Category Archives: Employee Handbooks & Policies

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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

Proposed Employee Wellness Legislation Might Undermine Protections of GINA

Employees who don’t want to disclose genetic information about themselves and their families to their employers may have to pay a stiff price for that privacy in the future. The Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (H.R. 1313), a GOP-sponsored bill currently under consideration in Congress, could dismantle the employee privacy protections of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).… Continue Reading

Will The NLRB’s Protection of Unacceptable Conduct Last?

It’s ironic, isn’t it? While the EEOC could find an employer liable for tolerating racist or sexist remarks by employees, the NLRB has repeatedly found employers liable for failing to do so under the guise of protecting “concerted activity” by employees. Will the agency’s rulings against employers be supported by the courts? And will the pattern of protecting such employee … Continue Reading

Medical Marijuana and the Workplace

With the growing list of states legalizing marijuana, are workplace drug policies up in smoke? As the new year begins, Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota join the growing list of states that have legalized medical marijuana. Currently, 28 states* and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana use for certain medicinal purposes, and eight states** and the District of Columbia have legalized … Continue Reading

New Notice Requirements For Employer Wellness Programs

Employers who sponsor employee wellness programs must plan now to comply with a new notice requirement that takes effect soon. Beginning with the first plan year on or after January 1, 2017, employers sponsoring wellness programs that collect employee health information (such as through a health risk assessment or biometric screening) must issue a notice to employees before employees provide … Continue Reading

Calling all Employers with Remote Employees: Is Your Company Counting Them In Accordance With the FMLA?

Does your company have employees who work remotely in a city, or a state, where your company does not maintain a physical location? Do you count those employees for purposes of determining whether the company has to offer leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? Well, in what may come as a surprise, you must properly include all … Continue Reading

The NLRB Expands Its Reach in the Non-Union Workplace

The National Labor Relations Board continues to infiltrate the workplace even where there are no unions. Standard workplace policies — including those relating to employee conduct, protecting intellectual property, use of personal electronics, and conflicts of interest — are unlawful, according to a recent memorandum issued by the NLRB General Counsel. Basic contract and policy provisions requiring employees to maintain … Continue Reading

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