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EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

All private-sector employers with 100 or more employees must mandate vaccination or a weekly negative COVID-19 test

By Mike O’Brien President Biden spoke from the White House Sept. 9 to announce his new Path Out of the Pandemic Plan. Among other things, President Biden has instructed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop rules that will require private-sector employers with 100 or more employees to mandate that their employees be vaccinated or receive a weekly negative COVID test. Employers who fail to do so will face fines. Some media outlets report that such fines could be up to $14,000 per violation. Along with President Biden’s spoken remarks, the White House also issued this statement: The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated… . . . read more

MANAGING STAFF

We suspect our employees gave us phony vaccination cards

By Lynne Curry Question: Our senior leadership team couldn’t believe the hostility that erupted when we told our employees if they weren’t vaccinated by Sept. 15, we’d consider they had voluntarily resigned. Several of them emailed lengthy rants to every member of the management team. Others came into our offices crying and went home in tears. Then, like magic, the protests stopped. We thought it might have to do with the FDA approving Pfizer, or someone talking sense to the 11 employees who hadn’t wanted to get vaccinated. We breathed a sigh of relief. A few days ago, our office manager got suspicious. She looked up phony vaccination cards. Is this really a thing? If so, this torques us. What can we do about it? Is it best to let… . . . read more

HARASSMENT

How managers can help victims of revenge porn

By Lynne Curry When “Paula” broke up with “Rob,” he vowed she’d regret ending their relationship. She thought Rob meant she’d miss him. She didn’t realize he planned to destroy her reputation, nor that the drama would cost her a job and perhaps her career. Three days later Paula sat in shocked silence looking at nude photos where she lay asleep half on, half off a blanket laid on the grass. Her manager told her, “I’m sorry. These have spread like wildfire through the office. I don’t know that we can keep you. I can’t imagine you’ll want to stay.” Two months earlier, Rob had talked her into sex in his backyard, pointing out the tall fence shielded them from his neighbor’s windows. She had been uneasy but had gone… . . . read more

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Are we making a mistake to require our employees to get vaccinated?

By Lynne Curry Question: Your recent post reported that many employers, including Facebook, Google, Tyson Foods, the Walt Disney Company, Houston Methodist Medical Center, United Airlines, Cisco, DoorDash, the Washington Post and Frontier Airlines, require all onsite employees to get vaccinated. That same day, we learned the Pentagon would require all active-duty troops to become vaccinated by Sept. 15. That, plus our history—having to shut down for two weeks when one of our employees tested for COVID, and the flack we were getting from vaccinated employees who have to wear masks because of a handful of unvaccinated employees, made us decide to have require all employees to get vaccinated. We didn’t expect the unglued reaction that came from our unvaccinated employees. We received repeated texts and emails from employees telling… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW

The least you need to know about at-will employment

By Paul Edwards At-will employment can seem freeing for employers, but it can also provide a false sense of security. On the one hand, it’s liberating to be able to terminate employees for any lawful reason at any time. On the other, unlawful termination—or activities that can be construed as such—can put you at risk for litigation and are not protected by the tenants of at-will employment. The latter scenario is why the myth of at-will employment being a protective shield that allows employers to fire for any reason or no reason at all needs to be better understood by all managers and owners. So, to lessen the fear factor and help you sidestep at-will employment potholes and myths, here’s the least you need to know about at-will employment along with… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Masks making a comeback and vaccine mandates are on

By Mike O’Brien Masks make a comeback On July 27, 2021, the CDC issued new guidance for people that have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Previously, the CDC had said that fully vaccinated individuals did not need to wear masks in public. However, largely in response to the spread of the Delta variant, the CDC now recommends wearing a mask indoors in public if you are in “an area of substantial or high transmission.” The CDC has provided a “county tracker” tool for determining what areas have “substantial or high transmission.” A large portion of the State of Utah appears to be in the high transmission range. So far, OSHA hasn’t weighed in on the CDC’s updated guidance, but when the CDC has issued mask guidance in the past, OSHA… . . . read more

YOUR CAREER

Listening as if you mean it: an important managerial skill

By Lynne Curry It’s easy to give an excuse for not listening. You don’t have time; the speaker rambles or bores you. You already know what you’re about to hear. It’s harder to admit you’re a poor listener—isn’t listening something we do all the time? No. The opposite proves true. Most of us find it hard to listen to someone who has something to say we don’t want to hear. We instinctively interrupt, tune out, or wait until the speaker finishes and then say what we wanted to say in the first place. The result—we miss hearing information we later wish we’d heard; we fall easily into “yes…but” arguments in which neither you nor the other person comes to terms with each other’s viewpoint. We sacrifice opportunities to draw out… . . . read more

Employment Law Update

Making faces doesn’t count as retaliation

By Mike O’Brien Not every negative consequence amounts to retaliation In asserting a claim for retaliation, an employee must prove he or she suffered a “materially adverse action.” But that probably doesn’t include someone “making faces” at you. In Fisher v. Bilfinger Industrial Services Inc., the employee alleged that his supervisor retaliated against him by (among other things) “making faces at him.” The First Circuit Court wasn’t impressed. The court noted that “adverse employment actions” are things like “discharges, demotions, refusals to hire, refusals to promote, and reprimands.” “Making Faces,” on the other hand, amounts to “a frivolous claim that does not implicate Title VII.” In the litigation world, we call this a “bench slap.” You can read the full decision here. More limits on non-competes . . . eventually On July… . . . read more

YOUR CAREER

Potential for disaster when you serve on a volunteer board

By Lynne Curry Sometimes you take on work for which you aren’t paid—because it matters, or because you’ve been talked into it. Perhaps you serve on the board of a non-profit legal aid corporation, offering your experience and knowledge as a law office manager. Possibly you run for your condo association’s board of directors because you want some control over the condominium unit in which you live. Despite the zero pay, you occasionally face situations that require hard work and take every ounce of skill you possess. Recently, I helped a community health clinic 11-person board of directors when they found themselves petitioned by angry former employees and upset community members. They hadn’t expected the depth of allegations against the clinic or its top two leaders, nor to find their… . . . read more

The pandemic changed employees: Can managers adapt?

By Lynne Curry “The employees who return to the office after a year of remote work aren’t the employees their bosses remember” says a June 12 Wall Street Journal article.1 Remote work changed how employees want to work. Employees that tasted independence don’t want to give it up. Employees who felt betrayed lost trust in employers. What do managers and employers need to understand? Shift from managing to coaching: Even pre-pandemic, most employees preferred managers who outlined “here’s where we’re going and why” and set clear expectations and goals to those who micro-managed. “After a year of working in solitude,” notes the WSJ article, employees “expect more control over how, when and where their work gets done and to have greater autonomy relative to their managers and organizations.”1 This challenges… . . . read more


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