MDS 430 Ethics
I have worked for the state of Idaho since 1991. My job has provided our family with a steady income, health insurance, and a retirement account. Working full-time and raising a family kept me very busy. I did not have any time for pursuing my education until our two daughters were teenagers. I was also at a point in my career that I could not advance without some education past high school. Within this same time frame, Nampa opened the College of Western Idaho. The community college setting allowed me to start taking classes at a minimal cost.
Before officially working towards a degree, I had taken Human Resource Management (HRM 305), Employee and Labor Relations (HRM340), and Compensation and Benefits (HRM 406) classes at Boise State University. In 2008, I passed the test to become a Professional in Human Resources through the Human Resource Certification Institute. I have kept the certification since that time with continuing experience and training. I have worked in various Human Resource (HR) positions for 18 years. This experience has provided me with opportunities to develop and practice ethical principles and standards. My goal is to receive prior learning credit for MDS 430 Ethics.
I have worked for the state of Idaho for 28 years. I started as a General Typist and moved up through the various levels of administrative support positions for the first ten years of my employment. Starting at the Department of Corrections and moving to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) after five years of service. In 2001, I had the opportunity to move into the HR section of DEQ and provide administrative support. I had never considered a career in HR, but quickly had the opportunity to move up into a Human Resource Associate role in 2002. In this position, I learned about the data entry involved in the various personnel actions and processing payroll. Soon after when we lost some of our HR consultants who provided support to the various groups within the agency, I was given the opportunity to step into that role on a temporary basis and provide assistance to one group. I started taking classes at this time to increase my knowledge of the HR laws. I always worked hard and had a goal to learn as much as possible. This led to an opportunity to apply for a senior level position in HR. I qualified for the position and was promoted in 2005. It was a several pay grade jump to this position and it was a steep learning curve. I am a dedicated and strong employee, driven to succeed. As I moved into this position, we lost our HR Officer over the section and a previous peer was hired for the job. The new HR Officer provided lots of opportunities for me to learn and grow in my new position. He also pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I quickly found myself in a lead role in HR and the go-to person for supervisors and employees. After six years in this position, the HR Officer left DEQ and I was promoted into the HR Officer position. I have been in this role for eight years.
The promotion to HR Officer in 2012 was another jump in my career with a steep learning curve. I had extensive knowledge of DEQ and had developed many great professional relationships over the years. As the HR Officer, I am part of the senior management team for the department. I provide direction and interpretation to my team and the agency for HR policies and procedures. I have enjoyed being part of the senior management team and the opportunity it allows me to set the HR role for the agency and have significant input into the overall direction for the agency. Working side by side with my fellow leaders of the agency has provided lots of reward. This has given me a desire to strive towards a larger leadership position as an administrator for business operations in a larger agency or a private company.
The recent events of the Coronavirus have made it necessary for our agency to take an ethical stance in dealing with the pandemic crisis. When Idaho had no cases and we were all still going into the office to work, employees were beginning to panic. As part of the Senior Management team, the decisions were made to bring in precautionary hand sanitizer, post reminder signs on washing hands, and recommend employees stay home if they are sick. During this time, we were instructed not to send employees home if they were sick because we would have to pay them administrative leave with pay. We had to figure out a way to get them home, without directing them to go home. Employees would resist going home because they thought they only had allergies or they had no paid leave left. Supervisors worked with me to develop language to direct them to work from home. This worked around the issue of sending them home, but dealt with the immediate concern of safety for others in the work environment.
HR describes and defends ethical systems ensuring non-discrimination of applicants and employees on a daily basis. Our team has developed informational emails and training for supervisors regarding hiring, promotions, and discipline. Often HR sits on the interview panels with supervisors to ensure laws are being followed. Supervisors cannot consider any information learned in the interview or application that could be discriminatory such as religious preferences, race, pregnancy, gender, disability, age, and sex. An example of this was when a supervisor was reviewing their applicants on the hiring list and could tell one of them was older due to when they completed school and their work history. He made a comment that the applicant was old and wouldn’t be able to perform the inspections. HR informed him he could not consider the applicant’s age or physical condition. He was also informed he should not make assumptions prior to interviewing them. Since there were physical requirements to the job, we worked with the supervisor to structure the interview question in a way that the individual would either confirm or deny they were able to perform that function with or without an accommodation.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to accommodate employees when they need adjustments to their job to allow them to perform the essential functions. This law is difficult to work through with employees and supervisors. An example of this was when an employee had a medical condition that sometimes impacted their sleep and would prevent them from reporting to work on time. HR worked with the employee to request information from their medical provider. I also asked the employee and medical provider for ideas on what they need in order to complete the essential functions of their job. I worked with the supervisor to determine essential functions of the job. It was not essential for the employee to be at work early in the day. They could easily complete their job later in the day and into the evening, if needed. The employee and medical provider stated the ability to come in later on some mornings and work later would benefit the health of the employee. A flexible schedule was created and specific call in procedures for the employee. All of this was accomplished without sharing protected health information with the supervisor or other staff in the work group who might question the situation.
As the HR Officer for the agency, I am responsible for writing and revising HR policies and procedures. I make notes on changes we want to consider and implement. The policies need to follow federal and state laws and directives. The policies are non-discriminatory and are applied to all employees equally. All employees are required to read the policies and procedures and complete an acknowledgement form. Another example of my writing experience is through the workplace investigation process. When we have a complaint turned in that an employee may have broken a policy, I complete an investigation. I’ve investigated hostile work environment claims such as the supervisor being accused of yelling and cussing at the employees. I’ve also investigated sexual harassment claims based on activities that happened after hours between employees and supervisors. When a complaint comes in, I develop a plan including what policies may have been broken and who I need to interview. Respectful interview questions are developed to assist me with acquiring the information needed to make the determination. When I interview each employee, I am respectful and do not make any assumptions. I show empathy when appropriate. I ask clarifying questions to help receive the information needed. Once all of the interviews are completed, I write up an extensive investigation report. The information included in the report is focused on the facts and not assumptions. I state a conclusion on whether or not policies or laws have been broken. This report is reviewed by our legal department and then sent to the director for determining if disciplinary action is needed. I am involved in the discussions with the director and legal to determine disciplinary action or follow up. It is important to focus on the facts. If disciplinary action is decided on, I write up the extensive notification to the employee. I will then accompany the supervisor when the disciplinary action is delivered to the employee. It is done in a respectful manner considering heightened emotions. These situations need to be handled with care from both a moral and social view.
I have attained my associate’s degree in Psychology, Magna Cum Laude, from the College of Western Idaho. This accomplishment provided me with a better background of education to enhance my HR Officer role. With my career goals of advancing past my current position, I need to complete my bachelor’s degree. I am currently enrolled in the Multidisciplinary Studies online program through Boise State University. My focus will be on a certificate in Leadership.