Showing posts with label technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label technology. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Never say “nevermind” when child pornography is involved


You may not know who Spencer Elden is, but you almost certainly know what he looked like as a newborn. Spencer, in all of his glory, graces what is perhaps the most famous album cover of all time, or at least of the last 30 years — Nirvana's iconic grunge masterpiece, Nevermind.

Spencer Elden was also recently a plaintiff, as he sued Kurt Cobain's estate, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl for child sexual exploitation based on their use of naked baby image. (He lost, btw, not once, but twice.)

While the lawsuit and its 30-year-old claim certainly seem like a b.s. money grab, it did get me thinking, do you know what to do if you discover child pornography in your workplace, on your network, or on one of your devices?

Here are four thoughts.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

The wage and hour implications of employee electronic surveillance


Every now and again I come across a story that make me question how any in-house counsel blessed a workplace policy or practice.

The following story, taken from yesterday's episode of The Daily on the rise of workplace surveillance, is one of those stories.

Carol works as a Vice President for a bank. Like many white-collar employees these days, she's working remotely from her home. Pretty early on in her employment, she begins to notice that her paychecks are light. Then she figures out why.

Every 10 minutes at random points the company took a screenshot of her computer monitor and a photo of her face. The company was using that information to pay Carol (and every other worker) only for the minutes when they appeared be active according to the photos. If, for example, the photo happened to capture Carol during a moment of inactivity (for example, a 30-second interval when she went to get a cup of coffee), it would dock her for the entire 10-minute span. As you can imagine, the digital tracking actually missed a lot of Carol's work, including any work she did offline. She's working, but the company thinks she's not working, and it's going to dock for that any perceived increments of inactivity. 

There are two HUGE Fair Labor Standards Act red flags here.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

I hate “Tattleware”


I thought I had my next Worst Employer nominee. News broke yesterday of the mass exodus of employees from real estate company CoStar after allegations came to light of the company spying on work-from-home employees through the cameras on the company-issued laptops. I even had the post written. 

But in further researching the issue I came across this story that ran yesterday on the Today Show: 'Tattleware': How your boss might be tracking your remote activity

Its use skyrocketed as most companies switched to a work-from-home model during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

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


According to this article at Wirecutter.com, 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.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

“I’m here live. I am not a cat.”


If you were on the internet yesterday, you likely came across the story of the lawyer who accidentally presented as cat during a Zoom court hearing. The Texas lawyer had accidentally left on a cat filter during a video conference call and was unable to turn it off.

While this story provided everyone a much-needed laugh, it does offer two important points: one about a lawyer's ethical duty of technological competence, and another about the importance of a sense of humor and empathy.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

What “Sexy Vixen Vinyl” teaches us about porn at work


If you’re Fox News reporter Brit Hume, you have a lot of explaining to do. Yesterday, the venerable journalist carelessly tweeted out his internet exploration of “Sexy Vixen Vinyl.”


Monday, December 2, 2019

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 $9.4 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.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Must you tell employees when you are surveilling their devices?


It’s unusual these days for an employee not to have a device issued by their employer, or on which they can access their employer’s information — cell phones, tablets, laptops, and other computing devices.

Conventional wisdom (California notwithstanding), is that if the employer owns the device, the employee has zero privacy rights in that device, its use, or the information stored on it.

That conventional wisdom, however, might be changing.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Is blockchain technology the next frontier in combating sexual harassment?


According to Employee Benefit News, Vault Platform has developed an app that uses blockchain technology to allow employees to document and report workplace sexual harassment on their smartphones.

“Interesting,” you say,” but what’s blockchain technology?”

Monday, February 11, 2019

Emojis are starting to pop up in discrmination and harassment cases 🤔🤷‍♂️


Law.com recently pronounced, "The Emojis are Coming!" That article got me thinking, are they coming to workplace litigation, too? After all, emojis are a form of communication, and work is all about communication. Which would suggest that we would start seeing them in harassment and discrimination cases.

According to Bloomberg Law, mentions of emojis in federal discrimination lawsuits doubled from 2016 to 2017. Let's not get crazy. The doubling went from six cases to 12 cases. But, a trend is a trend.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

How to recover a stolen computer from an ex-employee in seven easy steps


As many as 60% of employees who are laid-off, fired, or quit admit to stealing company data. Sometimes, they download information on their way out the door. Sometimes they email information to a personal email account. And sometimes they simply fail to return a company laptop or other device that contains the data. In the latter case, it costs an average of $50,000 for an employer to replace a stolen computer, with 80% of that cost coming from the recovery of sensitive, confidential, and proprietary information.

When you put this data together, it becomes increasingly apparent that businesses must take proactive steps to protect their technology and data.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

What can you learn from the law firm partner suspended for watching porn at work?


According to The American Lawyer (sub. req.), Hogan Lovells has suspended one of its partners in its London office for watching porn at work. How did it catch the offense?

In IT employee read his internet logs? No.

He forgot to close his browser when he went to the loo and his assistant walked into his office? No.

He visited an unsafe site that spammed his entire office with malware? No.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Are "digital addiction" claims about to invade your workplace?


There is no doubt that addiction is a protected disability under the ADA (and Ohio's parallel law).

Typically, we think of addiction as relating to drugs or alcohol. But, there's a new wave of addictions on the horizon—digital addictions.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Can and should you ban employee phone use at work?


Last night, the fam packed up the Hyman-mobile and headed out to see Jack White. It was my 7th time seeing him in any of his incarnations (White Stripes - 4; Raconteurs - 1; Solo - 2, if you’re counting), and he never disappoints. This time, however, was different in one key aspect. Jack has banned all phones from his tour. That means no in-venue selfies, no grainy photos or crunchy videos, and no one staring down at a five-inch screen instead of watching the artist on stage. It was a different, and pleasant, way to experience a concert in 2018, an experience I had not had in what feels like a decade. Instead of at least partly focusing on my phone, I focused 100 percent on the artist and his performance.

Which begs the question: can and should you ban cell phones at work?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

What does it mean to have “work/life balance”?


What’s your definition of “work/life balance”?

To me, work/life balance means that I have the flexibility to tend to the needs of family when the need arises, and otherwise work when and where I am able.
  • No school bus this morning? I’ll get to the office at 9 am instead of 7:15.
  • Doctor’s appointment? No worries. I’ll leave the office at 3 and finish up what needs to be done tonight.
  • Bad weather? It’s not productive to waste two hours in traffic. I’ll work from home.
  • Early evening gig for the kids? I’ll pick them up from school.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

“Measure twice, cut once," and, for the love of God, don’t email porn to everyone on your company’s contact list


Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash
In what may be the greatest (or, depending on your perspective, worst) employee mistake of all time, the Utah State Bar emailed a photo of a topless woman to more than 11,000 of its members.

For its part, the Bar has apologized, and has said it is investigating how the incident occurred and will publicize its findings.

Speculation on the cause of the unfortunate email ranges from hackers to a disgruntled employee.

It’s neither.

Readers, let me break this case for you.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The legal implications of employee tracking devices


Photo by N. on Unsplash
I once knew of company (not a client) at which its CEO would sit in his office all day and watch a bank of monitors connected to cameras all over the workplace so that he could track the productivity of his employees. He even had one outside the bathrooms to record how frequently, and for how long, his employees were taking potty breaks. Needless to say, morale among his employees was not great.

Monitoring of employees has gone even more high tech. The Chicago Tribune reports that Amazon has developed wristbands to track worker hand movements as they fill and ship orders in its warehouses and distribution centers.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

When does telecommuting qualify as a reasonable accommodation?


I’m writing today’s post from the comfort of the kitchen island in my house. My son has the flu, and I’m working from home.

It’s been three years since the 6th Circuit decided EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., a groundbreaking decision in which the court issued its en banc decision declaring that telecommuting is not an appropriate reasonable accommodation, unless the employee can show that that regular attendance in the workplace, and face-to-face interaction with co-workers, are not essential elements of the employee’s job. 

Yesterday, the same court decided Mosby-Meachem v. Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division [pdf], which defined the parameters of when an employee’s job does qualify for remote work as a reasonable accommodation.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

No, you do not need a workplace emoji policy


I read a blog yesterday that asked the following question? “Do you need a workplace emoji policy?

They say yes, I say an unequivocal no.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How much wasted work-time is too much?


According to a recent survey conducted by OfficeTeam, on average, employees spend 8 hours per workweek on non-work activities.

What does this non-work time look like?