What else is there to blog about after reading a federal court opinion about Yolo (You Only Live Once) and sexual harassment?

Geez. Last night, I could have peed plutonium while flaming monkeys sprang forth from my word hole, and I still would have blogged Yolo.

More on Yolo after the jump…

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Maybe you’ve heard about it. I’m giving a little spiel today on social media in the workplace with a few friends at an event in Philadelphia. If I play my cards right, I’ll do as little speaking as possible on the dais.

Which means I’ll get my two cents in after the jump and discuss on a hockey coach who was recently fired for posting pictures of Nazi propaganda on Facebook.

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In honor of Veterans Day…

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xteDjaNKY0

To prove sexual harassment, a plaintiff must have been subjected to pervasive or severe behavior based on the plaintiff’s sex. Further, not only would an objective person have to find the behavior offensive, but the plaintiff must be offended as well.

Usually, when a plaintiff claims sexual harassment, a court takes for granted that conduct at issue offended the plaintiff.

But, I just read about a case that bucked the trend. 

More on this wacky case, and some workplace lessons for you guys…after the jump…

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The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that companies provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability, if doing so will allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.

The ADA contemplates a number of different types of reasonable accommodations. One such accommodation is a transfer into an open position for which the disabled employee is qualified. But what happens when there is no vacancy. Must an employer bump another non-disabled employee to accommodate the one with the disability?

As an Ohio federal court reminds us in this recent opinion that the answer is no, unless special circumstances exist:

Arthur claims that special circumstances exist here, and that ASI should have given him another employee’s job, and transferred that employee to the machining job Arthur was offered. …But Arthur has not shown that ASI permitted employees whose jobs were eliminated [like Arthur’s] to “bump” other regular employees out of their jobs. The only evidence in the record shows that ASI’s internal transfers were to open positions, or to positions that were filled with temporary employees. And Arthur has not identified any open positions or positions occupied by temporary employees, in any of the departments that he contends he should have been transferred to, such as operating a forklift or working in the rackroom.

What are the special circumstances that may arise? A pattern and practice of bumping employees could suffice. An established seniority system is another example. But absent special circumstances, disabled employees enjoy the same rights as other employees, no more; no less.

Even without a federal law that specifically bans discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identify, it’s no secret that one of the EEOC’s top priorities is to protect LGBT workers from discrimination.

And the EEOC is being quite transparent about it, with a new guide for employers and employees.

I’ve got that for you after the jump…

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Just go ahead, and kill them dead!

But before I get to that, I want to quickly plug our free event next week on November 12, 2014. I’ll give you four reasons to attend:

  1. Chai R. Feldblum, Commissioner, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  2. Richard F. Griffin, Jr., General Counsel, National Labor Relations Board
  3. Harry I. Johnson, III, Board Member, National Labor Relations Board
  4. Free breakfast

Sure, I’ll be on the panel too, but do any of you really want to see me? Besides, I wouldn’t want to destroy the mystique of our intimate blogger-reader relationship? I imagine many of you now breathless, picturing an erudite, chiseled, scholar; the blogging prose, typos, and grammar mistakes dripping from my two-typing fingers, as I….I’ll stop talking now. 

Details on the event are here. A few tickets still remain. RSVP fast!

After the jump, back to reality. Kill! Kill! Kill! (the policies…)

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Today’s post is brought to you by the letters S, E, and O.

With a tip of the hat to whomever posted a link to this story on Twitter, it got me reading about this app that companies can install on employees’ smartphones and tablets that would preclude them from accessing work-related email on those devices.

Why would you want to do that?

For starters, app maker touts the feature as increasing productivity, reducing stress, and creating a more stark line between work and personal time.

But, this is an employment-law blog. And, little known fact: When Ice Cube wrote Check Yo Self in 1992, he created a prescient radio remix, addressing the Fair Labor Standards Act implications of employees using smartphones for work email.

Right hand to God.

You see, the FLSA (and, by extension, parallel state laws) requires that employers pay minimum wage to all employees and overtime to non-exempt employees, like #AlexFromTarget, for all hours over 40 worked in a particular workweek. And Cube knew that when a non-exempt employee is accessing work-related email on a handheld device either on or off the clock, unless de minimis, that is still compensable time.

(Just kidding on the Ice Cube thing. Even #AlexFromTarget knows that).

Even without this app, if you won’t want non-exempt employees using work email “off the clock,” have a rule in your handbook. You can strictly forbid non-exempt employees from accessing work-related emails “off the clock.” If employees ignore the rule, you still have to compensate those employees. However, you can discipline them too.

Whether a department of many, or just one, your job as an HR professional has you juggling many balls. You’re running an open enrollment, conducting a workplace investigation, recruiting, wage-setting. Cot’ damn, you’re busy!

To get those tasks done, you’d better have the gift of gab.

Or not.

Is verbal communication an essential function for a Human Resources Specialist? A federal court just examined this question under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Click through for the answer…

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Yesterday, I addressed how what an employee says on Facebook can mean losing a job offer. In that case, the National Labor Relations Board determined that insubordination on Facebook is still insubordination and, thus, grounds for termination.

Today, after the jump, we’ll discuss how threats of violence on Facebook too are grounds for termination…

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