According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (“OSHA”), nearly two million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, homicide is the fifth-leading cause of workplace fatalities in the U.S., accounting for 8% of all fatal on-the-job injuries. In recent years, tragedies around the country have focused employers’ attention on workplace violence, especially those involving firearms.
If you set goals late last year or early this year for workplace compliance to be completed in 2016 and have not yet met your goals, now is the time to revisit them. It is critical to allocate time and energy now to review your policies and achieve compliance with various statutes including the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) as the repercussions to employers for failing to do so are proving to be very costly. As was predicted for 2016, the trend of filing class actions for failure to comply with the requirements of the FCRA has and continues to grow.
On May 11, 2016, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”) issued the final version of amendments to its Injury and Illness Recordkeeping Rule. While the principal function of the new rule is to require certain employers to begin electronically filing injury and illness reports to OSHA in 2017 (records which will then be published to the public), employers should also take note that OSHA has quietly adopted new anti-retaliation provisions in its regulations that could lead to more investigations and citations.
If you haven’t already heard, Pokémon Go, a virtual reality app created by Nintendo and Niantic, is taking the world by storm. According to Forbes, the app is about to surpass Twitter on the Android platform in daily active users, even though it was first released just a couple weeks ago in the United States and Australia and has not yet been made available worldwide. More and more people are getting in on the action, exploring real world landscapes with their smart phones in hopes of capturing virtual Pokémon appearing on their screen based on their phone’s clock and GPS location. It seems that no location is off limits, as Pokémon appear on or near both public and private property – even in bathrooms. As the Pokémon franchise motto commands, users “Gotta Catch ’Em All” at designated “Pokéstops” in their quest to become a renown Pokémon “trainer” who can out battle other users at local, virtual “Gyms.”
Having a solid confidentiality policy can protect your business from liability as well as protect your proprietary information. Thus, all employers should have a policy which governs the confidentiality of personnel information (social security numbers, medical information, etc.) management information (investigations, employee discipline, etc.) and business information (financial information, customer information, proprietary information, etc.).
In recent years, legal protections for the civil rights of LGBT individuals have expanded at a rapid pace. Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) in 2014 as unconstitutional, it has done the same with state-law equivalents. That same year, President Obama signed Executive Order 13672, which prohibits federal government contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. As this blog noted in 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) quickly jumped on the bandwagon with regard to other employers, affirming its position that Title VII protections extended to LGBT individuals. Now, the first U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to consider the issue in this new legal landscape has disagreed – albeit reluctantly.
In Pennsylvania, it is a felony for a person to intercept any wire, electronic, or oral communication unless all of the parties to the communication have given prior consent to such interception. This makes Pennsylvania a two/multiple-party consent jurisdiction. “Interception” is defined as the acquisition of any oral communication through an electronic, mechanical, or other device other than through a telephone or any component thereof. The traditional example of the crime is tape recording a conversation without the knowledge of one of the parties to the conversation.
HIV infection is a disability under the ADA. What rights and responsibilities does an employer have in relation to HIV-positive applicants and employees? The EEOC recently clarified its position concerning HIV-positive individuals in the workplace in a press release, as well as documents addressing the rights of HIV-positive workers, including the right to be free from discrimination and harassment, and guidance to physicians in facilitating accommodations for those individuals.
Despite being listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), marijuana has been legalized or de-criminalized in twenty-five states and the District of Columbia. In five states, such as Colorado, marijuana is legal for recreational purposes – adults are permitted to possess marijuana for essentially any and all personal purposes. In other states, marijuana use is limited to medical purposes – children and adults may ingest some forms of marijuana for enumerated medical purposes so long as they maintain valid prescriptions. The conflict between federal law and state law has created a tricky landscape for employers to navigate.
On July 13, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued a revised proposal to expand data collection through its Employer Information Report (“EEO-1”). Through EEO-1 reports, the EEOC and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) have been able to identify possible discriminatory practices and conduct pay discrimination investigations through the race, gender, ethnicity, sex, and job category pay data collected from employers across the country.