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The Modern Workplace

The Modern Workplace

  • Posts by Megan L. Anderson
    Partner

    Megan Anderson is an MSBA-certified employment and labor law specialist and proactively partners with businesses, non-profit organizations, and higher education institutions to ensure employment law compliance and prevent ...

Since the days of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the United States has closely tracked a new presidents first 100 days in office. Here at Gray Plant Mooty, our employment and labor law teams have been monitoring and will continue to track activity by the Trump administration in the employment and benefits law area. This alert is the first in what we intend to be a series of updates to our employer clients on key developments during the first 100 days.
 
Department of Labor Developments
When President Trump was elected in November 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) was fighting ...
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In the aftermath of President-elect Trumps victory, many employers are wondering how the president-elects priorities will impact their employment and labor law obligations. One immediate question on employers minds is whether they still must comply with the Obama administrations new federal overtime pay rules set to go into effect on December 1, 2016. It is highly unlikely that there will be any activity related to these rules by President-elect Trump prior to the December 1 deadline, although a later retraction or retrenchment of the rules is certainly possible. Employers ...

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Its been a busy year for Minnesota employers on the wage and hour front. As discussed in prior posts, new salary requirements will go into effect for white collar exempt workers on December 1, 2016, and a new Minneapolis sick pay ordinance will become effective July 1, 2017. On the heels of these developments, employers may also need to prepare to address a potential $15 per hour minimum wage requirement in Minneapolis. Wage advocacy groups recently scored a victory when a Minnesota district court said that Minneapolis voters must be permitted to vote in November 2016 on the proposed $15 ...

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The Star Tribune reported Wednesday that a former high-ranking Starkey employee has sued the company for retaliation, claiming that she was wrongfully fired for raising questions about potential improprieties in the company's business practices. The suit continues a long-standing trend of mounting whistleblower and retaliation claims against employers. As discussed in an earlier post this year, retaliation claims continue to be the most commonly filed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge.

Retaliation claims are increasingly common, because virtually ...

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Throughout the year, we've posted about efforts at the federal and Minnesota legislative level to enact paid sick leave laws.  So far, there's no federal or Minnesota state-wide law, but there is clearly a growing movement afoot around the country to pass such laws. And now, the Minneapolis City Council is getting in on the action. The City Council is considering an ordinance that has been referred to as one of the most far-reaching paid sick leave initiatives in the nation. The proposed ordinance, known as the Working Family Agenda, would require every business in the city of Minneapolis ...
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Posted in Discrimination
There's only a few more sleeps ahead of us before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turns 25 years old. The law was signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. If you want to take a trip down memory lane, you can find a video of the Presidents signing ceremony here. As the ADAs historic moment approaches, you can also watch for one of the various celebration events going on around the country and track the ADA Legacy Bus as it nears the completion of its year-long celebration and awareness tour.
 

Since the ADA was enacted, the landmark law has been expanded by the enactment of the ...

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Posted in Discrimination
Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a much anticipated ruling on the question of whether courts have the authority to review the adequacy of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions (EEOC) pre-lawsuit efforts to settle a case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOCs website contains a press release declaring the Courts Mach Mining ruling a step forward for discrimination victims, but other commentators have declared the ruling to be a victory for employers. This mixed reaction likely stems from the fact that the Courts opinion, when read carefully ...
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In conversations with clients and employment law colleagues, I have dubbed 2014 the year of the employee handbook. In the wake of the passage last year of the Minnesota Women's Economic Security Act (WESA), Minnesota employers were required to update employee handbooks and practices to address new wage disclosure rights, new anti-discrimination protections, and, as applicable, expanded protections for pregnancy, parental leave, and the use of employer-provided sick time.

If certain Minnesota DFL Senators have their way, Minnesota employers may need to pull out those ...

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For the first time in weeks, online news reports have been relatively Ebola free. This week, the last Ebola patient in the U.S. was declared Ebola free and released from the New York hospital where he had been quarantined. There are currently no known Ebola cases in the U.S. 


Nevertheless, I am continuing to field questions about how employers can keep their workplaces free of the potentially deadly Ebola virus. In addition to being concerned about their employees well-being, these employers are mindful that federal and state OSHA laws require employers to take reasonable ...

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Posted in Leave

When I conduct employment trainings, I often caution executives and managers to think before they email. In my experience, people tend to be more casual and to use poorer judgment when they email than when they write a memo or letter that, by its nature, seems more formal.

Now, it turns out, that you better be careful before you snail mail too. In what some commentators are calling a game changing decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently held that a former employee could proceed to trial in her lawsuit under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) based on her ...

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June 2014 is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride month, and President Obama is set to mark the month by using his pen and phone approach to expand workplace protections for LGBT individuals. Frustrated with the inability to get various employment-related laws through Congress, President Obama has taken to using his executive authority to make progress where he can primarily with federal government contractors.  So far this year, President Obama has issued executive orders raising the federal minimum wage for federal contractors and requiring contractors to ...
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Target Corp's data breach has been big news this holiday season, with as many as 40 million holiday shoppers across the nation exposed to potential credit and debit card fraud. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, which tracks U.S. data breaches, the Target breach was one of over 600 data breaches in 2013. In our increasingly digital world, data breaches are a growing risk with many potential causes, including system failures, human error, employee misconduct, or outside theft. 

In the wake of the Target incident, many companies will be setting a 2014 new years resolution ...
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Ive had succession planning on my mind this week following the release of a research poll that indicates that about half of older Americans are delaying retirement plans to work longer. The poll, which was conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, indicates that over eighty percent of older Americans plan to work during their retirement years and almost fifty percent expect to delay retirement. Eleven percent of those surveyed indicated they dont expect to ever retire. These survey results may stem from a number of factors. The recent recession has ...

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Given a recent uptick in court rulings enforcing class action waivers, it may be time to revisit whether your company prefers to resolve disputes with employees in court or through arbitration. Class action waivers in arbitration agreements have been gaining in popularity with employers since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an arbitration clause containing a class-action waiver in the AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion case in 2010 and again this year in the American Express Co. v. Italian Restaurants case. These Supreme Court cases involved consumer disputes, but numerous employers ...

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In an interesting convergence of events, two Minnesota employers recently found themselves on the wrong side of Minnesota's marital status discrimination law just as Minnesota is preparing for same sex marriages to become legal on August 1, 2013. These recent cases serve as an important reminder that Minnesota law prohibits employment discrimination based on marital status, including discrimination based on the situation or identity of an employees spouse. Minnesota employers should also be mindful that, come August, both opposite sex and same sex spouses will be protected by ...

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Later this month, Ill be giving a presentation on employee handbooks.  This has me thinking about what types of policies should be included in a handbook and which items might be better addressed separately and outside of the handbook.  In considering technology and social media policies in particular, I've concluded that it may be best to maintain these policies as stand-alone policies outside of the employee handbook and, in some cases, to incorporate technology and social media requirements into individual employment agreements.

One key reason for considering a stand-alone ...
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Today is Presidents Day, or, as it is officially called, Washington's Birthday.  We also celebrate Black History Month each February, making this month a time for reflection on the long history behind our country's efforts towards achieving equality in the workplace.  In honor of both Presidents Day and Black History Month, I'm sharing the list below of Presidents who were in office when our country passed some of its landmark federal civil rights or employment laws, along with some interesting facts about each of the Presidents who played a role in the history behind our current ...
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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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The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Monday in Vance v. Ball State University, a case that could create a more uniform legal standard for determining when an employee is a supervisor under federal harassment law.
 Fourteen years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that employers can be held strictly liable for sexual harassment and other forms of unlawful harassment by a supervisor. When a supervisor engages in unlawful harassment that results in a tangible, adverse action against an employee, an employer is automatically liable for that harassment. In contrast, employers ...
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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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The blogosphere has been buzzing over recent actions taken by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to limit employer requests for confidentiality during workplace investigations. Confidentiality has long been viewed as a hallmark of a good investigation for important reasons, including preserving evidence, encouraging witness cooperation, and reducing retaliation risks. In light of recent NLRB and EEOC activity, however, employers will need to think more carefully about when and how to make confidentiality ...
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I remember being told as a child that two wrongs do not make a right. This was the common response I got if I tried to justify bad behavior by saying that Id been provoked or that others had done the same thing. I imagine that, like me, parents all over the world still commonly use the phrase two wrongs don't make a right in encouraging children to do the right thing. The lawsuit filed earlier this week by former Minnesota Senate aide Michael Brodkorb should, however, serve as a reminder to employers that this childhood lesson doesn't always apply in the employment discrimination context.
In the ...
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April 2012 was a busy month for the EEOC.  In addition to issuing new Guidance on discrimination against ex-convicts, the EEOC strengthened discrimination protections for another traditionally marginalized group - transgender individuals. In the case of Macy v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the EEOC found, for the first time, that transgender discrimination is illegal sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination is already unlawful under Minnesota state law and in a number of ...
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On April 25, 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a new Enforcement Guidance on the use of criminal history information in making hiring and other employment decisions. This Guidance furthers the EEOCs strategic focus on eradicating systemic race discrimination, as discussed in earlier blog posts (4/25/12 and 1/27/12). Because persons of color are arrested and convicted at disproportionate rates, excluding individuals from employment based on a criminal record can be unlawful race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. To ...
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Last Friday, Governor Mark Dayton vetoed four GOP-sponsored litigation reform bills that had been approved by the Minnesota House and Minnesota Senate. We previously posted about these bills, which were aimed at limiting litigation costs and which were the first bills to reach the Governors desk this legislative session. Had they passed, the bills would have: (1) reduced the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit; (2) limited the recovery of attorneys fees by successful claimants; (3) created stronger appeal rights to challenge a case being designated as a class action; and ...
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The end of the year is, of course, a time for reflections, predictions, and resolutions for the new year.  As Ive reflected on the 2011 Modern Workplace blog posts, the primary take-away from most posts is the importance of having a carefully drafted, lawful technology policy.  In addition, the web is currently filled with technology predictions for 2012 that suggest the lightning fast pace of technological developments impacting the workplace will continue in 2012.  Some of the 2012 predictions include touch computing potentially replacing desktops and laptops, more effective ...

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CNN Money.com reported this week that the number of wireless cell phone and tablet devices in the U.S. has outpaced the U.S. population.  With all of this connectivity going on, it could be easy to forget that not everyone has equal access to the internet and an equal ability to apply for jobs online.  Studies in recent years indicate that minorities and disabled individuals, as a group, have less or different access than Caucasians and non-disabled persons.  As a result of this disparity, often dubbed the digital divide, employers should tread carefully in establishing exclusive online ...
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As I personally lament Netflix's unbundling of its online services and its price hikes, it occurs to me that the price increase could be good news for employers at least those with employees who find it appropriate to watch TV shows and full length films on the job. A recent study conducted by Harris Interactive and Qumu revealed that 17% of those surveyed watch videos at work, consisting of, in order of the most viewed videos: news clips (25%), viral videos (15%), videos on social networking sites (12%), sports clips (11%), TV shows (9%), full length films (4%), and porn (3%).

The June 2011

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Do you believe in the saying that bad things come in threes?  Well, at least for employers, that saying rings true this week given the announcement that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a third labor law complaint related to adverse employment actions allegedly based on Facebook postings by employees.  The increasing frequency with which the NLRB is seeking to enforce its stance on Facebook postings is further reason for employers to consider adopting carefully drafted social media and technology policies, related policies on solicitation and distribution in the ...
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We all knew schoolyard bullies, and, if we were lucky, they left us alone.  The less fortunate, however, sometimes suffered devastating and long-term effects from bullying.  Society has increased its focus on school bullying over the years.  New challenges have also arisen, however, as bullying has moved into cyberspace with widespread impact.  We continue to strive, however, to provide children with safe, healthy environments in which they can flourish and meet their full potential.

 
But what about our workplaces?  Does your company's environment allow employees to thrive and ...
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We increasingly live in an electronic world where entertainment news articles about movie and TV stars are featured adjacent to articles about important technology, political, legal, and world events. No star is in the limelight these days like Charlie Sheen, and his recent antics have the mainstream media telling us that Sheen can teach us a thing or two about how to conduct ourselves in the workplace in this increasingly electronic age.

This week, Charlie Sheen was fired from his hit TV show, and CNN.com posted an article stating that Sheens conduct demonstrates the perils of ...

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You may be wondering what cats have to do with employment law. Well, last week the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the cats paw theory of employment discrimination for the first time, making it easier for employees to prove discrimination and for employers to get burned by legal liability. The phrase cats paw stems from an Aesop fable in which a monkey uses flattery to induce a cat to retrieve roasting chestnuts from a hot fire and then absconds with the chestnuts after the cat has burned its paws. Based on the fable, cats paw refers to a person who is unwittingly used to accomplish another's ...

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