PRIVACY

San Francisco's Fair Chance law limits criminal background checks

03/27/2014
San Francisco has “banned-the-box” on employment applications and has added other restrictions on private employers’ ability to obtain and use criminal history information. The City and County of San Fran­­cisco Board of Supervisors passed the Fair Chance Ordi­­­­nance in February, and the new law goes into effect Aug. 13.

Lesson from the Facebook 'Suck it' case: Tweak your confidentiality agreement

03/25/2014
Confidentiality agreements—whether they’re in employee handbooks or legal settlements—typically require employees to refrain from talking or writing about some type of company secret. But as this new case shows, it’s wise to make clear that such disclosures are also banned on social media.

Can we ask applicant for his social media log-in info and password?

02/28/2014
Q. I am thinking about hiring someone, but would first like to check his Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts to gain a more complete picture of the candidate. May I ask the applicant for log-in and password access to his accounts?

When can we order a drug or alcohol test?

02/26/2014
Q. An employee sometimes shows up looking like he came from a party, with glazed eyes and slurred speech. Can we make him take a drug or alcohol test?

Snapchat for business? Beware risks of self-destructing texts

02/24/2014
No laws specifically prohibit auto-destruct messaging in business, but employers should be wary of the potential employment-law downside.

How to handle confidential information when onboarding new hires

02/19/2014
Although most employers are sensitive to the need to protect their own company’s confidential information, they may not be as attuned as they should be to the other side of the coin. A recent trial experience provided an extraordinary lesson on the significant legal exposure an employer can face when hiring employees from a competitor.

The evidence is on Facebook: Can we fire for inappropriate behavior while wearing our logo?

01/22/2014
Q. One of our employees recently posted a picture of himself on Facebook doing something inappropriate while wearing a T-shirt with our company logo on it. The inappropriate conduct didn’t occur at a work event, but we’re concerned that the T-shirt connects us to the conduct. We would like to fire him immediately, but we hesitate because the termination is based on his personal Facebook page.

In case of he-said/she-said harassment, can we make employees hand over text messages?

01/22/2014
Q. One of our employees was recently accused of sending sexually harassing texts to another employee. The complaining employee said she was so upset by the texts she deleted them; the accused employee adamantly denies sending the texts. Can we search the accused employee’s cellphone or is there a way to retrieve the messages from the complaining employee’s phone?

Workplace Drug Testing

01/21/2014

HR Law 101: Drug testing and substance abuse prevention programs can involve substantial legal liability if employers don't manage and administer them properly. If your organization decides to implement a drug testing program, there are ways to minimize the risk of employee lawsuits ...

HIPAA: Compliance Rules

01/15/2014

HR Law 101: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 made changes to three areas of the continuing-coverage rules that apply to group health plans under COBRA ...

Possible porn: Can we search computers?

01/03/2014
Q. An employee recently complained about re­ceiving inappropriate email messages and links to porno­graphic websites from some of her co-workers. We would like to review the messages to figure out exactly how large a problem we face. Can we do this?

Email/Internet Usage

12/28/2013

HR Law 101: Employers have any number of legitimate reasons to monitor employees’ email and Internet usage. Beyond personal productivity issues, you risk significant loss should an employee download a virus or other damaging software or engage in illegal activity conducted on company computers ...

What should we do about email still on former employee's company-issued cellphone?

11/19/2013
Q. We give our employees company phones. An employee recently resigned and turned in her phone to her supervisor, in compliance with our technology policy. A week later, it came to my attention that the supervisor had not deleted the departed employee’s email that was still on the phone. A new hire who had been issued the phone could read those messages. What should we do?

Weigh pros, cons of surveillance in wired workplace

11/19/2013
As technology becomes more and more intrusive, today’s employees naturally wonder how far their employers can pry. Carefully weigh whether any form of employee surveillance is right for your organization. 

When settlement requires confidentiality, tell everyone to keep lips sealed

11/12/2013
Settling a case early on can have advantages. One of these is that you can include a confidentiality clause that bars a former employee from talking about the case. Now a Cali­­fornia court has said that such clauses are valid, meaning you can sue a former employee who breaks a confidentiality agreement.
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