PRIVACY

Am I allowed to search a worker's backpack?

07/23/2014
Q. One of my workers brought a backpack into work today that I have reason to believe contains illegal substances. The worker stored the bag in his company-provided locker. Can I search his belongings?

OK to fire for Facebook complaint about work?

07/23/2014
Q. One of my employees recently made a post on Face­­book expressing his dissatisfaction with his job. In the post, he talked about being paid too little for the amount of work he performs, and that the whole office needs renovating, claiming, “rats don’t even want to work there.” Can I fire him for this, or at least discipline him?

Supreme Court rules public employee's sworn testimony is protected

07/07/2014
On June 19, declaring that “pub­­lic employees do not renounce their citizenship when they accept employment,” the U.S. Supreme Court held that the First Amend­­ment protects a public employee’s truthful sworn testimony, compelled by subpoena.

Can we require lie detector tests?

07/02/2014
Q. We have experienced several incidents of employee theft over the past few years. Would it be legal to require all job applicants to take a lie detector test?

Can employee reveal names of his co-workers?

06/13/2014
Q. Can an employee let others know that a certain person works at his office? Or are there some hidden privacy issues involved?

How to handle requests for confidentiality

05/12/2014

Say an employee stops by your office with a troubled look on her face. She has a complaint, but wants to speak with you “off the record.” Can you comply with her request for confidentiality? Should you?

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 ...

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