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Safety/Health

Defend against retaliation claims: Good records can stop whistle-blower complaints

04/17/2009

Whistle-blowing employees almost always expect to experience retaliation. They start looking for it as soon as they file a complaint or bring a safety issue to their employers’ attention. Smart employers anticipate this and make absolutely sure that any discipline, layoff or other adverse employment action is wholly justified before they implement it.

Good news: Former employees can’t just keep filing lawsuits

04/17/2009

Here’s some encouraging news for employers. Courts are cracking down on employees who file seemingly never-ending successions of lawsuits. They’re dismissing such suits fast. But a court can do so only if you let it know that the former employee has already filed (and lost or won) a previous round of litigation.

Can we ban nurses from wearing protest buttons—without violating the NLRA?

04/14/2009

Q. Some of the nurses at our hospital have started wearing union buttons that state, “Nurses Demand Safe Staffing.” If the hospital administrators ban the buttons, will the hospital have committed an unfair labor practice?

Beware the fickle judgment of jury trials

04/09/2009

Because juries are notoriously unpredictable, most attorneys advise doing everything possible to avoid jury trials. Even so, juries often wind up deciding employment law cases because of the subtlety of the issues involved. In the following case, the Minnesota Court of Appeals sent a case to trial so a jury can decide whether taking away an employee’s telecommuting opportunity might be retaliation.

Franchiser not liable for franchisee employees’ safety

04/09/2009

If your company franchises operations in Minnesota, you probably aren’t responsible if a franchisee’s employees are injured—even if you conduct an annual safety inspection.

It’s your right! Prohibit guns in parking lot

04/07/2009

A recent 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision has specifically upheld the right of Ohio employers to ban guns in locked cars on company property. You can and should have a clear policy prohibiting guns at work and in the parking lot. You can discipline employees who violate that rule.

What should we consider when deciding whether to contest an OSHA citation?

04/07/2009

Q. Our company just received a citation from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The proposed penalty is only $120. Is it worth getting a lawyer involved, or should we just go ahead and pay the fine?

IRS, DOL release guidance on new COBRA rules

03/24/2009

The IRS and the U.S. Department of Labor have just published guidance to help employers claim the credit for the new 65% COBRA subsidy and create the mandatory new COBRA notices. Look here for links to the documents and information you need to comply.

Prepare for Michigan’s new workplace ergonomic standards

03/18/2009

The Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth is one step closer to implementing workplace ergonomic standards that will apply to most businesses in the state. Most Michigan employers should plan now to comply. Only agriculture, construction, mining and domestic workers would be exempt from the new rules.

Are you a prime contractor? Beware liability for your subs’ safety violations

03/12/2009

OSHA is responsible for worker safety, and it takes that responsibility seriously. It recently won a significant victory in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld OSHA’s right to hold contractors liable for their subcontractors’ safety violations.