January 2011 Archives

January 31, 2011

Could you fire this employee without laughing?

You operate a company that provides mall security. And one of your security guards posts a video on YouTube of a female mall employee falling into a fountain while she is texting.

You should already have a social media policy. But, even if you don't, you know what to do, right? I know. How can you answer that question without watching the video first? 

Video and more after the jump.

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January 28, 2011

A compassionate employer? Why not?


What do a foot of snow and a compassionate employer have in common? Find out after the jump.
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January 27, 2011

PA employee sleeps on the job and still collects unemployment

asleep.jpgHi there, Pennsylvania employers. Do you have employees that remind you of the sleeping gentleman in the picture to the right? After the jump, read about a local employee who was fired after getting caught sleeping on the job four times, and still successfully obtained unemployment compensation benefits!

Continue reading "PA employee sleeps on the job and still collects unemployment" »

January 24, 2011

Supreme Court okays third-party-retaliation claims

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The United States Supreme Court today in Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP ruled that an employer violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act if it takes action against an employee who is in the same "zone of interest" as another employee who files a Charge of Discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

More on this important decision and the immediate impact that it will have on employers after the jump.

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January 24, 2011

Breastfeeding in the workplace: DOL seeks comments

Last month, the United States Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division issued a request for public comments on its preliminary interpretations of a new provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act that requires employers to provide nursing mothers with reasonable break time and a private space for expressing breast milk while at work.

For more information about this new requirement for employers, check out some previous posts I did on the subject here and here.

The DOL will accept public comments until Feb. 22, 2011 -- via http://www.regulations.gov.

January 21, 2011

Waddaya know? Former hookers can sue for sexual harassment.

lady.jpg"I read The Employer Handbook every day. That'll be $10."

A federal court has allowed a former prostitute to proceed with claims that her subsequent employer sexually harassed her. More about this defense counsel's wet dream, after the jump.

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Continue reading "Waddaya know? Former hookers can sue for sexual harassment." »

January 19, 2011

4 ways employers can protect themselves when employees leave

This story that I wrote with my Dilworth Paxson LLP colleague, David Laigaie, the Chair of Dilworth's Corporate Investigation/White Collar Group, recently appeared in The Legal Intelligencer. If you operate a business in Pennsylvania and you have trade secrets, employees with non-solicitation agreements, or non-competition agreements, then take a few minutes and read this article. You'll be glad you did.

January 17, 2011

Employers may have to tell employees how to form a union

The National Labor Relations Board is concerned that your employees don't know how to form a union. And the Board wants YOU to tell them how to do it. Don't believe me? Read all about it after the jump.

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January 14, 2011

How to reduce retaliation claims in six easy steps.

ProfanityThe EEOC reported this week that retaliation charges outpaced race discrimination charges at the agency during fiscal year 2010. This is the first time that retaliation charges (under all statutes) surpassed race discrimination charges at the EEOC, making retaliation charges the most frequently type of charge filed at the EEOC last year.

The EEOC's statistics on retaliation confirm what employers and employment lawyers already know - retaliation claims against employers continue to increase in frequency. Retaliation claims pose a unique hazard to employers; an otherwise baseless claim (for example, an unsubstantiated discrimination claim), when not handled appropriately, can morph into a legitimate retaliation claim. What actions can Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware employers take to prevent a defensible claim from turning into a less than defensible retaliation lawsuit?

My colleague, Katharine Hartman, a labor and employment law attorney who practices with me at Dilworth Paxson LLP, has some suggestions for you after the jump...

Continue reading "How to reduce retaliation claims in six easy steps." »

January 13, 2011

How Facebook Can Make or Break Your Case: The Plaintiff's Arsenal


By now, hopefully, you've read my post "How Facebook Can Make Or Break Your Case." I wrote it primarily for my fellow members of the defense bar. So, if you haven't yet read it, and you generally represent employers, shame on you! Stop reading this and go read it now. RIGHT NOW!

Otherwise, keep reading this post to see what plaintiffs' lawyers should be doing with social media to help advance their clients cases.

Continue reading "How Facebook Can Make or Break Your Case: The Plaintiff's Arsenal" »

January 10, 2011

EEOC approves ADA Amendments Act Regulations

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Bill Leonard at the Society for Human Resource Management reports that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has approved a final version of its regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, a version of which the EEOC put out for public comment back in September 2009.

More after the jump.

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January 7, 2011

What none of us have the guts to send...except for one guy.

I love the last week of the year. Most people take vacation. Not me. When work is slow, I like to be in the office. It's when the office gets crazy that I take my vacation, because I know there is always someone else around to shoulder the burden. I'm a team player like that.

But regardless of whether you're like me and you worked during the final week of 2010, or you took the week off, we can all agree that this week -- when everyone comes back to work -- is the worst of the year.

Lots of people are in bad moods this week. And what is one thing you never want to do when you are in a bad mood? Draft a work email or letter to someone who may be responsible for putting you in that bad mood. You see, I'm a firm believer in the "24-hour rule" when sending strongly-worded correspondence. That is, I draft the communication, file it away, and re-read it 24 hours later to determine whether I should really be sending it. Nearly every time, I trash it.

This rule has few exceptions.

Here is one of them. Enjoy and have a nice weekend!

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UPDATE: David Lat at Above the Law shares a story originally reported in the St. Petersburg Times about two lawyers who did not heed my "24-hour" rule. If only I had written this post sooner. Oh well.

January 6, 2011

Harassment victims don't get a free lunch

A big part of my job as a labor and employment attorney is providing anti-harassment training to employees and supervisors. First, I help them identify what constitutes unlawful harassment in the workplace. Then I walk them through how to report and address it. Here, I emphasize that retaliation against a victim or a witness is never acceptable and is grounds for immediate termination. But, I also remind everyone that an employee who complains about unlawful harassment doesn't receive a get-out-of-jail-free card. That is, if the "victim" violates company policy -- e.g., by participating in behavior that also violates the anti-harassment policy -- then discipline will follow. That's not "retaliation." Call it a rude awakening.

Just ask the Eighth Circuit. I'll explain after the jump.

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January 3, 2011

Thank You.

In June 2008, I read a one-page article about Twitter in BusinessWeek or some other financial magazine and thought to myself, "This is stupid. Why would anyone want to send text messages to total strangers?"

So I signed up and created @emeyer88. And that was just the start.

My story and a lot of "thank you's", after the jump...

Continue reading "Thank You." »

January 3, 2011

Employers can refuse to hire bankruptcy filers

Confession: I find bankruptcy VERY boring. And I loathe it. I'm a labor and employment attorney. When partners approach my door with bankruptcy assignments, I pick up the phone and pretend to yell at opposing counsel. So far I'm batting 1000.

But when I learned that the Third Circuit in Rea v. Federated Investors ruled that a private employer may refuse employment to a job applicant who has ever filed for bankruptcy, I mustered up the will power for this blog post.*Checks ESPN.com* Consider it my 2011 bankruptcy contribution.

I'll break down the court's ruling after the jump.

Continue reading "Employers can refuse to hire bankruptcy filers" »