Menu
Blog Banner Image

The Modern Workplace

The Modern Workplace

Posts in Social Media & Technology.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recenty rolled out programs and publications aimed at encouraging employers to focus on programs related to safety on the roadways.


In its Guidelines for Employers to ReduceMotor Vehicle Crashes publication (Guidelines), OSHA states that every 12 minutes someone dies in a motor vehicle crash, every 10 seconds an injury occurs, and every five seconds a crash occurs. The Guidelines point out that many of these incidents occur during the workday or commute to and from work.


Employers feel the impact of employee motor vehicle ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

A white news anchor has filed a race discrimination lawsuit against her former employer, a Pittsburgh television station. Wendy Bell made headlines earlier this year when she was let go from her anchor position after posting controversial comments on a Facebook page sponsored by the television station. Now, Bell is making headlines again for her unusual race discrimination claims.

Earlier this spring, the Washington Post reported that Bell was fired after she posted comments on Facebook about a mass shooting that Bell had recently covered on air.

In her comments, Bell stated You ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
The National Labor Relations Board (the "Board") continues to focus on protecting employee activity in social media outlets, as reflected by the Board's protected concerted activity page.  Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decided a case that will likely further that enforcement activity.
In Three D, LLC, d/b/a Triple Play Sports Bar & Grille v. National Labor Relations Board, the Second Circuit upheld the Board's decision that an employee's use of the Facebook "like" and comment features can be protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA").  ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

As we all get started on our New Years resolutions, employers should add one more to their list revising any email policies. In the waning days of 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued an important email ruling that affects all employers, whether unionized or not. In the Purple Communications case, the NLRB held that non-management employees with access to their employers email system have a presumptive right to use that system during non-working time to communicate about union organizing or about other topics related to improving their wages and working ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

The National Labor Relations Board has been busy this holiday season. In the last few weeks, the Board has pushed ahead with its quickie election rules and changed the analysis it uses to determine whether to assert jurisdiction over faculty at religious institutions of higher education, and whether faculty members are managerial employees with a protected right to unionize. In addition, the Board ruled earlier this month that employers must generally permit employees to use company email systems for a variety of protected labor law activity, including union organizing. Then ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Some popular online services made legal headlines this week. After years of litigation, a federal appeals court held that Yelp did not extort businesses by manipulating user reviews to coerce advertising purchases. While Yelp still faces other legal claims for false advertising and securities fraud, this case is significant given that Yelp's handling of user reviews has been widely criticized.

While Yelp was presumably busy celebrating good news, the ride-sharing service, Uber, received bad news on its efforts to expand its services overseas. A German court banned Uber's ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

The National Labor Relations Board continues to focus on employer social media policies and employee discipline for online activity.  In a ruling this week involving Triple Play Sports Bar & Grill, the Board concluded that Triple Play unlawfully fired two employees for their response to a co-worker's Facebook post.  One of these employees had only responded to the post by clicking the Facebook like option on the post.  The Facebook post at issue related to the employer paying taxes, and the Board concluded the exchange about the post, including the like response, was a protected group ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Its been an interesting week on the wage and hour legal front. One of the big names in social networking, LinkedIn, made headlines this week when the U.S. Department of Labor announced a settlement of allegations that LinkedIn failed to properly record, account for, and pay certain employees for all of their hours worked. You can read the link below for lessons learned from this settlement. In other news, a federal judge ruled that critical federal government employees who worked during last year's government shutdown may be owed additional pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Businesses that support the sharing economy continue to grow, as evidenced by this week's news headlines. Airbnb announced it is partnering with Concur, a commonly used expense account management software. This partnership, which will include Airbnb as an expense booking option within Concur's software, is expected to introduce Airbnb to the business traveler market. Airbnb is also making legal headlines, as users of the site expose legal loopholes.  Read the link below to learn how a thirty day Palm Springs condo rental through Airbnb evolved into renters claiming tenant rights ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Apple is making the news this week in connection with its recently issued 'iTime' patent for a new smartwatch device and as anticipation grows for the soon-to-be released iPhone 6. The news on Apple isn't only technology related though. Apple is also fighting a class action lawsuit in California for allegedly denying lunch breaks and final paychecks to employees. The link below provides greater detail on this lawsuit, as well as other employment-related lawsuits Apple is currently defending. Be sure to add a review of your wage and hour practices to your to-do list this year.  And, for ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Some high profile companies, including two technology giants, made headlines this week after former employees filed lawsuits against them alleging discrimination and harassment.  The case against Yahoo is likely to be particularly interesting, because the executive accused of harassment is alleging that she's being defamed by false allegations. You can read more about each of these lawsuits below, and you can revisit one of our recent prior posts for more information on the same topic.  In other news from Silicon Valley, Google is making headlines this week for its work on ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

According to an article in The New York Times this week, high level executives make up the majority of tablet users in the workplace. That may change, though, as in the workplace tablet usage increases.  It was predicted this week that, during 2015, manufacturer shipments of tablets will exceed shipments of desktops and laptops. This suggests more tablet use in the workplace going forward. While this is good news for the tablet industry, employers should be mindful of new data security issues in the headlines this week. A cyber forensic expert revealed this week that Google Glass wearers ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Technology's impact on privacy took center stage in news headlines this week. The New York Times and National Public Radio (NPR) both reported on alternative software tools to track employees in the workplace - one tool identifies inside security threats and another tracks employee productivity. Our blog post earlier this week also discussed this issue, highlighting both upsides to employee monitoring and some of the downsides and risks. In addition, there was big privacy news coming out of the United States Supreme Court this week. In a highly anticipated ruling, the Court ruled ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Technology increasingly creates opportunities to monitor employee performance and workplace behavior. Monitoring is generally considered to be a tool that is likely to increase employee productivity and performance. Interestingly, though, the New York Times recently highlighted a Harvard Business School paper on the topic describing what it calls the Transparency Paradox. 

Researchers conducted an experiment at a large factory in China, surrounding four of its 32 assembly lines with curtains to give a measure of privacy to the four lines. After five months, researchers found ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Can you imagine receiving just a few work-related emails a day? Click the link below to read about the innovative communication solutions that companies are exploring to try to reduce the biggest distraction for their employees the volume of their inbox. Speaking of distractions, as we mentioned in last week's Week in Review, were in the midst of the 2014 World Cup. Much like March Madness, the World Cup is a month-long event that can create productivity concerns for employers. Since the 2010 World Cup, technology advances have created greater challenges for employers who seek to ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

For months, the discussion about cryptocurrency - primarily "Bitcoin" - has steadily increased in technology news. This week, Dish Network became the largest company to accept Bitcoin payments, following Tesla, Virgin America, and Overstock.com. Click the link below to read about how legislators and regulators are working to find a way both to classify and regulate this bold new world of virtual currency. Also, if trying to understand cryptocurrency makes your head hurt as much as mine, check out the link below to the high-tech headband that de-stresses your brain. At the retail ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

How did you commute to work this morning?  Google's self-driving car prototype unveiled this week may soon change your answer.  Google is hoping that, within the next decade, these cars may alleviate the most miserable part of the day for many Americans - their drive to and from work.  Not only must Google win over American drivers, however, it also must woo the regulators in all 50 states. With only three states having laws on the books that permit some version of autonomous vehicles on their roadways, these cars are likely to require legal changes in addition to changes to the rules of the ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

It seems that society may be overdosing on public sharing through social media platforms.  According to this week's headlines, the use of social login services has peaked, the controversial, anonymous app Secret is gaining users, and functional fashion that can disable your gadgets is expanding.  Speaking of oversharing, we are approaching the long Memorial holiday weekend which means lots of time spent with family and friends.  Whether you choose to share in person, through social media, or anonymously, have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!

Technology and the Workplace
Too ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Large internet companies dominated the legal news this week. In a case against Google, the European Union's top court ruled that citizens may compel search-engine owners to remove certain types of personal information included in search results of the citizens name. While this ruling currently has no direct impact on privacy laws in the United States, the practical implications of the ruling for Internet companies are interesting and the ruling could potentially be used by practitioners outside the European Union to try to influence courts in other jurisdictions. Closer to ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Personal wearable technology is all the rage, but can wearable technology also increase employee productivity? A study out this week found that wearable technology in the workplace increases both employee productivity and job satisfaction.  Click the link below to read about how wearable technology may benefit and change your workplace.


Also, in our tracking of There's an App for That, we feature a refrigerator that lets you know when you are out of milk, sunglasses that text you when you leave them behind, and a robotic lawn mower.  If you're late with your Mother's Day gift, these would ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Employers see social media as a new and different form of communication by their employees, requiring careful consideration and special policies. But according to a recent decision from a National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge, online communications are analogous to a form of communication that has been in workplaces for decades  water-cooler talk.  In The Kroger Company of Michigan, the judge ruled that employers may run afoul of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") by placing certain limitations and burdens on their employees' online ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

The assault on internet security continues to fill news headlines this week. On the heels of the Heartbleed bug, Microsoft announced this week that a security vulnerability exists in all versions of Internet Explorer, with no known fix. This vulnerability is especially concerning for employers, who often do not control the browser choices of employees. Also, you can read below to discover the various ways that security breaches can affect our everyday lives, including jamming up traffic and "war driving" at your favorite free wi-fi spot.
 
Recent Week in Review topics are also back ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Employers and their IT departments are always looking for ways to protect their data in this age of constantly changing technology.  One new form of protection that may become available to employers is a "kill switch" on their employees' smartphones.  A kill switch will allow a phones owner to remotely delete data and deactivate smartphones after a theft or loss. This week, Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and the five largest U.S. cell carriers voluntarily agreed to include the kill switch technology on all of their smartphones manufactured for sale in the U.S. after July 2015.  There ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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

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


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

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This weeks news included advice to employers on tackling mobile device issues in the workplace while, on other fronts, Division I football players tackled labor laws. On Wednesday, the Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Northwestern University football players are employees under federal labor law and, therefore, can unionize. Northwestern University has announced plans to appeal, and well be monitoring this legal development and its implications closely. Meanwhile, employers continue to struggle with employees using mobile devices ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Week after week, the blogosphere is full of discussions about new developments in the law involving social media. This week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission joined the conversation by holding a public meeting to discuss the interplay between social media and employment discrimination. The meeting provided helpful tips to employers, such as how to minimize the risk of a discrimination charge when conducting social media background checks. And, while we're on the topic, you can click on the link below to see if your social media policy is keeping up with all of the recent ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Some things should be kept private. This week, the blogosphere provided several anecdotal reminders of this principle for both employers and employees. As we noted in an earlier post, one former employee learned the hard way not to violate a settlement confidentiality provision when his settlement unraveled as a result of a Facebook post. You can also read on below to learn more about the potential future of employee privacy law. Also, check out the link below about when and how employers can access an employee's social media account used for business purposes. Finally, we have ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Confidentiality clauses are a standard provision in most agreements settling an employment dispute. Last week, a former preparatory school administrator learned the hard way that these provisions matter to employers and that violating a confidentiality clause can be costly.

An appeals court in Florida ruled last week that a Facebook post made by the former school administrators daughter violated the confidentiality clause in his settlement agreement with his old employer. As a result, the former administrator forfeited $80,000 of his settlement. 

The former ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

In this era of hyper self-promotion and cyber networking, through the wonders of social media, former employees are commonly creating some of the most incriminating evidence establishing their violation of non-compete and non-solicitation agreements. When employees switch jobs, they now frequently broadcast that changed status to all of their contacts through social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Among those contacts, however, may be a significant number of customers or clients of their now former employer. If the employees previously signed ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Facebook, iMessages, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Telegram, Confide, MessageMe, Popcorn, Glide, Tango, Viber, Whisper. . . .  According to a recent post on the New York Times Bits blog, these are just some of the many different ways to message someone from your smartphone. So, what does this mean for employers? Among other things, it's probably time to update your technology and social media policy. Yes, again. With all of these mobile methods of communication, employers need to be aware that company information is likely traveling outside of old communication methods ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

R u liable 4 your employee's txt msg?  In some situations, the answer may be yes. Two courts reviewed employee texting issues this week. The first court reviewed whether an employer can be liable for an employee's unauthorized disclosure of confidential health information via text message.  The second court addressed whether a text message to a supervisor can qualify as a request for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. These cases and the other articles linked below provide valuable insights for employers in determining best practices related to workplace ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

The flowers and chocolates that will be delivered to employee desks this week for Valentine's Day are a great reminder for employers to think about the best practices for approaching workplace romances. For more information on that front, read on below.  Also, if this post is a reminder that you are behind on your Valentine's plans, check out the apps below for some ideas.

Meanwhile, love between lawmakers and technology is not in the air in Washington. A proposed bill to ban in-flight phone calls passed a committee vote this week and will now head to the House floor. In other news, a U.S ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

As the world prepares this week for the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics, employers are being cautioned to address technology-induced liability. Many Fortune 500 companies have adopted policies banning employees' use of mobile devices while driving for work to avoid liability for a traffic accident caused by distracted-driving. The importance of workplace internet policies is also in the news this week, with an emphasis on policies that address an employers duty to report child pornography on a work device. You can read below about how to fight against technology-related ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

As Americans gear up for Super Bowl XLVIII, we've gathered some articles below to help you prepare for the big game and to consider the games potential impact on the workplace. You can read below about how one employee's team pride led to him being fired and about how big Super Bowl parties on Sunday night might lead to low workplace productivity on Monday. For those of you who haven't been following professional football throughout the season, be sure to check out the Super Bowl talking points below that you can use around the office. We also have all the app links below that you'll need for the ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Anything you say on Facebook can and often will be used against you in a court of law. Technology has not only changed the workplace; it has also changed employment lawsuits. We've provided a link below to an article discussing how data from smartphones and social media can take center stage in a workplace harassment lawsuit and methods for mitigating legal risks. You can also read on below about how electronic metadata drastically impacted a non-compete case. Speaking of technology having a drastic impact, there's also a link below to an app designed to help you fight for immigration ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

This week's headlines charged employers with preserving and protecting data in the workplace. This advice is timely given that this week is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, a time when employers are reminded to safeguard employee social security numbers to reduce identity theft risks. In other news, we've provided links below to the top 10 electronic discovery developments and trends from the past year. At the top of the list are the growth of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies in the workplace and how work-related text messaging is causing courts to require employers to preserve ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr . . . it's cold out there! The recent cold snap that has swept the nation is affecting the workplace and technology. The cold weather serves as an important reminder for employers to have an up-to-date severe weather policy. In addition, before you email your employees from your smartphone at the bus stop to tell them that they don't have the day off work, check out NPR's reminder that your phone doesn't like the cold weather any more than you do. But don't worry; technology won't completely fail you this winter. We have a link to the top winter weather apps. Stay ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Another new year has arrived.  Perhaps you have promised to make it a year of getting organized, getting fit, or giving more to charity.  On the technology front, social media is promising to make it a year of evolving workplace privacy law.  Legislative bodies, courts, and administrative agencies are expected to consider a number of interesting legal issues, such as employer access to employees' or applicants' social media and email accounts, administrative agencies' access to employers' email servers, and employees' rights to communicate online about their terms and conditions of ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Your company holiday party can be added to the list of things impacted by technology. In addition to the risk of alcohol-induced harassment, injuries, or property damage, employers should be mindful that technology and mobile devices permit employees to easily broadcast holiday party activities through social media. Of course, company parties are not the only thing changed by technology in the workplace. Technology has also transformed workplace communication, and, to make this a positive change, employees must use the right technology in the right ways. Outside the ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
You may have thought you'd seen it all, but technology continues to change the world, the law, and the workplace. The headlines were abuzz this week with Amazon's announcement that it will soon be ready to use drones to deliver packages within 30 minutes of an order. However, the announcement has produced skepticism based on logistical and legal barriers. In other news, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will become the first federal appeals court to live stream oral arguments in all en banc cases starting this month. In the workplace, employers are looking for ways to use ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Social media and technology seem to be doing more harm than good in the workplace this week. A new study suggests that some employers may be using Facebook profiles to discriminate against job applicants based on legally protected information. Other employers have expressed concern about employees' overuse of social medial during the work day. The challenges also extend beyond the workplace walls. For example, employees who are non-exempt under wage and hour laws can bring lawsuits for minimum wage or overtime compensation if not properly paid for work done outside of the ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
As turkeys and pumpkin pie ingredients fill grocery carts across America, employee privacy issues fill the workplace.  A recent survey shows that younger employees, ages 18 to 25, are more concerned about their privacy in the workplace than their older counterparts.  Meanwhile, some employers are beginning to use surveillance cameras in the workplace to improve safety and efficiency, the way coaches use game film to improve their sports teams performance.  But, back to Thanksgiving.  In the holiday spirit, were providing you information about apps to help you stuff ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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.  ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook


From communication methods to office space, technology continues to affect workplace norms. During the week of November 4th, for instance, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case involving the line between technological gear and clothing in the workplace. In the case, steelworkers are seeking to be paid for the time spent putting on flame-retardant jackets and pants, protective leggings, Kevlar sleeves, gloves, steel-toed boots, hard hats, safety glasses, earplugs, and hoods. Under the federal wage and hour law, an employer must pay employees when they engage in a ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

In the last few years, driving safety initiatives have focused on the dangers of texting while driving. With the rapid evolution of technology, however, new dangers seem to be emerging all the time. Someone received a citation for driving while wearing Google glasses. Its anyones guess what may be next.  Twitter was also front and center this week. The company introduced a new photo preview in its Twitter feeds, Starbucks created gift cards that can be sent via Twitter, and two companies sued Twitter for over $100 million dollars for allegedly hiring them under false pretenses to ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

The internet can be an invaluable work tool, providing ready access to information and resources essential to getting a job done. The internet can, however, also be a huge distraction, cutting into productivity both at and away from work. For instance, this week a study showed that [f]or every minute that [we] spend lazing on the computer, Americans spend approximately 16 fewer seconds working, seven fewer seconds sleeping, six fewer seconds traveling, four fewer seconds doing household chores, and three fewer seconds educating themselves. Spending time on the computer also means ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

This week, as we celebrated National Boss Day, many people reflected on their relationship with their boss. Technology can sometimes challenge this relationship, for example, when employees have bosses that love email and refuse to communicate or manage an employee face-to-face. Another highly debated topic is whether bosses and subordinates should friend each other on social networking sites. Technology impacts these boss-subordinate relationships, but also the broader relationship between a company and its employees. For instance, recent court cases examined ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

New federal and state laws are continuing to impact our relationship with technology and online resources.  This was recently illustrated by the roll out of web-based health insurance exchanges under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The roll out did not go smoothly, and the news was filled with stories of technological glitches and errors that, to some extent, took center stage over the continued partisan split over the substance of the law. At the state level, California passed a law that gives people under the age of eighteen the right to have personal ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

This week the government shutdown dominated the news. Many people were told not to come to work, national parks, monuments, and recreational areas were closed, and access to some government services was limited or eliminated completely. In the midst of the shutdown, people have expressed their outrage on Twitter, while posts by various members of Congress on Facebook have received thousands of likes and comments. Even NASA took to Twitter to announce that it would no longer be able to tweet and then promptly suspended its account. All this activity on Twitter took place as the company ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Lawyers often say that bad facts lead to bad law. Cases with outrageous fact patterns can drive a judge or jury to stretch the law and make outcome-based decisions in order to provide relief to a sympathetic party. Lawyers hate these types of decisions, because they can negatively skew the developing law based on one bad situation without enough consideration being paid to the legal implications for other, future cases.

 I recently read one of those decisions. In my frustration over the avoidable bad facts of the case, I had to draft this post. The decision, Lazette v. Kulmatycki, was ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

This week, everyone seemed to have an opinion about Apples new iOS 7 software for iPhones whether they loved its new features or were frustrated that it took too long for data to download. While many people were absorbed in their phones, social media also reached another milestone. For the first time, research displayed on the Tumblr website was cited in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court. Elsewhere, an investigation by the New York Attorney General revealed that many of the reviews on websites such as Yelp are fake. Nineteen companies that have been found responsible for arranging ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Last week, this blog featured posts about the growth and reported benefits of workplace surveillance, as well as some of the legal risks that can arise from surveillance. Workplace surveillance can run the gamut from conducting targeted email searches to investigate potential misconduct by a particular employee to using complex software programs designed to detect theft, cyberloafing, or inappropriate internet usage by anyone in the workforce. As discussed in our previous posts, surveillance may create opportunities to decrease employee dishonesty and improve ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

It is so easy to press that like button on a Facebook post by your best friend, your coworker, or your favorite company. In that quick second, it is unlikely that a person could contemplate all the potential legal and Constitutional issues that may be wrapped up in such an action. This week, however, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that liking a Facebook post is Constitutionally-protected Free Speech. In the case, six employees were fired after they supported a candidate for sheriff by liking him on Facebook. The Court found that liking him was equivalent to showing political ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

This week, people around the world remembered the anniversary of 9/11, and President Obama continued to contemplate actions against Syria. Even passive users who may not read the newspaper experienced these events through technology and through hashtags like #neverforget or #syria. Also this week, in the midst of somber news and remembrance, a distraction emerged in the form of two new iPhones featuring new colors and fingerprint identification technology. For every new form of technology, however, there is also a spate of new lawsuits. This week, for example, a U.S. district ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

 While making a presentation to clients yesterday, I was reminded of the practical and logistical problems many employers face when trying to complete the I-9 process for remote employees. One of my presentation hypotheticals involved a scenario in which a Minnesota company hired a California employee and wanted to complete Section 2 of the I-9 by having the new hire send scanned copies of her identification and employment authorization documents by email. Sounds like a logical and modern approach to I-9 completion, right? Unfortunately, it doesnt comply with I-9 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This week, Labor Day and National Payroll Week served as good reminders that our post-recession economy is different and the way people work within it is also different. Although the number of jobs has grown, part-time work is becoming the new normal, and virtual work meant that some labored even in the midst of their Labor Day barbecues. National Payroll Week celebrated wage earners and payroll professionals, while polls show that the payroll-to-population employment rate fell in August, and the number of households with union members continues to drop.
 
This changing nature of the ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
On Wednesday, crowds converged on the Lincoln Memorial and at other venues around the country and around the world to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr.s Dream speech, made during the 1963 March on Washington. In the fifty years since that famous speech, the way we experience moments that shape history has changed. We are no longer limited to radio, television, newspapers, and news magazines for accounts of important events. This week, people gathered and marched, but were also able to stream live video, tweet, and share their thoughts and images on other social media. This ability to ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Not too long ago a discussion about face recognition technology sounded like something straight out of a futuristic spy thriller. Today, such technology is well into development. The Department of Homeland Security is testing a crowd-scanning program that will allow it to identify the faces of people on the terrorism watch list. In addition, corporate training courses are developing scanning software to detect when trainees are distracted. The technology tracks the users eye movements and when it detects the user looking away for more than a few seconds, it pauses the program and ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This blog has focused heavily on social media-related issues that arise in the employer/employee relationship and that have been a continual challenge for employers over the last decade. Employment-related social media issues are often close cousins to other important issues created by technology generally and social media specifically. It is crucial for businesses to step back and take a big-picture look at the wide range of social media-related considerations that affect the way they communicate, operate and compete. 
Our firm recently completed a publication that ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

 Attorneys often counsel and represent clients as they deal with the consequences of their online misdeeds. This week, for example, a fired employee sued his former employer, claiming that his co-workers shocked him with a Taser and posted a video of the Taser session on YouTube. Sometimes it is the attorneys themselves who get into online trouble, and who face discipline for their conduct. It was reported this week that one attorney was disciplined after hacking into a fellow attorneys email account, and another attorney was suspended from the practice of law for five years after ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook


 Some people spend more time with their smartphones than with their friends. This attachment to technology has a number of implications, and not just for a persons social life. This week the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the government can compel a cellphone company to turn over phone location data without establishing probable cause. The court found that location data was admissible as a business record. Elsewhere, Justice Department lawyers asked the Supreme Court to consider a First Circuit Court of Appeals decision that held that police need a warrant to search the ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

As clearly evidenced by the flood of social media attention paid to the birth of the United Kingdom's royal baby this week, technology not only disseminates information faster but also makes it hard to avoid. Also reported this week, users are downloading anti-distraction apps to block social media because they cannot stop themselves from wasting time, and companies are developing new gesture recognition technology that eliminates both keyboards and touch screens. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also contributed to the growth of information filters this week when it held that a ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook


As Edward Snowden continues to seek asylum, privacy issues remain center stage in the world of technology. Universities are rethinking their network security as they face cyberattacks from around the world. The University of Wisconsin, for example, receives almost 100,000 hacking attempts a day from China alone. Yahoo also won a privacy battle this week. In 2008, it filed objections to the NSAs program which required Yahoo to release user data without a warrant, and this week the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court declassified Yahoos 2008 briefing, shedding light on its ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

When news broke about the NSA surveillance program, privacy became a hot topic. This week, the debate about how to maintain privacy in the digital age continues with Facebook's recent release of its Graph Search function to the general public. Seemingly inconspicuous information on a Facebook user's profile can now be quickly and easily pulled up in a public search. While the implications of this function are yet to be seen, it will likely create an additional wrinkle in how employers respond to employee social media use.

Other technology news this week focused on the interaction ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Whether your plans for the Fourth of July weekend involve working or celebrating, odds are, you'll be using technology of some sort. If your work involves employee recruitment, you may be part of the growing trend of using Facebook to search for new hires. If you live in the San Francisco Bay area, you may be using social media to follow the effects of the BART strike and plan accordingly. For those able to take time off, there are a number of new apps that may add convenience or provide entertainment to your leisure time. You can take better pictures of fireworks, read up on Fourth of July ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This week, technology is affecting how we do business, how we plan for the distribution of property at death, and how we enforce the laws. Nevada is the latest state to adopt a social media privacy bill. Businesses are harnessing the power of social media and on-the-go apps, and a new start-up is helping connect foreign farmers to the market place. An Ohio judge upheld the validity of a will that was written and signed on a tablet, finding that it met the state's legal requirements. At the intersection of technology and law enforcement, Montana became the first state to require police to ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Four different kinds of employees are causing employers grief in the modern workplace this week.

The Workaholic: while employees' constant connection to work via smartphones may seem like a great thing, employers need to ensure that they are following wage and hour laws in compensating employees for this time. The California Public Agency Labor and Employment Blog explains how after-hours, work-related smartphone usage can get employers into trouble if they are not careful.

The Troublemaker: in a recent NLRB memo, the Board found that an employer could legally terminate an ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook


There was a little something for everyone in this week's technology developments. Colorado adopted a social media workplace privacy law, joining 13 other states with similar laws that limit employers' access to employees' passwords and other personal data. Privacy doesn't fare so well, however, according to new reports that forensic examiners have increased their ability to recover all kinds of things cell phone users thought were "deleted," including incriminating pictures taken with the Snapchat app. All sorts of workplaces are now able to accept mobile payments, which is a ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Don't text a texter -- at least not one who's driving. A New Jersey court of appeals is currently considering whether a young woman who texted an individual she allegedly knew was driving could be held liable for the damage arising out of that distraction. If this theory succeeds, it could give employers one more thing to worry about, and may affect how employers communicate with traveling employees. While not illegal yet, it's still a good idea to avoid texting employees you know are driving, especially considering the costs to employers of distracted driving. Better yet, have your ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Another week passes, and another social media password protection law has been enacted. Arkansas is the latest state to ban employers from obtaining workers' social media login information.

 The NLRB has also been busy dealing with social media issues. In a recent decision, an ALJ found that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's social media policy violated Section 7 of the NLRA because it prohibited employees from describing any affiliation they had with their employer in their social media posts. In another case, the Board ruled that Bettie Page Clothing violated Section 8 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

The dance between cybersecurity proponents and privacy rights advocates continues. Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation announced that the Senate will not take up the House version of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). Picking up on some of the public's criticism of the bill, a Senate spokesperson expressed concerns that the House version does not provide sufficient privacy protections. The Senate will be drafting its own version of the cybersecurity bill.

Employers may want to keep an eye on how this legislation ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This was a good week for employers to pay attention to the news about technology and social media. There were a number of important developments that may impact how investigations of applicants or employees are performed.


Utah joined the growing number of states that have passed a ban on employers accessing employees' social media accounts. Washington is debating a similar bill; its version, however, has an exception that would allow employer access during a company investigation. In a similar vein, employers using employee-theft-tracking databases to screen potential hires may ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

With more and more of our lives occurring online, it is often difficult to keep sensitive information private. This week, there are indications that this task is not likely to get easier anytime soon. There has been an uptick in hacking activity on many fronts. On the employment front, an ex-Reuters employee is facing federal charges for giving the hacking group "Anonymous" a username and password to access the company's system. If convicted, the employee could be imprisoned for up to 30 years and be fined up to $750,000. On the election front, a recent grand jury report shows that a ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
It turns out that Facebook can be used for more than just reconnecting with old friends and getting employees in trouble (though there is still plenty of that going on). Now, depending on who you are and where you live, you might be vulnerable to legal service via Facebook. A New York federal court recently ruled that the FTC may serve defendants in India using both email and Facebook. It reasoned that such service was proper under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Hague Service Convention. Similarly, Texas lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow for service via social ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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

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

Securities Law: The ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Is workplace flexibility a necessary casualty of difficult economic times?  When thinking about the innovations that make up the modern workplace for which this blog is named, employers embrace of flexible work hours and locations would be very near the top of the list.  Advances in technology particularly electronic connectivity have allowed employers to move away from traditional concepts of the workplace and the workday.  More employers permit telecommuting by their employees and allow flexible work hours. There are, however, signs in the business world that employees may have ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Yahoo is front and center in tech news this week, but not because of its services. Last Friday, the company told its employees that as of June 1st, no one will be permitted to work from home. The internal memo cited quality and efficiency concerns related to telecommuting. The change has angered some employees and sparked criticism.
In other interesting news, today is Pope Benedict XVI's last day in office, and cardinals will soon meet in conclave to elect a new pope. Though technological advances such as Twitter and camera phones make secrecy a difficult goal to obtain, the Catholic ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

We hear a lot about individuals' social media accounts getting hacked, but the events of this week remind us that company social media accounts are vulnerable as well. The Twitter accounts of both Burger King and Jeep were broken into and changed. Burger King's profile picture was changed to a McDonald's logo, and the account tweeted that McDonalds had bought Burger King. Jeep's account was changed to look like it was a page for Cadillac and to state that Jeep had been sold to Cadillac because it caught its employees doing pain medication in the bathroom. Both accounts appear to have been ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
As they do with Valentine's Day, many people have a love-hate relationship with technology. They love it when it's good to them and hate it when it burns them.

This week, both individuals and companies alike felt some pain as the result of their love affair with technology. A Michigan nurse and a Washington barista both lost their jobs because of over-sharing on social media.  The nurse was fired for FMLA fraud after the hospital where she worked saw Facebook pictures of the Mexican vacation she took while still on leave. The barista was fired for using his blog as a forum to insult his ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Have you heard the saying, "Drink more coffee, do stupid things faster with more energy?" Along those lines, I think the theme of this week's events is "Use technology, do stupid things faster with greater ease."
Example #1: the DNR employee who accessed more than 5,000 driving records without authorization. This could prove to be a costly mistake, because one of the data-breach victims has filed a potential class action lawsuit against the (now ex) employee, the DNR, the Department of Public Safety, and commissioners of those agencies.


Example #2: the HMV employee who hijacked the ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

The 1st Amendment protects freedom of speech, but that doesn't mean that employees' speech is always protected from employment consequences. Case in point: the tenured New Jersey first-grade teacher fired for referring to her students as "future criminals" in a personal Facebook post she wrote at home in her free time. The teacher challenged her termination on 1st Amendment grounds and appealed to the New Jersey Court of Appeals. The court recently rejected the 1st Amendment claim, finding that her "personal dissatisfaction" with her job did not address a matter of public ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

This week in three words: hacking, tracking, and attacking.

Hacking: as if worrying about having your cell phone or computer hacked wasn't enough, now recent research from Columbia University indicates that your office phone might also be at risk. The study discovered that at least 15 models of the Cisco Internet Protocol telephone have software that could enable a hacker to turn on a microphone, webcam, or other feature of the phone without the user's knowledge.

Tracking: a Texas school using Radio Frequency Identification chips to track its students may continue doing so after a ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

This week, states across the country were determined to start off the new year with their best foot forward. High on their lists of priorities? Protecting the rights of online users. In Michigan, the Governor signed into law the Internet Privacy Protection Act, which made Michigan the fifth state (behind Maryland, Illinois, California, and New Jersey) to prohibit employers from requesting social media sign-in information from their employees. In Arizona, the legislature is considering a bill that would make it a felony to threaten, harm, or defraud someone through online ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Do you remember a few weeks back when Facebook was flooded with statuses claiming "copyrights" to users' content? While this hoax was quickly debunked, it left many concerned about what social media can -- and does -- do with the stuff we put online. This week, Instagram fueled the fire when it announced its new terms of use, which allows the company to sell users' photos and keep the profits. The announcement immediately drew opposition, and a day later, Instagram promised to "modify" some of the terms, which are expected  to take effect January 16th. Whether these modifications will win ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Do you have a lot of travel plans for this holiday season? Whether it is for work or play, new developments on the technology front may make your trip more enjoyable -- and productive too, if you'd like. The FAA is in the process of updating its policies on in-flight gadget use. With encouragement from the FCC and many frequent fliers, it is possible the FAA will expand when and what devices may be used during air travel.

If your trip involves leaving the country, you're likely to appreciate the more permissive policies, especially now that three of the United States' largest airlines will be ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

This week, there were a number of interesting developments in the world of employment labor law. A NLRB judge ruled that a union's Facebook page is not an extension of the picket line. The case involved striking workers' threatening comments on the union's Facebook page. The NLRB Acting General Counsel initiated the complaint against the union, arguing that the union, which did nothing to disavow the comments, should be held responsible for them, just like it would be if they were made out on the picket line. The NLRB judge disagreed and dismissed the complaint.

The other two ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Usually, our Week in Review posts are full of examples of what can go wrong when employees use social media. This week, we can report a different kind of story. A group of women are harnessing the power of Twitter to promote positive change in the gaming industry. Using the hashtag #1ReasonWhy, these women are speaking out against what they describe as the pervasive culture of sexism in the gaming industry. The question of "why are there so few lady game creators?" has been answered by hundreds of industry professionals, including game developers, journalists, and others ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope all of you out there are enjoying good food and even better company. But, in case you need a welcome distraction from intense family bonding (or Black Friday strategizing), here's what is new in the world of technology and the workplace:

In an EEOC sexual harassment suit against HoneyBaked Ham, Co., a district court judge has ruled that the plaintiffs must turn over their cellphones and social media passwords to a court-appointed forensic expert. This expert is charged with going through text messages and social media content to determine what is relevant ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

It seems General Petraeus isn't the only one whose digital footprint has betrayed him. A whole host of other individuals' online antics have landed them in hot water this week. Waffle House Chairman, Joe Rogers, Jr. is also facing a sex scandal. His former housekeeper has come forward with sex tapes which she alleges are proof that she was sexually harassed. Rogers denies the harassment and says that he is being blackmailed. A district court has ordered that the tapes be impounded -- for now.

In Kentucky, a couple of Walmart employees were fired based on an internet video of them throwing ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Its hard to watch or read the news without being bombarded with the story of General Petraeus affair and resignation. The story has expanded beyond General Petraeus conduct to include allegations of inappropriate conduct by an FBI agent involved in the investigation (sending a shirtless picture of himself to Jill Kelley) and General John Allen (exchanging thousands of possibly "inappropriate" emails and other documents with Jill Kelley). As an employment lawyer, I'm continually amazed at the personal content that employees will send in emails and text messages, even from ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Does an employee who violates an employer's computer use policy also violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act? Depends on who you ask. The Fourth Circuit recently held that an employee cannot be held liable under the CFAA for such conduct, even if the employee was improperly using computer access to steal company data. There are a number of circuits that disagree, however. Now, WEC Carolina Energy Solutions, the employer in the Fourth Circuit case, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue. Stayed tuned to see if the Court agrees to get involved.

Other news stories this week ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Do you feel like all you ever do is work? Odds are, your personal devices are contributing to that feeling. A recent study by a British tech retailer found that smart devices are adding, on average, an extra two hours of work a day. So while that constant connection may give some peace of mind, it's also likely to bring with it the inability to ever be "off-duty."

Given the large role technology plays in our lives, it is not surprising that governments around the country have been working to figure out how to appropriately balance its risks and benefits. On Friday, the New Jersey Senate passed a ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Using technology can come at a cost. You don't have to read too many of these Week in Review posts to know that it is not uncommon for individuals to be fired for inappropriate use of email, social media, cell phones, or other means of electronic communication.  Past stories have also shown how technology can cost someone their reputation, money, or freedom from incarceration. This week, we add two items to the list of things that technology can put at risk: unemployment benefits, and your health.
An employee in Pennsylvania was fired for criticizing his place of employment and coworkers on ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
As Election Day approaches, politics and political opinions are likely to be a hot topic of conversation in the workplace. In some cases, this can become a source of tension and conflict among co-workers. This may be especially true this year given the deep political divide that seems to have developed in our country over the past few years. As most human resource professionals know, workplace conflicts can have a detrimental effect on productivity and create legal risk. The best approach to manage this issue is setting the tone at the top as one of respect for different opinions ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
The Internet can be a great way for companies and professionals to market their products or services and bring in business. But lightning-quick global communication isn't always a good thing, especially when a dissatisfied customer is the one who is doing the talking. This week, a New York lawyer learned that responding to online criticisms may create more problems than it solves. After anonymously being called "the most unscrupulous lawyer" on a review website, the lawyer posted a response saying that he knew who wrote the comment and that the writer, a former client, was ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Is it just me, or has Wisconsin been in the news a lot lately? From politics to sports, the Dairy State has caught the interest of the nation. This week was no different. When a Wisconsin news anchor used air time to address an email that criticized her weight and accused her of being a bad role model, the clip went viral. National news outlets picked up on the story, the anchor appeared on major-network morning shows, and people around the country weighed in on the appropriateness of the email and the problem of cyberbullying in general. Despite the controversy, the email author is standing by ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
It's official. In California, you may now eat, read, or even sleep while driving to work. That is, if you are riding in a self-driving car. On Tuesday, the California governor signed a law that permits and regulates the driving of autonomous cars on California roads. While some may be skeptical, Google co-founder Sergey Brin touts these cars as improving transportation safety, increasing mobility of persons with disabilities, and making commutes more productive. He expressed hopes that these cars will be on the roads in less than five years.


On the other side of the country, states are ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Having a rough week? Be thankful you aren't in the limelight, where technology is waiting to capture your every misstep. From Kate Middleton's topless photos to Mitt Romney's leaked fundraising remarks, nobody seems to be able to catch a break this week. Even Washington Redskins receiver Josh Morgan felt the Twitter-wrath of disappointed fans after his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty arguably contributed to the Redskins' 3-point loss on Sunday. But that doesn't mean these celebrities aren't fighting back. The British royal family has already mounted a privacy lawsuit against ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

With a tough economy, efficiency and productivity are often paramount for keeping a business afloat. While technology has certainly aided that cause, it has also provided workers with many time-consuming distractions. The productivity-stealing culprits this week: fantasy football, flirty emails, and co-worker impersonation. Check out the links below to learn more about the cost and benefits of allowing fantasy football teams in the workplace and the potentially unexpected effects of using emoticons in office emails (hint: you may find yourself a new admirer).

Another ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Here at the Week in Review, we've seen our fair share of bad employee decisions and the terminations that sometimes follow them. This week, workers around the country found themselves in a whole different kind of trouble for their unwise--and illegal--use of technology. In Texas, a teacher was sentenced to five years in prison for having sexual relationships with five of her students. The relationships began via text message and culminated in a cellphone recording of one of the sexual encounters. In Minnesota, a football coach is facing felony child porn charges after the ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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 ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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 ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Reason number 999 why employers don't want their employees texting at work: it may lead to a very large fire. That is what happened when a New Hampshire civilian worker got an upsetting text from his ex-girlfriend while at work. He wanted to leave early, so he decided to set the dock of a nuclear-powered Navy submarine on fire. No one was injured, and no damage was done to the submarine -- this time. But, because he admitted to setting an earlier $400-million-submarine fire, he is now facing two counts of arson and the possibility of life in prison. Looks like he may be getting more time off from ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
For as long as I can remember, I have advised employers that they have a right to monitor employee electronic communications, including emails, if the emails are sent or received on company equipment or company time. I ask the client about whether or not they have a clear policy putting employees on notice that they have no expectation of privacy in emails or other online activity done at work or on work equipment. If such a policy is in place, the employer is generally free to monitor employee activities, with or without other advance notice. This can be important when ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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 ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

As technology continues to change, so too do employers' efforts to keep up. With new laws preventing employers from using passwords to access employees' Facebook pages, employers are finding other ways to monitor employees' online activities.  A new Gartner report predicts that by 2015, 60% of businesses will be using Internet-monitoring technologies to monitor employees' social media use. However, employers must be careful in their quest to control online employee expression. This week, the NLRB issued a social media report cautioning all employers (even those ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Although employers rightfully appreciate the efficiency and responsiveness of employees who use cell phones (and smart phones) to get their work done, they must also be aware of the financial and safety risks created by the use of these devices while driving. Numerous media reports have trumpeted the increase of distracted driving including the use of a cell phone as a cause for automobile accidents. A recent article in the Washington Post noted multi-million dollar jury awards against employers in accidents involving death or serious injury, when the negligent driver was talking ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

This week, technology brings trouble for employees and students, but benefits for the government and its citizens. In Massachusetts, a firefighter's emails were used against him in a sexual harassment investigation. Nearby, a Rutgers student was sentenced to 30 days in jail for using a webcam to spy on his roommate, and a Boston University student's plea for the Supreme Court to review his $675,000 fine for illegally downloading music was rejected. The government, on the other hand, is using technology to solve--rather than create--problems. Federal agencies are using apps to ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Tired of hearing about privacy?  Perhaps you should avoid the news for a little while longer, then, because this week the war over online privacy heated up when Congress decided to join the fight. On Wednesday, the Password Protection Act of 2012 was introduced in the US Senate.  It seeks to prohibit employers from coercing prospective and current employees to provide access to any secured information stored online or from retaliating against employees' refusals to do so. An identical bill is being debated in the House. A California bill with the same aims unanimously passed the Assembly ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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 ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Privacy is right on the tip of everyone's tongue again this week.  Delaware proposed its own Facebook privacy law for employers and employees that goes even further than Maryland's recent legislation and  the law currently before Congress.  The FCC released its full report on concerns with Google's gathering of data for their Street View feature on Google maps.  A court in the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that a Facebook "like" is not protected under the First Amendment.  Finally, the New York Times described how users can cover up their searching habits on the web.


Technology and the ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This week produced more evidence that technology pervades every aspect of our lives, from our work, to our health, to our dreams? That's right, there's an App for that. But don't lose heart just yet, because this week also saw some pushback against the tech-takeover. In the working world, two Nashville men set out to prove that even television shows have to follow the law in hiring cast members. These men are suing ABC for race discrimination, stating that in the 10 years and 23 combined seasons of "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" there has never been a person of color in the central ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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 ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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 ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Earlier this week, Sam Diehl wrote a posting, titled "Gimme Your Password," about employers' practices of requiring applicants or employees to hand over their social media passwords.  As the week progressed, discussion of the issue extended beyond legal and HR departments.  The media, Congress, and even Facebook itself joined in the dialogue.  And as if Facebook wasn't stirring up enough controversy, a new app lets you create enemies rather than friends.  
Technology and the Workplace
Facebook Password Amendment Rejected by Congress (PCWorld) (CBSNews)
Facebook to Employers ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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)
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This week, technology came with a cost, causing employers to face liability and employees to face job-loss.  A California court held an employer liable for employees' harassing off-duty blog posts.  A North Carolina steakhouse fired a waiter after he posted a photo online showing a generous tip left by Peyton Manning.  A Minnesota school also faces liability for forcing a student to surrender her Facebook password.


Technology and the Workplace
Off-Duty Blogging Creates Employer Harassment Liability (LawfficeSpace)
Steakhouse Waiter Fired for Showing the World What a Great Tipper ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This week featured the ongoing battle surrounding technology, the workplace and privacy.  Employees of the Food and Drug Administration sued the agency over its surveillance of their personal e-mail.  A New York judge overturned a teacher's firing that was based on a Facebook posting expressing the wish that her students drown.  Despite the conflicts, a recent report predicts that fewer companies will block social media sites in the workplace by 2014.



Technology and the Workplace
FDA Staffers Sue Agency over Surveillance of Personal E-mail (WashingtonPost)
Companies Opening ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
For more than 60,000 workers in America, March 5-9 will be the week that the "modern workplace" is at home. This week is the second annual effort of Telework Exchange to encourage workers and employers to save time and resources through telework. Telework Exchange describes itself as "a public-private partnership focused on demonstrating the tangible value of telework..." and describes Telework Week as a "win-win opportunity for agencies, organizations, employees, and the environment."


By the end of last week, 62,322 employees had pledged on Telework's website that they ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This week technology is once again getting people in trouble.  Legislators are concerned with employers' practices of requiring access to employees' social media accounts.  A federal judge has reported himself for ethics review after admitting to sending a racist email.  Some commentators are speculating that Pinterest users could be held liable for their pins.  Check out the links below to make sure technology doesn't get you into hot water.
Technology and the Workplace
Legislators Concerned About Monitoring of Employee, Student Social Media (SoMdNews)

Keeping an Eye on ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This week both Washington and the workplace paid close attention to technology.  Congress plans to approve a bill that will auction public airwaves in order to help cover the payroll tax cut extension.  The Federal Trade Commission called for better privacy notices for apps directed at kids.  App developers came under scrutiny by members of Congress after reports that many developers were gathering information from phone address books without the owner's knowledge.  And workplaces are realizing how mobile technology saves both time and money.
Technology and the Workplace
Why ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Love is in the air this week as Valentine's Day approaches, and technology is in the news as it continues to impact and influence the development of the law.  A Senate committee approved a bill this week that would allow television access to Supreme Court proceedings.  A Texas court upheld the use of a defendant's MySpace page as evidence in his murder conviction.  The country of Brazil filed suit against Twitter to try to block accounts that warn drivers of speed traps and roadblocks.  And just as the law has collided with technology, Cupid's arrow has struck mobile devices everywhere ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This week two events have dominated the Web:  Facebook filed for a $5 billion initial public offering, and the New York Giants and New England Patriots are preparing to face off in Super Bowl 46.  But don't get so caught up pondering Mark Zuckerberg's net worth that you overlook the other stories this week concerning technology, the law, and the workplace. Get up to speed on all of it and then pick out your favorite apps for Sunday's big game - the kind for your phone, not your stomach. 
Technology and the Law
Facebook Files for $5 Billion IPO (CNNMoney)
Google Defends Privacy ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This week privacy and technology collide once again.  On Monday the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the use of a GPS tracking device placed on a suspect's car constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment.  The FBI indirectly announced plans to monitor social networks when it requested information from contractors who might want to build the monitoring system.  But perhaps the largest privacy concerns this week have come from Facebook's announcement that its Timeline format will soon be mandatory.  So once you finish reading the links below, get a plan ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This week was nothing short of historic in the context of technology and the law. Wikipedia, Google, and others blacked out or censored their sites in protest of anti-piracy bills in the House and Senate.  Apple unveiled technology that could change the world of education.  Facebook introduced new apps that help users share even more information about themselves - yes, apparently it is possible. 
Technology and the Law
Internet Blackout Causes 18 Senators to Flee from PIPA (Forbes) (NYTimes) (FastCo)
U.S. Shuts Down MegaUpload, Charges Kim Dotcom, 6 Others with Piracy ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This week, instead of looking back, we look ahead to the new year. We certainly expect fascinating court decisions about technology and the workplace.  Employers and employees are keeping in line with the New Years theme of self-improvement by using technology to make themselves and their workplace more efficient.  And new technology is helping individuals achieve their 2012 goals, from weight loss to learning a musical instrument.  So click away and be inspired to make 2012 the best yet.


Technology and the Law
Can a Court Make You Give Up Your Password? (ABC News)
New Fight Breaks Out ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
If the large numbers of crashes by distracted drivers is not enough, companies that employ drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) have one more reason to prohibit the use of cellular telephones by drivers while driving:  The United States Department of Transportation recently announced the issuance of the final rule that prohibits commercial drivers from using hand-held mobile telephones while operating their vehicles. 


The final rule, issued jointly by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Interesting developments touching on technology in the workplace, and regarding employment law issues generally, dont take a year-end break for the holidays.  Indeed, those work-related holiday gatherings have been known to be fertile breeding grounds for employment difficulties --but dont get us started on that.  In this two week, holiday season Week in Review, we provide you with a virtual smorgasbord of linked articles heavy on interest, but light on calories.  Enjoy and see you next year.
Technology and the Workplace
Numerous American Businesses Plan to Deploy iPads in the ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This week we see the courts dealing with issues and conflicts that arise from the use of technology. English courts have begun to allow journalists to tweet, email, and go on Facebook during legal proceedings. Writing a negative and harassing blog can be a violation of a restraining order. Facebook connections come under scrutiny if they involve the families of participants in legal proceedings. These and other articles linked below discuss the intersection of technology, law and the workplace.
 
Technology and the Law
 
English Courts to Allow Journalists to Use Twitter ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Twitter has been in the news this week, they've launched the first update to their website since its creation, and with 100 million followers and 250 million tweets per day, the social media tool has been providing fodder for the judicial system. Twitter has a propensity to show up regularly in the media, poor tweet judgment has repeatedly been shown by celebrities and politicians. Twitter feeds are easily subscribed to, available to the public, and almost intractable. These qualities can lead to a host of legal issues.  Once statements are sent out to the world at ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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 ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
The controversy surrounding Carrier IQ software is evolving rapidly. Carrier IQ software is preinstalled on phones from AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Its original purpose was as an analytic tool that would allow carriers to provide better service by recording dropped calls and instances of poor reception. However, the software apparently also records all of a phone's keystrokes. This gives rise to privacy concerns, and a suit has been filed by consumers under the Federal Wiretap Act. Additional problems such as hacking and identity theft are also being addressed in ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
This week we see the push and pull between the benefits that new technology can provide and the difficulties it creates when we try to integrate it into our current systems. A number of problems have arisen recently based on the availability of cell phone GPS data and the security of data organizational and protection software. These, and other technological issues affecting our lives, have been collected below.
Technology and the Law
Conflict Between Circuit Courts on Legality of Cellphone Tracking (SecurityNewsDaily)
Legality of Malls Tracking Shoppers Using their ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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 ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
The recent, shocking news floating around Penn State University has understandably caused some employers to reflect on their obligation to report and take meaningful action in response to suspected criminal sexual activity.  Most states have statutes that establish when reporting of the abuse of a minor is required, but employers who do not serve or supervise minors may have little knowledge of mandatory reporting laws. Common law, which also varies from state to state, may create a duty of care for employers that requires reasonable attention to the safety and security of employees ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
The work of those in highly visible positions (political figures, executives, business owners and litigants) is subjected to a great deal of public scrutiny. Women who are in these roles are no exception, and views about their performance, strengths, weaknesses and personality are widely discussed in the media. The articles below discuss some of the current technological and legal issues that have come up this week, both those involving women and the world at large.  
Technology and the Workplace

The Newest Tech Start-Ups and the Women Who Founded Them ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Recent news coverage of Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain reminds us that sexual harassment in the workplace is still a powerful issue.  The events alleged by Mr. Cain's former employees took place before social media emerged as the force it is today, so its doubtful that email, text messages, or other forms of electronic communication were relevant to the investigations done by the National Restaurant Association back in the 90s.  In todays technology-saturated workplace, however, any and all forms of electronic communication may be critical sources of information in ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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 ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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.

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Technology can change faster than policies, procedures and people. There is a gap between how generations work and communicate - yet they have to work together. The articles here focus on the newest ways we use technology in our lives and workplace, and whether the new is better than the old.
 
Technology and the Workplace
Only those 35 and Younger, Gen Y Capital Partners Fund Young Tech Entrepreneurs Only (TechCrunch)
When Will Employees be Replaced by Robots? In New York Casinos, Now. (Gizmodo)
Employees and Ipads: Bonuses, Gifts and Hearing Aid Adjusters? (Star Tribune)
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Immigration is among the thornier and most complicated of all political issues, and also one of the most consequential to employers.  A representative example: The current debate surrounding the federal worker eligibility status database, E-Verify.

One would think a program whose origins lie in legislation passed under Reagan, piloted under Clinton, expanded under George W. Bush and championed by the Obama administration would garner broad bipartisan and popular support.  Instead, it has been forcefully opposed by groups spanning the ideological spectrum, from the ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
When confronted with an intensive, time-sensitive writing project, there's nothing I like more than taking a day out of the office to set up shop at my kitchen table and crank the thing out in my jammies.  Apparently, I'm not alone.  According to a CareerBuilder survey, more American workers are working from home on a regular basis, and 30 percent like to do so in their pajamas (41 percent of females and 22 percent of males).  The more startling statistic in CareerBuilders report is that nearly one in five Americans who work from home spends less than an hour per day doing actual work.  This ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
As we follow the tech trends in this space, the fortunes of Google and Apple continue to grow and, alas, RIM, the maker of Blackberry, continues to struggle.  Blackberries remain an integral part of many workplaces, but it is clear that a growing number of employers will allow, provide or encourage employees to choose other devices, and that the Blackberry's share of the corporate marketplace will, at least in the near future, continue to tumble.   Privacy, security and training issues for employers are all impacted by the choice of smartphone device.   This is a trend we ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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 ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
We featured Steve Jobs in this space only a short time ago when he retired as CEO of Apple, and his death this week has compelled us to showcase Jobs again.  Many, many tributes and remembrances were written this week, and you can find a few that provide insight into Jobs' vision, personality and legacy below.
For the last several weeks we've featured articles that explore prospective employer recruiting, information-seeking and monitoring via social network research. A recent start-up, Reppler, helps people manage their online professional and personal repuation.  A survey ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
A recent article in the New York Times highlighted, yet again, the significant challenges faced by employers when they try to balance the possibilities of technology with the need to protect company data.  That article  discussed allowing employees to conduct company business through the use of their own personal computers and devices.  This development is being referred to as the consumerization of I.T.  In a nutshell, consumerization of I.T. represents a significant shift away from a closed technology system, in which an employer supplies all computers or other devices (such as ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Privacy is the issue of the week, as we attempt to keep up with a litany of exciting/alarming/fascinating developments.
One of the more interesting reads of the week is a blog post from the Harvard Business Review that describes the implications for employees, job seekers and companies of Facebook's newest feature, Timeline.  Timeline is Facebook's vehicle for creating a user biography in words, photos, video, music, etc.  How much of your biography do you want your colleagues to see?  A potential employer?  
In the European Union, plans continue to propose "right to be forgotten ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
In the course of defending employment discrimination claims, I've had the opportunity to review thousands of emails produced by clients.  Most often, were hoping that the emails will provide documentation of performance concerns or otherwise validate the company's legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for its actions.  Many times, we find ourselves in luck and are able to do just that.  More often though, we find emails that aren't very helpful. Those types of emails can range from content that makes the supervisors frustration with an employee quite obvious (i.e. forwarding an ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
"Can't repeat the past? . . . Why of course you can!"
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
This week, we thought we'd catch up on some trends and themes visited over the last several months in this space.
The New York Times featured the trend of employers who allow their employees to choose their own laptops, smartphones, etc. for work purposes, a trend we'd mentioned a few months back.


Hewlett Packard fired its CEO and hired Meg Whitman, formerly of EBay.  The Wall Street Journal asks whether HP's board has historic qualities.

Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
The latest American Community Survey data shows that just over 2% of the U.S. workforce, not including the self employed or unpaid volunteers, considers home their primary place of work. That's about 2.8 million employees. Some estimates conclude that 20 to 30 million employees work at home at least part time.  Many people believe that the number of telecommuters will increase over the next few years as technology improves and employers learn how to adapt to employees who are not present in the workplace.
Issues such as oversight, trust, and the ability to interact are all important to an ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
How do employees spend their time at work?  They perform work duties, of course, but a few other things as well.  For example, might they manage their fantasy football teams?  Sure.  According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, 32 million people play fantasy sports, the most popular of which is fantasy football.  Play games on their phones?  Yep, that too.  Surf the web?  You bet.  How concerned should employers be about their workers' time trolling the web and playing games?  While every employer should be very interested in what their employees do (and don't do)during work hours, a recent ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Michael Stern Hart died this last week.  Hart is credited with creating the first e-book in 1971 by typing the text of the Declaration of Independence into a computer and making it available for downloading via Arpanet, the government-sponsored predecessor to the internet. Hart personally added many more canonical texts through the years, and when the web exploded so did his project, which he called Project Gutenberg.  The database now contains 30,000 books in sixty languages.  Volunteers add hundreds of books each month, making works mostly within the public domain available for free ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple CEO this week.  Because of his health issues, this was not shocking news but it is a shock.  Apple without Steve is a bit like Disney without Walt.  The company will continue, of course, and likely thrive, but will not be led by the personal, idiosyncratic vision that created it.

One notable practice that has led to Apple's success is the way in which it releases new products.  Many technology companies begin trumpeting new products long before their release, even before they have created usable prototypes of the products.  Tech enthusiasts have learned ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

The headline news this week is the report from The National Labor Relations Board summarizing recent social media opinions and offering additional guidance.   Analysis from commentators and bloggers is only beginning to appear online, and we will be sure to include the most relevant and incisive articles in future postings.  Our impressions are posted just below.

In the broader world of technology, HP's decision to stop producing Web OS products and sell their TouchPad tablet at the fire sale price of $99 prompted comments from legions of tech bloggers.  The most concise ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
A recent survey suggests that a great many companies are using social media to screen potential hires.  In many ways this seems like a modern no-brainer.  Social media sites provide easily accessible insights into the personal and professional lives of people we don't know in ways that would have seemed unimaginable only a short time ago.  Of course, as discussed in some of our previous blog posts, there are legal risks in using social media to screen applicants and in making employment decisions.  Are you accessing data that you're prohibited from using in your decision-making ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Many analysts from both sides of the ideological fence believe that the economy as a whole may suffer in the wake of the recent debt ceiling deal.  Few believe that the bill offers much to aid job creation or brighten the immediate prospects of the unemployed.  It is hard to find a single opinion piece, news article or blog post, regardless of political orientation, that does not express profound distaste for the compromise.
So who is (relatively) happy with the bill?  Government technology workers seem to have escaped  the wrath of a measure that seeks to cleave ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Fewer employers are choosing the brand of smartphones that their employees use for work. According to recent surveys, an increasing number of companies offer reimbursement based on a "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) policy.  Not surprisingly, this has undermined sales at Research in Motion (RIM), the largest provider of enterprise smartphones selected by employers.  RIM, maker of Blackberry smartphones, has seen its prospects dim as more employees choose iPhones and Android-based smartphones and ask their company to support work use.

Though warning signs have been noted ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
From Merriam Webster: Luddite -one of a group of early 19th century English workmen destroying laborsaving machinery as a protest; broadly : one who is opposed to especially technological change.

Why do I start with a definition of the word Luddite? Quite simply, I'm probably at least in part a Luddite. I use technology every day; yet, I am reluctant to embrace much of the new technology. That may sound strange coming from a person who is writing on a blog about technology, but alas, it is true. Interestingly, every time I have been forced to use a new technology I have eventually embraced ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Last week, Apple announced that it would begin offering volume purchasing for iOS apps. A week later, the App Store Volume Purchase Program is now open for enrollment. The Volume Purchase Program (VPP) allows businesses to make bulk purchases of apps, although Apple currently does not offer discounts for buying in bulk (insert joke about how expensive Apple products are here).  However, the VPP allows businesses to purchase, customize, and distribute iOS apps throughout the enterprise.

So what does this development mean for employers? On the one hand, the VPP gives employers more ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Photo by Joseph Holmes (via Bits)
As always, the world of technology never seems to slow down.  This Week in Review includes articles about a Presidential Town Hall on Twitter, hackers galore, and the online fallout of the Casey Anthony trial.  Among all the news of the week, I was captivated by the New York Times coverage of Joseph Holmes's online series of photographs entitled "Texters."  The series depicts individuals around New York City peering down at their smartphones, completely absorbed in the world of technology and often oblivious of their surroundings.

Besides providing an ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

The recent attention given to Apples announcement of its iCloud internet-based online storage service is yet another indicator of the growing popularity of cloud computing, or using online data storage for files that can be accessed and managed anywhere using an internet connection. Instead of saving your files and data to your own device, you save them in a cloud, or web-based file cabinet. Google has offered this service to consumers since 2005 with its Google docs service. Now Apple is joining in, offering a free service that will basically allow users to mirror their iTunes ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
The subject of employees' email privacy comes up a lot, both in this blog and in employment law and litigation generally.  Last week's Week in Review, for example, cited a federal court judge's decision that an executive's emails, sent to his wife from his work computer,  were not protected or privileged, and could be used as evidence in a securities fraud case.  Evidence gleaned from emails shows up in many, if not most, harassment cases, and emails are a common source of evidence about the legitimacy of an employer's "non-discriminatory business reason" for an adverse personnel ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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 ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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 ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Last week, I provided some training to a clients HR team on conducting investigations.  As we were working through some hypothetical situations, the discussion turned to accessing employees emails.  The group knew that their company's policy addressed accessing the emails of current employees, clearly warning company email is not private and that it could be accessed or monitored by the company.  That being said, one individual raised concerns about accessing a recently departed employees emails.  She was concerned about who should have access to the email, and for what purpose and ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

The U.S. Department of Labor has an app for that. On Monday, the DOL announced the launch of its DOL - Timesheet App, for iPhones (click here to download the app on iTunes). The application provides employees with an easy way to keep track of their working time. It also allows employees to add notes about time entries and easily export the entries. There's even a glossary with links to the DOL website, meant to educate employees about their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Here's what the DOL says about the use of the DOL - Timesheet App:

This new technology is significant because ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
It was another busy week in the world of technology and employment and labor law.  Mercifully, the Charlie Sheen uproar seems to have tapered off for the time being (although you can now watch his online rants on Ustream).  Perhaps even more shocking, Eric Meyer at The Employer Handbook reported on a sexting case that turned out surprisingly well for an unprepared employer (dont expect to be so lucky if you repeat their mistakes).  Other stories from the week include a great summary of some of the wage and hour issues associated with telecommuting, updates in the WikiLeaks/Bank of America ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
The news this week in the world of labor and employment law and technology can be summed up in two words:  Charlie Sheen.  (I would have also accepted Tiger Blood.)  Our own Megan Anderson wrote about the fiasco and its lessons for employers about responding to negative statements on the Internet.  One day later, Sheen filed suit in California state court, alleging a variety of claims includingas Jon Hyman predicteddisability discrimination!
 
Although the news coverage (and, lets be honest, your Facebook news feed) made it seem like Charlie Sheen was the only big news story this week, there ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

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 ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

This week, the technology world was abuzz with the announcement (and, of course, pre-announcement rumors) of the iPad 2. Apples newest contribution to the tablet market promises to provide further steam to the mobile computing movement.

Fittingly, a number of blogs and articles this week discussed the impact of mobile computing devices on the workplace. Sexting, of course, remains a serious problem. In an amazing turnaround, many employers and even the U.S. Army are now encouraging employees to blog. One article even talks about online tools for women to report harassment they ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
The news of the last week has been a particularly interesting illustration of the promise and perils of technology, particularly related to social media. On the one hand, Facebook and other social media outlets continue to be used as tools to organize protests and spur on the cause of revolution in countries where citizens have long been oppressed and felt powerless. On the other hand, there are several stories from the last week about employees sharing confidential information (including pictures of medical patients), complaining about workplace conditions, or even Tweeting ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

The Gray Plant Mooty attorneys behind The Modern Workplace are devoted to exploring current issues in employment and labor law. We are particularly interested in The Next Big Thing, our shorthand for the many ways that technology is revolutionizing both the world we live in and the workplace. Each week, we will provide a summary of interesting news and blogs involving technology and law, especially the law of the workplace. This week marks the first of our TNBT: Week in Review features on The Modern Workplace.

The buzz this week in the world of technology is Watson, the IBM computer that ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
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 ...
Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook


Today we celebrate Saint Valentines Day, the annual commemoration of the martyrdom of Saint Valentine at the hands of the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Of course, we now celebrate this holiday by giving our loved ones heart-shaped candy and greeting cards! Although this may seem a strange cause for celebrating love, there is a romantic legend behind this otherwise morbid holiday. According to legend, the Christian priest Valentine was executed because he was performing marriage ceremonies for young men and women in violation of Roman law. Although this legend is now widely ...

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Topics

Archives

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

Blog Authors

Recent Posts