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Ensuring the confidentiality of HR info

Q. I’m the HR director of a 45-employee company and have one assistant. Due to the firm’s growth, I’m considering giving my assistant more responsibility. My concern: The assistant is very friendly with about 10 other employees, two of which are her roommates. What’s to stop her from divulging information to her friends? I have said nothing to her about my concerns yet. What can I express to her without overstepping her legal rights? …

Could a court order force us to compromise our employees’ privacy?

Q. I heard that Google is being forced to hand over YouTube access logs to Viacom as evidence in a copyright suit. This seems like a major privacy issue. Our company provides free health information to our employees over the Internet. Our internal web site users have created employee profiles that include personal information such as their names and e-mail addresses. Could we be forced to hand over our user information if we ever became involved in litigation? …

Is video surveillance of employees legal?

Q. My family owns a chain of electronics stores. We suspect that employees have stolen some merchandise. We want to install surveillance cameras in our inventory storage room and possibly near the back door of the store where the theft occurred. Are there any legal issues that we should take into consideration? …

Can you legally fire a woman who has an abortion?

When graphic artist Jane Doe became pregnant, she told her boss. Then she learned that the child was severely deformed. She decided to terminate the pregnancy. She took a week off for the procedure, recovery and to bury the child. Then her employer then fired her.

How employers can stick to their guns under the BSEPA

Georgia’s Business Security and Employee Privacy Act (BSEPA) took effect July 1, 2008. The law expands employees’ rights to transport lawfully registered firearms in their vehicles even if they are traveling to work. The law will not turn the workplace into shooting galleries, but it will limit employers’ rights to search employees’ vehicles …

Set—And enforce—Text messaging and paging privacy policy

Public employers may have to revise their cell phone, e-mail and text messaging policies in light of a recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision. If you handle HR for a government agency, make sure you have a strong privacy policy that spells out your right to read text messages transmitted over employer-paid services …

Santa Clara firm fined for not accommodating lactating mom

A Silicon Valley security services company has been fined $4,000 for failing to provide a private space for one of its employees to express breast milk. California regulators fined International Security Services, based in Santa Clara, after receiving a complaint from a new mother …

Are employee assistance programs required?


Q. I understand that many companies offer employee assistance programs (EAPs) as an added benefit for employees who may have drug or alcohol abuse problems. Are we required by law to do so? …

Strong privacy policy can curtail rifling through files

Employees who are involved in employment disputes often think they can simply gather up any evidence they find lying about and turn it over to their lawyers. Smart employers try to limit the damage that revealing such confidential information may bring by holding all employees to reasonable privacy and confidentiality rules …

When former employees compete: Getting noncompetes right

Good employees, especially those in sales or professional services positions, can quickly turn into enemies when they quit. Employers frequently require those employees to sign employment agreements containing noncompete and nonsolicitation restrictions when they start work. However, Illinois courts generally do not favor these kinds of restrictions and will look at them very closely. In fact, our courts are quite likely to rule in favor of employees …