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CYBERSECURITY

Disinformation endangers your company, not just democracy

By Doug Striker bio Did you hear about the rumor that COVID-19 was spread by mobile devices using the 5G network? It sounds so insane and far-fetched that no one would believe it, right? I mean, how in the world would a virus travel through a cell phone frequency band, into a cell phone or tablet, and then out of the device into a person’s body? But thanks to social media, fake news sites set up by bad actors, and Average Joes (like you and me) who click that “share” button all too readily, the rumor spread like wildfire, gaining so much traction that people were literally lighting cell phone towers on fire around the world. Why would someone spread such nonsense? And when I say “someone,” I not only… . . . read more

COVID-19

Our employees may stage a Thanksgiving rebellion

By Lynne Curry bio Question: I overheard a breakroom conversation last week and learned several employees were planning to get together with extended families for Thanksgiving. One employee was letting another know that if she didn’t “have any place to go,” she could join their family gathering. I honestly couldn’t believe this given the uptick in COVID-19 in our community, so I decided to call an all-hands meeting. I held the meeting in the downstairs lobby so we could physically distance. I started with the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s guidance that we celebrate virtually or within our household. I added that the CDC specifically says those who don’t currently live in our household, even if family members, need to be viewed as members of different households. I reminded everyone… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

How HR regulations could change under Biden administration

By Mike O’Brien bio Employers may be wondering how a Biden administration will affect workplace laws. Prior to the election, Biden’s campaign website gives some clues as to his priorities in this area. Biden lists the failure to pay minimum wage and overtime pay, forcing off-the-clock work, and misclassifying workers as problems resulting in billions of dollars a year in wage theft. To address those issues, he proposes a phased-in implementation of a $15 per hour federal minimum wage (including eliminating the tip credit). He also supports the adoption of a more stringent test for classifying workers as independent contractors, similar to the ABC test employed by California. This type of test would almost certainly result in many more workers being deemed employees and fewer being properly classified as independent… . . . read more

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Can we use a contact tracing app to protect our business and employees?

By Lynne Curry bio Question: Every morning we conduct wellness checks on our employees as they arrive at work, but worry that some employees don’t monitor physical distancing when not at work. We’re barely hanging on as a practice, but all it would take is one employee getting COVID and infecting our other employees to shut us down. We have heard apps can provide real-time contact tracing and wonder if we can require our employees to wear them even when not at work? Answer: Potentially. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers must act to reduce and manage COVID-19-related hazards in the workplace. Employers can view video surveillance that shows when employees clock in and out and reveal an employee’s interactions while at work. Employers can provide employees… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

The workplace in 2020: political talk, COVID-19 violence, executive order

By Mike O’Brien bio Don’t forget labor relations rules when employees talk politics at work During this contentious election season—with a highly polarized American electorate—many employers may be grappling with problems arising from workplace political discussions. Research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has indicated that more than a quarter of workers report regularly talking about politics at work. Disputes and tension often result. Employers wishing to regulate political speech at work should remember that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) may affect their options. Although employees often assert that they have a First Amendment right to free speech, this is a misconception. The First Amendment restricts government action, not that of private employers. However, Section 7 of the NLRA gives employees the right to talk to each… . . . read more

Contractors, COVID and stereotyping on HR radar

By Mike O’Brien bio DOL tries to clarify independent contractor definition The US Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed what it believes is a simplified definition of independent contractor (IC) for purposes of applying wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which applies only to employees. The new DOL proposal still focuses on the factors of economic reality, but tries to clarify how to apply them. DOL says employers first should focus on two core factors: (1) the nature and degree of the worker’s control over the work and (2) the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss based on initiative and/or investment. If both factors point to either employee status or IC status, that probably is the right classification. If not, DOL says three additional factors must be… . . . read more

COVID Q&A

5 questions on the virus and your law office

By Lynne Curry bio 1 Pushback from employees who choose to stay on unemployment Question: We didn’t expect the pushback we got from two of our furloughed employees when we called them back to work, particularly as we allow employees to work from home part of the workweek if their work can be accomplished remotely. One ignored two “return to work” emails but responded to a “work starts Monday” text with “thanks, but no thanks.” The other emailed he needed a raise if we wanted him back. We called him and said, “that’s not in the cards, we’re barely squeaking by.” He said he made more money on unemployment than working, so there was no real percentage in returning to work. What do we do with this? Answer: A condition… . . . read more

TRAINING

Now is the time to train for technology

By Doug Striker bio I think it’s safe to say that the legal industry is not the most “agile” profession in the marketplace. The law actually breeds the opposite of agility. We tend to reward slow processes, long research endeavors, decisions-by-committee, slow turning of the ship to accommodate changes. So, it is no surprise that the rapid changes demanded by the COVID outbreak have rattled law firms to their cores. To put it more bluntly, I’ll quote a couple of people I recently heard speak at an ILTA Roundtable discussion regarding the legal industry’s use of tech tools to get work done “during these difficult and challenging times:” “I have a lot of self-represented litigants on my [virtual] docket and many of them are more comfortable with technology than the… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

COVID, opioids and payroll taxes on HR radar

By Mike O’Brien bio Applicants, testing, and screening The EEOC has said you cannot test applicants for COVID-19 until after a conditional job offer. Fine, makes sense. What about taking temperatures? You can take a temperature of visitors to your business/office to make sure they are not bringing COVID-19 with them. In fact, you may have an OSHA duty to do so to protect your workers from the pandemic. What about applicants visiting your office to apply to interview—can you subject them to the same temperature screening as all other visitors? Logic would say yes; but the EEOC guidance says no, you can only take an applicant’s temperature after a conditional job offer. Yet, a visiting applicant with COVID-19 could turn your office into a virus hot spot, thus attracting… . . . read more

YOUR CAREER

Preparation is the key to a good ZOOM interview

By Lynne Curry bio Question: After unsuccessfully responding to job listings on LinkedIn and Indeed.com for five weeks, I finally received a request to interview. When I asked, “Where do I meet you?” I learned I’d be interviewed via Zoom. I’ve had bad experiences with Zoom. For some reason, they have my name misspelled; I’ve tried but haven’t been able to fix this. I can’t even get into my Zoom account; my password’s at my former office and Zoom insists on sending the password reset to my former, extinct email. And I find it distracting looking at my face when I’m speaking. My brother-in-law promises to help me fix the name thing, but I’m even more panicked about the interview itself. I need this job and need to know how… . . . read more


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