‘What was your most unusual sex act?’ Cincy police, fire recruits asked about sex

reprinted: , Cincinnati Enquirer Published 12:01 p.m. ET Sept. 13, 2018 | Updated 3:53 p.m. ET Sept. 13, 2018

Cincinnati police and firefighter recruits are asked to describe their “most unusual sex act” in a questionnaire that can later become accessible to the public.

The questions are part of the Fire and Police departments’ pre-employment process. They raise concerns for some that new recruits are being asked to divulge private, probing details about their sexual history.

“This certainly raises eyebrows,” said Mary Turocy, director of public affairs for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

“Have you participated in a sexual act in a public place?” Cincinnati police and fire applicants are asked. “Location(s) and number of times. … Explain each circumstance.”

Another asks: “Not counting self-masturbation or legal sexual activity with a willing partner, what was your most unusual sex act?”

Cincinnati isn’t the only jurisdiction in the region asking such questions. West Chester, Delhi and Colerain townships all ask recruits about legal sexual acts or urges, including one about arousal by fire.

Staff at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission reviewed the questions obtained by The Enquirer via several records requests. Turocy said no discrimination lawsuits have been filed in the state pertaining to these types of questions.

Cincinnati police and firefighter recruits are asked to describe their “most unusual sex act” in a questionnaire that can later become accessible to the public.

“However, if someone made an allegation related to any question, especially a question that is somewhat unusual like those, we’d be looking at whether it is relevant to the duties of the job,” she said.

Sgt. Dan Hils, the Cincinnati police union president, said he supports the question about sex in a public place, as it is an “indication of law-breaking exposure.”

But the question about unusual sex, a version of which he recalled being asked as an applicant, could “possibly be out of bounds,” he said.

Questions about illegal sexual activity — sex with minors, sexual assault or possession of child pornography — appear in all of the pre-employment questionnaires obtained by The Enquirer.

“What we should be asking about are things that are criminal in nature,” Hils said. “…Stuff geared more to people’s private, behind-closed-doors lives, I do not see as having a bearing on the work we do.”

Lori Adelson, a Florida-based labor and employment attorney who represents employers, said that while she doesn’t specialize in Ohio law, she generally advises against posing questions that are “irrelevant to the functioning of the business and could possibly be deemed inappropriate.”

“If I was that employer’s attorney,” she said, “I would recommend they don’t have those questions in there.”

The city of Cincinnati said in a statement that “the specific questions mentioned are a small component of a comprehensive questionnaire used during a polygraph exam for prospective recruits. The polygraph is used to help gauge a respondent’s reactions and responses to difficult questions.”

Asking about sexual history is not uncommon for the region’s first responder recruits.

“Ever sexually aroused by fire?” West Chester police recruits are asked during a polygraph background test.

They’re also asked if they’ve ever been married to more than one person at the same time, if they’re experiencing “marital problems” and if they “ever (had) sexual relations/contact with a corpse (dead person or animal)?”

Barb Wilson, a West Chester spokeswoman, said the Police Department is looking to “determine the character, moral standards and ethical decision making” of its applicants.

“The questions asked as part of the polygraph examination should be considered as a collective of questions and not individually,” she wrote by email. “They are designed to gauge reactions and determine truthfulness in the broad range of topics covered.”

The city of Norwood asks police and fire applicants if they’ve ever watched others having sex.

Emma Schmidt, a Cincinnati sex therapist, said by email that “the way that the questions are asked could present the material in a way that suggests that the behavior would be deemed as a negative and thus stigmatize the behavior.”

The Colerain Township Department of Fire and EMS asks applicants about infidelity.

“Have you ever had sex, or a sexual relationship with a married co-worker?” says a pre-employment questionnaire.

If you’ve ever been really close to losing it on your boss and potentially getting fired, or arrested, you’re not alone. Susana Victoria Perez has more. Buzz60

Colerain Police Chief Mark Denney said such questions aren’t lewd but can be revealing.

“The questions we ask that deal with sexual activity are generally limited to illegal activities. We do, however, ask more pointed questions that tend to reveal poor-decision making and lack of character in an applicant,” he said. “Our responsibility to the community is to learn everything about someone before handing them our badge and asking the community to trust them.”

Delhi Township police recruits are asked if they’ve “ever posted or transmitted naked/sexual images of yourself over the internet or cell phone app.”

Jack Cameron, the township administrator of Delhi, said it’s become increasingly difficult to find a recruit among the younger generation who hasn’t shared a picture of a “body part” with a partner, invoking changing values between generations.

He stressed the importance of sexual-based questions in screening applicants.

“Being in the business of public trust, I think this is the least we can do to vet prospective employees who will be afforded the public’s trust simply by being a Delhi representative,” he said, adding Delhi’s questions have been reviewed by the township’s employment attorney to ensure they don’t violate applicants’ rights.

In 2015, Gov. John Kasich signed a law barring public employers from including on job applications questions concerning an applicant’s criminal background.

The “ban the box” law, however, has provisions that allow a background check and consideration of prior convictions based on the nature of the job, according to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.

Turocy, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission spokeswoman, said questions about sexual activity may be problematic in different contexts, but for employers, one factor is key: “Is it necessary for the employer to know that about the employee?”

The Enquirer’s Kevin Grasha contributed to this story.

Mediation in Boca Raton, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, FL

Mediation can help resolve work related problems and prevent arbitration

Nobody wants to go to court, not an employer and not an employee. Disputes and disagreements are part of work and part of life. If you have or are in a work related dispute, you may do well to consider the services of a mediator. Adelson Law provides mediation as well as arbitration services in Boca Raton, Broward, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood FL, Miami and Miami-Dade. As legal professionals specializing in work contracts and employment law they are in the best position to render sound and unbiased mediation services.

Once things go to arbitration it takes more of your time and the costs mount and the stress mounts. Prevention is always better than cure and a mediator can often prevent a situation from escalating into full blown arbitration and court proceedings. It is preferable to find common ground and come to an agreement or settlement out of court.

Law suits can be drawn out and place a great deal of burdens and stress on the parties involved. There are many conflicts that can be resolved with the help and guidance of a professional mediator. Whether you need to enforce a non-compete contract, deal with disciplinary issues, dismissal, retrenchments or some other dispute, the team at Adelson Law have great experience in these matters and they can help you on a path that could well avoid a costly and lengthy court case.

The law is a complex thing and labor law and business contracts are no exception. So it is good to partner with a legal firm that can help you with contracts, agreements, mediation and resolutions. Whether you are a small business, a corporate or somewhere in between, labor disputes can be costly and damaging. Fast and effective resolution within the parameters of the law is best way to deal with a problematic employment situation. That is what you can achieve through successful mediation.


Employment contracts in Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, FL

Employment contracts offer benefits to employers and employees alike

Employment is a result of agreements between an employers and an employees and this should ideally be properly formulated by way of employment contracts. Adelson Law specializes in labor law and can help you with employment contracts in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood FL, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach.

Employment contracts are beneficial for both employers and employees as they detail the conditions and benefits and protect the rights of all parties involved. Whether it is an executive position, a secretarial position, short-term employment or hiring the services of an independent contractor, an employment contract sets out the key elements of the relationship and agreement between the parties.

An employment contract will contain important details such as job description, responsibilities, remuneration, hours of work, leave entitlements, sick leave, restraint of trade, notice and termination. In this way employment contracts reduce the risk of grey areas and act as an insurance policy for both the employer and the employee. You don’t want confusion, misclassification or liability because your employment contracts were not properly drafted.

Employment contracts are important documents that may need to be referred to in the event of dispute resolution. It makes sense to have these documents properly drafted and formulated by legal and labor law professionals such as Adelson Law.

Employment contracts should also be used when you work with independent contractors. They may well be a special kind of employment or work agreement, but independent contractor documents can offer the peace of mind that your interests are protected.

Employment carries a certain amount of risk and as employer you need to minimize your risk. When it comes to labor law and disputes, employment contracts will reduce your risk when disputes arise. Hibbing proper employment contracts and the services of a professional labor law firm can often make the difference between winning or losing in labor law suits and disputes.


Employment Discrimination Claims: How to Protect Your Business

Employment discrimination claims have the potential to permanently damage the reputation of a business. These claims are expensive to fight, and may bring unwanted publicity to the business. Although it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of having an employee file a discrimination claim, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of employment discrimination claims in Palm Beach, Florida.

Conduct Regular Employee Trainings

Conducting mandatory training sessions for all of the employees in your business will demonstrate intolerance for discrimination. Trainings that focus on the significance of diversity, respect in the workplace, types of harassment, and prohibited behaviors will sensitize your employees to the effects of workplace discrimination. This training will also make your expectations clear to your employees. They will know that discrimination in the workplace will not be tolerated. Should a discrimination claim arise, you will be able to demonstrate that you took these preventive measures.

Enforce Zero Tolerance Policies

A zero tolerance policy in your business will establish the principle that all employees who violate workplace rules will be disciplined in the same manner. When an employer is able to prove that there is uniform punishment across the board, it is more difficult for an employee to claim that some sort of discrimination has occurred. Of course, these policies must be regularly enforced to be effective.

Keep Detailed Records

Written warnings and thorough employee review records make a major difference when an employee claims that he or she was discriminated against. Every time an employee commits a violation of workplace rules, make a note of the date and the violation that occurred. By showing that there were legitimate reasons to reprimand or terminate an employee, such as lateness, a lack of professionalism, or failing to perform job duties, the discrimination claim becomes weaker.

Wrongful Termination in Fort Lauderdale

Maintain Thorough Employee Records

One of the most important steps your business can take to fight wrongful termination claims is to keep detailed records of an employee’s conduct. Review the employee’s conduct every few months, and keep an itemized list in the employee’s file of the areas they need to improve. Similarly, written records of misconduct should also be kept.

Publish Written Rules and Give Copies to Employees

Each employee should also receive a written list of rules and expectations in the workplace, and the consequences for any violations. Even if your business does not publish a 50-page handbook, providing written procedures to each employee will benefit your business if you can demonstrate that the employee had notice that a violation he or she committed would result in termination.

Take Any Decision to Terminate an Employee Seriously

It is a good idea to consult the human resources department in a business before firing an employee. Discussing the situation in detail with a third party will help you argue that there was no bias in your decision to terminate the employee.

Parting of Ways Documentation

The Parting of the Ways: Documentation

No matter how carefully an employer screens employees during the hiring process, and no matter how well they train and treat their employees, the time may eventually come when they have to terminate an employee.  This process is never an easy one; it often involves emotional responses, especially when the employee is well-liked on a personal level.

Termination of employment can become even worse, however, if it is not handled properly, leaving the employer open to litigation for wrongful termination.  Wrongful termination is defined as any employment termination that violates an employee’s rights:

  • If the termination is based on unlawful reasons, such as racial discrimination or revenge for private actions of the employee;
  • If the termination violates a contractual agreement with the employee;
  • If the termination involves the violation of public laws or policies (for example, termination for absences as the result of jury duty or other public responsibility).

Backing Up a Termination

Even when an employee voluntarily resigns or quits, the employee may claim “wrongful termination” alleging that the employer created a hostile work environment causing them to no longer be able to work for that employer and “forcing” the employee to quit (known as a Constructive Termination).

Proper documentation is critical for an employer to avoid or defend against a wrongful termination claim. Employers should be able to demonstrate cause for termination of employment with proper documentation, possibly including:

  • Performance evaluations
  • Disciplinary action forms
  • Attendance sheets

Indeed, simply having documentation may not be enough; the documentation must be consistent with the reasons given for terminating the employee.

The Final Word

Finally, when holding the exit interview or other meeting where the employee is informed of their termination, it may be prudent to provide them with the reasoning and all documentation.  This simple step may help deter possible litigation related to the termination.

How to Handle Frequently Absent Employees

Most businesses take responsibility for the well-being of their employees.  This is not just the proper approach but there is, of course, self-interest as well.  Employees who can take time off when they are not well will get better faster and will not spread their illness throughout the office.  Sick days and vacation days are good for everyone…  if they’re used properly.

But what happens when you have an employee who abuses sick leave and other absenteeism policies? Employee sick leave and absenteeism management is an important part of running an efficient business, and part of an effective strategy is being prepared for employees who abuse their time off.  Here are a few simple suggestions to protect your business.

Keep Track

If you believe an employee is using sick days inappropriately, look for patterns, ask for doctor’s notes where appropriate and keep records for later reference.  This is doubly important if the employee is using sick days after being denied a day off for other reasons.  If they are absent more frequently than their peers (who then have to cover their work) being able to demonstrate this abusive pattern with data is a powerful tool both for educating the employee and protecting yourself later if you are forced to let the employee go.

Communicate the Concern

An important aspect of employee sick leave and absenteeism management is to have proper sick leave and absenteeism policies. If you believe the employee is abusing these policies then alert the employee to the concern.  Have a meeting with them and tell them you have noticed their frequent absences, and use the data you have collected.  Be clear that while you sympathize with the circumstances that may be causing these absences, you cannot have an employee constantly missing work, as it impacts not only you the employer  but their co-workers who have to cover for them.  Be clear that you expect the behavior to change and that their failure to do so could result in disciplinary action including termination.

Consider Alternatives

As a final concept for employee sick leave and absenteeism management, consider transforming your sick and vacation days into a Paid Time Off (PTO) program.

Think Your Business is Too Small To Be at Risk For A Cyber Attack? Think Again

Smaller firms tend to make the mistake of thinking that their business interests are not large enough to warrant a cyber-attack, but this is not the case.  It does happen and small firms should do more to take care and protect their networks because cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly common.  Too many managers think that they are too small to warrant attention from hackers, leading cyber security to take a backseat to more pressing business concerns.

In fact, research from the House of Representatives Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology showed that 1/5 of all cyber-attacks hit companies with 250 or fewer employees.  Those that do get hit face dire consequences: 60% of them close with six months.  Anyone in business is a target for a cyber-attack.

The first step to reducing your cyber-attack risk has to do with training employees about the risks in the information technology realm.  It’s not necessary to train every employee about the finger details, but people who are aware of the risks tend to be less risky overall in their behavior.  Talk about basic computer protection basics and enhance them as soon as possible.

Your next step should be to create company guidelines about security and technology policy.  Walk through the policies about using personal devices on company networks and ensure that you have a reporting program in place to capture any network changes.  Password policy should be discussed in person and documented with employees so that they know good guidelines for creating a password as well as basic rules like not keeping it on a sticky note nearby.  Enforce protocols for lost or stolen devices and make sure that all employees are clear about the attack risks.

Wage and Hour Disputes Becoming More Common

Employees are spending more time researching what their rights are and looking into lawsuits that can help protect them.  One area where this has led to a sharp uptick in lawsuits is in disputes regarding wage and hour violations.

These lawsuits should not be dismissed or overlooked by management because they can present a serious risk to the company overall.  These lawsuits can cost businesses big time, sometimes in the upwards of hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars where a plaintiff is successful.  Legal settlements frequently include back wages and this can cause a major disruption to your cash flow and profits if you do not respond quickly.

Many of these suits now involve employees who are tipped like bartenders and servers.  A rising issue involves whether these employees are being paid appropriately to complete duties for which they are not tipped.  Sharing tips with hostesses or cooks can also be problematic for tipped employees if those cooks and hostesses are not being paid at the same lower wage, and these lawsuits have increasingly centered upon the concept of employees working off the clock.

National cases involving big employers like Wal-Mart and McDonalds have also spread the word about wage and hour disputes, but the recent recession has also contributed to the problem.  The reason is because many companies cut back on staffing and training/compliance seminars and more employees are loaded with tasks than ever.  More job duties are common across

Wage and hour dispute allegations should be taken seriously by any company who is alleged to have violated the law.  These cases can escalate quickly, so legal consultation should be undertaken as soon as possible.

Who Factors Influence Who Can Be Classified as an Independent Contractor?

Many states, in addition to the IRS, have adopted guidelines and definitions about independent contractors, but there is still confusion about what this means for employers.  In the majority of locations, rules regarding independent contractors relate to what level of control the employer has over a product or service specifically related to whether the employer defines what is being done and how it will be done.

Other principles refer to independent contractor status in relation to how the person is paid.  An individual who is on payroll and receives a regular check will be classified as an employee as opposed to an independent contractor.

In order to determine whether someone should be classified as an independent contractor, there are several other factors to consider, including:

  • Whether the worker can be discharged from employment at any time
  • Whether the worker can choose not to come to work without fear of losing his/her employment
  • If the worker supplies the materials, tools, and equipment to do the job
  • Whether the worker can control the hours of employment
  • Whether the work conditions are temporary or permanent

Misclassifying a worker can have dire ramifications for a company in terms of legal disputes.  An employee or worker who believes that he or she has not been classified correctly can file a legal claim regarding his or her rights.  An employer who has questions about the best way to classify someone should get legal counsel first to determine whether the relationship appears to meet the guidelines to be classified as an employee or independent contractor.  There are legal consequences with regard to defining this relationship in the wrong way, so the circumstances of the employment, the employee’s responsibilities, and other factors should all be evaluated carefully.