Are March Madness Office Pools Legal?

Brace yourselves, employers: March Madness is upon us. Thursday, March 20, was the first full day of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship Tournament games, and the tourney does not conclude until the Championship Game on Monday, April 7, in Arlington, Texas. During the tournament’s three weeks, the US economy will lose an estimated $1.2 billion in productivity as employees watch early round games, participate in office pools, and discuss the outcomes with co-workers. The question remains, are these office pools legal?
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Great Career “Moves” – Treadmills in the Office Boost Productivity

In the non-stop business world, many employees struggle to find time to exercise. Yet, some employers encourage physical fitness as a means of boosting the health and productivity of their teams. A recent study suggests that a new double-tasking combination – exercising while working – might be a good business “move”.
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Holy Smoke! Employers Refusing to Hire Smokers

A recent trend is developing of late where employers are considering “no smoker” employment policies. These policies go beyond “no smoking in the workplace;” some ban employees from smoking at any time. Such policies may lower insurance premiums. Some employers also suggest that these policies cut down on productivity issues due to smoke breaks and high absenteeism due to smoking-related illnesses. Opponents of these policies argue that they are discriminatory or in violation of privacy laws. This raises an interesting debate.
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Winter Wreaks Havoc on Employers

Winter storms create challenges for employees and employers alike, with snow, sleet, and freezing rain adding unwelcome stress and hassles. An employer has certain responsibilities when it comes to responding to weather conditions. To eliminate uncertainty and confusion inside the workplace, employers are advised to create a comprehensive emergency weather plan.
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Illegal Formation? Raiders Cheerleaders Allege Wage & Hour Violations

A recent class action suit filed by two Oakland Raiders cheerleaders alleges that the NFL team violated labor laws, including paying less than minimum wage and illegally requiring them to pay expenses out of their per-game salaries. Add this to the fairly lengthy list of off-season concerns facing one of last season's worst teams in football.
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Good Samaritan or Workplace Liability?

What to do? Your colleague begins to choke on his sandwich at lunch. The courier trips on loose carpet in your office lobby. Your co-worker goes into anaphylactic shock. What to do? Good Samaritan laws are designed to indemnify individuals who provide reasonable assistance to others in a time of emergency. The laws are intended to encourage assistance without fear of legal repercussion for unintentional injury or wrongful death. These laws have an interesting role in the office setting.
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It’s All Relative – The Risks of Office Nepotism

Federal authorities recently commenced an investigation targeting a global financial services firm's alleged practice of hiring the children of powerful Chinese officials, often through a program that used lower hiring standards for those with elite pedigrees, to help the firm win lucrative business in China. The investigation provides an excellent backdrop to discuss the risks associated with nepotism in the workplace.
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Third-Party Harassment Could Lead To Employer Liability

Most employers understand the significant consequences of sexual harassment at the workplace and take proactive measures to train employees about proper conduct. However, liability is not limited to the conduct of employees. Employers also have a responsibility to prevent sexual harassment by third parties such as clients, vendors, patients, and customers, when the employer knows about the conduct and fails to take any corrective action. Although third-party harassment is reportedly just as common, many employers do not take appropriate steps to prevent it.
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Does a Corporation have Religious Freedom under the ACA?

Those with conflicting political views may still agree that many questions remain unanswered regarding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a “Obamacare.” The US Supreme Court recently agreed to address at least one of those lingering questions when it granted certiorari to hear Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores. The issue in Hobby Lobby is whether an employer may be subject to fines under the ACA for failing to provide health insurance coverage that includes the provision of birth control to employees. The plaintiff claims that this provision in the Act impermissibly conflicts with its religious views.
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Off The Clock, On The Hook: Unintended Consequences Of Working Remotely

Sitting down to dinner but still have a long to-do list from the office? Hear your work e-mails pinging as you watch the game? Not a problem that you can't handle with your smartphone or tablet. Whatever your take on this 24/7 connectivity, it is undeniable that the proliferation of mobile devices has made working away from the office easier and perhaps expected by employers (and clients). While such a policy may result in an increase in productivity, it can also create a legal risk for employers, namely, unexpected claims for overtime pay.
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