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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

COMPLIANCE

What, if anything, does OSHA require you to do to protect telecommuters?

While telecommuting is nothing new, the imperative for using it has never been greater. In addition to all the cost-saving, work-life balance, recruiting and hiring advantages, letting employees work from home during a pandemic has become a vital infection control measure. But it also poses significant compliance challenges, particularly in the realm of OSHA. After all, how are you supposed to meet your duty to protect the health and safety of office employees if they work from home at a location beyond your physical control? This article will provide the answer. Spoiler alert: OSHA requirements don’t generally extend to employees working from home; but you still can and should take some basic steps to ensure their health and safety. OSHA & telecommuters The Occupational Safety and Health Act (Section 4(a))… . . . read more

TOOL

Telecommuter home office hazard assessment & inspection checklist

While not an OSHA obligation, it’s highly advisable to take measures to protect the health and safety of telecommuting office employees who work from home. How? By having employees seeking approval to telecommute designate a room or area as their home workspace and arranging for somebody to perform a hazard assessment inspection to verify that the workspace is safe, healthy and appropriate for the proposed use. Option 1: Have an office supervisor or manager visit the site and do a physical walk-through inspection; Option 2: Have the employee videotape the space and/or submit detailed photos and a floor plan and do the inspection virtually; Option 3: Have the employee inspect the space himself/herself. Whoever does the assessment should use the Checklist below.

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

JOB PLACEMENT REPORT

Class of 2019 is the most employed since the Great Recession

The Class of 2019 experienced the highest employment rate in the dozen years since the start of the Great Recession, according to the National Association for Law Placement, Inc. NALP has released its Employment for the Class of 2019 — Selected Findings, a synopsis of key findings from the upcoming annual Jobs & JDs: Employment and Salaries of New Law School Graduates. The release of the full Jobs & JDs report is anticipated in October 2020. This year’s Selected Findings show that the Class of 2019 experienced the highest employment rate in 12 years. The overall employment rate for the Class of 2019 was up 0.9 percentage points to 90.3% of graduates for whom employment status was known, compared to 89.4% for the Class of 2018. This marks the highest… . . . read more

COVID & Telework

Are employers responsible/liable for an employee’s home ergonomics, safety and expenses?

By Lynne Curry bio Question: COVID-19 has caused employers large and small to require the employers work from home rather than their employer’s worksites. Word has it that this may continue beyond weeks and months and become the new normal. What is my employer’s responsibility/liability for workplace ergonomics and safety when my home becomes my workplace? Do they need to compensate me for my expenses in upgrading my WIFI and getting a new office chair? Answer: “That depends,” says FisherBroyles management-side employment attorney Eric Meyer. According to Meyer, because the “Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) ensures safe and healthful working conditions–even outside of the normal workplace, employers technically have a duty to protect remote workers at home.” “But in reality,” notes Meyer, OSHA won’t inspect employees’ home offices. Additionally,… . . . read more

TOOL

Model mandatory face mask policy

More than 20 states have enacted laws requiring the use of face masks or coverings in indoor public places. Here’s a Model Policy incorporating current legal requirements and public health guidance that you can adapt for your own lab.

YOUR CAREER

Make the most of your time during coronavirus

By Elizabeth Miller bio I know this is not only a time of uncertainty but also fear as we try to make sense of this situation.  It’s difficult to know what to do and what not to do.  Conflicting stories and information seem overwhelming.  And then there is your law practice to worry about. When all is said and done, your law practice needs to survive. Fortunately working remotely is now an option for so many firms. In fact, the firms that are doing it are actually thriving because everyone is on board with working remote and using technology. Years ago, it would have been stop work or risk going into the office. There are some things that you can do to make good use of your time: Work on… . . . read more

COVID-19

Can my employer fire me for going to a bar or do I have any freedom? Left?

Question: My employer sent a two-part email to every employee last week. “As you know we’ve had a local spike in COVID-19 infections. The health department has provided a list of the establishments, primarily bars, where COVID-19 individuals spent extended time. The health department asks that anyone who was in these businesses during these times monitor themselves for symptoms, check their temperatures twice daily for fourteen days and avoid potentially exposing others who fall into high-risk categories for COVID-19 vulnerability. Please comply with this guidance.” That was okay, but then the email obligated me as an employee to offer up personal information. “We have learned that a bartender at (named) bar has tested positive and was serving customers on ____ date and between ____ p.m. and ____ p.m.  during these… . . . read more

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Coworker exposed all of us to COVID-19

By Lynne Curry bio Question For weeks, “Carolyn” told the five of us in our department that she had allergies whenever any of us asked her about her sneezing. She worked with us in the same building, used the same copier, restroom and office fridge and handled the same coffeepot. I tried to avoid her because she kept forgetting her mask and didn’t seem to understand what six feet of separation meant. I saw that she didn’t use sanitizing wipes after she used the copier or coffeepot, so I wiped the copier before I used it and started bringing my own coffee from home. I didn’t talk with the others about this because I’m not a gossip. I regret that now. Because Carolyn’s and my job overlapped and I have… . . . read more


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