Wednesday, December 7, 2016

7 tips to avoid the holiday party nightmare

’Tis the season for workplace holiday parties. It a time to reflect on the past year and celebrate all your organization has accomplished. It is also a time to avoid liability, hopefully. A lot can go wrong at a holiday party.

For example, consider Shiner v. State Univ. of N.Y. (W.D.N.Y. 11/2/12).

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

“Who needs the NLRB?”

Bloomberg BNA reporters Chris Opfer and Ben Penn asked this question in their weekly column of workplace musings: “Who needs the NLRB?” (a question I’ve asked myself more than once over the past eight years.)

Said Chris Opfer:

Monday, December 5, 2016

A $15 minimum wage is not without consequences #fightfor15

Donald Trump’s presidency sparks an interesting dichotomy—a Republican that rode into office on a wave of populism, including fiscal populism. Officially, the President-elect favors a higher minimum wage: “On the minimum wage, Mr. Trump has voiced support for raising it to $10 at the federal level, but believes states should set the minimum wage as appropriate for their state.” 

The “Fight for 15” movement is taking notice:

Friday, December 2, 2016

WIRTW #440 (the “muzak” edition)

Earlier this week I had a conference call with a client, an event which I repeat dozens of times per week. This particular client uses UberConnect as its conference call provider. I’ve never used UberConnect before, I know nothing about it, and I am certainly am not endorsing it. I am, however, endorsing its hold music. I was the first participant to dial in, and was prepared for a few moments of smooth jazz for my listening non-pleasure. Instead, I got this song, “I’m on Hold,” by Alex Cornell, one of the company’s founders, who wrote the song specifically for this purpose.

Kudos to any company that thinks outside the box and tries something different to make the mundane a little less so.

Here’s what I read the past two weeks:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Will the 7th Circuit ban LGBT employment discrimination?

Those of you who have been reading this blog for any length of time should know that I strongly believe that it is a national embarrassment that LGBT employment discrimination remains legal. Sure, the EEOC believes that Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination covers LGBT discrimination. But, despite what it may think, the EEOC does not make law, it merely enforces laws made by others. And, yes, some federal courts are starting to come around to believing that Title VII covers LGBT discrimination. Yet, until either Congress amends Title VII to expressly cover LGBT discrimination, or all federal courts conclude that Title VII already covers it, employers are compliance limbo.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Federal court denies injunction against new OSHA retaliation rules

Stan Musial, Wade Boggs, Rod Carew, Honus Wagner, Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio. Six of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball. And all ended the careers with batting averages under .333. If you’re a baseball player, one out of three places you among the all-time greats. If you’re the Department of Labor, however, it’s not so good.

The DOL has already taken two big losses this month (first its Persuader Rule, and then its Overtime Rule), so you’ll forgive it if it’s not overly jubilant about closing November with a much needed win. Yet, a win is a win, and at this point the DOL will take what it can get from federal judges in Texas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

“Perceived” national origin discrimination may not be illegal, but…

Lost in the maelstrom of the last week’s FLSA overtime rule injunction was the news that the EEOC issued updated enforcement guidance on national origin discrimination.

The guidance, which replaces the EEOC’s older 2002 guidance and covers topic such as citizenship, language issues and English-only policies, and harassment, is recommended reading for all employers, as are the EEOC’s companion Q&A and small business fact sheet.

Let me point out, however, one area of contention—the issue of “perceived” national origin discrimination.

Monday, November 28, 2016

As sure as today is Cyber Monday, your employees are shopping from work

Today is Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the holiday season. In fact, it is estimated that today will be the biggest online shopping day ever, with over $3.36 billion in sales.

And, guess what? Given that most of those doing the shopping will be spending the majority of their prime shopping hours at work, from where do you think they will be making most of their Cyber Monday purchases.

Consider these statistics, pulled from CareerBuilder’s 2016 Cyber Monday Survey:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

With the new overtime rules DOA, what now for employers?

Yesterday I promised myself a blogging vacation until after the Thanksgiving holiday. And then Judge Amos L. Mazzant III dropped the biggest employment law story of the year by enjoining the DOL’s new overtime rules.

My 5th grade daughter just completed two long-term school projects—a comprehensive book report celebrating a Newbery Medal winner (she chose Shiloh), and a scientific study of a native Ohio bird (she chose the wild turkey). They were due within two days of each other, and she had several weeks to complete each. We sat down with her school planner and mapped out reasonable due dates for each piece of each project, so that she would not get slammed at the end. With her busy music schedule, this lesson in non-procrastination was vital to her completing the projects on time (which she did).

I hope she doesn’t read this post, because I don't want her ever to think procrastinators win. Nevertheless, employers who procrastinated in preparing for the new overtime rules are feeling pretty good right about now.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

BREAKING: Federal judge grants nationwide preliminary injunction against FLSA overtime rule

Consider this the judicial equivalent of a Hail Mary, or full-court buzzer beater, or a bottom-of-the-9th, 2-out grand slam.

Judge Amos L. Mazzant III of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has just issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the DOL’s impending December 1 change to the FLSA’s white-collar salary test.

Dropping some wage and hour wisdom on turkey giveaways

One law firm for which I used to work provided each staff member an annual Thanksgiving turkey as a holiday thank you to its employees. With the hindsight of two decades of employment-law experience, here’s my question—should the fair market value of that turkey been included in the employees’ regular rate of pay? Because if it was, the company would have to include its value in the calculation of employees’ overtime rates.

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