Legal Issues

HR Management, Legal Issues

What to Avoid to Keep From Getting Sued Over Your HR & Safety Policies

Employee Handbook

By Howard Mavity

I have written several recent posts and spoken on the National Labor Relations Board’s wholesale attack on a wide range of employer policies and procedures (Part 1 and Part 2).

However, I want to step back and discuss broader issues relating to safety and HR policies, including employee handbooks, employee agreements, and “safety programs.”

As a starting point, some people argue that we should do away with many policies, and especially employee handbooks, or strip them down to almost nothing. Others take the more traditional view that an employee handbook should be used for a number of purposes (See my partner Bert Brannen’s piece). Read more…

HR Basics, Legal Issues

Why Your Handbook Needs to Be Clear on Taking FMLA Leave

FMLA_poster

By Eric B. Meyer

A few missing words in your employee handbook words may open your FMLA floodgates, and you wouldn’t want to make the same egregious mistake as a Michigan employer recently did.

The Family and Medical Leave Act permits eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks off in a 12-month period for, among other things, a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position of such employee.

To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must work for a covered employer and: Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Do Employees Have a Legal “Right” to a “Predictable” Schedule?

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By John E. Thompson

U.S. Wage and Hour Division Administrator David Weil reportedly has said that the Division is “looking very actively at” the question of whether workers should be legally entitled to “predictable scheduling.”

In recounting Weil’s statements in a recent interview, the Daily Labor Report characterized his remarks as having to do with whether an employee has an enforceable right to a predictable, stable work schedule or to some sort of advance notice of that schedule. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Court: Demanding a Social Security Number Isn’t Religious Discrimination

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By Eric B. Meyer

Remember that blog post I had from July of last year, the one you contemplated getting tattooed on your back?

Yeah, you know the one — about the Fundamentalist Christian, who, upon filling out his new-employee paperwork, refused to provide a Social Security number because it would cause him to have the “Mark of the Beast.” He sought a religious accommodation, which the company refused to provide because obtaining a Social Security number is a federal requirement.

Well, the employee appealed the decision to a federal appellate court. How you think that one finally turned out? Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Four New Ban-the Box Laws Became Effective This Year

Ban thebox

By Philip L. Gordon and Zoe M. Argento

With the start of 2015, new ban the box laws became effective in Illinois, the City of Chicago, and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland.

Ban the box laws prohibit questions about an applicant’s criminal background on employment applications and often include additional restrictions on inquiries by employers into criminal history. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

S. Carolina Banning State Employees From Using Social Media at Work

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By Eric B. Meyer

One state is banning personal use of social media at work.Wait, seriously?

Yep. No employee of the State of South Carolina will be allowed to use social media on the job, “unless specifically required by the agency to perform a job function.”

Cassie Cope at TheState.com first reported this news. According to the State Employee Code of Conduct Task Force report, the new rule is designed to provide “clear, easy to understand guidance to state employees and will provide the public with greater trust and confidence in state government” and to curtail waste of state resources. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

NJ Court’s Independent Contractor Test Assumes Workers Are Employees

123RF Stock Photo

By Eric B. Meyer

The New Jersey Supreme Court just fashioned a test to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor for purposes of resolving a wage-payment or wage-and-hour claim.

On Wednesday the Court, in this opinion, concluded that the “ABC” test, a creature of the New Jersey Unemployment Compensation Act, will determine whether plaintiff is an employee or an independent contractor for purposes of resolving a wage-payment or wage-and-hour claim.

The applicable Unemployment Compensation Act provision speaks in terms of control. The law presumes that an individual is an employee. It’s then up to the company to prove otherwise; i.e., that the individual is an independent contractor. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Court OKs Firing of Public Employee Who Criticized Boss on Facebook

Facebook Logo

By Eric B. Meyer

You know all that stuff you read on the Internet about employees who can badmouth their boss on the Internet, all in the name of free speech, and not get fired for it?

Yeah, about that.

Here’s a recent opinion from the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans about a 25-year police sergeant, a public employee, whose First Amendment freedom of speech rights were not violated when she was fired for posting Facebook comments, which were critical of her boss. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Is Transexual Discrimination Legal? One Company Says That It Is

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By Eric B. Meyer

Over the weekend, I joined a Facebook thread discussing a recent federal court complaint filed in Texas by a former Saks employee, Leyth O. Jamal (Jamal V. Saks).

Ms. Jamal claims that Saks violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against her because she is transsexual.

Saks claims that the complaint lacks merit because Title VII doesn’t prohibit discrimination against transgender employees. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Does the ADA Require a Transfer Away From a Jerk Boss?

no jerks

By Eric B. Meyer

Whether you have a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or not, work can suck. Bosses can be jerks.

But, if an employee with a disability requests a transfer away from a jerk boss, must the company provide it?

Before determining whether a transfer is a reasonable accommodation, we need to get into the interactive dialogue. Read more…