Tips on How to Successfully Manage

a First Amendment Audit

Suicide Prevention for Employers

A Closer Look at Compliance Assessment Series:

Part 3 “Master Personnel Files”

New eLearning Series Now Available

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Tips on How to Successfully Manage

a First Amendment Audit

Many of us have seen the videos, or perhaps been unfortunate and unwilling participants in a “First Amendment audit.” A member of the public (also known as an “auditor”) who will enter a government/public building unannounced, armed with a smartphone camera, and aggressively demand front-line employees and supervisors answer to such questions as “What is your name?” “What are you working on?” or “How much is your boss paid?” These individuals may ask what is behind a closed door, where a hallway goes, or quiz employees on what rights are guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Some may use profanity and insulting language to attempt to create an atmosphere of chaos and confusion so that public employees will “lose it” and “fail” the audit by becoming emotional, angry, humiliated, or perplexed. These individuals’ actions are intended to test whether public officials will respect and uphold their constitutional rights, especially, in this age of the ubiquitous smartphone, the right to film in a public area and its public employees. The auditors are walking a thin legal line, and there’s not much that authorities can do to prevent their behavior. An employee can’t even demand that an auditor identify themself. 

These audits seem to be gaining popularity because auditors will post the “epically failed” audits on YouTube or other social media platforms to make money through “likes” or advertising. Some of these individuals sell merchandise on their sites for revenue. The more a government official flips out, the more chance they will have to make cash. Some auditors intend to become disruptive in the hope that they will be roughed up by an employee or law enforcement so that they can press charges, file lawsuits, and make money through a cash settlement. 

If you find yourself in charge of handling a First Amendment audit, here are some general guidelines:

  • Understand the First Amendment: Familiarize yourself with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects the rights of free speech and freedom of the press. Recognize that individuals have the right to record and photograph public officials in the performance of their duties in a public space.
  • Designate Public AreasClearly identify public areas within your agency where individuals are allowed to record or photograph without interference. Designate areas restricted to the public as “employees only” or other verbiage. This helps avoid misunderstandings and ensures that public access is maintained.
  • Educate and Train StaffEnsure that employees are aware of the importance of respecting constitutional rights of individuals while maintaining order and security. Have a plan to help employees deal with an audit should it occur. A quick web search will provide lots of First Amendment videos that demonstrate what not to do!
  • Keep Your CoolRemain calm, composed, and professional during an audit. Avoid confrontations and inflammatory remarks, as these may escalate the situation. The auditors are hoping for a reaction to post, so by being polite and courteous, they are not getting the dramatic video they are hoping for.
  • Don’t Interfere with the RecordingUnless there are valid and specific reasons (such as safety concerns), do not interfere with an individual’s right to record or photograph public spaces and officials. Only if an individual becomes threatening or creates a safety risk should an employee intervene. If an intervention is unsuccessful, contact law enforcement.
  • Provide Information: If an auditor requests information that is a public record, provide it within the bounds of the law and agency policy. Transparency can help ease tensions.
  • Document Incidents: If an incident occurs during an audit, document the details, including the actions taken by both the person conducting the audit and entity personnel. This documentation can be useful in case of legal inquiries.

As frustrating as these audits can be, maintaining a balance of respecting constitutional rights while ensuring the safety and security of public spaces is crucial during First Amendment audits. Be calm, compliant, and prioritize the well-being of everyone involved. Following the above suggestions may prevent a “failed” audit, lessen the chances of a major disruption of the entity’s work, and maintain the good reputation of public officials in what can be a potentially stressful situation.

For more information on this topic, see POOL/PACT HR’s Archived HR Alert,

Dealing with First Amendment Audits.

Suicide Prevention for Employers

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have recently addressed Suicide Prevention for employers. Employers play a crucial role in preventing suicide among their employees and are encouraged to pay close attention to recognizing the impact of mental health within their organization.

The steps outlined below can assist employers in creating a safe and supportive work environment that promotes mental health and prevents suicide.

1.    Recognize the common warning signs that may indicate an employee is contemplating suicide.

  • Changes in behavior, such as increased isolation, withdrawal, or irritability
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or despair
  • Giving away prized possessions or saying goodbye to loved ones

2.    Promote resources that address the importance of mental health.

  • Acentra Health Employee Assistance Program:

i. Acentra Health offers a wealth of resources, including articles, training, mental health professionals, and four free counseling sessions per issue per year to assist in navigating the nuances of suicide. For more information, please see Acentra Health’s Summary of Services

ii. Acentra Health also provides valuable Employer Related Referrals where the manager or supervisor may voluntarily or involuntarily refer the employee for additional assistance related to mental health. If an employee is showing signs of suicidal ideation, the employer should immediately contact Acentra Health for guidance.

  • Internal Resources: 

i. Employers can ensure all levels of the organization are trained to encourage employees to seek help if they or someone they know is struggling with mental health issues

ii. Managers can conduct wellness checks, encouraging open dialogue about mental health, and creating a safe space for employees to discuss their concerns

iii. HR Representatives can ensure FMLA or ADA interactive processes are utilized for the employee to address their mental health

3.    Create a work environment that promotes peer-to-peer support and encouragement.

  • Foster work environments that promote support and understanding to encourage employees to seek assistance when necessary
  • Encourage positive communication and collaboration within the workplace
  • Promote work-life balance and encourage employees to take regular breaks and time off
  • Celebrate employee achievements and acknowledge their contributions
  • Create a work environment that promotes teamwork, respect, and inclusivity

The following are additional sources of information for employers:

By following these guidelines, employers can help create a safe and supportive work environment that helps prevent suicide among their employees. For additional information, please contact your HR Business Partner.

A Closer Look at

Compliance Assessment Series: Part 3

“Master Personnel Files”

This article is the third in a series in which each of the components reviewed during a POOL/PACT Human Resources (HR) Compliance Assessment Phase I will be highlighted. In this article, we will cover master personnel files and the significant role they play in maintaining job-specific and performance-related information on employees’ entire tenure with the organization (from new hire through termination and beyond*).

*The Nevada State Library, Archives, and Public Records “Local Government Record Retention Schedules” require master personnel files to be maintained for ten years after termination of the employee, unless the employee is terminated during their probationary period whereby the retention period is three years from the termination date.

Employees’ master personnel files should only contain documents and records that support employment actions concerning the employee. Any information pertaining to membership in a protected class, or anything not related to the employee’s position (e.g., benefit enrollment forms) should not be housed within the master personnel file.

Due to the confidential nature of the information contained within each employee’s master personnel file (and other personnel files such as background check, payroll, and medical file), all personnel files should be housed under lock and key within a secure location. Most member organizations who have participated in the Phase I Compliance Assessment Program secure their files in a locked filing cabinet usually located in the HR department or an office in upper management. To ensure the confidentiality of the information within the files, access to the files themselves should be limited to those individuals who have a business need-to-know reason for accessing the personnel file which should be outlined in policy. Policies should also delineate that the employees themselves may view the contents of their master personnel files upon request, as well as requesting copies of any or all documents within the file. Human resources personnel usually monitor the employees’ review of their files. As emphasized in all POOL/PACT HR trainings, webinars, and HR Briefings, the employee should be made aware and knowledgeable of all information contained within their master personnel file. For additional information on the recommended contents for not only the employees’ master personnel files, but all employees’ files, please see POOL/PACT HR's Briefing, Personnel Records Maintenance at www.poolpact.com.

Member organizations do not need to wait until a Phase I Compliance Assessment is conducted to have their practices for the maintenance of their master personnel files reviewed. POOL/PACT HR Business Partners (HRBP) are available to assist members in reviewing and revising their current practices for the maintenance of employees’ master personnel files. Please feel free to contact your HRBP for assistance.

New eLearning Series Now Available

POOL/PACT Human Resources is excited to announce that a new management eLearning Series is now available. This new nine-module eLearning program is called Supervising, Managing, and Leading in the Public-Sector eLearning Series and is for new supervisors and managers or those who will be promoted to a supervisory or management role in the near future. The purpose of this eLearning series is to:

  • Provide an overview of what it’s like to be a supervisor and manager in the public sector.
  • Provide information to help you successfully navigate the challenges that come with being a supervisor, manager, and leader.
  • Provide the skills, tools, and knowledge necessary to be an effective supervisor, manager, and leader.

If you need assistance enrolling in eLearning, please contact our eLearning Administrator, Mike Van Houten, at elearning@poolpact.com.

Training Tip

When creating slides for training presentations, ensure they contribute to and do not detract from your intended message. Using slides stuffed with words will usually cause your training participants to read through the slide and not listen to what you are saying. For optimal results, aim to keep your slides simple, with few or no animations and three to five bullet points per slide. Instead of words, use quality images instead of words to support what you are saying. These tips will help participants focus on you and the content of what you are saying, not just on the slides.

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The first five members who submit an image of their completed puzzle to hrtraining@poolpact.com will WIN a $10

Amazon e-gift card!



POOL/PACT Human Resources (HR) Leadership Conference

October 30 & 31

Mark your calendar for our annual POOL/PACT HR Leadership Conference taking place October 30 and 31, 2024, at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nevada. This event is an opportunity for HR professionals and other leaders from POOL/PACT member entities to connect with their public-sector peers from across Nevada, learn the latest in employment law and best practices, and enhance their leadership skills. Look for the registration email in April.

Call for Speakers

Do you know someone who would be a great presenter for our HR Leadership Conference? Maybe that someone is you! We are seeking accomplished Human Resources practitioners, attorneys, subject matter experts, and thought leaders to share insights, strategies, and innovative solutions on HR and employment-related issues in the public sector.

Learn more and submit your proposal here.


Unlock the Power of Knowledge this Spring with our Regional HR Trainings

Mark your calendars for an enriching experience this Spring! POOL/PACT's HR Training Classes promise to equip you with the latest HR trends and strategies.

Registration opens 8 weeks prior to the first session of each series. We'll send you a prompt email notification as soon as registration opens.

Don't miss this opportunity to invest in your career and become a leader in HR excellence. Spring into action and register early to reserve your space!

Advanced Human Resources Representative Certificate Program

(Carson City – March 6 - 7, 2024)

Essential Management Skills Certificate Program

(Carson City March 13, 14, 27, and 28, 2024)

Advanced Essential Management Skills Certificate Program

(Ely – April 3 - 4, 2024; Carson City – April 24 - 25, 2024)

Influential Leadership

(Carson City April 18, 2024)

Dealing with the Difficult Employee

(Virtual May 9, 2024)

So, You Want to be a Supervisor?

(Virtual May 22 - 23, 2024)

For more information, please contact your HR Business Partner.

Visit our website to learn about our robust eLearning program.

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