Legal Issues

Legal Issues, News

More States Bump Up Workplace Protections for Pregnant Women

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By Ashley Kaplan

When Jennifer Latowski, a certified nursing assistant at Northwoods Nursing Center, shared with her supervisor that she was pregnant, she was asked to obtain a doctor’s note stating that she had no work restrictions.

Instead, Latowski’s physician issued a 50-pound lifting restriction.

As a result, Northwoods told Latowski she could no longer work for them because they only accommodated restrictions caused from work-related incidents. Latowski filed a wrongful termination suit claiming disability and pregnancy discrimination in Latowski v. Northwoods Nursing Center. Read more…

HR Basics, Legal Issues

Alcoholism on the Job: The Tricky Issue Handling It Under the ADA

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By Eric B. Meyer

Alcoholism is generally a disability.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the term “disability” is broadly defined.

What matters is that the impairment substantially limits a major life activity. What doesn’t matter are the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures,” including such things as therapy, medication, or reasonable accommodations.

How does that relate to alcoholism? Read more…

HR Technology, Legal Issues

The Unintended Consequences When Workers Bring Their Devices to Work

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By Paul Starkman

At the top of the list of risks guaranteed to give HR a headache this year is employee use of personal technology for work.

It was only a few short years ago that employers began to embrace the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, allowing employees to use their personal phones, tablets and laptops for work.

Today, bring-your-own-device into the workplace is a given, with nearly two-thirds of technology-dependent Millennials using a personal device at work. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Republican Bills Would Halt NLRB’s “Ambush” Union Election Rule

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By Ilyse Wolens Schuman and Michael J. Lotito

As a preemptive strike against a final “ambush” representation election rule, Republican lawmakers in both chambers introduced legislation that would blunt its intended effects.

In February, the National Labor Relations Board reissued its controversial proposal that would not only expedite union election procedures, but also fundamentally alter the way elections are carried out, and remove many employer due process rights.

The reissued proposal was substantively the same as that initially introduced in June 2011, which triggered over 65,000 comments. The Board will hold public hearings on this proposed rule in the coming weeks. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Appeals Court Says Yes, Employees CAN Openly Discuss Wages

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By Eric B. Meyer

Over the past several years, seemingly, we’re seen the National Labor Relations Board take a more active interest in employee handbooks.

We’ve certainly seen it with respect to social media policies; especially, where these policies purport to limit the rights of employees to discuss their employment with one another. This is because Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act allows employees to discuss their terms and conditions of employment together.

And you don’t need to have a union either. The act applies in most every private-sector workplace. Read more…

HR Basics, Legal Issues

Get Ready, Because the H-1B Visa Games Are Ready to Begin

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By Shanon R. Stevenson

The Hunger Games Katniss Everdeen’s bow and arrow will not help employers on April 1, 2014 when the competition for H-1B work visas begins.

On April 1, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting H-1B petitions for foreign workers in professional or specialty occupation jobs to fill the 65,000 available slots for applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent and the 20,000 available slots for applicants who hold a U.S. master’s degree or higher. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Can You Just Withdraw a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA?

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By Eric B. Meyer

Let’s say that you have an employee whom the Americans with Disabilities Act would consider disabled and to whom you have afforded a reasonable accommodation for a long time.

Maybe it’s a few years of light duty to accommodate your employee’s bad back. Maybe it’s keeping your employee with medically-documented sleeping issues off of the graveyard shift.

Or maybe, like in this case (Isbell v. John Crane, Inc.), it’s allowing an employee who takes morning meds for ADD and bipolar disorder to arrive to work a late, so the meds can kick in. Indeed, for 2 1/2 years, the employee in this particular situation was accommodated with modified start time. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

3 Months and Counting: Top State Law Changes for Employers in 2014

123RF Stock Photos

By Ashley Kaplan

The legal environment for employers is always changing. And nowhere is this felt more strongly than at the state (and even local) level.

While every year tends to bring a handful of federal labor law developments, a lot of the legislative momentum happens in the state legislatures.

We’re only three months into the new year and we’ve already tallied the following state changes: Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Opposition Is Growing to Unpaid Internships for College Credit

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By John E. Thompson

We have already reported that a group calling itself the “Fair Pay Campaign” aims to pressure colleges and universities not to facilitate unpaid internships or even post notices about them.

This initiative appears to be gaining momentum. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

2014 Federal Labor Law Changes: What Happened and What’s Next

123RF Stock Photo

By Ashley Kaplan

We’re only a few months into 2014 and we’re already seeing a swell of labor law activity. What are the most significant developments this quarter – and what should you be watching for the rest of year?

Let’s start with the biggest federal-level legal changes to hit the workplace thus far:

Increase in federal contractor minimum wage

Shortly after delivering his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. Read more…