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The Modern Workplace

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Privacy is the issue of the week, as we attempt to keep up with a litany of exciting/alarming/fascinating developments.
One of the more interesting reads of the week is a blog post from the Harvard Business Review that describes the implications for employees, job seekers and companies of Facebook's newest feature, Timeline.  Timeline is Facebook's vehicle for creating a user biography in words, photos, video, music, etc.  How much of your biography do you want your colleagues to see?  A potential employer?  
In the European Union, plans continue to propose "right to be forgotten ...
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In the course of defending employment discrimination claims, I've had the opportunity to review thousands of emails produced by clients.  Most often, were hoping that the emails will provide documentation of performance concerns or otherwise validate the company's legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for its actions.  Many times, we find ourselves in luck and are able to do just that.  More often though, we find emails that aren't very helpful. Those types of emails can range from content that makes the supervisors frustration with an employee quite obvious (i.e. forwarding an ...
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"Can't repeat the past? . . . Why of course you can!"
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
This week, we thought we'd catch up on some trends and themes visited over the last several months in this space.
The New York Times featured the trend of employers who allow their employees to choose their own laptops, smartphones, etc. for work purposes, a trend we'd mentioned a few months back.

Hewlett Packard fired its CEO and hired Meg Whitman, formerly of EBay.  The Wall Street Journal asks whether HP's board has historic qualities.

Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry ...

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The latest American Community Survey data shows that just over 2% of the U.S. workforce, not including the self employed or unpaid volunteers, considers home their primary place of work. That's about 2.8 million employees. Some estimates conclude that 20 to 30 million employees work at home at least part time.  Many people believe that the number of telecommuters will increase over the next few years as technology improves and employers learn how to adapt to employees who are not present in the workplace.
Issues such as oversight, trust, and the ability to interact are all important to an ...
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How do employees spend their time at work?  They perform work duties, of course, but a few other things as well.  For example, might they manage their fantasy football teams?  Sure.  According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, 32 million people play fantasy sports, the most popular of which is fantasy football.  Play games on their phones?  Yep, that too.  Surf the web?  You bet.  How concerned should employers be about their workers' time trolling the web and playing games?  While every employer should be very interested in what their employees do (and don't do)during work hours, a recent ...
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This week a story about workplace violence caught my eye.  More employers are turning to the use of technology--namely video surveillance cameras and similar high-tech security measures--to monitor employees and prevent theft and other kinds of misconduct.  Many employers have relied on this technology to successfully defend against claims of discrimination and wrongful termination when employees are caught on tape violating company policy or stealing.  But this story involves a twist.
In May, pharmacist Jeremy Hoven was working the overnight shift with three other employees at ...
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Michael Stern Hart died this last week.  Hart is credited with creating the first e-book in 1971 by typing the text of the Declaration of Independence into a computer and making it available for downloading via Arpanet, the government-sponsored predecessor to the internet. Hart personally added many more canonical texts through the years, and when the web exploded so did his project, which he called Project Gutenberg.  The database now contains 30,000 books in sixty languages.  Volunteers add hundreds of books each month, making works mostly within the public domain available for free ...
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As discussed in the previous post, protecting a companys confidential business information and trade secrets is increasingly problematic in this era of electronic communication.   Even if an employer has the most detailed and well-written policy regarding the use and disclosure of confidential business information, it must take steps to ensure that the policy is being followed by employees.  If the employer fails to do so, or fails to take disciplinary action when the policy is violated, it may lose its ability to succeed on a legal claim for misappropriation of that information.  More ...
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This summer the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies in the federal government about implementing security guidelines relating to the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. It is a good reminder that, while there are lots of benefits to allowing employees to telecommute, employers need to be cognizant of protecting their systems and data from the risks associated with telecommuting.  It is also a good starting place for thinking about what should be in your policies and procedures.
In December of 2009, President Obama ...
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In this era of ever-expanding web-based presences for businesses and the increased use of social media sites for job-related reasons, it is becoming much more difficult for employers to protect their important confidential business information and  trade secrets. 
 Businesses have a lot to lose when employees misuse confidential information. If a customer list, the details of a proprietary product, or company financial information gets into the hands of a competitor, a business may lose its competitive edge or its best customers. On the other hand, failure to use the power of the web ...
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The decision of the Department of Justice to block the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile dominated this week's technology and legal news.  The antitrust case is before the court in Washington D.C.  Because the ultimate result will have an enormous impact on consumers of telecom services, both individuals and companies, this is definitely a matter worth watching closely.
According to a Pew survey, nearly two-thirds of adults in the U.S. use social media.  Now thoroughly mainstream and ubiquitous, how long will it be until social media is retired as a "hot" issue and becomes just ...
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Posted in Immigration
Are you contemplating filing an H-1B petition for a current or potential employee?  On August 26, 2011, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has received approximately 29,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions that were counted towards the 65,000 Fiscal Year 2012 cap.  Additionally, USCIS accepted roughly 15,800 petitions towards the 20,000 visa cap for persons who qualified for the H-1B advanced-degree professional exemption.  As a reminder, Fiscal Year 2012 begins on October 1, 2011, and H-1B petitions filed for this allocation must have a ...
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The cultural struggle over collective bargaining rights continues with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announcement that it has issued a Final Rule requiring employers to notify employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act as of November 14, 2011.   Private sector employers already must have large bulletin boards to post the many government-required notices to employees about various workplace laws.  Now employers may need to upsize those bulletin boards to comply with the new NLRB rule requiring employers to let employees know about their collective ...
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