Welcome Pennsylvania and New Jersey employers.

Settle in and read on for easy-to-navigate, clear and concise summaries of the employment-law landscape in PA and NJ. Plus, we highlight the latest legal trends and changes in the law. You can even improve the way you and your employees conduct business with our featured guest commentary and insights from other management-side employment lawyers and human resources professionals.

This isn't your average blog; this is The Employer Handbook. Read it cover to cover.

December 18, 2014

The December 2014 edition of the Employment Law Blog Carnival #ELBC

The folks over at Blogging4Jobs.com have compiled a selection of the best blog posts on discrimination, contracts, & compliance for the December '14 edition of the Employment Law Blog Carnival.

Be sure to check it out.

December 17, 2014

Ebola discrimination in your workplace, what the Department of Justice wants you to know.

If you entered a time machine a few months ago and came out today to read this post, you missed a lot.

The Kansas City Royals made the World Series. Grammy Award winning rapper Eve wed entrepreneur Maximillion Cooper at Cala Jondal Beach in Ibiza, Spain. And a big-time Ebola scare.

Yeah, that Ebola scare was really something. But, it kinda just came and went, didn't it? We haven't had a new Ebola case in the U.S. in months, which makes the timing of Monday's release of "Public Guidance on Protecting Civil Rights While Responding to the Ebola Virus" from the U.S. Department of Justice a bit off.

Still, do heed the three tips from the Guidance:

  1. Ensure that there is no bullying, harassment or other unlawful discrimination directed at people who are or are perceived to be from an African country, of African descent or against people who have the Ebola virus or are perceived as having the virus.

  2. Provide information in languages other than English.

  3. Provide access to information and services to people with disabilities.

Of course, if you reasonably suspect that an employee has Ebola, recently traveled to a high-risk area, or came into contact with someone with Ebola or returning from a high risk area, you should follow the applicable state and CDC control measures to protect both your workplace. If you are concerned about a disability-discrimination claim, as long as you act reasonably, you should ok. But you may want to consult the EEOC's pandemic guidelines and a lawyer.

December 16, 2014

Camouflage toilet paper is so last year. The most unusual workplace gifts of 2014.

After two days of organized-labor-themed oxygen-sucking blog posts, I'm gonna lighten it up today, with some holiday co-worker gift-giving ideas for you.

Taking my cue from CareerBuilder's 2014 list of the most unusual holiday gifts exchanged in the workplace, please consider nixing these from your list:

  • A box of Hot PocketsĀ®.
  • A chess piece (just one piece, not a set).
  • A fire extinguisher.
  • A voucher for a free lawn game of the co-worker's own invention.
  • A turquoise leather vest.
  • Zombie action figures.
  • A ZiplocĀ® bag with coffee (enough to make one pot).
  • A 'gun of the day' calendar.
  • A bag of chips.
  • A Christmas ornament with the co-worker's and spouse's photos on it.

If you are looking for a holiday gift for yours truly, I was over on perpetualkid.com, and a few items to consider:

Or, if you haven't done so already you can just vote for my blog as the top Labor and Employment Law Blog in the ABA Blawg 100.

December 15, 2014

Make a New Year's Resolution to have union-avoidance training

Cue the haters.

Following a decision last Thursday permitting employees to use company email to badmouth you and unionize, the National Labor Relations Board ended last week by passing a new rule, which, in its words, updated "its representation-case procedures to modernize and streamline the process for resolving representation disputes."

In other words, faster union elections and more of 'em.

Details on this new rule and what employers can do about it, after the jump...

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Continue reading "Make a New Year's Resolution to have union-avoidance training" »

December 12, 2014

NLRB: Your employees can use company email to badmouth you and unionize. Four reasons it's no big deal.

YES, THAT'S RIGHT. NO BIG DEAL.

Hey, if you're a big employment dork like me, (vote Handbook!), you've already read a bunch of blog posts, and you'll read several more about how the sky is falling after yesterday's NLRB decision, in which the Board held that employees may use company email to discuss the terms and conditions of employment.

Yes, this decision extends to any workplace -- not just unionized workplaces -- that is covered by the National Labor Relations Act. And, yes, it may help your employees communicate with one another to form a union (gasp!) or otherwise discuss working conditions, but...

Seriously, you gots to chill.

This is no game-changer.

First, this rule only applies to employee communications on non-work time. So, you don't have to pay employees to talk trash about the company. If your employees don't have access to work email, this decision does not require you to give it to them.

Second, do you really think your employees strictly adhere to your computer-use policy that says that company electronic equipment should be used for business purposes only?

Third, I find it hard to believe that employees who wish to unionize would prefer to use company email as a way to discuss forming a union, versus other equally (or more) effective means (e.g., social media, personal email, text message, phone, face to face) that are far less susceptible to employer interception.

But, above all, if you run operate a company that communicates with its employees, values them not just in terms of the dollars you pay, but the respect you give, then unionization will be the furthest thing from their minds.

And if discussions over company email are enough to convince your workforce to unionize, then you deserve to have a union.

December 11, 2014

Role reversal! EEOC must disclose its own background check policy to the employer it's suing

Monday kinda sucked for the EEOC.

The agency that made scrutiny of employee background checks a top priority under its current Strategic Enforcement Plan has been ordered by a federal court to turn over its own background check policy to an employer whom it is suing for a criminal background check policy that allegedly had a disparate impact on black employees.

*** smiles, grinds teeth, and inhales deeply ***

More after the jump...

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Continue reading "Role reversal! EEOC must disclose its own background check policy to the employer it's suing" »

December 10, 2014

The hella-best post you'll read today on yesterday's Supreme Court employee-pay opinion

When you're part of the bloggerati, just one half-step below the illuminati, well, let's just say membership has its privileges. AMEX taupe card, rinkside seats to the local roller derby, earlybird specials, the world is your oyster.

And, at work, the staff sees me coming and runs the other way throngs to my office. Indeed, it's gotten so bad, that we had to install security machines to control ingress and egress. While my firm can't wait for me to jump ship loves the attention that my blog brings -- remember you can vote for my blog in the ABA Blawg 100 -- the folks who sign my mega-paycheck expressed concern that it would also have to compensate our non-exempt employees for the spent clearing security.

Thankfully, yesterday, the Supreme Court, in this opinion, unanimously ruled that the time these folks spend clearing security is not compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act. That's because the time our staff spends waiting in line to clear security is neither indispensable nor integral to their principal activities in the office. They get paid to do legal work; not wait in line. And, absent the security, these folks could still do their jobs. And, even though my firm requires our awesome staff to clear security because of my blogging greatness and related fame and notoriety, the Portal-to-Portal Act exempts employers from FLSA liability for this this preliminary and postliminary time.

Although in reality, our firm had no direct stake in yesterday's SCOTUS ruling, and I made up everything in this post, except for the SCOTUS opinion, hopefully, you've learned a thing or two about the FLSA and compensable time.

December 9, 2014

Change a no-narcotics policy to accommodate an employee? No way!

Just seems like common sense to me, especially where the employee seeking the accommodation would have to operate a motor vehicle.

Wait a minute!

Did an employee with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act really think it would be reasonable for his employer to allow him to take narcotic pain medication so that he could operate a company vehicle pain free?

More after the jump...

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Continue reading "Change a no-narcotics policy to accommodate an employee? No way!" »

December 8, 2014

Two Men + One Purple Nurple = Zero Sex Discrimination

Little known fact: Pythagoras invented the Pythagorean theorem around 500 BC, which he nearly dubbed the  Chicken Pot Pie theorem, because he loved CPPs so much. That same year, Pythagoras's brother, Sarogahtyp, discovered that, when one man tweaks another man's nipple, it's not sex discrimination. But, it will get you a black eye -- especially when the recipient is your brother and he's finalizing his legendary theorem when finishing off a flaky CPP.

Thousands of years later, it still holds true that when a man delivers a purple nurple -- some of you know it by a more boorish synonym -- to a male subordinate, it may be "manifestly inappropriate and obnoxious," as one federal appellate court ruled last week, but it's probably not sex discrimination.

More after the jump...

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Continue reading "Two Men + One Purple Nurple = Zero Sex Discrimination" »

December 5, 2014

I've got 99 problems but a holiday party lawsuit ain't one...

hangover.jpg

If you want "Ten Tips for a Safe, Fun, and Legal Holiday Party," go elsewhere. 

After the jump, I've collected 99 ways to hold an office holiday party that won't interfere with you ending the year on an HR high-note...

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Continue reading "I've got 99 problems but a holiday party lawsuit ain't one..." »

December 4, 2014

Sixers win!!! (Plus, recap of oral argument in Young v. UPS)

I had planned to blog today about yesterday's oral argument before the Supreme Court in Young v. UPS, the case about when an employer must accommodate a pregnant employee.

But...

The Philadelphia 76ers stole the spotlight -- and my evening -- with their first win of the season, an 85-77 victory over the Minneapolis Timberwolves, whose team colors of white, blue, and black have officially been replaced with shame, ignominy, and more shame.

I guess those Sixers will get paid sick leave in 2015 after all. Congratulations to the 1-17 Sixers!

Now, if you are looking for more on yesterday's oral argument, here is the oral argument transcript, and check out these links:

December 3, 2014

Paid sick leave in Philly may be happening in 2015

It sounds like Mayor Nutter is warming up to the idea of requiring Philadelphia employers to provide employees with paid sick leave.

How can that be? Find out after the jump...

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Continue reading "Paid sick leave in Philly may be happening in 2015" »

December 2, 2014

Do you have a "super" anti-harassment contract with your employees?

I'm gonna pause for a sec while you go and grab a copy of your company's employee handbook. Now open it up to the anti-harassment policy and, click through, because your world may be about to be rocked...

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Continue reading "Do you have a "super" anti-harassment contract with your employees?" »

December 1, 2014

Federal court permits discrimination against transgender employee

Under federal law (Title VII), employers cannot discriminate because of one's sex. While Title VII does not explicitly coverage transgender employees (i.e., someone born female who presents male, and vice-versa; also known as gender identity), the EEOC's position is that transgender employees are protected too. Indeed, they've begun filing federal lawsuits on behalf of transgender employees who claim to have been discriminated against.

But, Courts have not uniformly accepted the EEOC's position. Indeed, the state of the law here is very much unsettled.

Just before Thanksgiving, a Texas federal court considered whether an employer can discriminate under Title VII based purely on gender identity...and get away with it.

More after the jump...

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Continue reading "Federal court permits discrimination against transgender employee" »

November 28, 2014

Black Friday HR-Dorkbuster!!! Silent ADA accommodation requests

[Because "The one about the guy who got fired and then requested a reasonable accommodation" isn't clickbait enough].

More on the timing of ADA accommodation requests after the jump...

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Continue reading "Black Friday HR-Dorkbuster!!! Silent ADA accommodation requests" »