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News briefs: New EEOC guidance; Obesity; Violence; Talking about bad news; Motivating employees, and more

New guidance from EEOC - the past week was a busy one at EEOC, with two important releases. Connecticut Employment Law Blog offers an overview of the EEOC Guidance on Use of Criminal and Arrest Records By Employers and Ohio's Employer Law Blog discusses the EEOC protections for transgender workers. Recently, EEOC also issued revised publications on Employment of Veterans with Disabilities.

New study on the cost of obesity - Obesity now accounts for 21% of healthcare costs - a new Cornell University study finds that obesity costs more than twice what had been previously thought, raising the cost of treating nearly any medical condition: "An obese person incurs medical costs that are $2,741 higher (in 2005 dollars) than if they were not obese, according to the newest study. Nationwide, that translates into $190.2 billion per year, or 20.6 percent of national health expenditures."

Obesity discrimination - Victoria Hospital in Texas instituted a recent policy stating they won't hire very obese workers. Evil HR Lady Suzanne Lucas asks whether it is okay to discriminate against obese workers, offering five reasons why such a policy is misguided. The hospital is basing its hiring guidelines on the Body mass Index and Lucas points out that many health professionals consider the BMI a faulty health metric.

Workplace violence - Recent research by AlliedBarton Services reveals that as many as 1 in 2 U.S. employees report having been exposed to workplace violence. These events included open hostility, abusive language or threats; 28% of responding workers workers reported a violent event or one that can lead to violence happened to them at their current place of employment or they have been personally affected this type of event, and overall, 12% reported witnessing, hearing about or being aware of an incidence of significant physical harm to another person, with 5% having had this happen to them or having been personally affected by this type of incident. The survey also revealed that employers appear reluctant to take aggressive actions when violence occurs. Only 53% took disciplinary actions in response to the reported violence, and even fewer implemented training for employees or supervisors, made changes to the physical environment or revised company policy.
Related: Violence in the workplace often happens on a continuum and the tone is often set at the top. See HR Bartender's post, How To Tell If Your Boss Is a Bully or Just Tough.

Age discrimination - Susan M. Heathfield of About.com Human Resources notes that age discrimination lawsuits are up over 18% - the fastest rising of any lawsuit. People over the age of 40 who have been displaced in the current tough job market have a difficult time finding new work. She asks Do You Discriminate Against Older Workers - Even Subtly?, issuing a reminder that "age discrimination is illegal at any phase of the employment relationship including job postings, job descriptions, interviews, hiring, salaries, job assignments, merit increases, performance management and evaluation, training, disciplinary actions, promotions, demotions, benefits, employment termination, and layoffs." For strategies older job seekers can implement to help expedite a job search, see job search tips for older workers

How to talk to someone who is facing bad news - At KevinMD, physician Kate Land writes about how to handle a conversation when the news is bad. When someone we know faces bad news, the tendency for many well-meaning people is to respond with their own story. That is perhaps better than other all-too-human tendencies, like taking flight or avoidance, or minimizing the event. She suggests we learn to keep things simple and learn to be comfortable with a moment of silence. She also points to an excellent article by Bruce Feiler about Six Things You Should Never Say to a Friend (or Relative or Colleague) Who’s Sick. And Four Things You Can Always Say.

Effective motivation - CEO Greg Lederman notes that the all-too-common carrot-and-stick pathway to motivating employee performance is inefficient, costly, and does not produce the desired results. In What Really Motivates People at Work, he suggests three strategic and simple ways to manage behavior. that will help to increase employee engagement, strengthen the work culture and improve the experience provided to customers.

The high cost of bullying - A New Jersey school will pay $4.2 million in settlement fees for failing to comply with a state anti-bullying law. The school was sued after a middle school student was paralyzed by a punch from another student. The student had repeatedly complained of being bullied. In addition, the perpetrating student had other instances of violent behavior, but this had not been documented or dealt with by the school. While this case represents a settlement rather than a court judgement, it points to the high potential cost that bullying can represent, both in a human toll and an expense to the educational institution.

Cool Tool - Next time you plan a trip, give Google flights a try. Whether you have a specific destination with dates in mind or not, Flight Search can help you quickly find the best options for your trip, including a tool to help you find the cheapest flight and best duration options when you have flexible travel dates. Learn more about this service on the Google Flights support and FAQ page.

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