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The Modern Workplace

Posts from March 2012.
Earlier this week, Sam Diehl wrote a posting, titled "Gimme Your Password," about employers' practices of requiring applicants or employees to hand over their social media passwords.  As the week progressed, discussion of the issue extended beyond legal and HR departments.  The media, Congress, and even Facebook itself joined in the dialogue.  And as if Facebook wasn't stirring up enough controversy, a new app lets you create enemies rather than friends.  
Technology and the Workplace
Facebook Password Amendment Rejected by Congress (PCWorld) (CBSNews)
Facebook to Employers ...
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The Associated Press reports that employers are increasingly asking applicants to provide their Facebook usernames and passwords during the hiring process.  While this practice may not yet be common, its interesting that a significant number of employers believe information available on an applicants semi-private Facebook page will be helpful in their hiring decisions.
From a legal perspective, its unclear whether this employer practice, standing alone, violates any legal rights.  If the practice becomes widespread, however, employees lawyers may want to challenge the ...
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This week we have six articles involving social media.  Fittingly, one of them asks whether we are all making too much of social media's impact on the workplace.  Serving as an example of social media's impact, a recent survey shows that nearly half of employers conduct social media background checks.  And a New York Times article provides an interesting look at the unique considerations on Wall Street concerning employees' use of social media.
Technology and the Workplace
Is Too Much Being Made of Social Media's Impact on the Workplace? (Conn.EmploymentLawBlog)
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Even non-union employers need to be careful about their labor law obligations.  Most readers have either given or heard this advice multiple times, but labor law risks are still sometimes overlooked.    As an example, in one of the strangest employment-related news stories of the week, a Florida law firm  reportedly fired 14 employees because they wore orange to work on a Friday.  According to the news report, the law firm called the employees into a conference room and an executive accused them of engaging in a protest.  An employee explained that they were not engaged in a protest, but ...

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Last month, my colleague Kathryn Nash wrote about the dangers when employers, particularly for-profit companies, offer unpaid internships.  This is a legal issue that has been around for quite some time, but for some reason maybe because the risks of getting caught had not seemed very high many companies continue to hire unpaid interns.  (For a funny take on unpaid internships, check out the "Stuff White People Like" blog entry #105.)


Well, the stakes for companies using unpaid interns have just gotten higher.  Last Wednesday, an intern filed a wage and hour claim against Charlie Rose and ...

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This week, technology came with a cost, causing employers to face liability and employees to face job-loss.  A California court held an employer liable for employees' harassing off-duty blog posts.  A North Carolina steakhouse fired a waiter after he posted a photo online showing a generous tip left by Peyton Manning.  A Minnesota school also faces liability for forcing a student to surrender her Facebook password.


Technology and the Workplace
Off-Duty Blogging Creates Employer Harassment Liability (LawfficeSpace)
Steakhouse Waiter Fired for Showing the World What a Great Tipper ...

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If you know anything at all about the NFL, you know that Peyton Manning is one of the leagues great quarterbacks. What you may not know about Peyton is that he's a very generous tipper. Jon, a (former) server at the Angus Barn in Raleigh, NC, wanted the world to know. (Deadspin has the story here). Courtesy of Jon, a photo of Mannings restaurant receipt, showing an extremely generous tip, made it online. And now Jon, who obviously didn't think before he posted, provides a good example of why employers should educate employees on social media use and consequences.
Employees often fail to make a ...
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This week featured the ongoing battle surrounding technology, the workplace and privacy.  Employees of the Food and Drug Administration sued the agency over its surveillance of their personal e-mail.  A New York judge overturned a teacher's firing that was based on a Facebook posting expressing the wish that her students drown.  Despite the conflicts, a recent report predicts that fewer companies will block social media sites in the workplace by 2014.



Technology and the Workplace
FDA Staffers Sue Agency over Surveillance of Personal E-mail (WashingtonPost)
Companies Opening ...

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We communicate with our clients by email all the time. Email correspondence is the rule, not the exception, for lawyers and clients these days. We email back and forth about policies, practices, investigations, terminations, leaves, complaints, contracts, union activity, and all the other employment-related issues that we deal with. Sometimes these emails contain highly sensitive information about the employer or employee. Sometimes we discuss legal strategy. Most of the time, information we communicate electronically is information we would never want to share with ...
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For more than 60,000 workers in America, March 5-9 will be the week that the "modern workplace" is at home. This week is the second annual effort of Telework Exchange to encourage workers and employers to save time and resources through telework. Telework Exchange describes itself as "a public-private partnership focused on demonstrating the tangible value of telework..." and describes Telework Week as a "win-win opportunity for agencies, organizations, employees, and the environment."


By the end of last week, 62,322 employees had pledged on Telework's website that they ...

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This week technology is once again getting people in trouble.  Legislators are concerned with employers' practices of requiring access to employees' social media accounts.  A federal judge has reported himself for ethics review after admitting to sending a racist email.  Some commentators are speculating that Pinterest users could be held liable for their pins.  Check out the links below to make sure technology doesn't get you into hot water.
Technology and the Workplace
Legislators Concerned About Monitoring of Employee, Student Social Media (SoMdNews)

Keeping an Eye on ...

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In Minnesota, a proposed bill is now working its way through the legislature that, if enacted, would make it significantly more difficult for a worker in the construction industry to qualify as an independent contractor, rather than an employee. The current version of this bill includes new, detailed, and restrictive criteria for qualification as an independent contractor.  The new criteria proposed include, among other things, that an independent contractor must maintain a separate business with an office, equipment, and materials, and must incur the main expenses ...

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