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December, 2014

3 Hyper-Local Laws Employers Can’t Afford to Ignore

Hyper-local laws are the latest overarching trend in employment law, as municipal governments increasingly adopt laws applicable to private employers within their localities.  The reach of these laws includes new protected classifications, new notice obligations, and even paid leave mandates – often exceeding employer obligations under federal and state laws.  Woe to the unwary employer who is inattentive to these local legal requirements!

Currently the three hottest areas in local employment legislation are:

  • Paid sick leave,
  • “Ban-the-box” laws and
  • Pregnancy accommodation.

Are your workplace management policies in compliance?
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1

December, 2014

LIFE’S LESSONS* Winter 2014, Real Issues…Reconstituted Facts

EMPLOYMENT LIABILITY ISSUES AT THE HOLIDAY AFTER-PARTY GATHERING

‘Tis the season for holiday parties, and the headaches that result when staff fail to conduct themselves appropriately in a less formal setting. Advance planning can help minimize these situations, including a friendly reminder from senior management about expected behavior, arrangement for car service on standby to transport those who are too drunk to drive, and possibly even designating certain company representatives to be attentive at the party to inappropriate behaviors. But what happens when the official party ends? Is the company then relieved of further responsibility for the actions of its employees? Unfortunately, that is not always the case….

Antics After the ABC Co. Holiday Party

More than 200 people attended ABC Co.’s annual party. Richard, a mid-level manager, and two of his peers were still revved up when the official party ended at 11 pm. They invited some of the junior staff on their teams to meet them at Blizzard, a bar located a few blocks from the company party. The junior staff spread the word to some of their peers, and by midnight, 25 ABC Co. employees had gathered at Blizzard. Richard bought a round of drinks for the ABC Co. employees who were standing around the bar, and then joined a group of the junior staff in the corner of the room.
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10

November, 2014

LIFE’S LESSONS* Fall 2014, Real Issues…Reconstituted Facts

THREE STAGES OF PLANNING FOR A REDUCTION IN FORCE

With year-end on the horizon, businesses closely assess performance relative to their financial objectives. Workforce restructurings and staff reductions may be a knock-down effect of such assessments, to enable a business to maximize efficiencies and reduce costs. Assume ABC Co. is undergoing just such an assessment.

Bernice, the Head of Sales, plans to consolidate her teams by eliminating all district sales manager roles and designating up to three sales supervisors in each region, who will perform some local management functions in addition to their regular sales duties. Bernice’s plan will impact 10 employees, in six different states.

Lucas, the Head of Production, plans to cut 15 junior staff roles by automating and consolidating functions. In selecting among the employees whose functions are not directly impacted by automation, Lucas is considering performance, cross-training, attitude, flexibility in scheduling/overtime, and special skills.
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10

November, 2014

LIFE’S LESSONS* Summer 2014, Real Issues…Reconstituted Facts

WHEN IS ASKING SOMEONE OUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT?

A single request for a date does not amount to sexual harassment, or does it? That all depends on whether there is a back story. Let’s consider what can unfold….
Jerry, age 27, was recently hired as an associate at Acme. Jerry does not have any direct reports, but he has been assigned as a summer intern mentor. Jerry was invited to Acme’s summer welcome event, at which he met Paula, an intern in the department, who is entering her senior year at college.

Jerry was struck by Paula’s easy laugh, and the following day he initiated a conversation with her over Acme’s instant messaging system. Over the next several weeks, Jerry regularly IM’d Paula, asking about her hobbies and interests, and sharing information about himself. Paula never initiated the exchanges, but she would reply. Once, Jerry invited Paula and her mentor to join him and his intern mentee for lunch. Paula declined due to a conflicting meeting with her supervisor.
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10

November, 2014

LIFE’S LESSONS* Spring 2014, Real Issues…Reconstituted Facts

STRUCTURING AN UNPAID INTERNSHIP

The hiring season is commencing for college and high school students, who are eager to build their resumes with practical work experience. But must students be paid for these work experiences, and at what rate? Does it matter if their school provides them with academic credit? Let’s consider Midsize Company, where three managers wish to retain students as summer interns.

Harold wants to offer five summer internships, with a stipend of $1000 each. The interns would help alleviate the department’s data entry backlog, under the guidance of the full-time staff. They would attend guest lectures from employees in other departments and would have a one-day shadowing opportunity with a member of Harold’s management team.

Bari wants to offer one student from her alma mater an unpaid summer internship. This intern would shadow Bari and members of her team on a rotational basis. Bari has also scheduled her peers in other functions to speak with the intern about their respective roles. The student would receive college credit, provided he/she completes a research project, and Bari has written a hypothetical fact pattern that she will have the student independently research over the course of the summer.
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