Thursday, February 25, 2021

The 4th nominee for the “Worst Employer of 2021” is … the socially distant mass discharger

Repeat after me. Thou shalt only fire people in person, and never by phone call, email, or text message. If, because of COVID-19, you absolutely must fire someone by Zoom, at least have the decency to turn on your camera and mic.

Apparently, the Washington Football Team did not receive this memo. It just mass fired its entire staff of cheerleaders via Zoom, with the camera and mic turned off.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Coronavirus Update 2-24-2021: How much does it cost an employer for not following COVID-19 safety rules?

OSHA has cited a Missouri auto parts manufacturer for failing to implement and enforce coronavirus protections, which ultimately lead to an employee's death. The details, from OSHA's news release.
Two machine operators … who jointly operated a press tested positive for the coronavirus just two days apart, in late August 2020. The two workers typically labored for hours at a time less than two feet apart; neither wore a protective facial mask consistently. Ten days later, two more workers operating similar presses together tested positive. On Sept. 19, 2020, one of the press operators fell victim to the virus and died.
The total penalty? $15,604. For someone who died during a global pandemic because of his employer's irresponsibility

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Coronavirus Update 2-23-2021: John Oliver tackles Covid and other safety issues in the meat packing industry

Last year I nominated Tyson Foods for 2020's Worst Employer because some of its managers started a cash buy-in betting pool on which of its employees would fall ill with COVID-19.

This past weekend, John Oliver did a scathing indictment of Tyson Foods and others for their health and safety record during the pandemic and otherwise.

If doing the right thing by your employees isn't enough for you to take health and safety seriously during the ongoing pandemic and beyond, and if staying off my Worst Employer list also isn't enough, then maybe staying off of John Oliver's show will push you in that direction.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Coronavirus Update 2-22-2021: Get ready for the glut of Covid whistleblower tag-along claims

The headline reads, "Ex-Manager Sues Ample Hills in Lawsuit Alleging Harassment and Unsafe COVID-19 Protocols" (emphasis mine).

Here's the lede:

Bryce Mottram, a former general manager at one of quirky ice cream purveyor Ample Hills' scoop shops, has filed a lawsuit in New York Eastern District Court alleging that he was fired from the company in retaliation for speaking up about instances of sexual harassment and unsafe COVID-19 workplace protocols at the company.

I firmly believe that for the next year-plus, just about every employment-related lawsuit will contain a COVID-19 whistleblower tag-along claim. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

The number one reason not to have a labor union

You would think that an employee who purposely defecates on the workplace floor in an act of revenge against his boss and then brags about it is worthy of termination. And you'd be correct 100 percent of the time … unless that employee is a member of a labor union. An arbitration board cited the employee's lengthy, faithful service record to the company and other mitigating circumstances in reinstating him. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

How do you define success?

This week I had the pleasure of guesting on Pat Perry's Success Wave podcast. During our half-hour-plus conversation, Pat and I discussed a variety of topics, including lawyering in the time of COVID-19 and the key issues I see employers facing in 2021. We also talked about some general business questions, such as this one: How do I define "success." Here's my answer.

You can listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Pop culture as a means to break down inherent biases and prejudiced divides

Think about it. If you want to know where the American public is, look at the money being spent on advertising. Did you ever five years ago think every second or third ad out of five or six you turn on would be biracial couples. [Applause] No, I'm not being facetious. The reason I'm so hopeful is this new generation. They're not like us. They're thinking differently. They're more open. And we have to take advantage of it.

Those were the words of President Biden last night, speaking about race relations during his CNN Town Hall

He's 100 percent correct. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Coronavirus Update 2-16-2021: Are you monitoring your remote employees?

According to this article at, employers are using the COVID-19 pandemic as a justification to enhance their monitoring of employees' activities, specifically remote employees.
As COVID-19's spread has prompted an expansion of work-from-home policies across various industries, the use of more-pervasive monitoring software, also known as "tattleware" or "bossware," has increased. The New York Times demonstrated how this software works, but the idea is simple: Once the software is installed, an employer has deeper access and even live monitoring tools for everything you do on your computer, including which applications you open, what websites you visit, and how much time you spend doing different activities. Employers can use this data to track your attendance or periodically snap screenshots of your screen. Some software can even monitor the music you listen to, your facial expressions, your tone of voice, or your writing tone throughout the day. To what purpose depends on the type of work you do—and whom you do it for.

According to Brian Kropp, VP of Research for Gartner, the number of companies that use this "tattleware" has increased from 10 percent pre-COVID to 30 percent currently. It's an epidemic all on its own.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Coronavirus Update 2-15-2021: CDC updates quarantine guidelines for vaccinated individuals

Must individuals who are fully vaccinated (i.e., have received both vaccine doses) against COVID-19 quarantine if they have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of the virus?

According to guidance recently updated by the CDC, the answer is no (assuming certain criteria are met).

Friday, February 12, 2021

Coronavirus Update 2-12-2021: Doctor wrongly fired for doing the right thing with expiring COVID vaccine dose

"Ten doses of the Covid-19 vaccine would expire within hours, so a Houston doctor gave it to people with medical conditions, including his wife." So reads the lede in this New York Times story

What happened next? He was fired.