Legal Issues

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Yes, Employees Can Curse Their Boss on Facebook and Get Away With It

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By Eric B. Meyer

Can an employee curse out their boss on Facebook and get away with it?

It’s easier than you think. Indeed, a recent decision from the National Labor Relations Board bears this out.

As we’ve discussed before, the National Labor Relations Act, gives covered employees (that would include not just those in unionized workplaces, but many, many folks in non-union jobs too) the right to discuss the terms and conditions of their jobs (stuff like pay, benefits, crappy bosses, etc.) together. Read more…

Benefits, HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

For the First Time, EEOC Directly Challenges a Workplace Wellness Program

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By Russell D. Chapman

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed its first lawsuit directly challenging the operation of a wellness program.

In EEOC v. Orion Energy Systems, the EEOC alleged that the employer imposed a wellness program on its employees in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the complaint filed Aug. 20, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the EEOC claims that the defendant, Orion Energy Systems, administered a wellness program in which employees were asked to complete a health risk assessment, which included questions regarding medical history and blood work. Read more…

Benefits, Legal Issues

What Employers Should Know About the Americans With Disabilities Act

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By Sandra S. Moran

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s efforts to enforce the 2008 American with Disabilities Amendments Act have certainly not waned as it continues to challenge leave policies.

Armed with a recent $1.35 million settlement to dismiss a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC (EEOC v. Princeton Healthcare System), employers should evaluate their policies and procedures regarding leave to ensure they comply with the ADA.

This is especially true for health care providers, as the EEOC has shown less tolerance for ADA violations in the health care sector given the fact that they expect health professionals to be particularly understanding of those with disabilities. Read more…

HR Basics, Legal Issues

Why You Need an Essential List of Job Functions When Approving FMLA

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By Eric B. Meyer

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, an eligible employee has the right to take up to 12 work weeks of covered leave for, among other things, the employee’s own serious health condition.

The FMLA prohibits an employer from interfering with an employee’s FMLA rights. This includes the right to return to work from leave to the employee’s prior position (or an equivalent one). Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Unpaid Intern Group Certified by Court For Collective Action

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By John E. Thompson

After more than a year of litigation (the filing which we reported here), former unpaid Gawker Media interns will be permitted to send notices to other unpaid or allegedly underpaid interns to inform those potential plaintiffs of the lawsuit and of the opportunity to join the proceedings.

The judge did not rule that the former interns’ claims under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act are valid. Instead, she decided that the evidence presented to date suggests that other potential plaintiffs are “similarly situated” for FLSA collective-action purposes. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Title VII Prohibits Retaliation Based on Good Faith Claim of Harassment

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By Eric  B. Meyer

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on a number of protected classes. Sexual orientation isn’t one of those protected classes specifically listed in the statute.

So, if an employee complains about sexual-orientation harassment and is later fired because she complained, then that won’t create a claim under Title VII. Or does it?

In Bennefield v. Mid-Valley Healthcare, Inc., an employee allegedly complained to her supervisor that a co-worker was creating a hostile work environment by, among other things, calling the employee a “disgusting lesbian” and a “stupid lesbian.” Read more…

Benefits, HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

California Repeals 60-Day Waiting Period on Health Insurance

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By Sara Richland

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a “waiting period” is defined as the period that must pass before coverage for an individual who is otherwise eligible to enroll under the terms of a group health plan can become effective.

The ACA prohibits group health plans and group health insurance issuers from imposing a waiting period that exceeds 90 days after an employee is otherwise eligible for health coverage.

Generally, an individual is “eligible” to enroll in a health plan if he or she has met the plan’s substantive eligibility conditions, such as being in an eligible job classification, earning a certain level of commission, or satisfying a reasonable and bona fide employment-based orientation period. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Can You Fire Someone Who Discloses a Disability at a Termination Meeting?

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By Eric B. Meyer

File this under: Duh!

Let’s assume that you have an employee who commits a terminable offense. For example, in Martins v. Rhode Island Hospital, surveillance cameras and the Hospital’s employee ID swipe system suggested that Martins left work for approximately four hours and, later, he could not account for his whereabouts.

So, you schedule a termination meeting, which is exactly what the Hospital did with Martins. However, at the meeting, Martins told the Hospital that he suffers from bipolar disorder. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Legal Issues

Not Paying Employees On Time? It’s Considered an FLSA Violation

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By John E. Thompson

A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims underscores important propositions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act to the effect that:

  • Failing to pay non-exempt employees the FLSA-required minimum-wage or overtime compensation by the next regular payday for the workweek (or by the next regular payday for the longer pay-period in which the workweek ends) after they can be determined violates the FLSA, and
  • Such violations give rise to claims under the FLSA for “liquidated damages,” even if the employee is later paid the underlying required wages. Read more…
HR News & Trends, Legal Issues, Recruiting and Staffing

New Jersey Latest State to Ban the Box in Employment Applications

New Jersey

By Eric B. Meyer

Come Jan. 1, 2015, most New Jersey employers will no longer be able to ask about an applicant’s criminal record during the initial employment application process.

That’s right.

Ban the box will be b-b-b-b-banned in the Garden State! Read more…