Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Does it matter where you place an employee’s lactation space? (tl;dr: yes.)

An employee works as a speech-language pathologist in a large, metropolitan school district, traveling between two elementary schools and a high school. After giving birth, she requests a private space for lactation within each assigned school. The school district agrees, but the private space it provides to her in the high school was on a different floor than her work area.

Is this legal? Did this employer meet is legal obligations regarding the provision of a "private lactation space?"

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

This case perfectly illustrates religious accommodations post-Groff

Elimelech Shmi Hebrew is a devout follower of the Hebrew Nation, a religion that requires its followers to keep their hair and beard long — a vow he has kept for over two decades.

The Department of Criminal Justice has a grooming policy that prohibits male officers without medical skin conditions from having beards and in any case from having long hair.

Hebrew applies for a job as a corrections officer with DCJ. What wins out — Hebrew's religion or DCJ's grooming policy?

Monday, November 20, 2023

Craft beer isn’t facing an apocalypse … but the industry is changing

In addition to running the employment & labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza, I also run our burgeoning craft beer practice. Which is why a recent article in Paste Magazine — "For Many Craft Breweries, the Apocalypse is Now" — caught my attention.

Here's the author's thesis:

The tragic breaking point for major brewery closures is no longer "coming soon." It's a macabre event that has been framed as something perpetually on the horizon for years, but there's no use in denying it anymore–the great die-off is here. It's now. The culling of the herd is underway in 2023, and simply making great beer is no guarantee of survival.

I wholeheartedly disagree. I do not believe that craft beer is facing an "apocalypse." 

I do believe, however, that a combination of the lingering impact of Covid (staffing shortages, rising inflation, and higher interest rates) plus changing consumer tastes means that craft beer's salad days are over.

So, what does this mean for our industry?

Friday, November 17, 2023

WIRTW #696: the “thankful” edition

Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year. There will be turkey, stuffing, wine, and as many pies as there will be people at our feast (which, for the record, is 32 at last count).

None of that, however, tells the story of why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. That reason is family. It's the one time of the year when my entire Ohio family is guaranteed to be together in one place at one time. Laughs and good times are guaranteed.

Some years are more challenging than others. This year brought us struggles, loss, and a house flood. It’s important that Thanksgiving comes when it does — close to year’s end, but before we get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. It’s a day to pause and reflect upon all for which we are thankful.

And I’m thankful for a lot, which starts and ends with my family (2-legged and 4-legged). At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

Everyone have wonderful Thanksgiving.

Here's what I read this week that you should read, too.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Do you understand the rules for paying employees for commuting time?

A technician claims her employer owes her pay for time spent traveling to the office to pick up materials on the way to the airport for a flight to visit a customer. According to the employee, the employer only begins paying at the departure time of the scheduled flight.

Is this employee correct? Must an employer pay for that travel time? Is she owed wages for time spent commuting to the airport (including the time spent traveling to the office to pick up the samples)? Or does the law permit the employer to start the pay clock when she boards the flight?

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The most metal employment law update ever!

Two of the most famous bands in the history of heavy metal are each facing lawsuits from former tour workers.

The family of a Kiss guitar tech, who died while quarantining in 2021 after contracting Covid while on tour with the band, is suing the band for wrongful death. According to a prior investigation by Rolling Stone, Kiss allegedly maintained lax Covid protocols on the tour in question — including a lack of testing and lots of crew members falling ill — that contributed to the roadie's death.

Meanwhile, an ex-tour photographer is suing Guns N' Roses for copyright infringement and sexual harassment. She claims that the band claimed ownership over numerous of her photos and used them in print and digital media, ad campaigns, and other outlets. She also alleges that the band's manager made "numerous unwelcome sexual advances" toward her and "committed consistent pervasive sexual harassment" in a "workplace environment that was completely devoid of any sexual harassment policy, sexual harassment handbook, sexual harassment training, and human resource department."

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

If you’re going to change an employee’s time sheet, make sure it’s an accurate change

🟩 LEGAL: Disciplining or firing a non-exempt employee who works unauthorized overtime.

🟥 ILLEGAL: Failing to pay a non-exempt employee for all hours worked, whether authorized or unauthorized.

🟩 LEGAL: Altering a non-exempt employee's time sheet so that it accurately reflects the actual number of hours worked.

🟥 ILLEGAL: Altering a non-exempt employee's time sheet to reflect a flat 40 hours per work week, no matter how many hours the employee actually worked.

A lawsuit recently filed against Liberty University will test each of these legal principles.