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The Modern Workplace

Posts from February 2012.

This week technology once again helped and hurt the workplace.  Companies are using cloud computing to save thousands of dollars, but employees still waste countless hours on email and the web.  Meanwhile, new technology is making headlines this week, from Google goggles to an app that locates your iPhone for you.  Plus, rumors are circulating about Microsoft Office on the iPad.  Even if it's not true, a new app will give you access to a Windows 7 desktop from your iPad.

Technology and the Workplace
Should You Send That Email? (FastCo)
Your Facebook Profile Can Predict Your Job ...

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I was researching cupcake places for an upcoming trip to New Mexico (I have a thing for cupcakes) when I came across the following advertisement for an unpaid internship on a cupcake shops website:

We're looking for interns! While these positions are unpaid, there is potential to lead to paid employment with [XYZ Bakery]. An internship with us is a great opportunity to learn all aspects of working in a scratch bakery, you'll have the opportunity to learn about cake batters, fillings, buttercream, fondant, gum paste, cake decorating and tiered cake construction.

No, I wasn't thinking of ...

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This week both Washington and the workplace paid close attention to technology.  Congress plans to approve a bill that will auction public airwaves in order to help cover the payroll tax cut extension.  The Federal Trade Commission called for better privacy notices for apps directed at kids.  App developers came under scrutiny by members of Congress after reports that many developers were gathering information from phone address books without the owner's knowledge.  And workplaces are realizing how mobile technology saves both time and money.
Technology and the Workplace
Why ...
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Last Friday, Governor Mark Dayton vetoed four GOP-sponsored litigation reform bills that had been approved by the Minnesota House and Minnesota Senate. We previously posted about these bills, which were aimed at limiting litigation costs and which were the first bills to reach the Governors desk this legislative session. Had they passed, the bills would have: (1) reduced the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit; (2) limited the recovery of attorneys fees by successful claimants; (3) created stronger appeal rights to challenge a case being designated as a class action; and ...
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Many companies purchase smartphones or cell phones for employees use, or pay all or part of their employees phone service fees.  Employees see this as a great job perk, and employers like the increased productivity and accessibility that results.
So, what happens when an employer needs to do an investigation -- perhaps because of a complaint of harassment, or worries about leaks of confidential information -- and  wants access to the data? Many employers assume that because they pay for the service, they can gain access to the text messages and emails that have been sent from their ...
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Love is in the air this week as Valentine's Day approaches, and technology is in the news as it continues to impact and influence the development of the law.  A Senate committee approved a bill this week that would allow television access to Supreme Court proceedings.  A Texas court upheld the use of a defendant's MySpace page as evidence in his murder conviction.  The country of Brazil filed suit against Twitter to try to block accounts that warn drivers of speed traps and roadblocks.  And just as the law has collided with technology, Cupid's arrow has struck mobile devices everywhere ...

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In Minnesota, we've known that employee handbooks can be contracts since the Pine River State Bank case in 1983. Since then, courts have continued to find that the policies and statements in employee handbooks to employees can, in fact, be the terms of an enforceable contract between employer and employee. Employees have been awarded significant damages for breach of contract when policies outlined in a handbook are not followed, or promises made in a handbook are not kept.

Minnesota courts have held that employers can protect themselves from contractual liability by including ...

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I recently read an article in the Star Tribune highlighting four bills that have passed the Minnesota House which are intended to limit the costs of lawsuits. According to the article, the bills are favored by a coalition of business groups. What caught my eye was the statement that one of the bills would limit attorney fees in certain cases, such as wrongful termination or sexual harassment, where state law requires the fees be paid as part of the lawsuit. I wasnt sure how fees could be limited in sexual harassment cases but not in other types of harassment cases. I did some digging and ...
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Employees are more active on Facebook and spending more time browsing Twitter at the workplace, according to new research.  Employees were three times more active on Facebook at the office compared with activity during the same period in 2010, and they also browsed Twitter seven times more often. Does this mean employees are wasting more time and slacking? The report suggests the answer is not necessarily. A growing number of companies ask workers to use Facebook and Twitter to market products, monitor competitors, and communicate with customers. And they are encouraging this ...
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This week two events have dominated the Web:  Facebook filed for a $5 billion initial public offering, and the New York Giants and New England Patriots are preparing to face off in Super Bowl 46.  But don't get so caught up pondering Mark Zuckerberg's net worth that you overlook the other stories this week concerning technology, the law, and the workplace. Get up to speed on all of it and then pick out your favorite apps for Sunday's big game - the kind for your phone, not your stomach. 
Technology and the Law
Facebook Files for $5 Billion IPO (CNNMoney)
Google Defends Privacy ...
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Posted in Labor & Unions
The National Labor Relations Board has adopted procedural rule changes that would alter how the union representation process unfolds by accelerating the timeline from petition to election.  These and other proposed changes have caused alarm because they are perceived as an effort by the Board to restrict employers right to communicate opposition to union organizing.  But another cause for concern should be the administrative headache, nay migraine, the Boards new rules will likely create. 


If you're a non-union employer, you may be caught off guard by the administrative burden, not ...

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