Halloween in the Workplace – What Could Go Wrong?

October 31st is right around the corner, and in workplaces all across the U.S. employers are contemplating having some kind of Halloween party or inviting employees to dress up. On its face, it seems like a great idea. Halloween can be a fun way to break the monotony of everyday office life (and is a convenient excuse to eat embarrassing amounts of candy) but with it comes a unique set of pitfalls. Here, we touch on a number of those pitfalls and ways to avoid them.

First and foremost, as is applicable to all other office functions, alcohol and Halloween may seem like a fun idea, but is generally not advisable. If you choose to serve alcohol at your Halloween event, drinks should be limited and monitored by a third party. Licensed mobile bartending services are a convenient way to check both of these boxes. Also, always encourage safe transport home. If alcohol is served, consider whether to give out an Uber or Lyft code to provide employees with an easy (and free) way to get home afterward. Read more ›

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Posted in Labor & Employment

Defend Trade Secrets Act Whistleblower Immunity Notice – Small Price to Pay for Major Benefits

You probably already know that the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) makes available to employers a number of significant remedies, but what you may not know is that several of those remedies are contingent on employers notifying employees of key whistleblower protections provided for in the Act. Read more ›

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Posted in Benefits, Labor & Employment

New Illinois Law Puts Money Back in Your Employees’ Wallets

As of January 1, 2019, Illinois will have one of the most expansive employee expense reimbursement laws in the country. Governor Bruce Rauner recently signed off on an amendment to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, requiring employers to reimburse “all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee within the employee’s scope of employment and directly related to services performed for the employer.” 820 ILCS 115/9.5(a). Exceptions to this requirement include expenses or losses related to the employee’s own negligence, losses attributable to normal wear, and loses due to theft—unless the theft occurred as a result of the employer’s negligence.  Read more ›

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Posted in Labor & Employment

How to Handle Waivers in Discrimination Cases

It is every L&E attorney’s dream:  You are deposing a Title VII plaintiff and it’s starting to get late. One by one, the plaintiff’s allegations of discrimination start to lose their luster; the seams are beginning to show. Plaintiff is sweating now. Plaintiff’s attorney is sweating more. You decide to go for it: “Plaintiff, do you believe that your supervisor—the one who terminated you—was racist/sexist/xenophobic?” Plaintiff responds: “No.”

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Posted in Discrimination, Labor & Employment

Do You Know What Your Employees Are Talking About In Public? How To Avoid The Inadvertent Disclosure of Your Company’s Confidential Information

Imagine this scenario:  Your top sales representative is traveling for work.  He has a briefcase with your company’s logo on it.  He decides to stop at a restaurant at the airport before catching his flight.  While at the restaurant, he makes several calls to update various people about how his sales meetings went and he identifies each client with whom he met.  He shares a plethora of information in each call, including detailed pricing discussions, push-backs by the clients, and product concerns.  He also announces that he chose to not disclose a critical piece of news regarding possible trade issues with another country.  Of course, all of these discussions occur within an ear-shot of numerous people, including, unbeknownst to your sales representative, a competitor. Read more ›

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Posted in Labor & Employment

Three Workplace Shootings in 24 Hours: Now Is the Time to Take Action

Workplace violence is one of the most troubling issues keeping HR professionals and in-house counsel up at night – and with good reason.  Just last week alone, there were three workplace shootings in a span of 24 hours. In 2018, workplace shootings have occurred coast to coast, in rural, suburban and urban settings.  And, according to OSHA, approximately two million employees report being victims of workplace violence each year. Read more ›

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Posted in Labor & Employment

Good Intentions May Not Be Enough: The Hidden Dangers of “Maternity Leave” Policies

Many employers go above and beyond any legal requirements in providing paid or unpaid leave benefits to employees to bond with their child.  So what could be bad about that?  Well, check your employee handbook. Do you have a maternity leave policy?  Do you have a paid leave policy that provides greater benefits to moms than dads, or to primary caregivers over secondary caregivers?  If so, beware. Read more ›

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Posted in Labor & Employment

An Apple a Day: Why Building Positive Employee Relations Can Keep the Outsiders Away

An obvious key to maintaining good employee relations is to keep employees satisfied with their work and their work environment.  While it is, of course, impossible to keep all of your employees happy and satisfied at all times, it is important to consider the reasons behind employee dissatisfaction and the steps which can be taken to erase that dissatisfaction so that employees will not feel they must contact an outsider, such as a government agency or worker advocacy group, to represent them on the job.  Most causes of employee dissatisfaction can be eliminated if they are only recognized and treated quickly. Read more ›

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Posted in Labor & Employment

Updated FMLA Forms with the Class Syllabus

On September 4, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division rolled out “updated” FMLA compliance forms and, despite containing no substantive changes, if your company uses the model FMLA forms, these new forms should be utilized starting now. The forms for Notice of Eligibility, Designation, and Certifications for the various covered Serious Health Conditions are available at this link on the DOL’s website. You have the new FMLA forms if the “expires” date in the upper right-hand corner reads “8/31/2021.”  Do not be distracted by the “revised” date at the bottom of the page; the 2015, 2013 and even 2009 dates simply reflect that the content of the FMLA forms has not changed in quite some time. Read more ›

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Posted in Wage and Hour

Fight Heats Up Over Sick Pay in Texas Cities

San Antonio City Council approved a Paid Sick Leave Ordinance on Thursday, August 16, 2018, which allows workers to accrue up to 64 hours of paid sick leave each year. This law largely tracks the recent Austin sick pay ordinance, passed in February 2018. The highlights of the San Antonio legislation are:

  • Under the ordinance, employers are required to grant employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, subject to yearly caps. For employees with 15 or fewer employees, the cap would be six (6) days per year. For larger employers, the cap would be eight (8) days of paid sick time. Employees may use this leave for physical or mental illness, preventative care or to care for a family member. Paid sick time becomes available for an employee’s use as soon as it accrues.
  • Most employers will have to comply with the Ordinance beginning August 1, 2019. Employers with five employees or fewer do not need to comply until August 2021.
  • Employers who already provide more generous sick leave policies than those proscribed by the ordinance are not required to make any changes.
  • The law only applies to persons who work within the city limits of San Antonio for at least 80 hours per calendar year.

The ordinance was passed outright after supporters gathered more than 144,000 signatures, which would have been enough to force an election by popular vote. Notwithstanding the recent passage of the ordinance in San Antonio, a state appellate court blocked the Austin ordinance from taking effect on Friday, August 17. The appeal was from a trial court decision in Austin which had allowed the ordinance to take effect. It is expected that a similar lawsuit to block the San Antonio ordinance will also be filed. State lawmakers have also promised to pass legislation in the 2019 session that would declare such statutes invalid and preempted by state law. This will be an important test of separation of powers between the more conservative state government and more liberal cities like Austin.

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Posted in Labor & Employment, Wage and Hour
About HR Headaches
HR Headaches is a blog for Human Resources professionals, business owners, and in-house counsel to get the latest news, analysis and tips in the area of labor and employment law. Every day there are new court decisions, agency interpretations, and regulations which affect the workplace, making it difficult, if not impossible, for many employers to keep current. HR Headaches is dedicated to providing information in a practical, no-nonsense manner to help employers avoid legal disputes and keep policies up to date.
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