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The Modern Workplace

Posts from January 2013.

Recent Department of Labor statistics indicate that the majority of employers who have breached Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") provisions related to breastfeeding mothers have failed to provide an appropriate space for new moms to express milk. The FLSA was amended by the 2010 Patient Affordable Care Act to require employers to provide reasonable break time and a private space for a nursing mother to express milk for one year after the child's birth. All employers are expected to comply with the law, but employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the requirements if ...

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Have you heard the saying, "Drink more coffee, do stupid things faster with more energy?" Along those lines, I think the theme of this week's events is "Use technology, do stupid things faster with greater ease."
Example #1: the DNR employee who accessed more than 5,000 driving records without authorization. This could prove to be a costly mistake, because one of the data-breach victims has filed a potential class action lawsuit against the (now ex) employee, the DNR, the Department of Public Safety, and commissioners of those agencies.


Example #2: the HMV employee who hijacked the ...

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Do you have a constitutional right to Facebook? Maybe, according to the 7th Circuit. Yesterday, the appellate court struck down an Indiana law which prohibited sex offenders from joining social media sites. Citing the broad language of the ban, the court held that it was an impermissible violation of sex offenders' First Amendment rights.

Speaking of the First Amendment, earlier on Thursday, a French judge found that Europe's ban on hate speech trumps America's free speech guarantees. The suit was over whether Twitter needed to hand over the identities of people using anti-Semitic ...

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Here at The Modern Workplace, we have often cautioned employers to be very careful when hiring to avoid claims of discrimination. In particular, we have cautioned employers about using an employees class (such as gender, race, etc.) when making a hiring decision. Our advice may be different, at least in Minnesota, if the class of workers involved is veterans or their spouses.
During the last legislative session, the Minnesota Legislature enacted a new law which allows private employers to offer favorable treatment to veterans and their spouses in the hiring process.  The new ...
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The 1st Amendment protects freedom of speech, but that doesn't mean that employees' speech is always protected from employment consequences. Case in point: the tenured New Jersey first-grade teacher fired for referring to her students as "future criminals" in a personal Facebook post she wrote at home in her free time. The teacher challenged her termination on 1st Amendment grounds and appealed to the New Jersey Court of Appeals. The court recently rejected the 1st Amendment claim, finding that her "personal dissatisfaction" with her job did not address a matter of public ...

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Posted in Discrimination
They served their country, and now businesses want to return the favor. Yesterday, Wal-Mart announced one of the largest veterans' preference initiatives of all time. Starting Memorial Day, 2013, the mega-retailer is promising to give a job to any veteran who has been honorably discharged within the preceding 12 months. The initiative is expected to employ over 100,000 veterans in the next five years.
Employing veterans is not only good for the veterans; it can also be good for business. It can provide financial rewards through various tax credits, such as the Returning Heroes Tax ...
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This week in three words: hacking, tracking, and attacking.

Hacking: as if worrying about having your cell phone or computer hacked wasn't enough, now recent research from Columbia University indicates that your office phone might also be at risk. The study discovered that at least 15 models of the Cisco Internet Protocol telephone have software that could enable a hacker to turn on a microphone, webcam, or other feature of the phone without the user's knowledge.

Tracking: a Texas school using Radio Frequency Identification chips to track its students may continue doing so after a ...

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Class action can be a scary term for any employer. During the past decade, the number of wage and hour class actions brought against employers by large groups of employees claiming violations of wage and hour laws under the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has increased dramatically. These cases, also known as collective actions are expensive and time consuming to defend. For more than two decades, employers have increasingly relied upon mandatory arbitration agreements in an effort to reduce the risk of class action claims. These agreements require employees to waive their ...
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As we welcome 2013, its time to focus on New Years resolutions. With President Obamas re-election and governmental agencies announcing increased enforcement efforts in the employment area, 2013 is likely to be an active year for employers. Now is a good time to focus on what the year may bring and to position your company to minimize employment law risks. A few resolutions that should make your priority list include:
1. Update Your Employee Handbook: 2012 brought a number of legal changes, including an aggressive focus by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on the enforcement of ...
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This week, states across the country were determined to start off the new year with their best foot forward. High on their lists of priorities? Protecting the rights of online users. In Michigan, the Governor signed into law the Internet Privacy Protection Act, which made Michigan the fifth state (behind Maryland, Illinois, California, and New Jersey) to prohibit employers from requesting social media sign-in information from their employees. In Arizona, the legislature is considering a bill that would make it a felony to threaten, harm, or defraud someone through online ...

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