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The Modern Workplace

Posts from April 2014.

By now, you've probably heard of the audio recording of racist statements by L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling that has gone viral. Yesterday, the NBA commissioner announced that Sterling will be banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5 million, the highest fine permitted by the NBAs constitution and bylaws. It also appears that Sterling stands to lose his ownership stake in the Clippers. 

Sterling's statements were recorded by a former girlfriend during a conversation in Sterling's home and later leaked to TMZ. There has been near-universal support for the NBAs swift and ...

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Are you working in your pajamas right now? Or from the beach? If so, you may be one of the many Americans who telecommute. This week, a Forbes article discussed the rise of telecommuting, the reasons telecommuting is becoming more common, and why it's not for everyone. Meanwhile, a federal appellate court held that telecommuting may be required as a form of reasonable accommodation for a disabled employee. The court had previously held, back in 2004, that telecommuting was not a form of reasonable accommodation, but it explained that the technological evolution of the last decade now ...

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently issued an informal guidance on the issue of religious dress and grooming. The guidance comes in wake of several suits accusing employers of religious discrimination for refusing to accommodate certain types of religious dress or grooming.

The EEOCs Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace:  Rights and Responsibilities guidance uses a question and answer format and covers a wide range of topics. In particular, the guidance notes the following:
 
       All employees covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ...
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Employers and their IT departments are always looking for ways to protect their data in this age of constantly changing technology.  One new form of protection that may become available to employers is a "kill switch" on their employees' smartphones.  A kill switch will allow a phones owner to remotely delete data and deactivate smartphones after a theft or loss. This week, Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and the five largest U.S. cell carriers voluntarily agreed to include the kill switch technology on all of their smartphones manufactured for sale in the U.S. after July 2015.  There ...

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Posted in Immigration

As we previously predicted, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received more new H-1B petitions during the first week of April 2014 than there are visa numbers available for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. USCIS received approximately 172,500 petitions for FY 2015, which is more than double the annual limit of 65,000 regular H-1B visas and the additional 20,000 visa numbers reserved for individuals who hold advanced degrees from U.S. institutions.

USCIS has already conducted a random computer-generated lottery of all of those petitions to determine which ...

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A new labor agreement reached in France requires employers in certain technology and consultancy sectors to take steps to ensure employees are not plugging into work on their free time. France has had a 35-hour workweek for several years, and many believed it was being intruded upon by frequent out of office distractions caused by email and other technology. To combat this, French employers in these sectors are required to take steps to make certain that employees completely disconnect outside of their working hours. 

The invasion of work into personal lives is an international ...
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With technological innovations appearing daily in the workplace, employers must continually evaluate how best to proactively prepare for and respond to these changes. As you do your planning, you might want to check out the article below on how companies can learn from Google's example when it comes to humanizing technology in the workplace. This week's headlines also discuss wearable technology and how businesses can prepare for this new workplace phenomenon, including by revising their BYOD policies. 


Technology and the Workplace
How Google Humanizes Technology in the ...

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The Star Tribune is reporting that Minnesota legislators have reached a deal that will increase Minnesota's minimum wage for most employers to $9.50 per hour by 2016. When the proposed law is passed and signed by Governor Dayton, Minnesota will join 21 other states and the District of Columbia in having a minimum wage that exceeds the current federal law minimum of $7.25 per hour. Currently, the state of Washington has the highest minimum wage, coming in at $9.32 per hour.  The U.S. Department of Labor provides a summary of state minimum wage rates on its website: 

In addition to state wage ...

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Not all technology-based changes in the workplace involve social media and smartphones. This week's headlines and blog posts highlight other ways in which technology is changing the way we work.  For example, employers are currently facing the decision of how to approach e-cigarettes in the workplace, and some employers are skipping the booth-filled convention centers and instead opting for virtual career fairs to find top candidates.  We also have linked to an article below about employees who put your cybersecurity at risk and how to deal with them.  Finally, learn how to craft email ...

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There has been a storm of comment and controversy since the National Labor Relations Board ruled last week that scholarship football players at Northwestern University are employees of the school who have the right to unionize under the federal labor law governing private sector employers. The College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), the union seeking to represent the players, is moving ahead full-steam with a vigorous persuasive campaign to convince the 87 Northwestern football players to vote for union representation when the NLRB conducts its election soon. On its ...
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