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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Even the National Labor Relations Board agrees.

Case in point, two people (Moore and Callaghan) who worked at a teen center during the 2011-2012 school year were sent re-hire letters for the 2012-2013 school year. After the school sent out the re-hire letters, it learned of a Shakespearean Facebook exchange between Moore and Callahan which included the following:

“I don’t want to ask permission . . .”; “Let’s do some cool shit, and let them figure out the money”; “field trips all the time to wherever the fuck we want!”; “play music loud”; “teach the kids how to graffiti up the walls . . .”; “we’ll take advantage”; “I AINT GOBE NEVER BE THERE”; “they start loosn kids i aint helpn”; “Let’s fuck it up”.

I guess that was more Tolstoy.

An Administrative Law Judge originally upheld the terminations. (More on that here). On appeal, the Board’s General Counsel argued that “the Facebook posts could not reasonably be understood as seriously proposing insubordinate conduct.” The Board — I picture them smiling and nodding politely — disagreed:

Callaghan and Moore’s lengthy exchange repeatedly described a wide variety of planned insubordination in specific detail….We find the pervasive advocacy of insubordination in the Facebook posts, comprised of numerous detailed descriptions of specific insubordinate acts, constituted conduct objectively so egregious as to lose the Act’s protection [Editor’s note: More on that here] and render Callaghan and Moore unfit for further service.

So, yes, there are limits to what employees can say on Facebook. When Facebook discussion of working conditions devolve into straight-up insubordination, employees can be disciplined.

Five minutes ago, after taking the obligatory selfies and between games of Candy Crush, one of your employees texted (because, calling in, as if!) from an Ebola quarantine tent to alert you that she will be out of work for 21 days, while under observation for Ebola.

As an employer, what are your obligations? What workplace laws are implicated?

And, of course, because half of you are thinking it, can you just fire her?

Because this post has nothing to do with clicks or SEO — nothing whatsoever — click through for the answers…

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I’ll be at the SHRM Lehigh Valley Annual Conference today presenting “What’s Hot at the EEOC…and How to Avoid Getting Burned!” with the EEOC’s Mary Tiernan.

If you’re at the conference, stop by with pizza and beer and say hello with pizza and beer.

However, if you can’t make it, Domino’s delivers, and you still want to get your Equal Employment Opportunity learn on, then there’s this from the from the EEOC:

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold a live Twitter chat on Tuesday, Oct. 28, from 2:00 to 3:00 pm (EDT). In commemoration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), the interactive online forum will focus on the federal government as a model employer of people with disabilities. EEOC Chair Jenny Yang and Commissioner Chai Feldblum will answer questions during the hour-long chat. 

Members of the public are encouraged to participate by submitting questions using the hashtag #EEOC4NDEAM. The EEOC invites queries regarding the hiring, promotion and retention of people with disabilities in the federal government and suggestions on how agencies can increase the number of people with disabilities in the federal workforce.

Here’s my question: “When will the #EEOC issue guidance on leave as a reasonable accommodation? #EEOC4NDEAM #HurryUpAlready #PrettyPlease #DorkiestPrettyPleaseEver”

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It’s that time of year again. Open enrollment, flu shots, and CareerBuilder.com’s list of the most creative excuses for missing work.

But before I get to that, how about some missed-work statistics based on responses from 2,203 hiring managers and human resource professionals, and 3,103 U.S. workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government).

  • 28% of employees have called in to work sick when they were feeling well
  • 59% of those fakers either didn’t feel like going to work or just wanted to relax
  • 24% of employer have caught some one faking sick by using social media
  • 22% of those fakers sleuthed out on social were fired

I, for one, narrowly escaped termination when confronted with the Instagram shots of my navel piercing at the mall kiosk. If you attend my event with top officials from the EEOC and NLRB next month in Philly (details here), maybe I’ll show it to you.

(That sound year hear is part vomit, and part clamor for refunds on the free tickets would-be attendees are now returning, thanks to me).

Maybe, I better make with the Career Builder Top 10 excuses for missing work:

  1. Employee just put a casserole in the oven.
  2. Employee’s plastic surgery for enhancement purposes needed some “tweaking” to get it just right.
  3. Employee was sitting in the bathroom and her feet and legs fell asleep. When she stood, up she fell and broke her ankle.
  4. Employee had been at the casino all weekend and still had money left to play with on Monday morning.
  5. Employee woke up in a good mood and didn’t want to ruin it.
  6. Employee had a “lucky night” and didn’t know where he was.
  7. Employee got stuck in the blood pressure machine at the grocery store and couldn’t get out.
  8. Employee had a gall stone they wanted to heal holistically.
  9. Employee caught their uniform on fire by putting it in the microwave to dry.
  10. Employee accidentally got on a plane.

As always when I post this list, I love to hear back from you about the most cray-cray excuses your employees have offered for missing work.

(And no, binge-reading http://www.theemployerhandbook.com is not crazy. Promote that person immediately).

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Back in 2013, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began investigating Case New Holland, Inc. for age discrimination, or so a complaint that Case New Holland recently filed in federal court alleges.

So, how is this news? Let alone blog news, which is hardly news at all. I should know. I publish this drivel. And I don’t get paid for it. Which makes this the worst kind of drivel.

Anyway, apparently, the EEOC sent 1,330 emails to Case New Holland email addresses trolling for potential class-action plaintiffs — or so the Case New Holland complaint alleges. And by sending those emails, the EEOC violated the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution — or so Case New Holland alleges.

So, if the the EEOC sent 1,330 emails to your workplace, would that rub you the wrong way? Well, probably so, unless your workplace is the EEOC. But, would 1,330 emails actually break the law?

Well, if the concern is that the emails could potentially be used to gin a up a class-action lawsuit against your company, then according to a federal court, in this opinion, the answer is probably not:

Plaintiffs “cannot manufacture standing by choosing to make expenditures based on hypothetical future harm that is not certainly impending….Nothing in the Complaint or the plaintiffs’ opposition suggests that class-action litigation is “certainly impending,” and thus, this alleged injury is also speculative and insufficient to establish standing.

So, the clear takeaway here is that if the EEOC sends 1,330 emails to your business, wait until your employees form a class and sue you before filing against the EEOC.

Yeah, that must be the takeaway.