November 15, 2017

New human resources policies concern staff

By Joseph Lyell —

Senators went to bat for their departments’ employees who had been reclassified as hourly workers at the Nov. 13 Staff Senate meeting.

They expressed concern over the university’s revised Fair Labor Standards Act policy. It was quickly revised in 2016 in anticipation of President Barack Obama’s executive order to update the FLSA.

Many salaried employees have been reclassified as hourly. “We’ve got people who are professionals, who felt that quite frankly it was a slap in the face.” one senator said.

Interim Associate Vice President of Human Resources John Elliot said when Obama’s executive order was struck down by a federal judge in November 2016, the classification changes had already been made.

“It’s been terribly demoralizing over staff, and a huge dissatisfier across the institution,” Elliot said.

Still, Elliot is reluctant to make changes for fear of future FLSA revisions by the Trump administration.

Assistant Director of Compensation Mimi Bell said FLSA classifications were based on job responsibilities, not salaries.

“Over 80 percent of positions were exempt, and that’s unheard of,”  Bell said. “If there is a review done, there will not be any change of FLSA exemptions.”

“I will make it an agenda item with the HR advisory committee,” Elliot said, but he will not look at the reclassifications because he doesn’t want to give hope they could change.

Senators complained some departments had unfairly lobbied to have some faculty kept on salary, and some felt their petitions for FLSA exemption had not been received by human resources because of “stonewalling” within the departments.

Senators also grilled Elliot about problems in hiring employees with grant funds.

Elliot said a team has just finished refining the process of grant-funded hires. The changes took effect last week, cutting the processing time for grant-funded hiring from months to weeks.

Some argued classification and compensation were still a problem with these positions. “We can’t post a job that’s too low or skilled hands won’t show up,” one senator said.

Elliot said there needs to be more education about the grant-funded hiring process.

“We acknowledge it’s not a good process. We’re trying to hire some people to help make it better,” he said.

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal

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