EMPLOYMENT LAW

Does independent contractor status affect unemployment benefits for temps?

09/02/2014
Q. We’re aware of the unemployment comp responsibilities that come with being the last employer on record, so we require that all seasonal temps sign a policy that clearly states when their employment with us will end. If temps are hired with 1099 status, will our company still be responsible as the last employer on record and held liable for unemployment benefits? If we use a temp agency, are we liable?

Company settles OSHA retaliation case for $100,000

09/02/2014
McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises has agreed to settle a retaliation case brought by a former employee who had complained of safety violations at the freight-handling company’s terminal near Pittsburgh. OSHA contends that the general laborer’s complaints led directly to an inspection by federal safety authorities—and that the man was immediately transferred and eventually fired as a result.

Beware sudden scrutiny after employee voices bias concerns

09/02/2014
Have an adequate but not outstanding employee? Be careful if he engages in some form of protected activity. Sud­denly deciding he’s not good enough may spark a retaliation lawsuit.

Common sense: It's OK to urge employee to use paid leave instead of unpaid FMLA

09/02/2014
Most employers try to run unpaid FMLA leave concurrently with other paid leave, such as sick leave. But sometimes, it may be simpler to encourage the employee to just take a few days of paid vacation or personal leave rather than dealing with the FMLA paperwork. That’s OK.

The case of the purloined letter: Real resignation or post-affair retaliation?

09/02/2014

Here’s a big reason to ban supervisor/subordinate relationships: When those affairs end, trouble for employers often begins. The subordinate, who may have been a willing participant, may now claim she was being sexually harassed. Or the supervisor may punish the subordinate for cutting off the relationship. Either way, there’s probably a lawsuit coming.

Used all the official FMLA forms? 3rd Circuit says that may not be enough

09/02/2014
You might believe that an employee couldn’t argue she didn’t know she was on FMLA leave or that she might lose her job if she didn’t return to work within 12 weeks. You would be wrong.

Retain hotline records for later use in court

09/02/2014
If you have an ethics, harassment or discrimination hotline, be sure to track all complaints that come in, your response and any follow up. This information will come in handy later if someone who used the hotline sues, claiming you ignored her complaints or otherwise discriminated against her.

Consider FMLA before firing for attendance

09/02/2014
Here’s some advice that can save you money you might otherwise have spent defending an FMLA lawsuit: If an employee has accrued enough absences under your attendance policy to warrant termination or is coming close, make sure you haven’t counted any missed work that should have been covered by the FMLA.

Do I have to grant leave for employees who have been summoned or subpoenaed?

09/02/2014
Q. A few of my employees have been summoned to appear in court for jury duty service and to act as witnesses in trials. Is there any way that I can prohibit them from serving? And if I can’t, am I required to pay them during their service?

How should we comply with laws concerning expressing breast milk at work?

09/02/2014
Q. One of my employees recently gave birth and has asked me about the company policies regarding expressing breast milk in the workplace. What are the federal and state laws that I should consider for my policies?

Arbitration and the executive order on Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces

09/02/2014
Only 10 days after prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Presi­­dent Obama issued the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order.

'Crimson Tide fan' not a protected minority in Texas

09/02/2014
A crane operator working at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field found himself out of work after he hoisted an Alabama Crimson Tide banner inside the stadium.

Couple of butt-slaps? Court says that's not harassment

09/02/2014
You probably won’t be liable for a single incident of sexually oriented co-worker harassment if you punish the transgressor after you discover what happened.

When pay is issue, multiple lawsuits possible

09/02/2014
Here’s a warning about equal pay and the ongoing effects of past discriminatory decisions: Unless you fix the problem, an employee could file multiple lawsuits.

Internal report of wrongdoing not enough to trigger whistle-blower protection

09/02/2014
Texas public employees are protected from retaliation for reporting wrongdoing to an appropriate law enforcement agency. But except in very rare cases, it’s not enough to file an internal complaint that someone within the employee’s agency is breaking the law.
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