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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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20 Nov 2015 EMOJI-GOSH! How Emojis in Workplace Communications Can Spark A Lawsuit (Or Make It Harder To Defend One)

Emojis. They are the colorful cartoon images that are built into nearly every mobile device. They are hugely popular. At this very moment, thousands of communications containing these images are bouncing off satellites. In fact, they are so prevalent that an emoji has taken the title of Oxford Dictionaries’ “Word of the Year.” Yes, you read that correctly. An emoji – not a word – was handed this year’s title.   Why should this craze be of interest to employers? Well, we will set the…

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20 Nov 2015 Employee Suspended For Tweet: What We Can Learn From This Real World Example

Earlier this week we reminded employers why it is crucial to monitor what topics of discussion are trending with your employees.  Hot topics can bring out a variety of opinions.  As we explained, opinions can be controversial, inconsistent with company policy, and sometimes offensive.  Here is the link to that article.  Yesterday, we issued a second reminder after we discovered a trending Twitter hashtag that was being used to tweet inappropriate content.     As predicted, we now have a real world example of an…

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19 Nov 2015 Employers: Twitter is Going Crazy Over The #InternationalMensDay Hashtag

This will be a short post. Earlier this week we posted an article that discussed the need for employers to stay on top of what is trending on the Internet. Why? Because trending topics can sometimes lead to controversial discussions that might not be consistent with an employer’s EEO Policy. As a result, we explained that it would be prudent to understand what may be the current topic being discussed around the watercooler. Here is a follow up to that article:  The #InternationalMensDay hashtag is…

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17 Nov 2015 Trending Now: How the Latest News Going Viral Can Lead to Employment Litigation

A downed Russian airliner, the tragic Paris attacks, the European refugee crisis, states closing their borders to Syrian nationals, Charlie  Sheen’s HIV diagnosis. What do these all have in common? They are hot topics for discussion around the watercooler.  And they also will bring out a multitude of opinions.  What’s the problem?  Opinions can be controversial and, to some, down right offensive.  Healthy debate about how the United States should handle the war on terror could be construed as evidence of religious discrimination (in some cases). …

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13 Nov 2015 Hiding in Plain Sight: How Employees Are Using Company Resources to Slack Off Without Raising Any Eyebrows

Reddit is described as the “front page” of the Internet. It is an entertainment, social networking and news website where members can submit content, such as text posts, pictures or direct links. It is essentially an online bulletin board system. It’s hugely popular. It’s the birthplace of a lot of content that eventually goes viral after later being picked up by BuzzFeed, Twitter or Facebook. It’s also extraordinarily easy to get lost on the site for HOURS scrolling through links, photos and comments.  In a…

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13 Nov 2015 Casual Friday: Make Sure Your Employees Keep it Classy

Casual Friday.  It’s a day of the week many employees are allowed to “dress down” a bit in anticipation for the weekend.  And many employees like to get a bit “festive” during the holiday season.   Well, the Internet is slightly annoyed right now.  A large national retailer has decided to start selling a sweater bearing the slogan:  “OCD:  Obsessive Christmas Disorder.”  While probably well intentioned, some people don’t think it’s funny to make light of obsessive compulsive disorder.  And if people are taking to…

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11 Nov 2015 DO IT FOR THE VINE! How This Week’s Viral Social Media Trend Can Spark Legal Liability in the Workplace

Consider the following scenario: Sharon is the owner of a very successful restaurant in Florida. Sharon’s establishment employs around 20 individuals. Most of her employees are between 18 and 22 years old. In May 2015, Sharon hired Joseph as a server. Joseph is a disabled 38 year old whose medical condition requires that he wear special orthopedic shoes.   Sharon began noticing an annoying pattern of behavior during the first week of July. Several of her younger employees working in the back stock-room would frequently…

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30 Oct 2015 EEOC Proposes Six Substantive Changes to Title II GINA Regulations

The EEOC is seeking comments on proposed regulations that would allow employers that offer wellness programs as part of group health plans, to provide limited incentives or inducements in exchange for an employee’s spouse providing certain information about his or her health status.  Such incentives include, but are not limited to, both financial inducements and in-kind inducements such as paid time off.   On Oct. 30, the EEOC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which would amend the regulations related to Title II of…

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27 Oct 2015 NLRB Once Again Puts Employers on Notice Regarding Handbook Policies

As I’ve noted several times on this blog, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is not messing around when it comes to handbook policies.  In the last few years, the NLRB has been aggressively looking for and cracking down on policies it believes are chilling the rights of employees to take protected, concerted action under the National Labor Relations Act relating to terms and conditions of employment. For handbook purposes, it makes no difference whether the company is a union or non-union shop. While many…

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23 Oct 2015 Another Paid Family and Medical Leave Proposal: District of Columbia Considers 16 Weeks of Paid Leave under a Local Government-Administered Mandatory Fund Using a Payroll Tax

Advocates of paid family and medical leave programs continue to press for change. In September, we reported on the Obama Executive Order that mandates paid family and medical leave for federal contractors as part of a paid sick leave requirement. Currently, both California and New Jersey have paid family and medical leave that supplements the unpaid leave benefits provided under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Earlier this month, seven members of the District of Columbia’s local government Council introduced a bill (the…

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