April 2011 Archives

April 29, 2011

3 common-sense social-media tips to share with your employees

Whether you have a social media policy, been thinking about drafting one, or haven't even considered it for your business (tisk, tisk), I have three great guidelines after the jump that you should consider for your employees. You'll be glad you did.

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April 28, 2011

Can PA employees access their personnel files upon request?

bruins.jpgHey all! As I promised last night on Twitter, I've got nothing left in the tank for this blog post after watching my beloved Bruins defeat the hated Habs in overtime of Game 7 last night.

So, I'll keep this short and sweet.

After the jump, I answer a question that many HR folks in Pennsylvania have asked me? Do we have to give employees access to their personnel files upon request?

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April 27, 2011

Yikes! NJ discrimination victims may tack on a whistleblower claim

Consider this scenario:

Employee believes he is being discriminated against. Employee complains to Human Resources. HR investigates, but is unable to substantiate the employee's claims. Employee nonetheless sues his employer, alleging discrimination. While the lawsuit is pending, the employer fires the employee for reasons it claims are unrelated to the pending action.

whistleb.gifAccording to a recent unpublished NJ decision, the employee could have both a discrimination claim and a whistleblower claim under New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA).

Ain't that some sh!t!

More on this important decision and the impact it may have on employers, after the jump...

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April 26, 2011

No more "unemployed need not apply" ads in New Jersey

In just over a month, a new law in NJ forbidding business from discriminating against unemployed job candidates will take effect.

More about this new law and the effect it will have on NJ employers, after the jump...

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April 25, 2011

Woman fired for fighting at a cheese plant wins bias claim

I can't make this stuff up if I tried.

cheese.jpgThe Associated Press reports that the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commissions has ordered a local employer to pay $38,700 in back pay and interest to a female employee it fired for fighting at a cheese-making plant. According to the report, Rosalind Brown prevailed on her gender discrimination claim because she apparently received harsher discipline than male employees who had engaged in more egregious behavior:

The commission agreed with Rosalind Brown who claims it was unfair for her to be fired when two men who fought at the Dairy Farmers of America Inc. plant in West Middlesex received only 3-day suspensions. 1 of the men was injured when the other threw a 20-pound block of cheese.

Commission chairman Stephen Glassman commented, "Employers cannot discipline male and female workers differently based on stereotypical expectations of how men and women should behave."

April 22, 2011

Calling all guest bloggers...

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The Employer Handbook is looking for a few quaaludes guest bloggers.

If you think you have the chops to write a few hundred words on an employment-related topic of interest for businesses -- especially those in PA, NJ, or DE -- then email me some blog post ideas or connect with me on LinkedIn and drop me a note there.

I would especially love to hear from SHRM members and law students.

Image credit: Muscle & Fitness


April 21, 2011

New bill would greatly expand the scope and reach of the FMLA

Thumbnail image for play.gifRep. Carolyn Maloney [D-NY14] recently introduced H.R. 1440: Family and Medical Leave Enhancement Act of 2011 (FMLEA) in the House of Representatives.

What is this new bill? And what will it mean for new employers if it passes? (Hint: It may have something to do with the picture on the left)

All the details, after the jump.

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April 20, 2011

When can Philly employers ask about criminal convictions?

Back on March 22, I reported that City Council would vote on the "Fair Criminal Screening Standards" bill, a measure that would forbid city employers from discriminating or retaliating against job candidates with criminal convictions. City Council has since approved the bill and Mayor Nutter has signed it.

For more details about this bill and the effect it will have on employers, check out my March 22 post and this e-Alert from Marjorie Obod and Katharine Hartman of Dilworth Paxson LLP.

One thing is clear, Philadelphia employers better act hella-fast to update their employment applications, as this new law will take effect 90 days from when Mayor Nutter signed the bill. So what are you waiting for? (Yes, you have time to watch both the CGI and Alient Ant Farm cover of "Smooth Criminal")

April 19, 2011

Misclassifying an employee may void a non-compete agreement

In an unpublished opinion, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied a Pennsylvania company's attempt to enjoin a former employee, who had entered into several restrictive covenants with the company, to compete directly against the company and solicit its customers.

What did this employer do wrong and how can you learn from its mistakes?

After the jump...

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April 18, 2011

Whistleblowing on a customer is NOT protected activity in NJ

whistle.jpgIn New Jersey, a private employer may not fire an employee who objects to or refuses to participate in any activity that the employee reasonably believes is illegal or would endanger public health, safety, or welfare. This is codified in New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA).

The typical CEPA claim involves an employee who alleges that he/she was fired after complaining directly to management about some business-related conduct that the employee thought was legally or morally wrong. But what about when an employee confronts a customer, on the employer's premises, about something the employee reasonably believes that the customer has done wrong? If the employee is later fired, does the employee have a viable CEPA claim?

Find out, after the jump...

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April 15, 2011

How about THIS resource on social media and HR?

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What better way to celebrate the 100th blog post at TheEmployerHandbook.com than with booze, hookers, and penicillin shots an announcement that I will be contributing to HR and Social Media: Practical and Legal Guidance, a book available for sale this Summer from Thompson Publishing.

I will be writing about the role of social media as it relates to litigation and discovery.

You can view the full all-star lineup of contributors to this book here. These writers are not just lawyers who think they know social media. These are all social-networking employment-law attorneys who know wazzup, yo. So, clear a spot on your human resources or labor and employment law bookshelf for what promises to be a fantastic resource focusing on the intersection of social media and the workplace.

April 14, 2011

When an anti-harassment policy won't defeat a bias claim...

What happens when an employee claims to be a victim of discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace, but fails to report the harassment to her employer? If the employer has a written anti-harassment policy, it should be able to satisfy its burden that the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of the opportunity to avoid harm.

Maybe not. 

Employers will want to continue reading after the jump to make sure that they are taking appropriate steps to avoid bias and sexual harassment claims

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April 13, 2011

An employer's 180 on asking new hires to divulge Facebook info

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the Maryland Department of Corrections was facing heat from the ACLU for requiring job applicants to divulge their Facebook passwords. It seems that the DOC has listened (not to me, but to the ACLU).

You can see the ACLU's response, as well as a discussion of Facebook "privacy rights," after the jump.

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April 12, 2011

Working through lunch may create overtime issues for employers

Thomson Reuters had such a bad week last week that I had to spread the news over two blog posts. Here is part one about how the National Labor Relations Board is set to file a complaint against Thomson Reuters for allegedly disciplining an employee who tweeted about labor/management relations.

After the jump, see how bloggers unite to try to stick it to the man for allegedly requiring them to work through their lunch hour without paying overtime...

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April 11, 2011

Thomson Reuters had a sh!ttier week than you...

sadman.jpgDid a bunch of bloggers sue you last week for wage and hour violations?

Has the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) threatened to file a complaint against you for Twitter shenanigans?

Well, that was Thomson Reuters' week. And, as you can imagine, it sucked.

I share their grief, after the jump...

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April 8, 2011

15 handy-dandy, hella-good wage and hour resources for employers

Earlier this week, I posted a link to the new Fair Labor Standards Act final regulations. 

After the jump, I have 15 more resources to help employers navigate the treacherous world of overtime, minimum wage, independent contractor vs. employee, what the FLSA requires, what the FLSA doesn't require, and other wage and hour speedbumps.

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April 7, 2011

Is the 9th time the charm for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act?

Last week, Rep. Barney Frank (MA-D) -- for the ninth time -- reintroduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA would make it illegal for businesses to discriminate against employees and job applicants based on sexual preference and gender identity.

More on ENDA, its chances of passage, and the effect it would have on employers, after the jump.

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April 6, 2011

Another teacher gets in trouble on Facebook

school.jpgEarlier this year, I wrote an article, "Yes, you CAN discipline employees who abuse social media."

I stick by my words.

After the jump, read about another teacher suspended for an inappropriate Facebook post, and why employers CAN and SHOULD discipline employees who abuse social media.

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April 5, 2011

Department of Labor updates Fair Labor Standards Act regulations

Over the weekend, I gave a Wage and Hour presentation in Atlantic City to a group of restaurant owners. Later this week, I will post some of the bullet points from that presentation of which every business should take note.

Until then, a heads-up that the United States Department of Labor has issued a final rule updating the regulations issued under the Fair Labor Standards Act. You can find a copy of the final rule here.

April 4, 2011

Smoke pot + grizzly bear bite (in the butt) = collect workers' comp

bear.jpegLast month, the Montana Supreme Court opined that using marijuana "to kick off a day of working around grizzly bears" is "ill-advised to say the least and mind-bogglingly stupid to say the most" because "grizzlies are equal opportunity maulers, without regard to marijuana consumption."

WTF?

I could go on, but you will have more fun reading this recent decision about an employee who smoked pot before his job at a bear park (surrounded by electrical fencing), got bit by a bear (of course), and petitioned for workers' compensation benefits (and received them).

h/t @MarkJChumley

April 1, 2011

Can the EEOC legally recruit claimants over the radio?

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The EEOC has been running this radio spot in Baltimore, Maryland:

"In connection with the class race discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. EEOC is looking for black individuals who applied for employment at or used to work for McCormick and Schmick's or M&S Grill at the Inner Harbor. If you applied to work, or worked at either restaurant, please call the EEOC at 410-209-2208. Again, 410-209-2208."

If you were M&S, what would you do? M&S got creative and sought an emergency order from a Maryland federal court to stop the advertisement.

Did it work? Find out, after the jump.

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