Category Archives: Employee Handbooks & Policies

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The NLRB’s Division of Advice Has Spoken on COVID-19 in the Workplace, Providing Flexibility to Employers During the Pandemic

As employers continue to navigate these chaotic times, on July 15, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), through its Division of Advice (Advice), issued its first guidance regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the workplace. In the form of five letters from Advice relating to the pandemic, the previously silent NLRB brought some beneficial clarity to employers who have no doubt … Continue Reading

Time to Update (or Implement!) Your COVID-19 Safety Plan

Do you have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place? If not, you had best get started.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have recommended having such a plan since the beginning of the pandemic, and have recently updated their guidance to spell out exactly what such plans should address. In some … Continue Reading

Employers Take Heed: CDC Modifies Return to Work Guidance

Over the past few weeks, the CDC has issued updated COVID-19 guidance on a number of topics affecting the workplace, including modifying the criteria employers rely on to determine when an employee with COVID-19 may return to work. As the CDC’s COVID-19 guidance evolves, employers must ensure their COVID-19 plans and policies likewise evolve. Given these recent changes, employers should … Continue Reading

The Black Lives Matter Movement and the Workplace

The Black Lives Matter movement, protesting racism, police brutality, and the deaths of George Floyd and other Black Americans, has not only been seen and heard in streets around the world; it has found a new voice in corporate boardrooms as well. The 8-minute, 46-second video of a police officer indifferently kneeling on the neck of Floyd, an unarmed Black … Continue Reading

It’s Official: Discrimination on Basis of Sexual Orientation/Transgender Status is Prohibited

Employers should take note that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status now clearly violates federal law. In a landmark decision issued on June 15th, in Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court held (6-3) that an employer who fires an individual for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of … Continue Reading

Re-Opening For Business: Is Your Workplace Ready?

Employers face a myriad of issues in thinking through whether and how to re-open for business after mandatory closures, or how to thoughtfully phase out teleworking models currently in place for ongoing enterprises. While federal, state, and local authorities haggle over who will decide which businesses can re-open and under what circumstances, employers should start preparing now. In particular for … Continue Reading

What Employers Need to Know about Coronavirus

Although there have only been a handful of confirmed cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV or the “coronavirus”) within the United States so far, employers are nevertheless well-advised to take affirmative steps to protect their employees from this rapidly spreading respiratory illness – even if the employers do not have any operations or employees based in China, where the … Continue Reading

Federal Contractors To Be Limited On Criminal Background Checks

Private employers with federal contracts will soon be prohibited from requesting criminal history information from candidates at the onset of the hiring process; instead, they will have to wait until after an offer is made.

The Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019 (Act) was discreetly tucked into the Defense Spending Bill approved on December 20, 2019. The … Continue Reading

Expanding Rights for Breastfeeding Mothers

On the heels of a new federal law requiring certain public federal buildings to provide lactation spaces, California has enacted one of the most expansive sets of protections for breastfeeding employees in the country. The California law which became effective January 1, 2020, includes provisions regarding break time, policy requirements, and specifications regarding the lactation room.… Continue Reading

Three More Employer Holiday Wishes Granted By National Labor Relations Board

The holiday cheer keeps coming from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with the release of three new decisions favoring employers: (1) workplace policies covering confidentiality during workplace investigations are lawful; (2) employers can restrict employees’ use of emails for nonbusiness purposes; and (3) employers can stop deducting and remitting union dues after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement.… Continue Reading

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

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