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The Modern Workplace

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Spring is in the air, and changing seasons sometimes bring a change in perspective. This week, we see both individuals and the government looking for new ways to deal with old problems.

Since the advent of social media, we've seen the problems it can create in the workplace. Now, individuals looking to avoid such problems can use the new app FireMe! It has a "Check Yourself" tool that analyzes a username's tweets and calculates the likelihood that the tweets will get the author fired.  We're guessing it doesn't come with a guarantee.

The government is also rethinking how the internet can ...

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The Supreme Court hears arguments today in the second of two landmark cases involving the national same-sex marriage discussion. The arguments are timely in the state of Minnesota, where an amendment to define marriage as solely between a man and a woman was defeated this past November and a same-sex marriage bill was recently introduced in the state legislature. 

As the Supreme Court wrestles with the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8, it is important for employers in Minnesota to remember that although Minnesota does not recognize ...

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Posted in Unemployment
Legislative efforts at the state and federal level, particularly those related to efforts to stimulate the economy, have changed the length of time that unemployment benefits are available. They also created significant variation in the length of benefits among the states, making it difficult to keep track of what terminated employees can expect and what employers are responsible for around the country. The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article (subscription may be required) on the quantity of benefits available in different states. Currently, the newly unemployed in ...
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With more and more of our lives occurring online, it is often difficult to keep sensitive information private. This week, there are indications that this task is not likely to get easier anytime soon. There has been an uptick in hacking activity on many fronts. On the employment front, an ex-Reuters employee is facing federal charges for giving the hacking group "Anonymous" a username and password to access the company's system. If convicted, the employee could be imprisoned for up to 30 years and be fined up to $750,000. On the election front, a recent grand jury report shows that a ...

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The Minnesota Legislature is in full swing, and as always, employers will want to monitor the proposals under consideration at the Capitol. Bills that may impact employers include:

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It turns out that Facebook can be used for more than just reconnecting with old friends and getting employees in trouble (though there is still plenty of that going on). Now, depending on who you are and where you live, you might be vulnerable to legal service via Facebook. A New York federal court recently ruled that the FTC may serve defendants in India using both email and Facebook. It reasoned that such service was proper under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Hague Service Convention. Similarly, Texas lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow for service via social ...
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In the news this week has been a story about a decision by a university to search email accounts of several staff members in an effort to determine the source of a leak to the media. Like many employers, the University did not seek the employees permission before reviewing their emails. The employees whose emails were reviewed were not aware of the University's actions until earlier this month. 

The fallout from this incident is a good reminder that employers and employees may have very different expectations regarding emails and other electronic information stored on the employers ...
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Posted in Immigration

 The USCIS has published a Notice in the Federal Register announcing the release of the revised Form I-9.  Employers should begin using the revised form immediately. There is, however, a 60-day grace period before penalties may be imposed for using a previous version of the form. 

The final changes to the form include additional instructions, an expanded two-page layout, and new data fields for employees to list their email addresses and phone numbers.  Employers should be sure that they update their policies and handbooks to reflect the changes in the revised form and instructions.  In ...

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Variety is the spice of life, even when it comes to the legal implications of technology. This week offers a good illustration of the many different areas of the law that technology can impact. Here are some current examples:

Employment Law: A New Mexico judge who violated the court's computer and Internet use policy with his "excessive and improper" instant messaging during court proceedings was forced to resign. A Penn admissions officer who shared on Facebook snippets of admissions essays has sparked debates about online sharing of employment information.

Securities Law: The ...

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Is workplace flexibility a necessary casualty of difficult economic times?  When thinking about the innovations that make up the modern workplace for which this blog is named, employers embrace of flexible work hours and locations would be very near the top of the list.  Advances in technology particularly electronic connectivity have allowed employers to move away from traditional concepts of the workplace and the workday.  More employers permit telecommuting by their employees and allow flexible work hours. There are, however, signs in the business world that employees may have ...
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