Category Archives: Employee Handbooks & Policies

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NLRB Clarifies Standard for Reviewing Workplace Policies, Finds Confidentiality and Media Contact Policies Lawful

Applying its new standard for determining whether employer policies violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), a divided National Labor Relations Board (Board) upheld policies prohibiting employee disclosure of client and vendor information and contact with the media. The Board’s decision provides additional guidance about their new, employer-friendly standard of review.

Section 7 of the NLRA guarantees employees the right … Continue Reading

Halloween Parties Can Leave Employers “Haunted” By Discrimination

The last week of October can result in “double, double toil, and trouble” for employers. While workplace Halloween festivities may boost employee morale, they can also result in employer liability for discrimination and harassment in the workplace in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and applicable state and local laws. To protect against this potential … Continue Reading

Minimizing Risks of BYOD Use For Work

Employees seem permanently attached to their smart phones today, but allowing employees to use their personal devices to make work calls, and send and receive work emails can carry substantial risks. Before allowing employees to use their personal cell phones or other devices for work purposes, make sure you have strong electronic communications and Bring Your Own Device policies in … Continue Reading

Discrimination Based on Hair and Hairstyles: Protected or Knot?

Cornrows or locs may not fit your corporate image, but be careful: state and local legislation prohibiting workplace grooming and appearance policies that adversely impact employees of color have begun popping up around the country. And the new laws have some teeth: employers who discriminate based on hair texture or style could face penalties of up to $250,000 under one … Continue Reading

Smoke Clears For Employers Under New Illinois Marijuana Law

As marijuana legalization laws spread, some states are more focused on employee protections, but Illinois recently adopted a new marijuana law that includes extensive workplace protections for employers. Last month, the Illinois legislature passed and Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. The Cannabis Act goes into effect on January 1, 2020. Beginning on that date, … Continue Reading

Trending: Fair Workweek Laws

“Fair workweek” laws are sweeping the nation, bringing new challenges for employers. Also referred to as “predictable scheduling,” “advanced scheduling,” or “secure scheduling laws,” these laws typically require larger employers in restaurant and retail industries to provide employees with advanced schedules and “predictability pay” if schedules are changed after a certain time period before an employee’s shift. … Continue Reading

Illinois Expands Employee Rights and Imposes New Obligations on Employers

New Illinois Expense Reimbursement Obligations

Joining employers in California and a growing number of other states, Illinois employers must now reimburse their employees for all expenditures or losses incurred within the scope of their employment which were authorized or required by their employer. A failure in compliance could result in severe penalties and the payment of employees’ attorneys’ fees.

Effective … Continue Reading

New Year, New Wellness Program Rules

Employers with established wellness programs that collect health information and/or require a medical exam can no longer rely on the EEOC regulations to justify that incentives provided under their wellness programs are voluntary. On December 20, the EEOC published a final rule (83 Fed. Reg. 65296) vacating the rules that allowed employers to offer those financial incentives to … Continue Reading

Political Speech Inside (and Outside) of the Workplace

The new year has brought a new Congress, an ongoing government shutdown, and rumblings of the first formal campaign announcements for 2020. With more voters participating in last year’s election than ever before, employers should be prepared to handle issues arising from employees’ political speech and conduct.

The 2018 midterms were the first in history with a turnout surpassing 100 … Continue Reading

Avoiding Office Holiday Party Headaches

The annual holiday party is a great time of the year to celebrate employees and business successes, but it can be fraught with peril. Wise employers will plan holiday celebrations carefully.

  1. Consider the timing.

Some employees would rather limit their time with work colleagues to workplace hours. Others may stress over childcare, transportation or other commitments, but feel obligated to … Continue Reading

English-Only Workplace Rules: Risky in a Diversifying Workplace

A manufacturer has “subjected its employees to an ugly mix of sexism, racism, and xenophobia and violated federal law prohibiting harassment and retaliation” the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in a lawsuit recently filed in New York. What led to such an inflammatory charge from the EEOC? Among other things, the employer’s implementation of an English-only rule in the workplace.… Continue Reading

NLRB G.C. Issues Guidance on Handbook Rules

Standard employer workplace policies may once again pass muster, following a Memorandum issued this summer by the NLRB Office of General Counsel.

Although Memorandum GC 18-04 is addressed to NLRB personnel, its guidance for how to analyze charges alleging that workplace policies violate the NLRA offers some clarity and reassurance to employers.

Employers may recall that beginning in 2004, the … Continue Reading

Must An Employer Grant a Request for Indefinite Leave?

What do you do when an employee wants leave for a medical condition, but has already exhausted or is not eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act? Tread carefully.

Maybe you’re not a covered employer under the FMLA. Maybe the employee is not eligible for FMLA leave, or has already exhausted all leave available under the FMLA. … Continue Reading

New Paid Leave Laws Extend to Domestic Violence

A new breadth of employee laws are sweeping the nation, and this time they are directed at providing employees paid leave to take care of themselves or a loved one in a domestic violence situation.

The United States has a very serious domestic violence problem. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in … Continue Reading

Conditioning Severance on Post Employment Obligations: Tricky Business

Employers often want to be sure that departing employees won’t disclose confidential business information or make disparaging remarks about the company, and therefore include such obligations in severance agreements. But there are risks, unless the provisions are carefully tailored to account for recent legal developments.

For example, in Baylor Univ. Med. Ctr., an Administrative Law Judge found that Baylor … Continue Reading

#HimToo

The headlines may feature the names of powerful businessmen and stars who’ve been accused of sexual harassment, but employers should remember the perpetrator may not always be a man. Powerful women can be harassers, too. And there is the key: harassment is more about power than gender.

Abigail Saguy, a Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at UCLA who has … Continue Reading

Another Circuit Says Title VII Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination

A second federal appellate court has ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation. The ruling is in line with the EEOC’s interpretation of the law, but at odds with the interpretation by the current administration’s Department of Justice.

The case, Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., involved … Continue Reading

Risks And Costs Of Using PTO Buckets In A Paid Leave Statute World

With a growing number of states and cities implementing paid sick leave statutes, employers with PTO policies may be wondering whether it still makes sense to bundle different types of time off – sick, personal, and vacation – into a single bucket. The good news is that employers generally do not have to change their policies so long as they … Continue Reading

Protected Conduct or Hate Speech? Managing Diverse Viewpoints in the Workplace

Recent events have underscored the difficulties employers face in managing diverse workforces in which employees hold a wide-range of political perspectives.  The mere discussion of the news of the day can create divisive conflicts, especially since some employees might feel emboldened to express views once thought to be offensive or taboo, while others, in turn, believe they are compelled to … Continue Reading

Employee Wellness Developments: Keeping Your Finger on the Pulse

As we alluded in our “Preparing for the Unknown: Open Enrollment 2018” blog post, employers that are finalizing their employee benefit plan designs in advance of the 2018 plan year would be well-advised to monitor the developments concerning the future of health care reform, the employee wellness program regulations, and mental health benefit enforcement activity.… Continue Reading

Mandatory Flu Vaccination Policies: Time for a Check-Up

After a measles outbreak at Disneyland spread to 134 Californians and residents in six other states and two other countries, California adopted a law removing “personal belief” exemptions from vaccinating children in public or private schools or childcare centers. But employers faced with choosing between wanting a healthy work-site and respecting individual worker’s beliefs about vaccines lack such clear direction. … Continue Reading

Dogged by Dogs at Work: Barking Up the Wrong Tree?

Suppose you hire Kristin Chenoweth to be your new TV show host, and she shows up on the set with her dog Thunder, claiming she needs the dog for emotional support. Must you allow this distraction?

Or suppose her third cousin shows up at your restaurant with Thunder’s twin bearing a “service animal tag,” yapping away and disturbing servers and … Continue Reading

Steps for Solving the Wage Deduction Dilemma

Figuring out what deductions from an employee’s wages are permitted and prohibited under the law is a quandary. May an employer deduct an employee’s wages for personal charges on the company’s credit card? What about the cost to replace company property the employee lost or damaged? And what if an employee resigns and never returns the company-issued laptop or other … Continue Reading

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