant to thesuperintendent is responsible for updating the districts policies andprocedures. Common School Manual            The Common School Manual “is a compilation of mostof the laws enacted by the state legislature governing common school systemoperations.” This manual is over one thousand pages and supports the workof our administrators and staff by having a central repository for all theRCW’s and WAC’s that govern the rules that surround education.              Part One of the RCW’s covers common school provisions,Part Two is Administrative Procedures, Part Three addresses CollectiveBargaining and public employment labor relations. Part Four covers other lawssuch as abuse of children, primaries and elections,  inter-local agreements, public records act,and many other laws that education is governed by.             The Professional Educators Standards Board’s rules areunder part four of the Washington Administrative Code which can be found in theCommon School Manual.

I can honestly say that I didn’t know what was covered inthe Common School Manual and have now familiarized myself with the content thatis there and will be able to use this as a resource in the future. Aftermeeting with Mandi Stack, our payroll office we both agreed that understandingwhere to find correct information is sometimes the most difficult part of findingthe answer to the question. The Common School Manual is a good place to startlooking for answers.

Equal Employment Opportunity andAffirmative Action            The Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action Policy wasreviewed and discussed with Stephanie Hance, Business Manager for the Nine MileFalls School District. We both believe that the Nine Mile Falls School Districtdoes its best to recruit and hire from a diverse applicant pool. I have noticedthrough the years that on the Voluntary Affirmative Action ProgramQuestionnaire that is separated from the application when it arrives at thedistrict office, primarily documents a Caucasian population of applicants. TheSeattle Times reported this last year that 90% of our public school teachersare white.  They also reported that”plentiful research shows a strong correlation between diverse teachingstaff and student success”.

There has also been significant research onhow to make students from marginalized groups feel welcome in schools. Minorityteachers can serve as “cultural ambassadors” who help students feelmore comfortable and welcome in school. Minority staff can also can have a morepositive perception of students of color.

 “44% of Washington students identity as notbeing white.”            When the Nine Mile Falls School District advertises fornew teacher jobs we advertise across the state in multiple venues in the hopesof attracting the best and brightest teachers. Since we are a small districtmany new teachers may not be aware of who we are or where we are located so itis important for us to advertise to a larger market. Until more people of colorare attracted to the field of education it will continue to be a struggle forall districts to hire a diverse staff. Workshop Related to Legal Issues inHuman Resources            Curtis Leonard, and Rick Kaiser from the Law Offices ofRichard H.

Kaiser presented a workshop Employee Investigations andDiscipline.  Curtis started the day bydiscussing the rules that must be followed by Certificated employees comparedto Classified employees.  Certificatedemployees are governed by RCW’s where classified employees have no statute andgenerally require just cause.             A discussion was then had on the differences between aletter of direction versus discipline. Letters of direction are not considereddiscipline even though the employee may “feel” that they are beingdisciplined. A letter of direction is coaching the employee in a new directionto avoid discipline. This letter may be held in a principals file and may notbe placed in the personnel file. A letter of discipline will state the facts,the rules that were violated, directives the employee must follow to correctthe violation,  and the consequence forfailure to comply.

  Failure to comply maylead to termination.             Just Cause was the next topic covered. There are seventests of  Just Cause. The most importantrule for Just Cause is “Was the employee adequately warned of theconsequences of his/her conduct?” (Leonard, 2017)  The rules of just cause are routinely used byarbitrators which is why it important for those working in Human Resources toknow the rules and be asking these questions of our processes.

            Many topics such as the investigation process,  paid administrative leave,  how to investigate, discipline which includedWeingarten Rights and Loudermill Meetings were all covered. The day was endedwith the general rules of terminating an employee.  Rick Kaiser spoke about flagrant conduct andcause for termination. If the employee’s behavior was sexually exploitive orphysically abusive you can terminate without using the “Clarke test”or “Hoagland factors”.             It is important to properly document all discipline,using progressive discipline. Having a record of progressive discipline willhelp prove that the employee is not remediable and will also show the impact onthe employee’s position.

This six and a half hour training was valuable;  all human resource staff that are involvedwith employee discipline should be encouraged to attend. Fair Labor and Standards Act            The Fair Labor Stands Act “is a federal law whichestablishes minimum wage, overtime pay eligibility, recordkeeping, and childlabor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sectorand in federal, state, and local governments.” When an employee works inexcess of 40 hours per week they will receive overtime at the rate of one andhalf time the employee’s regular rate.

A school districts collective bargainingagreements could have other requirements in regards to overtime eligibility soit would be wise to read the collective bargaining agreement. There are someemployee’s that are exempt from overtime pay. The Department of Labor providesan exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay if the employee is anexecutive, administrative, professional, computer, and outside sales employee.             Mandi Stack, our payroll officer, and I met and discussedthat there has been considerable movement about what the minimum salarythreshold would be this past year. At one point it looked like it was movingfrom $23,660 to $47,476. This had many people talking about how this wouldimpact their bottom line and looking at the affordability of this newrequirement.

In September of 2017 the rule was struck down leaving the rulefrom 2004 in place. The other topic that has been discussed at length is the new”sick time” rule and how it will be tracked for our substituteemployee staff. This is an ongoing discussion without a clear decision of howwe plan on managing and tracking the accrual through the systems that wecurrently have in place. The one thing we do know is that we will be trackingand awarding sick time to substitute employees.

Conclusionand ReflectionAfterresearching, reviewing, and discussing equal employment guidelines, the FamilyMedical Leave Act, American’s with Disabilities, Fair Labor and Title IX withall of the different staff members in the district office I now have a clearervision of who is responsible for each area. It continues to be all of ourresponsibility to make sure we are all following the rules that govern ouremployment practices and when necessary seek legal counsel. One of the NineMile Falls School District core beliefs is that “we are each other’s bestresources”. This continues to hold true when staff are empowered to seekcontinuing education and then given a way to share this information withothers. Since Nine Mile is a smaller school district many of us wear many hatsand do not specialize in any one area. A weekly meeting has been set up toaddress any changes that are happening either within the district or withchanging rules and law. This has already improved communication between thestaff that are affected by these updates which will provide a better outcome tothe overall operation of the district.

This has been a helpful learningexperience and has opened my eyes to the complexities of the basic legalaspects that govern our school district.         References   Americans with Disabilities Act. (2017, December 1). Retrieved from United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Devision: https://www.ada.

gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm Bazzaz, D. (2017, May 30). The Seattle Time. Retrieved from Seattletimes: https://www.seattletimes.

com/education-lab/how-does-racial-identity-affect-students-and-teachers-find-out-at-educationsowhite/ Kaiser, C. L. (November , November 13).

Employee Investigations and Discipline. Employee Investigations and Discipline. Spokane, Wa, USA: Curtis Leonard and Rick Kaiser. Labor, U.

S. (2017, December 1). Wage and Hour Division Family and Medical Leave Act. Retrieved from United States Department of Labor: Lisette Partelow, A.

S. (2017, September 14). America Needs More Teachers of Color and a More Selective Teacher Profession. Retrieved from Center for American Progress: https://www.americanprogress.

org/issues/education-k-12/reports/2017/09/14/437667/america-needs-teachers-color-selective-teaching-profession/ Management, O. o. (2017, December 1). Fair Labor and Standards Act. Retrieved from Office of Financial Managment: Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. (2017, February 8).

Retrieved from 2017 Common School Manual: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

(n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2017, from U.S.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:            


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