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The Modern Workplace

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Click here for a GPM eBenefits Alert on how yesterdays United States Supreme Courts decisions on same-sex marriage will impact employee benefits.

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This week, technology is affecting how we do business, how we plan for the distribution of property at death, and how we enforce the laws. Nevada is the latest state to adopt a social media privacy bill. Businesses are harnessing the power of social media and on-the-go apps, and a new start-up is helping connect foreign farmers to the market place. An Ohio judge upheld the validity of a will that was written and signed on a tablet, finding that it met the state's legal requirements. At the intersection of technology and law enforcement, Montana became the first state to require police to ...
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As of July 1, 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrations Hours-of-Service Regulations relating to drivers of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) are changing. These changes require some significant advance planning for employers of those who drive a CMV.

Who is affected by these new rules? 
First, the changes apply only to drivers of a CMV. A CMV is a vehicle that fits anyof the following descriptions:
       Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
       Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 or more
       Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers ...
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The United States Supreme Court issued two long awaited and employer friendly decisions today. Both relate to issues raised under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 
Vance v. Ball State University: Who is a Supervisor?

Under Title VII, employers may be strictly liable for harassment by a supervisor. Employers may also be liable for harassment by a co-worker, but only if the company knew or should have known of the co-workers conduct and failed to take prompt and appropriate corrective action. A question that remained disputed until the Vance decision was who qualified as a ...

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Summer has finally arrived. While some are outdoors splashing in the lake or pool, there are others who prefer to spend their time making waves online. This week, for example, we bring your stories of a Wendy's employee who was fired after a picture of him drinking directly from a Frosty machine went viral, and a Welsh civil servant who received a 12 month promotion ban due to his "inappropriate comments" on social media. In Ohio, even the police are taking to Facebook, and one city police chief posted ridiculing comments about the city's lawbreakers. In Minnesota, Amazon caused a stir with ...

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What do discount retailer Dollar General and luxury automobile manufacturer BMW have in common? No, they haven't started selling BMWs at Dollar General stores. Rather, both companies were sued last week by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) based on the agency's allegation that their criminal background check policies disproportionately impact black job applicants and employees. These are the first lawsuits brought by the EEOC since the agency issued guidance back in April 2012 (blogged about here) requiring employers to engage in an individualized ...

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The modern workplace this week brought us stories of disability fraud, job recruitment with video games, apps to fight procrastination, and distracted driving. Who says work is boring?

In North Carolina, a postal worker was indicted for disability fraud when her appearance on a nationally-televised game show revealed her lifting and grabbing capabilities. She had been collecting workers compensation checks since 2004 for an injury that supposedly prevented her from lifting and grabbing, among other things. In the wired workplace, both employers and employees are finding new ...

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When I'm not lawyering, I like to spend time around horses. That sometimes means spending time observing the habits of horse barn owners and other operators of small agricultural facilities. For an employment lawyer, its scary out there on the farm. If you read the help wanted ads on horse industry list serves and web sites, or peruse the bulletin boards at feed stores, or talk to stable and farm owners, you'll quickly conclude that unlawful employment practices are common and that compliance is not a big concern.
Agricultural workers and non-agricultural workers are treated ...
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Technology news was dominated by reports of government snooping this week. The Guardian published a top-secret court order forcing Verizon Wireless to turn over "telephony metadata" (i.e. call details) collected on all of its customers making calls to, from, or within the United States. The Obama Administration defended the order as a counter-terrorism measure, and late Thursday, reports began to surface that the data was used to foil a planned terrorist attack.

Individuals used technology to act in ways that could be seen as offensive, discriminatory, or maybe both, depending on ...

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The 2013 U.S. Supreme Court term features several employment law cases important to employers and human resource professionals, including the following significant pending cases:

Vance v. Ball State University: This case involves the definition of a supervisor for purposes of harassment claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Under current law, employers may be held strictly liable for the acts of supervisors but harassment by a co-worker will not create liability unless the employer knew or should have known about the harassment. This decision will clarify a ...

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