Category Archives: Employment Practices Liability

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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Workplace Bullying: More than a Dolphins’ Problem

Thanks to the developing news regarding the Miami Dolphins, workplace bullying has generated national attention. There has been considerable press of late concerning school bullying and its impact on children but it is now clearer than ever that in some environments, bullying can exist in the workplace and can cause serious damage to professionals and their employers.

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Calculating FMLA Leave: What Employers Need to Know

The Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA) provides job security to employees who require time away from work due to illness or the need to care for family. By some accounts, the FMLA is one of the most difficult employment laws for an employer to administer and therefore is a risk management "legal labyrinth." In particular, the seemingly simple task of calculating the duration of FMLA leave can be daunting.

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Gaga’s Overtime Problem

Would you pay attention if we told you that Stefani Germanotta allegedly failed to pay her assistant over $375,000 in overtime pay? What if we told you Stefani Germanotta usually goes by "Lada Gaga"? Reportedly, the uber-famous singer reached a settlement in the 2011 FLSA lawsuit filed by her former personal assistant. The lawsuit serves as a reminder to employers of all sizes that unless their employees meet the requirements of the administrative exemption test, they must be paid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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Status Update: Facebook “Likes” Receive Constitutional Protection

Social media issues arising out of the workplace are ever-changing. Your friends at Professional Liability Matters recently discussed the potential consequences to employees for posting objectionable personal information on Facebook. However, a novel decision from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday may turn the tables on employers who take retaliatory action against employees based upon their Facebook activity. Spoiler alert… Facebook "likes" are protected free speech under the First Amendment.

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Good At-Will Hunting: At-Will Employment Put to the Test

While most countries allow employers to dismiss employees only for cause, employment relationships are presumed to be “at-will” in all U.S. states except Montana. As a result, most employers are well aware that employment relationships in the States may be terminated at any time, for any legal reason. But, the at-will presumption is a default rule that can me modified by contract whereby the employee may hold a reasonable expectation of continued employment. The modification of employment terms by way of contract was recently put to the test in New York. Victory for the employer.

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