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.

May 16, 2012

How North Carolina's Amendment One Will Affect Employee Benefits

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Today we have a guest blogger at The Employer Handbook. It's Audrey Porterman. Audrey is the main researcher and writer for doctoralprograms.org. Her most recent accomplishment includes graduating from Ohio State, with a degree in business management. Her current focus for the site involves an online phd program and english doctoral programs.

If you have comments on this blog post, you can email them directly to Audrey. And if you want to guest blog at The Employer Handbook, then email me.

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May 15, 2012

That was fast: Court voids NLRB "quickie" union-election rules

smokinmask.jpgThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce is hot! 

How hot is the Chamber? Hotter than Paris Hilton humming an 80's Buster Poindexter tune. (Actually, she abandoned her trademark exclamation "That's Hot!" for "That's Huge!").

Maybe not quite Josh Hamilton hot. But, way hotter than the mature offspring of an encounter involving Zac Efron traveling back in time to impregnate an early-90s Cindy Crawford. I would not want to stand next to the Chamber's fire right now. Sammmmmokin'!

I teased it two weeks ago, the day after the NLRB's election rules took effect, when I posted that the new rules may get derailed. Well, sho-nuf, that's what happened yesterday as a DC federal court ruled (here) that the National Labor Relations Board lacked authority to implement its new "quickie" election rules. (This on the heels of the Chamber winning an injunction against the NLRB's union-rights poster requirement).

And why did the NLRB lack authority to implement these rules? The DC court explains by citing Woody Allen:

According to Woody Allen, eighty percent of life is just showing up. When it comes to satisfying a quorum requirement, though, showing up is even more important than that. Indeed, it is the only thing that matters - even when the quorum is constituted electronically. In this case, because no quorum ever existed for the pivotal vote in question, the Court must hold that the challenged rule is invalid.

Put simply, it takes three Board members for the Board to do business. So says the U.S. Supreme Court in New Process Steel, L.P. v. NLRB. As to the new election rules, the DC court recognized that the Board only had two members participating in approving a final version of the rule. So, those rules don't count.

Expect this decision to be appealed. In the meantime, the new quickie election rules get tabled.

UPDATE (5/15/12; 3:21 PM): The NLRB has just announced that it has suspended implementation of "quickie" election rules based on the court's ruling.

May 14, 2012

U.S. Senate now has its own FB password bill; NJ nears similar ban

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Well, that didn't take long.

Late last month, I reported on a bill that had been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, known as the Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA), that would prohibit employers, schools, and universities from requiring someone to provide a username, password or other access to online content.

Now, it's the U.S. Senate's turn to get in on the act with its own password bill. Plus, after the jump, I'll have an update on similar legislation winding its way to Governor Christie in New Jersey...

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May 11, 2012

A Facebook firing? An employer in hot water? Ya don't say...

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Yesterday, I gave my social media in the workplace spiel to a great crowd in Hershey, PA, at the Banyan Consulting 12th Annual Conference. Not surprisingly, the majority of questions posed involved the attention that the National Labor Relations Board has paid to social-media-related employee discipline. And that reminded me that a case I discussed earlier this week, the one involving overly-broad handbooks policies that restricted employee discussions of wages, had a second component worth discussing; namely, an unlawful Facebook firing. More after the jump...

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May 10, 2012

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act introduced in Congress

Celia at workEarlier this week, Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Susan Davis (D-CA), introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

What's in the bill and how will it affect employers? Find out after the jump...

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May 9, 2012

That's what he said: "Oktoberfest" & "No OT for you!"

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Cool image, huh? I drawed it myself. The fact that I took the time to do that suggests that I am in no condition to blog intelligently. Plus, Pandora is on the fritz, so I am all sorts of pissy. Therefore, before I turn out the lights and lock the door at the office, how about some Slipknot -- anger issues, Eric? -- and "That's what he said" after the jump...

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May 8, 2012

NLRB: Barring employees from discussing salary is a bad idea

ConfidentialSection 7 of the National Labor Relations Act protects the rights of employees to discuss wages and other benefits with each other and nonemployees. By maintaining a rule that restricts employee freedom in this regard, an employer violates Section 8(a)(1) of the Act.

How does this play out in the real world? Find out after the jump...

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Continue reading "NLRB: Barring employees from discussing salary is a bad idea" »

May 7, 2012

Report: Employees share WAY more Facebook info than they think

FacebookMaryland has a new law forbidding employers from demanding that job applicants and employees divulge online passwords. Two weeks ago, the federal government proposed similar legislation. And, last week, news surfaced that Delaware may be placing the same restrictions on employers.

But who needs to demand online passwords, when, according to this report from Consumer Reports, your employees are sharing way more information on Facebook than they realize.

Some of the highlights from the report and a few related tips for employers follow after the jump...

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May 4, 2012

That's what she said: A hairy religious discrimination claim is settled

If only I had a nickel for every time someone asked me, "How do you have time to blog every day?" The answer is simple: Jolt Cola Juleps and rogue Keebler Elves I just enjoy writing. But even so, it can get tiring sometimes.

I was discussing this with a few HR blogger friends over dinner a few Fridays ago. They empathized. And then, I smiled, as whatever the opposite of writer's block is overtook me faster than a fat kid at a cake buffet:

I'll just do a post called "That's what she said."

Boom! Plagiarism! Double entendre + less work for me = one happy blogger dork.

I've struck gold...after the jump...

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Continue reading "That's what she said: A hairy religious discrimination claim is settled" »

May 3, 2012

No FMLA claim for employee who mistakenly thought he was fired

Thumbnail image for fmla.jpegStop me if you've heard this one before...

    • Employee gets bad performance review.
    • Employee laments to HR about the pressures of work.
    • Employee emails a company vice president requesting that he stop propagating company "propaganda".
    • Employee accuses another employee of "dismantling the Spanish Department"
    • Employee attempts to mass email the company.

Oh, it gets better..after the jump...

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May 2, 2012

More office romances; more anti-harassment training

Thumbnail image for broom closet.jpgA recent survey by Workplace Options, shows that most Generation-Y employees believe that an office romance will have a positive influence on performance and overall workplace morale.

Sounds like a Cialis commercial. 

Who says I need to wait for Valentine's Day for this post? Losers, that's who. Lock the broom closets and click through for more on this survey and ways to address the office romance...

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Continue reading "More office romances; more anti-harassment training" »

May 1, 2012

New NLRB election rules may get derailed; plus more on SNOPA

Two quick updates for you today; one labor, one employment.

Word has trickled in that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held a conference call with lawyers from the National Labor Relations Board, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, and informed them that the Court would rule by May 15 on a pending challenge to the NLRB "quickie" election rule changes. You can view those rule changes in this post I did last week.

And in case you missed yesterday's post on new federal legislation that would bar employer demands for online passwords, be sure to check it out. Late in the day, I scored a copy of the bill, known as Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA), and added a link. We know now that employers that violate the law will be subject to civil fines of up to $10K. The Secretary of Labor may also seek injunctive relief. However, the federal law does not mention a private cause of action for individuals.

Unlike the legislation passed in MD, there is no safe-harbor that would allow an employer to require or request that an employee provide the employer with access to a social media account to investigate, for example, an allegation that the employee downloaded the employer's proprietary data without authorization.

Additionally, the federal legislation would also prohibit grade schools and universities from getting social-media login information from students.

April 30, 2012

New federal law will bar employer demands for online passwords #SNOPA

A few weeks ago, as reported here, Maryland became the first state to pass legislation that would ban employers from demanding that employees or job candidates turn over their social media passwords.

Could a federal law be soon to follow? Find out, after the jump...

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Continue reading "New federal law will bar employer demands for online passwords #SNOPA" »

April 27, 2012

The NLRB's blueprint for "quickie" union elections

"Blueprint"? Word. But, do you know how tough it is to find a blog-appropriate Jay-Z hit? Hmmm...let's try this one.

On Tuesday, the National Labor Relations Board's "quickie" election rules survived a Senate challenge. Next week, April 30 to be exact, they go into effect. Hey! Isn't that when the poster rules go into effect, too? Psyche!

Solitudephoto © 2011 Mortimer62 | more info (via: Wylio)In anticipation of April 30, employers will want to familiarize themselves with this memo from NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon -- we are presenting at the same event today -- discussing the new representation case procedures. The guidance covers the entire representation case process from beginning to end, incorporating to the extent necessary the new rules and the procedures that remain unchanged.

And if you don't feel like plowing through a 24-page memo, the General Counsel's office also issued a set of Frequently Asked Questions explaining the Board's revised rules and the procedures.

Although the new "quickie" election rules do not set new, specific timeframes for conducting hearings or elections, it appears likely that the time from petition to election will decrease. So, now is the time to do something about possible unionization of your workforce so that, if a  Representation petition is filed, your business is prepared to respond.

April 26, 2012

5 takeaways from the EEOC's new guidance on use of criminal records

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Yesterday, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued updated Enforcement Guidance on employer use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Title VII is the federal statute that prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin). You can read a full press release on the updated Enforcement Guidance here.

The press release includes a link to questions and answers about the EEOC's Enforcement Guidance. However, I will summarize the most important points for employers after the jump...

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