Legal Issues

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Can an Employee Get Fired For Punching a Sexual Harasser?

© Piotr Marcinski - Fotolia

By Eric B. Meyer

Can you smack your sexual harasser, complain, and still claim retaliation?

The plaintiff in this case (Speed v. Wes Health System) claimed that she was sexually harassed by her male supervisor for over a year. The court’s opinion details alleged comments and groping in vivid detail. (No recap here. I plan to keep my post PG, damn it! OK, PG-13. You happy, now?).

Whenever the plaintiff supposedly complained, her employer did nothing about the harassment. Read more…

HR Insights, Legal Issues

Solving Workplace Conflict: Lessons From the Blurred Lines Lawsuit


This week, news broke that a Los Angeles jury had ordered Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to pay Marvin Gaye’s estate more than $7 million for copyright infringement.

Relatives of the late R&B singer claimed that “Blurred Lines”— a huge 2013 hit that earned Thicke and Williams a Grammy nomination — was a rip off of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.”

I grew up listening to Marvin Gaye, so when I first heard “Blurred Lines” I immediately recognized his work. Call me stupid, but at the time I assumed Thicke and Williams had worked out some kind of deal with Gaye’s estate. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Dealing With the “Bathroom Issue” and Transgendered Employees


By Eric B. Meyer

On my speaking gigs around the country, what’s the biggest issue I hear from HR professionals involving transgender employees?

Yep, it’s the use of the bathroom.

Folks, it’s not that complicated. But, I’ll get to that in a sec.

First, with a tip of the hat to Joshua Block (@JoshACLU), over the weekend, I read this tweet, which links to this story about a Planet Fitness location in Michigan that received a complaint from a female gym member. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Congress Moving to Block NLRB’s “Quickie” Union Election Rule


By Michael J. Lotito

The same day the Senate advanced a joint resolution (S.J. Res. 8) seeking to block implementation of the National Labor Relations Board’s expedited (aka, “Quickie”) union election rule, the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, held a hearing to discuss a companion measure (H.J. Res. 29).

Both resolutions are attempts to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to void the Board’s rule. As previously discussed, the CRA permits Congress to vote in favor of nullifying federal agency rules by a simple majority vote. Read more…

Benefits, Legal Issues

Congress Looks to Provide Clarity on Employee Wellness Programs

Employee wellness

By Ilyse Wolens Schuman and Michael J. Lotito

As promised during a Senate hearing conducted earlier this year, members of the House and Senate have introduced a bill seeking to reduce the legal uncertainly in administering employee wellness programs.

The Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (H.R. 1189, S. 620) would:

  • Explicitly permit wellness programs to offer a financial incentive to participate; Read more…
HR Management, Legal Issues

Do You Need a Policy If Recreational Marijuana Is Legal in Your State?

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Oregon will soon join a handful of other states, as well as the District of Columbia, in legalizing recreational marijuana.

As of July 1, 2015, anyone 21 or older can legally possess marijuana within the state of Oregon, and employers should be asking: What is the potential impact on the workplace?

Human resource professionals, who don’t consider this question now, may be surprised by the variety of issues they’ll face as the legalization date approaches. Read more…

Compensation, Legal Issues

FLSA Changes Could Make Many Retail Managers Non-Exempt Employees


By John E. Thompson

Expectations are that the U.S. Labor Department’s proposed regulations re-defining the federal Fair Labor Standards Act‘s executive, administrative, professional, outside-sales, and derivative exemptions will be released in the next few weeks, if not within days.

As we have said, these provisions will probably include:

  • A substantial increase in the minimum salary amount; and,
  • A significant narrowing of the duties-related requirements. Read more…
HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

When Should You Ask a Job Applicant About Their Religious Beliefs?

Head scarf

By Eric B. Meyer

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.

In Abercrombie, the company did not hire a woman who wore a headscarf at her interview, because she did not conform to the company’s Look Policy.

The issue before the Supreme Court was whether an employer can be liable under Title VII for refusing to hire an applicant or discharging an employee based on a “religious observance and practice” only if the employer has actual knowledge that a religious accommodation was required, and, the employer’s actual knowledge resulted from direct, explicit notice from the applicant or employee. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Court Takes EEOC to the Woodshed For Overreach on Background Checks


You might recall last August’s stinging comments from celebrated Judge Roger Titus of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland that were directed at the EEOC when he dismissed their case against Freeman Companies for what the commission alleged as discriminatory hiring practices related to Freeman’s use of criminal background checks and credit reports.

Judge Titus used words like “laughable,” “unreliable,” and “mind boggling.”

Instead of heeding the judge’s remarks and conceding their overreach, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission appealed his ruling to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, VA. At issue was the testimony of the EEOC’s expert witness, Dr. Kevin R. Murphy, which was excluded by the lower court. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

New York Attorney General Proposes Regulation of Payroll Cards


By Jason Storipan

Following his office’s 2013 investigation into payroll cards and release of a report on the issue in 2014, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently sent legislation regarding the use of payroll cards by employers to pay employees to the State Legislature for consideration and action.

A payroll card is a debit card used by employers to pay employees’ wages in lieu of payment by paper check or direct deposit. Each payday, the employer deposits an employee’s wages electronically into an account connected to a payroll card. The employee then uses the card to access the funds similar to using a traditional bank issued debit card. Read more…