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The Modern Workplace

Posts from October 2012.

Anyone who picks up a newspaper knows that our world can be very violent, including domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Employers often see firsthand the impact of such violence on their employees. Most of the time, employers who learn that an employee is experiencing some form of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking will do what they can to help the employee manage the situation. Sometimes, however, employers of victims of violence react in a negative way. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently issued a guidance describing how the ...

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Using technology can come at a cost. You don't have to read too many of these Week in Review posts to know that it is not uncommon for individuals to be fired for inappropriate use of email, social media, cell phones, or other means of electronic communication.  Past stories have also shown how technology can cost someone their reputation, money, or freedom from incarceration. This week, we add two items to the list of things that technology can put at risk: unemployment benefits, and your health.
An employee in Pennsylvania was fired for criticizing his place of employment and coworkers on ...
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As Election Day approaches, politics and political opinions are likely to be a hot topic of conversation in the workplace. In some cases, this can become a source of tension and conflict among co-workers. This may be especially true this year given the deep political divide that seems to have developed in our country over the past few years. As most human resource professionals know, workplace conflicts can have a detrimental effect on productivity and create legal risk. The best approach to manage this issue is setting the tone at the top as one of respect for different opinions ...
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Do you remember a while back when I wrote about a group of lifeguards that got fired for posting a spoof of the "Gangnam Style" video on YouTube? The city claimed that they violated the aquatic center's standards of conduct and improperly used city property, but the lifeguards countered that they did it while off the clock. Well, after some heated controversy, the mayor of the city has now recommended that they be reinstated. Three of the five council members agreed, and the city manager is now reviewing the file. Although things may end up working out for these young workers, the situation ...

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The United States Department of Labor recently announced the creation of a virtual workplace flexibility toolkit designed to provide employers, employees, policy makers, and others with information and resources about workplace flexibility.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and the Toolkit is designed in part to assist employers of disabled workers who seek accommodations. The Toolkit web site makes clear, however, that it is intended to address all kinds of complex employment situations, including the circumstances of parents of young ...
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The Internet can be a great way for companies and professionals to market their products or services and bring in business. But lightning-quick global communication isn't always a good thing, especially when a dissatisfied customer is the one who is doing the talking. This week, a New York lawyer learned that responding to online criticisms may create more problems than it solves. After anonymously being called "the most unscrupulous lawyer" on a review website, the lawyer posted a response saying that he knew who wrote the comment and that the writer, a former client, was ...
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The workplace tragedy that occurred in Minneapolis two weeks ago, and the media coverage that followed, concerned all Minnesotans, me included. In addition to my reaction as a citizen, I viewed the events and their aftermath as an employment lawyer.
As is often the case in the face of horrific and inexplicable acts of violence, the workplace mass shootings by Andrew Engeldinger led to questions from many quarters about whether and how such a senseless act of violence could have been avoided. Such well-intentioned questioning, while certainly understandable, raises important ...
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Posted in Health Care
The kids are back in school, the crispness of fall is in the air, and thoughts of HR professionals are turning to what else?  Open enrollment!  One of this years fun challenges is the Summary of Benefits and Coverage, or SBC.  
Does every health plan have to have an SBC?  All group health plans that aren't excepted benefits under HIPAA have to provide it. Vision plans, dental plans, HSAs, and health flexible spending accounts are often excepted benefits. High-deductible health plans are not. 
        TIP:  Here's the part where you need to sit up and pay attention: even plans that are ...
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Is it just me, or has Wisconsin been in the news a lot lately? From politics to sports, the Dairy State has caught the interest of the nation. This week was no different. When a Wisconsin news anchor used air time to address an email that criticized her weight and accused her of being a bad role model, the clip went viral. National news outlets picked up on the story, the anchor appeared on major-network morning shows, and people around the country weighed in on the appropriateness of the email and the problem of cyberbullying in general. Despite the controversy, the email author is standing by ...

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Finally, the NLRB has sided with an employer in a Facebook firing case. On October 1st, the NLRB issued its decision in the Karl Knauz Motors, Inc. case, upholding a car dealerships decision to fire a sales employee based on his Facebook postings.
As mentioned in a previous post the NLRB filed a complaint against the Knauz BMW dealership in May 2011 after the dealership fired a sales employee who had posted critical comments on Facebook about the dealership serving low-end food and drinks at an event promoting a luxury car. Other dealership employees had access to the Facebook page.
In its ...
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