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EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Disability discrimination and lookism in the workplace

By Mike O’Brien EEOC sues a work placement agency on behalf of disabled workers for disability discrimination The EEOC announced this week that it has filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against a Hawaii work placement agency for disabled workers. The suit alleges that the agency refused to provide sign language interpreters for deaf employees, despite repeated requests by several deaf individuals. The workers had asked for interpreters to be present at staff meetings where matters such as work safety, protocols, and assignments were discussed. Despite these requests for accommodation, the agency declined to provide interpreters and instead gave the deaf workers written notes and handouts, or asked a deaf employee to interpret for other deaf employees. The EEOC asserts that these accommodations were ineffective and that as a… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

Beware of privacy pitfalls when remotely monitoring telecommuters

Before the pandemic, 80 percent of U.S. employees worked primarily from an external workplace; today, only 21 percent do. Coaxing employees to return to the workplace will be an uphill battle, with recent surveys, including one from Pew Research, suggesting that 54 percent of those who are currently working remotely want to continue spending at least some of their working hours at home. In short, as with other employers, law offices need to adjust to the realities of telecommuting. Among the biggest challenges will be maintaining productivity. One potential solution is to deploy technologies that monitor employees’ whereabouts and use of computer and other work equipment to verify that employees who work remotely are actually doing their jobs. Unfortunately, doing this exposes your office to liability risks under privacy and… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

Wage whispers: Can we stop salary talk?

By Paul Edwards When one employee finds out another employee makes more money, it can send ripples throughout your entire workplace. In light of the morale damage this kind of talk can cause, you may be tempted to tell employees not to discuss salaries at all. The problem is employees have a legal right to discuss their salaries with other employees because of existing NLRA protections. What is the NLRA? The NLRA or National Labor Relations Act, is a large, developing area of federal law that’s rapidly changing the way you can regulate your employees’ speech, both on and off the job. Section 7 of the NLRA grants union and non-union employees alike the right to engage in certain activities so they may collectively bargain. These protections apply to all speech related… . . . read more

QUIZ

Who has OSHA responsibility for the health & safety of a temp?

What are your OSHA duties to temporary workers (“temps”) whom you hire from a temp agency to work at your firm? Stated differently, are you or the temp agency responsible for the temp’s health and safety? Here’s a set of scenario quizzes that illustrate how the rules work. SCENARIO 1: RESPONSIBILITY FOR HAZCOM TRAINING The Temps R’Us Agency (Agency) assigns an employee to temporary work at XYZ Company (Company). Agency is perfectly aware that knows that Company’s workers handle and use hazardous chemicals. But the temp has no Hazcom training whatsoever. As a result, he suffers an injury as a result of exposure to a toxic chemical while working for Company. QUESTION Who’s responsible for providing the temp the required Hazcom training? Agency Company Both Neither ANSWER Both the Agency… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Three White House announcements for employers

By Mike O’Brien  bio President Biden calls on employers to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated In a White House press release dated April 21, 2021, President Biden called “on every employer in America to offer full pay to their employees for any time off needed to get vaccinated and for any time it takes to recover from the after-effects of vaccination.” The White House statement adds that President Biden will announce “a paid leave tax credit that will offset the cost for employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide full payment for any time their employees need to get a COVID-19 vaccination or recover from that vaccination.” By Executive Order, President Biden increases the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15/hour On April 27 President… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

Dare we ask our coworkers: Are you safe?

By Lynne Curry bio Question: We have a small eight-person office. We don’t interact with the public. Although we’ve worked remotely for the past year, we’ll be moving back into the office in the next few weeks. We’re generally looking forward to it, Most of my coworkers have been vaccinated. We talk on Zoom about how happy we are to have gotten vaccinated and compare side-effect stories. Two of our coworkers don’t participate in these discussions. I suspect they haven’t been vaccinated and don’t intend to get vaccinated. Am I allowed to ask? Is it necessary or appropriate to have different rules regarding masks for different employees; for example, “masks aren’t required unless a meeting includes person “x”? Can we forgo masks all the time and figure any unvaccinated employees… . . . read more

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Most of your law office employees are vaccinated. Now what?

By Lynne Curry bio Most of your office staff have received vaccines. Those who remain unvaccinated either haven’t decided whether they will or have refused to get vaccinated. What’s next? Can you relax your workplace protocols? New CDC guidance In recent weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided new COVID-19 guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.1 Fully vaccinated individuals may interact indoors with other vaccinated individuals without wearing masks or physical distancing. Fully vaccinated individuals, except for those who live in a group setting or themselves experience COVID-19 symptoms, no longer need to quarantine and test if they’ve been around someone who has COVID-19.2 Fully vaccinated individuals do need to wear a well-fitted mask, physically distance and practice other prevention protocols when interacting with unvaccinated individuals from multiple… . . . read more

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

EEOC charges down but lawsuits rising

By Mike O’Brien bio EEOC data for FY2020 show dip in charges filed The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its Fiscal Year 2020 Enforcement and Litigation Data report on Feb. 26, 2021. The EEOC reports that 67,448 charges of discrimination were filed in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2020, compared to 72,675 charges filed in the previous fiscal year. The agency made headway in addressing a backlog of charges, resolving 70,804 charges during FY2020, and securing $439.2 million for victims of discrimination. Continuing the trend of recent years, retaliation was the most commonly-asserted claim, made in 55.8% of all charges. Disability, race, and sex discrimination claims each were asserted in roughly a third of charges filed, at 36.1%, 32.7%, and 31.7%, respectively. Age, national origin, color, and religion… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

How to create an enhanced cleaning and disinfection policy for your office

In the age of COVID-19, complying with the rigorous hygiene requirements of OSHA and other standards may not be enough. That’s because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health guidelines mandate that work facilities still in operation undertake special enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures. Here are the rules and how to comply. There’s also a Model Policy you can adapt for use at your own facility. What’s at Stake SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus, spreads by human-to-human contact and can live on a surface or object for up to seven days. The virus can be killed but it takes the right products and procedures. That’s why public health agencies are requiring employers to implement special cleaning and disinfection procedures as part of their workplace… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

Here’s why the NLRB hates your no gossiping policy

By Paul Edwards bio I keep running into this problem as we evaluate pre-existing employee handbooks across the country. The issue is that, as an employer, you want to address employees standing around and gossiping. Or standing around and not being productive, or standing around and distracting those who are being productive. In fact, you don’t want employees standing, or sitting, around at all. So you get creative, and a new policy is born. Here are examples we run into all the time: No gossiping! Employees may not stand around or be inactive for more than 10 seconds. Employees may not conduct personal business during working hours. Employees must not intentionally create problems for other team members, managers, or others. Doing so may result in warnings and/or termination. Employees must not… . . . read more


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