Monday, October 4, 2021

Whistleblowing and self-help discovery: lessons from Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower

"Can she do that?" That was the question my wife asked me as we watched last night's interview of Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, on 60 Minutes.

The "that" was the revelation that Haugen stole a trove of confidential documents just prior to quitting her job to support her allegations against her employer.

"It depends," I told my wife, offering the stock lawyer answer to most questions.

Friday, October 1, 2021

WIRTW #598: the “Would you rather?” edition

As workplace vaccine mandates continue to dominate the headlines, employees continue to threaten to quit their jobs if forced to get jabbed as a condition of their employment.

Whether that threat is sincere or idle makes a huge difference to employers in the most difficult hiring and labor market of our lifetimes. If employees will really quit when faced with a vaccine mandate by their employers, then those employers need to think long and hard over whether to implement the mandate and risk creating job vacancies that they cannot fill.

Thus, over on my LinkedIn page, I've been running a short, one-question survey to determine employees' attitudes about vaccine mandates.

If your employer is mandating the Covid vaccine, would you rather get fired or get the shot?

Please click here to go to the survey and offer your opinion on this single, multiple-choice question. I'll share the results early next week.

Here are the best things I read online this past week that I think you should be reading, too.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Coronavirus Update 9-29-21: We need to talk about the rise in anti-Semitism and Nazi symbolism

"You're being a Nazi by mandating masks and vaccines."

"'Papers, please.' I refuse as a condition of entering a store or attending a concert."

"What's next, quarantining the unvaccinated into camps?"

"Vaccine mandates violate the Nuremberg Code." 

"Do I need to remind you of the late 1930s and into the '40s in Germany and the experiments with Josef Mengele? What was it? A shot? These were crimes against humanity."

And on, and on, and on. I've had enough.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Coronavirus Update 9-28-21: White House issues Covid vaccine mandate guidance for federal contractors and subcontractors

If your business is a federal contractor or subcontractor, you have until December 8 to ensure that your employees are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to guidance published late Friday by the White House's Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. There is no testing-in-lieu option available for these employees.

What exactly does this guidance mandate?

Monday, September 27, 2021

Coronavirus Update 9-27-21: Repeat after me. “A vaccine mandate is not coercive.”

Today's post is for anyone who believes that a workplace vaccine mandate is coercive or deprives employees of their free choice not to get vaccinated.

A federal court recently upheld an employer's vaccine mandate for its employees. In and of itself that holding is not earth shattering or even particularly newsworthy. In fact, it's consistent with virtually every other case in history to rule on a vaccine mandate at work.

This case stands out to me not because of what it held, but because of what the judge said about the free choice employees still maintain on whether or not to get the Covid vaccine, despite their employer's mandate:

Friday, September 24, 2021

WIRTW #597: the “Sorry Antivaxxer” edition

If you've visited me on LinkedIn or Twitter (and if we're not connected on both, please fix that immediately), you may have noticed I describe myself in my bios as the "Master of Workplace Schadenfreude." What is Schadenfreude? It's a German word that is most commonly translated as "enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others." My research, however, reveals that it has as many as four different potential philosophical underpinnings, which I've synthesized as the following: Taking joy in someone else getting what they deserve because of who they are or what they've done, and celebrating that you're not in their shoes.

No matter how you define it, today's share is dripping with Schadenfreude.

Meet, a repository of stories of anti-vaxxers who, because of their own un-sound and stubborn beliefs, needlessly died or came close to dying from Covid. It's a who's who of right-wing pundits, QAnon cultists and other fanatics, religious leaders and zealots, and even health care providers, all of whom opposed, shunned, or spoke out against the Covid vaccine and paid the ultimate price as a result.

Any death is sad, but what's especially sad about these is that each was almost 100 percent preventable if they had just done the one thing that could have prevented them from dying from Covid—taking the damn shot.

Please don't end up on If you're not yet vaccinated, do as soon as possible. Serious illness and death is almost entirely preventable. But you do need to join the 182 million of us who are fully vaccinated.

Here are the best things I read online this past week that I think you should be reading, too.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Coronavirus Update 9-23-21: If you’re tired of reading what I have to say about workplace vaccine mandates, now you can listen to what I have to say

A huge thank you to the producing team at WCPN's The Sound of Ideas and host Rick Jackson for inviting me on to yesterday's program to discuss President Biden's workplace vaccine mandate. It was a fun and engaging 17 minutes of conversation, and I always enjoy doing live radio. (Also, thanks, Rick, for plugging the blog.)

If you missed it live, The Sound of Ideas archives all of its shows on its website, and you can (re)listen to yesterday's here.

Here's a quick preview, a clip of me laying out the pros and cons of the vaccine mandate from an employer's perspective.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Coronavirus Update 9-21-21: Covid-19 has now killed as many Americans as the Spanish flu

Covid-19 just passed a grim, sad, and preventable milestone. It has killed as many Americans, 675,000, as the last pandemic we suffered, the 1917 Spanish flu. That's more than 226 9/11s.

What makes Covid-19 so much worse than the 1917 pandemic is that we know so much more and we should have been able to end this long before reaching this point.

More than anything else, we have a virus-slowing, life-saving vaccine that 45 percent of the country has failed to fully take. Before the vaccine, we had face masks that a similar percentage of our country railed and rallied against. 

As a nation, many too many of us have chosen politics over science, and fiction over reality. As a result, too many have died, and more have fallen ill and suffered.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Coronavirus Update 9-20-21: Fetal stem cells and vaccine-mandate religious exemptions

As the debate over religious exemptions to workplace Covid vaccine mandates, one hospital has taken a unique approach to verify the sincerity of its employees' anti-vax religious beliefs.

The issue stems from the misconception that Pfizer-BioNTech's and Moderna's mRNA vaccines contain aborted fetal cells, and certain people's religious objections to abortion.

In reality, the vaccines do not contain aborted fetal cells, although Pfizer and Moderna did use fetal cell lines — cells grown in a laboratory that are based on aborted fetal cells collected generations ago — in testing during research and development of the mRNA vaccines.

Friday, September 17, 2021

WIRTW #596: the “Waterloo" edition

It was a busy week in the Hyman house last week, with middle school soccer games and rock 'n' roll gigs all over town for my kids. I'm happy to report that Donovan led his team to a hard-fought 3-3 tie in his first-ever sports event of any kind (which he followed up with a 13-0 romp). Okay, led might be a tad strong. He played, and that’s all that matters. 

As for Norah, she played not one, not two, not three, but four gigs in six days, with the first three all happening within 24 hours of each other. I love watching Norah perform any time she's on stage, but her set at the Waterloo Arts Fest might be my favorite that she's ever played because it was 40 minutes of all original songs. To do that at 15 years old is pretty impressive, at least in this proud dad's opinion. Here's the best nine minutes from her set (the best because I actually think they are her three strongest songs), captured and posted by someone who wandered through.

Here are the best things I read online this past week that I think you should be reading, too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Coronavirus Update 9-15-21: Do mandatory vaccination policies have an adverse impact on minority employees?

With President Biden's announcement of his plan to vaccinate all employees of employers with 100 or more employees, the nation is keenly focused on workplace mandatory vaccination policies. This has led some to question whether the President's plan unlawfully discriminates against minority employees.

There is little doubt that vaccination rates among Blacks and Hispanics lags behind that of Whites (which isn't that great to begin with). At the latest count, only 43% of Black Americans and 48% of Hispanic Americans are vaccinated, compared with 52% of White Americans. The reason for this greater vaccine hesitancy within minority communities is understandable and well documented, particularly when the government is promoting or flat-out requiring the vaccine. See the Tuskegee Experiment (one of our nation's greatest embarrassments … and that's saying a lot).

All of this begs the question — is a mandatory vaccination policy discriminatory against Blacks and Hispanics. Or, more technically speaking, does such a policy adversely impact them?

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Employment law lessons from “Ted Lasso” – dating the boss

If you've not yet watched episode 8 (Man City) of the current second season of Apple TV+'s Ted Lasso and you don't want to be spoiled, now would be a good time to click the back button on your browser or close your email. Good? Okay. No grumbling; you've been warned.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Coronavirus Update 9-11-21: Here is why the vaccination ETS that Biden has directed OSHA to issue is likely illegal

President Biden has directed OSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) mandating that all employers with 100 or more employees mandate the Covid vaccine for its employees or mandate weekly Covid testing.

Will this ETS pass the certain judicial challenges it will quickly face?

TL;DR: (As much as it pains me to have to write this) OSHA’s Covid vaccine mandate ETS is almost certainly illegal. Here’s why.

Friday, September 10, 2021

WIRTW #595: The “future of paid leave" edition

For all the negative effects that the Covid-19 pandemic has wrought, it has imparted some very positive changes to the American workplace. For example, remote work, long looked down upon by employers, is now the norm in many workplaces. Another area of constructive change surrounds the issue of paid leave for employees. 

Has Covid-19 altered our national attitude for paid sick and family leave? I believe that it has. The time has long since passed for America to embrace and adopt paid FMLA.

Presagia, the provider of cloud-based absence management solutions that enable organizations to strengthen compliance and the developer of Leave Genius Pro, recently asked me for my perspective on Covid-19 leave laws and their permanency. At their site, I share my full thoughts, including what my paid FML program would look like if Congress gave me carte blanche to design the law.

Here are 10 other things I read this week that I think you should read, too:

Thursday, September 9, 2021

BREAKING NEWS: Biden to announce vaccine mandate for all employers with 100 or more employees

CNN is reporting that President Biden will announce an executive order directing the Department of Labor to draft an emergency rule requiring that all businesses with 100 or more employees ensure all of their workers are either Covid vaccinated, or Covid tested once a week. This goes along with another expected executive order requiring all government employees and employees of government contractors to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with no option of opting out through regular testing.

The legality of the last two (federal employees and federal contractor employees) is not in question. President Biden is absolutely within his authority to mandate as to both.

But as to other employers? If someone wants to explain to me how the Department of Labor can mandate Covid vaccinations or testing for employers, I'm all ears. Because unless I totally misunderstand administrative law (and I don't think I do), that type of measure needs to be enacted via a law passed by Congress and signed by the President, and not by executive order.

This is a developing story, which I will update as necessary. Stay tuned.

Coronavirus Update 9-9-21: Don’t forget about overtime laws when paying employees pandemic-related bonuses

If you pass any restaurant these days you'll almost certainly see a sign like this one: 

"Now hiring: $________ sign-on bonus."

I've seen that blank filled in with numbers as high a $1,000 to work at a fast-food restaurant.

Employers are paying these bonuses because they continue to struggle to fill job vacancies in the tightest and toughest labor market I've ever witnessed.

If you find yourself in this position, do not forget about the wage and hour implications of these bonus payments, specifically their inclusion in the "regular rate" for purposes of calculating an employee's overtime premium.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Coronavirus Update 9-8-21: Ohio court reverses itself, orders that hospital does not have to administer ivermectin to its Covid patient

Last week I reported on a trial court case out of Butler County, Ohio, in which a common pleas judge granted the wife of a hospitalized Covid patient an order requiring the hospital to administer ivermectin (a livestock de-wormer approved for human use in small doses for the very limited purpose to treat certain parasites and skin conditions) to her husband at her (and her doctor's) request.

On Labor Day, a different judge of that same court reversed the prior ruling and denied a preliminary injunction to the wife. You can read Judge Oster's full order here.

The (loaded) question the court faced was as follows:

Should an injunction be granted to force a hospital to honor the prescription of a doctor that has not seen a patient and has no privileges at said hospital thus forcing the hospital to give ivermectin to a patient when the hospital's doctors, the FDA, CDC, and the AMA do not believe ivermectin should be a recommended way to treat COVID-19?

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

“Ted Lasso" and the difference between illegal harassment and legal (but still wrong) bullying

If you're watching Ted Lasso, you're familiar with the story of Nathan Shelley, kit man turned coach turned Wonder Kid. Season 2 tells a fascinating story about Nate that is still unfolding. His arc has transformed him from a bullied kit man to an abusive coach, and from a loveable underdog to an insufferable a-hole. Episode 7 ended with Nate cruelly unleashing a tirade of anger on his replacement as the team's kitman, Will.

There is little doubt that Nate's mistreatment of Will and others is both uncomfortable to watch and a portrait of horrendous management. But is it illegal?

The answer is no.

Friday, September 3, 2021

WIRTW #594: the “three fests and a wine bar” edition

If you're in Northeast Ohio, let me suggest four ways for you to spend your time over the next couple of weeks — all involving my daughter and live music.

Two of our best local arts festivals are happening next weekend, and Norah is playing both — the Waterloo Arts Fest on September 11 (where she'll be in the Sculpture Garden from 3:20 - 4 pm) and the Berea Arts Fest on September 12 (where she'll be on the Acoustic Stage from 3 - 4 pm).

In between, Norah is making her return engagement at my wife's and my home away from home, the Olde Wine Cellar in Olmsted Falls. She'll be playing out front from 6 - 9 pm. Stop by for a glass of wine (or two) or to enjoy the night's tasting, which is merlot themed. Reservations are strongly suggested for the tasting. Otherwise, just come on down.

Finally, on September 16, Norah will be back at Vermillion's 3rd Thursday, again set up on the steps of Granny Joe's Ice Creamatorium and playing music from 5:30 - 8 pm.

All shows are free to attend. For all of the information about Norah's music (she performs as norah marie), visit

Here's the 11 things I read this week that I think you should read, too:

Thursday, September 2, 2021

The 12th nominee for the “Worst Employer of 2021” is … the Pregnancy Prognosticator

If I know one thing, and only one thing, as a man (okay, two things) it's these: NEVER joke about a woman's weight and never ask a woman if she's pregnant. The former will never end well. The latter may end with a lovely conversation about her impending bouncing bundle of joy and the perils of newfound parenthood. But it's also just as likely, if not more so, to end in tears and embarrassment.

An employer in the UK just learned these lessons the hard way, and earned my 12th nomination as the Worst Employer of 2021.