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The Modern Workplace

Posts in Hiring & Firing.
As we predicted in a blog post earlier this year, the Biden administration has placed a 60-day hold on the U.S. Department of Labors (DOL) final rule on determining when a worker is an employee or independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which was expected to take effect March 8, 2021. The Biden Administration issued a memorandum to various executive agencies, including the DOL, asking that they: (1) not propose or issue any rules until a department or agency head appointed or designated by the Biden Administration reviews and approves the rule; (2) withdraw any ...
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On January 7, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published its final rule (Final Rule) setting new standards for determining when a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Final Rule takes effect sixty days from its publication in the Federal Register and is, therefore, scheduled to take effect on March 8, 2021. The DOL notes that the Final Rule reaffirms the economic reality test; however, the new test changes the analysis to be used when applying the test.

New Test
The Final Rule implements a five-factor economic reality ...
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Two recent developments have occurred in the seemingly constant struggle regarding the classification of independent contractors versus employees. The developments are examples of two very divergent paths that are being taken by various governmental entities and administrations. Some are tightening the requirements for independent contractor status. Others, however, are creating a more business-friendly loosened standard.


On Monday, April 29, 2019, the Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued an opinion letter (Opinion Letter ...
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Posted in Hiring & Firing

The practice of running background checks on prospective and current employees has become commonplace in many industries. Companies should be careful, however, to ensure that their process complies with the hyper-technical requirements of the federal law governing the use of these background checks the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under the FCRA, before an employer may obtain a background check from a third party vendor for a fee, it must make a written disclosure to the subject of the background check. That written disclosure must be a stand-alone document that consists only ...
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In the past week, I have been involved in two situations in which an employer received a cease and desist letter from a potential competitor. The employers had hired employees away from the potential competitors and were then notified by the potential competitors that the employees were subject to various restrictive covenant obligations. The potential competitors letters made various demands regarding the restrictive covenants and restrictions to be placed on the employees activities.

As many of you know, restrictive covenants prevent employees from engaging in various types ...
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In a unanimous decision last month, a three-member panel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that a restaurant company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when its New York City location fired four employees after the employees emailed other employees and managers to complain about, among other things, work schedules, the companys tip policies, and the managements treatment of employees.


The case arose after an employee wrote an email upon her resignation complaining about managements treatment of employees, tip policies, work schedules, and more ...
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Although the Trump administration has signaled its intention to shift away from the prior administrations efforts to expand LGBTQ+ equity rights in the workplace, a federal appellate court recently held that discrimination based on an individuals status as transgender or gender-transitioning is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that discrimination based on an employees status as transgender or gender-transitioning is prohibited sex discrimination under Title VII. In ...
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Posted in Hiring & Firing
On April 28, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a post on its business blog advising employers to keep it simple when it comes to employment background check disclosure and authorization forms. While the blog post is not legally binding, it provides some useful guidance on how to comply with federal background check requirements.
 
Employment background checks done by an outside vendor for a fee are considered consumer reports under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Pursuant to FCRA, employers are required to make a specific written disclosure to ...
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While the presidential inauguration is front and center, here are two quick items employers will want to take note of:

  1. A Hennepin County Court judge has issued an order temporarily blocking enforcement of Minneapolis new paid sick time ordinance against employers who are not located within the city limits.

  2. There is a new I-9 form that must be used starting this Sunday, January 22. Previous versions of the I-9 may not be used with new hires after that date.

Minneapolis Paid Sick and Safe Time. We have previously blogged about the Minneapolis paid sick leave ordinance. The ordinance ...

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Insubordination is a term that shows up frequently in documentation and discussions about why an employee was, or should be, disciplined or terminated. According to the dictionary definition, insubordinate means not obeying authority or refusing to follow orders. Following direction from ones boss is a pretty important part of any job, so insubordination certainly sounds like it should be a terminable offense. However, it is risky for employers to accept a charge of insubordination at face value without analyzing the nature of the conflict that is driving it. Labor law protects a ...

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In our January 29, 2016 post, we informed you that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had published a proposed enforcement guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues for public comment. On August 25, 2016, the EEOC issued the final enforcement guidance, which is available here: 
The new enforcement guidance replaces the retaliation section of the EEOCs 1998 Compliance Manual and addresses the issue of retaliation under various federal anti-discrimination statutes, including the ...
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I may be getting older, but it seems like I just wrote last years post about changes in Minnesota's minimum wage law. However fast it seems to you, on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016, Minnesota's minimum wage will increase again to $9.50 per hour for large employers. The increase stems from significant changes to Minnesota's minimum wage statute in 2014, providing for higher minimum wage rates over time indexed to inflation. Employers should ensure they are prepared for the change and that they are also preparing for the substantial change in salary requirements for white collar exempt employees ...
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Last week, we wrote about employer best practices with respect to responding to possible employee medical issues. A recent case out of the Eighth Circuit showcases one employers creative approach to thinking about possible future medical issues.

BNSF Railway Company, based in Nebraska, reportedly has had a policy of not hiring any applicant for a safety sensitive position if the applicant has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.  In the recent Eighth Circuit case ...

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The highly anticipated final white collar salary exemption rule (Final Rule) is one step closer to becoming reality. The proposed rule would raise the minimum weekly salary requirement for the FLSA white collar exemption from the current $455 per week amount ($23,660 annually) to $970 per week ($50,440 annually). You can read our earlier post about the proposed rule here.
On Tuesday, March 15, the U.S. Department of Labor sent the Final Rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, ahead of the expected review and release schedule. The specific provisions of ...
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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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Last week, President Obama made headlines when he announced a forthcoming executive order to ban the box on federal job applications. The President directed the federal Office of Personnel Management to modify its rules for federal agency hiring decisions to delay questions about an applicants criminal history until later in the hiring process. While many federal agencies have already taken this step, the Presidents action will make the ban the box practice universal for federal government hiring. In making his announcement, President Obama cited statistics indicating that 70 ...
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Third party employers of home companionship or care workers may soon be required to pay those workers overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling upholding the U.S. Department of Labors (DOL) Final Rule on the Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service (the Final Rule). As a result, domestic service workers employed by third parties may soon be subject to FLSA overtime pay requirements.

The Final Rule
 
The DOLs Final Rule was issued some time ago and ...
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Like most law firms, we interview current law students in the fall to identify those we will invite to work with us the following summer. Those who join us are summer associates, and we have just bid adieu to a terrific group from this summer. Summer associates who accept offers from the firm for attorney positions will rejoin us after they complete their last year of law school and take that little test called the bar exam.

Millennials all, our recent summer associates didn't fit the negative stereotypes so often cast upon workers of their generation. This should really come as no surprise; ...

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Its that time of year again.  On Saturday, August 1, 2015, Minnesota's minimum wage will increase once more to $9 per hour for large employers.  Minnesota's minimum wage statute was changed significantly in 2014 resulting in new definitions of large and small employers, higher and changing minimum wage rates over time, and indexing to inflation.  Employers should ensure that they are prepared for the changes to come.

Minnesota's minimum wage is based on the size of the employer as determined by gross sales, with large employers paying more than small employers.  Under the amended 2014 ...
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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) yesterday issued Administrators Interpretation 2015-1, providing guidance on the classification of employees and independent contractors. The DOL identifies the misclassification of employees as independent contractors as a high priority enforcement issue, labeling it one of the most serious problems facing affected workers, employers, and the entire economy. The DOLs guidance is intended to help employers in classifying workers and to curtail misclassification.

The fifteen page document outlines the familiar multi-factor economic ...
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Two recent articles pose interesting questions regarding recruiting and retaining younger workers. The first, at Fortune.com, and a related Wall Street Journal blog post, consider whether an employment advertisement seeking digital natives is evidence of age discrimination. The article notes that the term digital native was coined by author Marc Prensky and refers to individuals who grew up with technology, becoming native speakers of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet.

Fortune found, however, that employers have used the term in a way that could ...
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Employers should be aware of recent federal agency activity that may require modifications to employee confidentiality agreements. The federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a press release on April 1, 2015, trumpeting the SECs first enforcement action against an employer based upon the company's use of confidentiality agreements for its employees that included improperly restrictive language. In its press release, the SEC announced that KBR Inc., a Houston-based technology and engineering company, had entered into a settlement agreement with the SEC ...
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As we previously reported, the EEOCs targeting of employer background checks has been controversial and continues to fizzle in the courts. Recently, in EEOC v. Freeman, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a lower courts grant of summary judgment to an employer. The Fourth Circuit found that the EEOC failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination with respect to the employers background checks, because the EEOCs expert testimony and corresponding statistical analysis was unreliable. This is the same reason that the EEOCs background check ...

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A new year may bring new employment chances for Minnesotans with criminal records. Minnesota's new Second Chance law, providing for broader and more effective expungement of criminal records, became effective on Jan. 1, 2015. Expungement is a process for the sealing of ones criminal record through a court order. The revised expungement law is meant to provide a more effective remedy for those persons who are able to qualify for an expungement of their criminal record, including ensuring that information held by various governmental agencies is also effectively expunged ...

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Posted in Hiring & Firing
If you are like many employers, you use an online job application or are considering switching to an online process. Online applications have many benefits, and there are numerous vendors prepared to help you set up an online site, populate it with forms, and set up applicant tracking and background check processes. Employers should be wary, though, of adopting stock background check forms provided by vendors. However well-intentioned, vendors do not always provide stock forms that comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) or other applicable laws.
A recent ...
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If you're an Amazon Prime member or you've shopped online at Amazon lately, you've probably heard that Amazon launched a new TV series last week, "Transparent," about a 70 year old divorced father who announces to his children that he intends to transition from a man to a woman. The "Transparent" series is getting rave reviews and comes at a time of increased societal and legal focus on the rights of transgender individuals.


Indeed, just before the launch of the "Transparent" series, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed its first ever lawsuits alleging sex ...

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Another Sunday has come and gone and with it, somewhat predictably, another Vikings loss. What's remarkable about this week, however, is that the team was without its star player, Adrian Peterson. Mr. Peterson has been barred from team activities pending the resolution of his criminal indictment for child abuse. Mr. Peterson has admitted to disciplining his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch and injuring the child in the process. The Vikings organization has been widely criticized for its initial response to Adrian Petersons indictment. The Vikings initially planned ...

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Unless you were unplugged, you probably saw all the high profile names that made legal headlines last week. Included in that list was David Letterman. In a quick whirlwind of activity, a CBS intern filed a wage and hour lawsuit against CBS News and Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants, only to drop the suit a short time later with a public apology. In the lawsuit, the CBS intern claimed that unpaid Late Show student interns were employees and that the failure to pay them wages violated wage and hour laws. The suit, had it proceeded, would have sought to recover back wages ...
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I recently read an article about how college football recruiters are using twitter to screen out potential players for their teams. Its becoming a somewhat common practice for recruiters to monitor the twitter accounts of high school players that they are scouting to see whether any red flags are raised. Based on some of the inappropriate tweets, colleges have decided not to pursue particular players and, in at least one instance, have even withdrawn a scholarship offer. Some of these college coaches are encouraging high school coaches to teach players that they need to be careful ...

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As a follow up to our last Week in Review, wage and hour claims are still making headlines this week. Another technology company, SpaceX, has been sued for allegedly failing to provide employees with required breaks or to properly pay employees for off the clock work.  SpaceX also faces a separate lawsuit alleging that it failed to give former employees proper advance notice of their layoffs under California law.  Another big legal headline this week is the announcement that a federal judge has rejected a proposed $325 million settlement agreement between Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel and ...

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Last week a New York federal court certified a class of approximately 250,000 African-American job applicants in a race discrimination case against the U.S. Census Bureau. The plaintiffs allege that they were unlawfully excluded from consideration for door-to-door census positions due to arrest records that never resulted in convictions. In other instances, applicants were allegedly rejected based on convictions for minor crimes or convictions that were so old they should not have been considered. The lawsuit alleges that the Census Bureaus practices disparately ...

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We hope you had a happy 4th of July weekend!  Last weeks news included more employees making headlines for their misuse of social media.  The links below highlight three cases in which employees social media activity or misuse of company computers led to a loss of employment or litigation.  For other recent headlines on the same topic, check out this link to our Week in Review from a few weeks back.  These news stories are great reminders of why all employers should have a robust social media and computer usage policy in place.  So, as you're digging back into your work post-holiday, consider ...

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On August 1, 2014, Minnesota's new minimum wage law takes effect. The new law changes the states minimum wage requirements in several ways, including new definitions of large and small employers, progressively increasing rates over time, and indexing to inflation.

Minnesota sets its minimum wage based on the size of the employer as determined by gross sales. Under the new law, a large employer is one that has gross sales over $500,000 in annual business. Small employers are defined to have gross sales under $500,000 in annual business. Prior to the change, the gross sales ...

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Move over World Cup. Discipline based on employee social media activities is taking center stage this week. Well, maybe the World Cup has a few more headlines, but you can follow the links below to read four articles from this week about employees getting into employment trouble based on their social media activity. Also, a recent survey shows that 70 percent of employers have disciplined employees for on-the-job misuse of social media. One lawyer is making news, though, for his drastic protests of workplace discipline based on employee social media postings.  

Don't worry . . . we ...
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In a recent Week in Review post, we referenced a Wall Street Journal article about Zappos.com. It has abandoned job postings in favor of a radically different approach. Instead of posting job descriptions at online career sites, Zappos will maintain a social media network of Zappos Insiders. Through social media, people interested in working at Zappos will network and connect with current employees and provide (sometimes public) information about their skills and interests in hopes of being tapped to work in a specific job. As the Wall Street Journal article points out ...

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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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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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Overtime pay is a big theme this week following President Obamas directive that the U.S. Department of Labor work to update the existing federal regulations on overtime pay. The most prominent change that is expected is an increase in the $455 minimum weekly salary that must be paid for an employee to be exempt from overtime pay requirements under federal wage and hour law.  Before any overtime pay change can be finalized, the Department of Labor must complete a rule making process that could take a year or longer.  Speaking of overtime, March Madness has begun once again.  Check out the links ...

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The holiday season is a time for reflection, including reflection on our technology habits. Many individuals are aiming to be truly home for the Christmas holiday by engaging in digital detox plans and setting their smartphones and other mobile devices aside to spend time with family and friends. Disconnecting from workplace technology during non-work hours is also becoming a trend at other times of the year, and many employers are encouraging this trend. Another take-away from this holiday season may be to reflect on what your shopping habits can teach you about hiring ...

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A recent trial experience provided an extraordinary lesson on the significant legal exposure employers face when hiring away employees from a competitor. I recently completed a jury trial in which my client obtained a $22.7 million verdict against a competing company that had hired away two of my clients employees who had secretly taken numerous computer files belonging to my client and then used them for the benefit of their new employer. Although there ended up being many actions of the new employer to criticize, I believe that the most egregious one was the new employers failure to ...

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This week, Dropbox unveiled its new "Dropbox for Business" initiative, which gives employees a greater ability to establish digital work-life balance.  The product includes two data folders - one for business data and one for personal data so that businesses and workers have the ability to segregate digital work and personal data.  The Dropbox announcement came on the same day that Amazon unveiled a similar product. Airbnb also frequented the headlines this week, both for its new, streamlined app and for the scrutiny its vacation and home rental business is under from regulators.  ...

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Its Halloween, and we employment lawyers would be remiss if we didn't comment on the ways that workplace Halloween costumes can sometimes go wrong. The negative flack that celebrity Julianne Hough is receiving in the news for her blackface Halloween costume highlights the reality that, while Halloween revelry at work can be great fun, it can also come with a risk that an employee crosses over a racial, cultural, political, or other line and offends someone.


As such, it is a good idea to be thoughtful about office festivities and costumes. A little time spent on the front end can ...
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This week, as in many past weeks, a lot of media attention has been paid to privacy: creating it, protecting it, and invading it. Employees are reported to have been fired or disciplined for recording, revealing or posting the wrong thing. Hackers are worried about government surveillance of their activities, while homeowners are worried about hackers infiltrating their home security systems. Electronic health information systems create new opportunities for health-enhancing information sharing, while simultaneously creating risks to patient privacy and safety ...

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 Last week, attorneys general of nine states signed a five page letter addressed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The letter sharply criticizes the EEOCs guidance related to employers use of criminal background checks, and calls the EEOCs position misguided and a gross federal overreach. It accuses the EEOC of attempting to expand Title VIIs protected classes to persons with conviction records.

 
The letter was sent from West Virginias attorney general and signed by the attorneys general of Montana, Alabama, Nebraska, Colorado, South Carolina, Georgia, Utah ...
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The EEOCs Notification Letters have been sent and the lines are now open to complete the EEO-1 survey. Reports must be submitted by the September 30, 2013 deadline.
The EEO-1 is the form that the EEOC uses to collect workforce data from employers with more than 100 employees. Federal government contractors and first-tier subcontractors who have 50 or more employees and a contract or subcontract of $50,000 or more must also report. As the EEOCs websitemakes clear, employers meeting the reporting thresholds have a legal obligation to provide the data; it is not voluntary. Qualifying ...
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Last week, I presented an employment law update at my firms annual Health Law Institute.  While the presentation was aimed at employers in the health care industry, it also involved a review of recent state and federal law developments that affect all employers.  I knew the audience would be looking for practical take-aways, so I put together a checklist of employer to-do items in light of the recent developments.   I thought the readers of this blog might appreciate a list too.  So here are some important employment law compliance to-do items:

     1.  Post the new FMLA poster, update your FMLA ...

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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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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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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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The pocket dial: it happens to the best of us. Usually it ends in muffled silence, but, as the events of this week show, sometimes it can result in major life changes, like unemployment or prison time. Take, for example, the two Florida men featured below. One, working as a pizza delivery driver, pocket-dialed a recent customer and left an unintended voicemail full of racial epithets. He and the coworker he was talking to both lost their jobs. A second Florida man betrayed by his backside this week pocket-dialed 911 and inadvertently recorded a message about his intention to murder another ...

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 Last week the Minnesota House of Representatives passed Ban the Box legislation, which prohibits private employers from asking applicants about their criminal record until after they have been selected for an interview. The bill, Senate File 523, passed easily on a 107-26 vote, with 35 Republican Representatives joining all DFL Representatives voting in support.  Governor Mark Dayton has indicated his support and is expected to sign the bill into law.

With passage of this legislation, Minnesota will be the third state to expand Ban the Box to private employers.  Proponents believe ...

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Many employers experience frustration and challenges when trying to obtain meaningful background check information. The cost to replace a terminated employee is high, and can add up quickly for an employer in a high turnover industry such as retail. Employers are wise to develop strategies, tools and resources that help them to recruit qualified workers who will be loyal and trustworthy employees. Background checks are common, and most employers rely on outside vendors to do them. Background check vendors - companies that specialize in gathering and reporting on criminal ...

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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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I don't know if it's the cold, long winter we've been having, or just the increasing popularity of social media, but this week has been chock-full of internet-induced workplace drama. Take for example, the Applebee's server who was fired after posting a picture of customer's receipt on Reddit. The customer happened to be a pastor whose large dining party had incurred an automatic gratuity charge. He crossed out the added gratuity and wrote "I give God 10%, why do you get 18?" After the waitress shared a picture of the receipt -- signature and all -- with the online community, the pastor ...

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You may have read recent media reports about a dispute between a doctor and his patients son in which the doctor sued the patients son for, among other things, referring to the doctor as a real tool. Frustrated by the care that his father received from the doctor at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth, Dennis Laurion posted online that [w]hen I mentioned Dr. McKee's name to a friend who is a nurse, she said, Dr. McKee is a real tool.  Upset by this and other negative comments posted by Laurion, Dr. McKee sued him for defamation. The case was eventually appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, where ...
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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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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 2012 draws to a close, we reflect back on all that we have learned this last year. In the modern workplace, both employers and employees learned their fair share of technological dos and don'ts (re-read a few old Weeks in Review, and you'll see what I mean). The most recent lesson? Even "legal" employment actions can cause PR problems.  Just ask the Iowa dentist who fired his assistant for being too attractive. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the termination was justified, but individuals from around the country have plastered the dentist's Yelp page with negative reviews, calling for ...

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While employers should take steps to comply with all applicable legal obligations, it doesn't hurt to know those areas of compliance that are going to be given particular attention by enforcement agencies. Earlier this week, the EEOC announced its Strategic Enforcement Plan  (SEP) for Fiscal Years 2013 2016. The SEP gives employers a peek at the measures the EEOC believes are needed to achieve its goal of deterring discriminatory practices in the workplace.

The SEP identifies the following six enforcement priorities:

  1. Eliminating Barriers in Recruitment and Hiring. The Commission ...
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Do you remember a while back when I wrote about a group of lifeguards that got fired for posting a spoof of the "Gangnam Style" video on YouTube? The city claimed that they violated the aquatic center's standards of conduct and improperly used city property, but the lifeguards countered that they did it while off the clock. Well, after some heated controversy, the mayor of the city has now recommended that they be reinstated. Three of the five council members agreed, and the city manager is now reviewing the file. Although things may end up working out for these young workers, the situation ...

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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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Sick of hearing about the gloom and doom associated with technology? Me too. That is why this Week in Review will be decidedly more positive, focusing on recent studies about the ways technology can enhance the workplace.

First up: telecommuting. Nearly 4,000 employees -- or 66.3% -- of the US Patent Office do it. With numbers like that, there must be some serious benefits to allowing employees to work remotely. Examples reported in this article include less sick and administrative leave taken, more hours put in (on average, 66.3 more hours per year for telecommuting Patent Office ...

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Oh, the joys of technology. It can keep you connected when you're feeling social or provide hours of solo entertainment when you're not. And with new apps coming out every day, it is easy to get lost in a sea of technologically-induced euphoria. But don't let your guard down too quickly, because events this week remind us that where there is technology, there likely is someone -- or something -- watching.

A St. Paul police officer and a Yahoo News reporter learned that lesson the hard way. The officer, who was caught on a bystander's cellphone kicking an arrested suspect, is facing an ...

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Past Weeks in Review have recounted many tales of Facebook-induced terminations. Fired for Facebook comments? Check. Fired for Facebook photos? Check. Fired for Facebook Likes? Check and check below. But fired for "friending" someone on Facebook? That is precisely what happened to a Georgia county deputy who wanted to be "Facebook friends" with an inmate. The two struck up sexually-charged conversations while she was being held in the county jail, and it appears the deputy wanted to keep contact after she was released on bond. Turns out neither the Sheriff's office nor the inmate's ...

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There is a fine line between speech that is protected and speech that is not. Cross it, and you may be in trouble. Events this week demonstrate how making this distinction is getting even harder -- and riskier -- as technology evolves. In Virginia, six sheriff's office employees were fired after they liked the Facebook page of their boss's re-election opponent. The district court disagreed with the employees' contention that their "likes" were protected speech, but both the ACLU and Facebook have already filed appeals to the Fourth Circuit. Over in Kansas, a ...
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As we recently noted, Illinois just became the second state to pass a law prohibiting employers from requiring employees or applicants to disclose their social media passwords. This appears to be the latest addition to a growing body of similar legislation, rather than an isolated action. The adoption of this law in Illinois quickly followed the enactment of the first such law by Maryland. Several other states, including California, Michigan, and New Jersey, have similar bills working their way through their legislatures. Additionally, the U.S. Congress continues to consider the ...
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The government has been working hard to protect online privacy this week. On the regulation side, yesterday the Illinois governor signed the "Facebook Law," making Illinois the second state to statutorily prohibit employers from compelling employees or applicants to disclose their social media passwords. Additionally, the FTC is working to increase online security for minors by proposing new data-protection rules.
Enforcement efforts are also being stepped up, with prosecutors around the country making examples of internet-using lawbreakers. In Texas, two ...
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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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What do you get when you combine leaked photos, disgruntled employees, and a judge who is alleged to be watching porn? The answer: one heck of a Week in Review and a tale of multiple firings.

The leaked photo, which captured an employee of a Burger King restaurant standing in the restaurant's lettuce bins, appeared on the internet with the caption: "This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King." The employees involved were quickly fired once the franchisee that owned the restaurant was identified and contacted.

Two disgruntled Texas EMTs were also fired because they were involved in a ...

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This week, it's all about Facebook again. Except for the news about the Yahoo hack, you'll be hard pressed to find a technological tale that doesn't involve the social media giant. So here it is: the good, the bad, and the ugly of Facebook, all in one convenient location.

The good: the site continues to create useful apps. There is an anti-bullying tool tailored to help teens report harassing behavior, a price alert app that notifies you when items you Like go on sale, and a plan to launch a job posting board. With apps like these, who says time on Facebook is unproductive?

The bad: a yoga ...

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Yesterday investigators, led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, published their independent report concerning Penn States response to reports of suspected child abuse by former football coach Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky was arrested in 2011 and convicted last month of 45 counts of sexual abuse involving 10 boys over a 15-year period. 
 
Freehs 267-page report is scathing in its criticism of the University and its leaders. Freeh said in a statement that [t]he most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized. Messrs ...
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As America turns another year older this week, the government, just like its citizens, struggle to keep up with technological change. While the Executive branch and its agencies are embracing the crime-fighting advantages technology has to offer, the other two branches are pushing back. Legislatures in Delaware and Pennsylvania are working to protect the privacy rights of their citizens by enacting new social media laws. In New York, a judge showed that social media sites are not above the law by ordering Twitter to turn over subpoenaed Tweets of an Occupy Wall Street protester. With ...

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You can run, but you can't hide--not from technology anyway. Just ask the eight TSA agents who lost their jobs this week because a video camera caught them sleeping at work, or the Houston journalist who was fired after a rival newspaper exposed her secret stripping gig, or the Dallas police officer under investigation after his aggressive arrest was recorded by a motorcyclist's helmet camera. I guess if you can't fight the technological takeover, you might as well embrace it. Ready to give in? Check out the links below, including latest apps, which claim to save your life in times of ...
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This Father's Day, dads might have more to worry about than how to enthusiastically thank their children for yet another tie. News stories this week highlight the increasing vulnerability of today's youth in a technology-filled world. From cyberbullying to predator apps to camera phones in the locker room, parents around the country are wondering how to keep their children safe. Luckily, they're not alone. The law--and tech companies--are stepping in. The New York Legislature is working on a bill to fight cyberbullying, a Minnesota prosecutor is making an example of  teens who ...

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While the powers of technology often spell trouble for employers and employees, they sure do make for interesting Weeks in Review. And this week is no different. Drag-queen Facebook photos, surreptitious surveillance, and anonymous emails all led to employee terminations this week. Perhaps the most noteworthy is the Oklahoma publisher who fired 25 employees over an anonymous, company-wide email that spoke of alleged outsourcing and mass layoffs. Not knowing the exact source of the email, the owner fired those he thought might be involved. To make matters more ...

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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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Facebook dominated headlines once again this week, leaving little room for employment-related matters.  The cyber world was abuzz in anticipation of this morning's launch of Facebook's IPO. The final IPO was set yesterday at $38 per share, but trading opened this morning at $42 a share.  While many investors believe this is their golden ticket, others aren't so sure. With a pending privacy lawsuit and an AP poll showing that half of Americans think Facebook is a passing fad, it remains to be seen what kind of a deal Facebook investors really got today.

Technology and the ...

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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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It has been less than 90 days since the Associated Press ran a story about employers requiring applicants and workers to provide their passwords to social media sites like Facebook, and now a new law makes this illegal. Maryland is the first state to enact a law making it unlawful for employers to ask applicants or employees to provide their log-in information.  Other states have similar bills pending.
In late April, the Social Networking Online Protection Act, or SNOPA, was introduced in Congress. If passed, this law would prohibit current and potential employers from requiring a ...
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There is a chance that what your employees actually do in the day-to-day performance of their jobs isn't what's written in their job descriptions. This may not appear to be a problem if the work is getting done, but inaccurate or incomplete job descriptions can and do create problems for employers, especially if the EEOC or the Department of Labor comes calling. Employers are wise to include routine review and updating of job descriptions on their list of spring cleaning priorities. In addition to being part of a good defense against some claims of unfair or unlawful treatment, accurate ...
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What would a Week in Review be without some Facebook controversy? No need to ponder that possibility too long, for this week brings us a whole variety of ways in which Facebook is getting people into trouble. In the working world, a Marine lost his job and benefits because he used Facebook as a forum to criticize his Commander in Chief. In Indiana, three eighth-grade girls got expelled for posting on Facebook which classmates they would like to kill.  In Georgia, two more middle schoolers are being sued for defamation as a result of their Facebook bullying. So remember, whether you are a ...

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The EEOCs recently announced Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012 2016 identifies systemic discrimination as a main focus of the next few years. What does this mean for employers? Among other things, employers need to be cautious about policies that, although facially nondiscriminatory, end up adversely impacting legally protected groups.
Given the publicity surrounding the EEOCs recent settlement with Pepsi, the enforcement and litigation priorities  referenced in its new strategic plan are certain to include the elimination of policies that unreasonably hamper the ...
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This week brought some protection for employees in their use of work computers and social media.  The en banc Ninth Circuit ruled that employees who violate an employer's computer use policy do not commit a federal crime under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.  But employees should take note that the circuits are split on this issue.  The Maryland legislature also sided with employees by becoming the first state to pass a bill banning employers from requiring social media passwords.  The bill currently awaits the governor's signature.
Technology and the Workplace
9th Circuit Narrows ...
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I just read an online article which claims that employers are turning to gaming techniques to recruit and screen potential applicants. In fact, I learned another new word: Gamification. Apparently, some companies are finding that gaming techniques help them find better hires when the traditional applicant screening methods are not effective at finding employees with the right mixture of skills. With the expected shortage of skilled workers that will result from the retirement of the baby boomers, finding employees with the right skills and attributes has become even more ...
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All employers have had a request from a potential new employer for a recommendation about a prior employee. I use the term recommendation loosely, because often the potential new employer really wants to find out if there is anything wrong with the candidate they're considering. Providing information about prior employees, or even current employees, may create the risk of claims for defamation or create other types of liability. As a result, many employers try to limit their risk by declining to provide any recommendations for employees or former employees. Other employers modify ...
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As the law attempts to keep up with technology, judges often must draw difficult lines concerning social media and individual rights.  A recent ruling by an NLRB administrative law judge held that a provision in an employer's social medial policy prohibiting any online commenting on work-related legal matters was too broad.  However, the judge upheld another portion of the policy prohibiting unapproved posting of photos showing employees in uniform.  A Washington case asks whether an employer engaged in disability discrimination when it fired an employee after ...
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The Associated Press reports that employers are increasingly asking applicants to provide their Facebook usernames and passwords during the hiring process.  While this practice may not yet be common, its interesting that a significant number of employers believe information available on an applicants semi-private Facebook page will be helpful in their hiring decisions.
From a legal perspective, its unclear whether this employer practice, standing alone, violates any legal rights.  If the practice becomes widespread, however, employees lawyers may want to challenge the ...
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This week we have six articles involving social media.  Fittingly, one of them asks whether we are all making too much of social media's impact on the workplace.  Serving as an example of social media's impact, a recent survey shows that nearly half of employers conduct social media background checks.  And a New York Times article provides an interesting look at the unique considerations on Wall Street concerning employees' use of social media.
Technology and the Workplace
Is Too Much Being Made of Social Media's Impact on the Workplace? (Conn.EmploymentLawBlog)
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Even non-union employers need to be careful about their labor law obligations.  Most readers have either given or heard this advice multiple times, but labor law risks are still sometimes overlooked.    As an example, in one of the strangest employment-related news stories of the week, a Florida law firm  reportedly fired 14 employees because they wore orange to work on a Friday.  According to the news report, the law firm called the employees into a conference room and an executive accused them of engaging in a protest.  An employee explained that they were not engaged in a protest, but ...

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Last month, my colleague Kathryn Nash wrote about the dangers when employers, particularly for-profit companies, offer unpaid internships.  This is a legal issue that has been around for quite some time, but for some reason maybe because the risks of getting caught had not seemed very high many companies continue to hire unpaid interns.  (For a funny take on unpaid internships, check out the "Stuff White People Like" blog entry #105.)


Well, the stakes for companies using unpaid interns have just gotten higher.  Last Wednesday, an intern filed a wage and hour claim against Charlie Rose and ...

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If you know anything at all about the NFL, you know that Peyton Manning is one of the leagues great quarterbacks. What you may not know about Peyton is that he's a very generous tipper. Jon, a (former) server at the Angus Barn in Raleigh, NC, wanted the world to know. (Deadspin has the story here). Courtesy of Jon, a photo of Mannings restaurant receipt, showing an extremely generous tip, made it online. And now Jon, who obviously didn't think before he posted, provides a good example of why employers should educate employees on social media use and consequences.
Employees often fail to make a ...
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This week technology once again helped and hurt the workplace.  Companies are using cloud computing to save thousands of dollars, but employees still waste countless hours on email and the web.  Meanwhile, new technology is making headlines this week, from Google goggles to an app that locates your iPhone for you.  Plus, rumors are circulating about Microsoft Office on the iPad.  Even if it's not true, a new app will give you access to a Windows 7 desktop from your iPad.

Technology and the Workplace
Should You Send That Email? (FastCo)
Your Facebook Profile Can Predict Your Job ...

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In Minnesota, we've known that employee handbooks can be contracts since the Pine River State Bank case in 1983. Since then, courts have continued to find that the policies and statements in employee handbooks to employees can, in fact, be the terms of an enforceable contract between employer and employee. Employees have been awarded significant damages for breach of contract when policies outlined in a handbook are not followed, or promises made in a handbook are not kept.

Minnesota courts have held that employers can protect themselves from contractual liability by including ...

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Earlier this month, Pepsi Beverage Co. entered into a conciliation agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in which the company agreed to pay $3.13 million and offer employment to 300 black applicants who were denied employment because of the companys background investigation policies.  The case has received media attention, but much of it appears to simply be a reminder of the pitfalls of requesting information about an applicants arrest records.  Pepsis policy of inquiring into arrest records was ill advised, but its worth noting that the practice of excluding ...
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Last week, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a former employee can pursue her FMLA claims against her former employer even though she failed to meet eligibility requirements under the FMLA at the time she was terminated.  In Pereda v. Brookdale Senior Living Communities, Inc., an employee gave advance notice that she would need FMLA leave because of her pregnancy.  Shortly thereafter, the employee was put on a performance improvement plan and then terminated.  The employee brought suit, claiming that her former employer had interfered with her FMLA rights and retaliated ...
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On November 18, 2011, the animal rights group Mercy for Animals released a video that was secretly recorded at several farms owned and operated by Litchfield, Minnesota-based Sparboe Farms, the fifth largest shell egg producer in the United States. The video shows the mistreatment of select hens used in the production of eggs. The video was obtained by ABC News and was used as part of a story for the ABC News Magazine television show 20/20.  That story and the surrounding media attention caused a ripple effect in the food industry. Within days of the release of the video, customers of ...
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During a recent training that I provided on hiring dos and don'ts, one of the managers attending the training asked if his company should continue to call previous employers for references.  The manager expressed frustration that most often, previous employers will only confirm dates of employment.  He wondered whether it is really worth the effort to continue to make these calls.  Short answer: I believe it continues to be a worthwhile step in the hiring process.

Although it is frustrating to a prospective employer to be given only basic information, theres a reason it happens that way ...
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Technology definitely changes faster than the law. It can take anywhere from several months to several years for the law to recognize and sort out causes of action created by new technology. In the news this week, we see that courts and legislatures are getting more up-to-date on technology, and that problems sometimes result. Below are some links showing how the law has and hasn't kept up, as well as what has been changing in the world, the workplace and the law.
Technology and the Workplace
Who Owns Your Company's Twitter Account? (DelawareEmploymentLaw)
Most Hospitals ...
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Performance reviews can be a managers least favorite part of the job. They can be uncomfortable, confrontational and emotional. So, often, instead of addressing incidents of misconduct or poor performance with the employee, managers avoid the issue, and may even give a neutral or positive review. Then, when the manager concludes that discipline or termination are warranted, there is no documentation to back-up assertions of negative job performance, which can make things difficult if an employee later claims the action was taken for unlawful reason.  But even leaving aside the ...
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As written about previously on this blog, there has been a major shift recently from closed source work technology to open source work technology. Many employers are allowing their employees to use their own personal devices, be it smartphone, tablet or laptop, at work. From the employers side this can increase productivity, but can create confidentiality issues. Also to be taken into account are technology problems. The more power and control technology has over our lives the more vulnerable we are to viruses, mistakes and software problems. What can go wrong? Many things.

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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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This week a story about workplace violence caught my eye.  More employers are turning to the use of technology--namely video surveillance cameras and similar high-tech security measures--to monitor employees and prevent theft and other kinds of misconduct.  Many employers have relied on this technology to successfully defend against claims of discrimination and wrongful termination when employees are caught on tape violating company policy or stealing.  But this story involves a twist.
In May, pharmacist Jeremy Hoven was working the overnight shift with three other employees at ...
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The General Counsel (GC) for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) plays a major role in deciding which cases the agency will prosecute and which legal theories it will apply in making those prosecutorial decisions.  This means the GCs recent analysis of fourteen separate social media cases (NLRB Press Release and link to the GCs Analysis available here http://www.nlrb.gov/news/acting-general-counsel-releases-report-social-media-cases) is highly instructive for the many employers and their lawyers who have been closely watching the NLRBs enforcement activity in this ...
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Our last post set out some of the key points for employers from the recently-published analysis of social media cases by the General Counsel (GC) for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  (NLRB Press Release and link to the GCs Analysis available here http://www.nlrb.gov/news/acting-general-counsel-releases-report-social-media-cases)  In this post we set out some of the key points about employer policies and employee handbooks gleaned from the GCs analysis. 
Most private employers are covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and need to be mindful of the GCs ...
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Although this work week was shortened by the Memorial Day holiday, there were plenty of stories in the world of technology, law, and the workplace.  Maybe it's because I just (finally) saw The Social Network, but the news about San Francisco start-up Hipster's unique search for employees stood out to me. Hipster, looking for engineers, has taken to the web with a hilarious (though somewhat concerning) pitch:  they are offering $10,000, a year's supply of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, and an assortment of hilarious "hipster" accessories, such as a fixed gear bicycle, skinny jeans, and even ...

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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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The New York Times ran an article this week that discusses the U.S. Army's increased use of social media to reach out to recruits. In short, the U.S. Army has launched a mobile application and is increasing efforts to reach out to new recruits via social media, including a Facebook page and a mobile blogging web page. Although I wrote about this development in a previous post, this week's article stood out to me in light of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday.

While change in recruiting tactics is nothing new for the U.S. Army, this story provides an interesting reminder to employers ...

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This week, the National Labor Relations Board once again waded into the controversial waters of social media. Earlier this week, the Regional Director in Buffalo, New York issued a complaint against a nonprofit employer for its discharge of five employees based on statements made by the employees on Facebook. According to the NLRB's press release:
The case involves an employee who, in advance of a meeting with management about working conditions, posted to her Facebook page a coworkers allegation that employees did not do enough to help the organizations clients. The initial post ...
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This Week in Review highlights the divide between on-duty and off-duty conduct of employees. Several articles from the last week involve stories about employee use of work computers to check Facebook and personal email, look at pornography, and access confidential medical information. This weeks round-up also features articles addressing the uncertainty faced by employers who attempt to regulate the off-duty conduct of employees. Although a recent NLRB Advice Memorandum upheld discipline of an employee for controversial statements on Twitter, another article asks whether ...

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Posted in Hiring & Firing
I recently finished teaching Employment Law to a group of students at Bethel University.  The class was comprised of students who are going back to school to finish their four-year degrees, with most students majoring in Human Resource Management.   Each class period involved a lot of discussion, with students contributing stories from their current or former employment experiences. 
During our discussion on background checks, one student shared a story about what her company discovered when it did a quick Google search before offering a candidate a position.  The company was hiring a ...
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As I wrote about earlier this week, Campbell Mithun made waves last week when the Minneapolis-based advertising agency <a "="" href="http://www.fastcompany.com/1742560/tweeting-your-way-to-a-summer-internship?partner=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+fastcompany/headlines+(Fast+Company+Headlines)" title="http://www.fastcompany.com/1742560/tweeting-your-way-to-a-summer-internship?partner=" utm_campaign="Feed:+fastcompany/headlines+(Fast+Company+Headlines ...
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On Monday, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear yet another significant employment law case in its 2010-2011 term.  The case, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, addresses the controversial ministerial exception to discrimination laws.


According to the school's petition (via SCOTUS blog), the question presented to the Supreme Court is:
[w]hether the ministerial exception applies to a teacher at a religious elementary school who teaches the full secular curriculum, but also teaches ...
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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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In my last post, I cautioned employers about using information that it learns about its employees through social networking sites. A few more thoughts on that. With employees posting running accounts of their daily activities on social networking sites, its quite tempting for employers to want to take a peek at what employees are saying about how they are spending their work day or what theyre doing on a day when they are supposedly missing work because of an illness or injury. Its even more tempting for employers to want access to this information when the employee in question has been a ...

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I'm not normally one to read advice columns in newspapers. However, Mondays Ask Amy column in the Star Tribune was right up my alley. The column tells the story of a customer service employee who was fired because an angry customer tweeted about her experience with the employee and got the attention of corporate headquarters.

This story comes on the heels of the news last week that a settlement was reached in the nationally publicized Facebook firing case. In that case, the NLRB filed a complaint against an ambulance service company that fired an employee for venting about her supervisor ...
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