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How to Avoid a $1 Billion Fine

It almost goes without saying, but let's say it anyway: you could do a lot for a company with $1 billion.

A company like Wells Fargo, which has been fined $1 billion for auto and mortgage loan abuses, could have spent that money training employees not to take advantage of consumers. Even with some 260,000 employees, that's almost $4,000 of training per employee.

Of course, money can't solve everything. But better training, hiring, and policies can help avoid even a $1 billion fine.

When an employee makes a complaint alleging sexual harassment, whether the perpetrator was a co-worker, manager, or supervisor, every company should do one thing: Don't ignore the complaint. Taking prompt remedial action can actually preclude liability.

Restaurant Partners Inc., the folks who own and operate several "Coney" restaurants/diners, best known for their dogs and smothering everything with chili-cheese and ranch, were recently served with a lawsuit stemming from the company allegedly ignoring three waitresses' complaints of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. The details of the alleged misconduct are rather disturbing, and it really begs the question of how a company could fail to act after hearing about it.

When it comes to the future promised by artificial intelligence, one of the great prospects is an inclusive world free from invidious, arbitrary discrimination. Although, at this time, this may be a lofty goal, there may be ways that you can utilize the technology of today to promote inclusivity and the hiring of a diverse workforce.

The big problem with letting AI take over is that data does as data is. And the current subset of data is inherently discriminatory, if not due to intentional discrimination, than due to implicit bias. However, the right software programs can help employers remove the potential for unconscious bias when screening candidates for new hires, or promotions.

Target Settles Criminal History/Racial Disparity Case

Doing criminal background checks for new hires is just doing business these days, but not so fast.

A settlement against Target suggests 3.74 million reasons why companies should pay closer attention to how they use criminal histories. If employers are not careful, they may have to pay the hard way.

Target admitted no wrongdoing in the case, but it still has to pay $3.74 million to settle it.

While running any business may require quite a bit of socializing, that doesn't mean that employees won't suffer from loneliness. In fact, accord to a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review, approximately 40 percent of Americans report feeling lonely.

Although it may be easy for an employer to not get involved in what's more than likely a person's individual issue, a recent study stresses the fact that lonely workers are at a higher risk of poor performance and jumping ship. Naturally, employers shouldn't stick their nose in places it doesn't belong, like an employee's social life, but there are definitely things employers can do to help employees be less lonely.

Apple Lands a Big A.I. Fish From Google

Google 'John Giannandrea' and you will see how fast leaders move in the search and artificial intelligence markets.

Giannandrea was Google's chief on Monday. On Tuesday, he was Apple's.

In a move designed to push Apple to the top of the field, Giannandrea will run the company's "machine and A.I. strategy."

The Family Dollar store's name may elicit a mom and pop feel, but a recent class action settlement involving 37,000 female managers claiming to be paid less than their male counterparts easily shatters that image. Though the fact that there are 8,000 Family Dollar stores across the country helps too.

For the company, which was recently purchased by Dollar Tree, the settlement clearly reflects a desire to move forward. In addition to the $45 million settlement, the company agreed to an audit of their pay practices and policies. For companies that are sitting back and watching this unfold, it could be downright frightening to hear that the plaintiffs were seeking liability to extend all the way back to 2002.

When Interviewing Applicants, Don't Mention the Haircut

Hare today, gone tomorrow.

Sorry, late Easter Bunny joke. It should been: "Hair today, gone tomorrow."

That's because we're going to talk about job applicants and their hair. The issue is, should employers hire or fire based on haircuts?

The #MeToo movement has resulted in some serious corporate shake-ups and PR nightmares. Billionaire Steve Wynn, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, and even the former Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, have all been ousted as a result of the public's support for victims of sexual harassment.

But not all #MeToo claims have resulted in widespread public backlash. One Silicon Valley startup faced a #MeToo charge and lawsuit without being publicly eviscerated, and what it did in response should serve as a guide for other companies that get called out.

Most employers have clear anti-retaliation policies that pretty much mirror what the law says. The basic policy, in essence, says: If you or someone files a complaint against the company (or you), then you, others, and the company, will not retaliate.

However, the word retaliate is rather vague and even high ranking officials within a company might not fully grasp how anti-retaliation laws work. And while everyone surely received some level of training during their onboarding, companies would be wise to at least retrain management on anti-retaliation practices after an exposure incident.