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Handle necessary search as unobtrusively as possible


With workplace violence continuing to make news, employers naturally want to lessen the chance that an angry employee will try to do harm. When they’re about to fire an employee, some employers search the worker’s car to make sure it doesn’t contain any weapons. Handle that search as unobtrusively as possible.

How much should I worry about employees using social networking sites?


Q. I heard that Facebook use is really picking up, but I don’t think most of our employees are that tech-savvy. Should I be concerned about my employees accessing social networking sites while at work?

Labor alert! The NLRA can apply to nonunion employers, too


You’re probably familiar with the legislative fight brewing over the proposed Employee Free Choice Act. That debate has spotlighted a fact many employers don’t realize: Nonunion employers must comply with requirements of the National Labor Relations Act. To help you comply, here are the major traps to watch for.

May we conduct locker searches even if employees use personal locks?


Q. Lately we have been concerned about workplace theft—both of our property and that of our employees. We would like to search our employees’ lockers, each of which is secured with a worker’s own lock. Is this legal? Do we need the employees’ consent?

Follow 5 steps to make sure new GINA law doesn’t trip you up


The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 was enacted in response to concerns that insurers and employers could use results of genetic testing to discriminate against applicants and employees. Covered employers should consider updating their employment policies and practices to comply with GINA’s many technical requirements.

Disabled worker? Don’t cave in to staff gripes


Don’t, under any circumstances, use co-worker resentment over disability accommodations as a reason to transfer or terminate the disabled employee. If you’re intent on getting rid of a disabled employee, you’d better have a better reason than that.

Strictly limit employee medical information just to those who need to know


The ADA requires employers to maintain strict confidentiality on any medical- or disability-related information. That means keeping it in a separate, secure file, away from prying eyes that have no business viewing the information. But confidentiality doesn’t apply just to paper or electronic records. Employers also have to make sure they don’t discuss such information with those who don’t need to know.

How should we respond to a subpoena for one of our employees’ personnel records?


Q. We recently received a subpoena to produce an employee’s personnel file in connection with a lawsuit. The employee is a party to the lawsuit, but the company is not. Do we have to comply with the subpoena? Should we tell the employee about the subpoena?

Are employee texts private? Supreme Court to decide


The U.S. Supreme Court agreed late last year to rule for the first time on whether employees have a right to privacy when sending text messages on cell phones and electronic devices supplied by their employers. The case involves several California police officers who were disciplined for sexually explicit texts.

2009 in labor and employment law, from A to Z


Our friends at the law firm of Fisher & Phillips LLP recently published this entertaining look at the employment law year that was. From A (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) to Z (zealously), 2009 was a busy year for those who track employment law trends.