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SAFETY

Workplace active shooter: Run, hide, fight

By Lynne Curry It’s not your imagination. There are more incidents of violence across our country than ever before. It doesn’t matter where you live. Nor that you don’t believe it could happen in your town, your workplace or at your kids’ school. You’ve seen the news reports. The violence in workplaces including offices, schools, restaurants, train stations, malls, and churches. Innocence can’t save you. It might get you killed. Would you know what to do if  someone started shooting? Knowing what to do could keep you alive. Suppose you hear something odd. At first, you think it’s a car backfiring. Then you hear the same sound again and again. Gunshots, repeated in rapid succession. Fear grips you. You hear others screaming. You struggle to catch a breath. You haven’t seen a… . . . read more

ADVICE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE

Is your law office vulnerable to Russian cyberattacks?

The White House is urging businesses to review and improve cybersecurity because of a heightened risk of cyber attacks from Russia. A statement from the Biden-Harris Administration advises businesses to take the following steps: Mandate the use of multi-factor authentication on your systems to make it harder for attackers to get onto your system; Deploy modern security tools on your computers and devices to continuously look for and mitigate threats; Check with your cybersecurity professionals to make sure that your systems are patched and protected against all known vulnerabilities, and change passwords across your networks so that previously stolen credentials are useless to malicious actors; Back up your data and ensure you have offline backups beyond the reach of malicious actors; Run exercises and drill your emergency plans so that… . . . read more

OBSCENE & UNWELCOME

Watch for harassment by emoji in your office

By Lynne Curry “How much trouble are we in?” the office administrator asked. I looked at the sheaf of text and Slack messages, loaded with emojis, and stopped on one sent in early March that asked, “Good to know you’re almost done with the project and headed for the weekend. Do you garden?” flanked by an eggplant emoji. Other texts included peaches, dump trucks, sweat droplets, and smiley faces with tongues sticking out. “How did you get these?” I asked. “An employee resigned, refused to come in for an exit interview, and sent these in the mail.” “Did you notice the recipient of the gardening question responded, ‘stop, just stop!” “No, these were just informal texts going back and forth between coworkers and employees and their supervisor. I don’t use… . . . read more

DRUGS & ALCOHOL

High at work: Anyone else smell that?

By Paul Edwards More often than you would think, we get calls from managers wondering what they can do about someone whom they think is impaired at work. When that happens, we immediately go into crisis control mode because, well, impairment at work is never acceptable. In this article, we are going to discuss impairment and odors from the perspective of marijuana legalization. From job candidates showing up to interviews smelling like a skunk to employees showing up to their shift distracted with bloodshot eyes, knowing how to handle an employee’s potential marijuana use has only gotten more complicated. Currently, marijuana legalization is in limbo between state versus federal government. While many states have moved to legalize or decriminalize its use, marijuana is still an illegal Schedule I drug under… . . . read more

INFORMATION SECURITY

Protect your data as Russia-Ukraine war increases cybersecurity risk

By Ron Slyker As part of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, Russian cyberattacks have primarily targeted Ukrainian government and bank systems, but the attacks may spread to countries outside of Ukraine soon. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) and the FBI have warned organizations to increase protection as a precaution in case these attacks begin to affect the United States. Experts have reported known Russian cyber groups gathering information on U.S. infrastructure like electric and gas sites. While the FBI and CISA have received no warnings of direct threats to any Western countries, it is best to act now to protect your information. What can you do to protect your business from global conflict? Take action. Experts believe that any Russian cyberattacks would be disruptive, rather than intended to steal data, but… . . . read more

WORKPLACE SAFETY

4 ways to prioritize staff mental health

Mental distress has long been a hidden issue in the workplace. Employees are often unaware of the resources—if any—available to help them, while employers may be unaware of the effects mental distress has on safety and their bottom lines. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has brought this issue to the forefront for many employers. Over 40% of Americans report experiencing increases in mental distress due to the pandemic, and over 85% say that work impacts their mental health. Employers are now recognizing the effects of employee mental distress, including increased absenteeism, negative impacts on productivity and profits, and an increase in healthcare costs. Encouragingly, organizations see a return of $4 for every dollar invested in mental health treatment in improved health and productivity. Supporting treatment alone, however, is not enough. Employers… . . . read more

RISK MANAGEMENT

Your keycard could be your office’s top security threat

By Todd Burner The days of tumbler locks and keys are fading, especially in high-traffic areas. Proximity cards—those credit-card-sized, contactless devices that grant users access to a variety of areas—have largely taken their place. But for too many facilities that card represents one of its biggest security gaps. Proximity cards (also known as keycards) are incredibly convenient—and certainly have some security and financial benefits. With personnel changes, there’s no need to physically rekey the office or change the locks. That can all be handled electronically without replacing the hardware. The problem is: Security protocols in many of those cards are nowhere near as secure as many security and property managers believe them to be. Instructional videos on how to clone the technology are easily found online—and the equipment to do… . . . read more

MANAGING STAFF

A manager tries to hold it all together during Omnicron surge

By Lynne Curry “I’m overwhelmed,” the manager said when he called. “Senior management pressures us to maintain high levels of productivity, but nearly a fourth of our employees call in sick every morning. On our last all-manager Zoom call, our CEO said our productivity is down and made it clear we’re expected to handle our employees’ anxiety and get them refocused on their work.” “What about my stress? Every time an employee pokes his head in my door, I know I’ll hear a complaint or get handed a resignation. Omicron sent us all into a tailspin. I supervise employees who fear they risk infection every day they come to work. And I’m supposed to convince them to work harder? Do you have a magic bullet?” Supervisors in the vise You’re… . . . read more

Cybersecurity

Tips to keep your law office data in the cloud secure

By Ron Slyker As manager of a law office, the security of data in the cloud is one of your many responsibilities. The trick to avoiding a cloud data security breach is to pay close attention to your cloud applications and user behavior. While analyzing the software and looking at user behaviors takes time, the benefits of reducing cloud and data security breaches make it worthwhile. Consider these tips and pass them on to your IT team. Examine user activities It is vital to know not only which apps you use, but also how they use your data. Determine which apps the employees use to share content and whether they have a sharing feature. Knowing who is sharing what and with whom will assist you in deciding the right policies… . . . read more

Risk Management

Don’t write a positive reference for a problem employee; instead do this

By Lynne Curry Question: After an investigation, we fired one of our employees for threatening and stalking two co-workers. He now demands a positive letter of reference, which I’m writing. I tried to appease him with an innocuous letter that gave the dates on which he’d worked here along with what his job duties were.  He refused to accept this, and frankly he scares me. Can you give me any pointers for writing a reference letter that sounds positive but not too positive? Answer: Don’t. If you write a falsely positive or even neutral reference, you can be sued for “negligent referral,” defined as “the failure of an employer to disclose complete and factual information about a former or current employee to another employer.” True story When Allstate Insurance Co…. . . . read more


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