Monthly Archives: March 2011

CHARITY BEGINS AT . . . THE GOLF COURSE!

In a recent opinion from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals — which covers West Virginia — Purdham v. Fairfax County School Board, the Plaintiff took a swing at the definition of “volunteer” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and ended up making a triple-bogey. (Spring isn’t just the time of year for basketball folks).

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MARCHING TO A DIFFERENT DRUM

You’ve already read the lawyer’s take on March Madness – now it’s time for the HR perspective.

While many greet tournament time with much enthusiasm, HR professionals don’t always share the same view.  Every year we read articles about how damaging the tournament can be to employers.  As discussed in this forum a few weeks ago, statistics predict billions of dollars are lost in worker productivity due to employees participating in office pools, talking about last night’s game, or surfing the net looking for team results.

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KNOCK, KNOCK: WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT AND WE ARE HERE TO HELP (ESPECIALLY IF YOU WANT TO SUE YOUR EMPLOYER)

As we have discussed in this small part of cyberspace in the past, technology has brought greater efficiencies to the workplace, but also is fraught with potential HR-related pitfalls, and the amazingly instant availability of information for disgruntled employees has dramatically increased the danger level of those pitfalls.

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WATCH YOUR HEADS – AND FEET! A PRIMER ON PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

A recent directive from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (“OSHA”) to its inspectors has provided employers with a bit more clarity on its responsibilities in providing Personal Protective Equipment – also known as PPE – to employees.  That directive has also provided employers with a clue that hard hats, face shields and foot protection are all at the forefront of OSHA’s thinking.  Don’t want an awkward moment with an OSHA inspector?  Read on.

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CAT’S PAW LIABILITY: DON’T GET BURNED!

Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States released an important decision addressing the “cat’s paw” theory of liability in employment discrimination cases that will have far-reaching implications.  Under the cat’s paw theory, a plaintiff can hold an employer liable for the animus of a supervisor who was not charged with making the ultimate employment decision, but, nonetheless, influenced the decision.  The term “cat’s paw” derives from an ancient fable in which a monkey persuades a cat to extract a roasting chestnut from a fire.  The cat retrieves the chestnut but burns his paw in the process, allowing the monkey to take off with the chestnut while the cat has nothing to show for his labor.

Cat Paw

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LESSONS IN A CONCERTED DISAPPOINTMENT

A few months ago, I wrote about how the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) put on its progressive shoes and opined that an employee who posted criticisms of her supervisor on Facebook had engaged in concerted activity worthy of protection under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).  The NLRB filed a complaint against the employer on account of the employer disciplining the employee.

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LET THE MADNESS BEGIN

For those of you who love college basketball, early spring is a special time of year.  Why?  It marks the heart of March Madness.  College basketball fans everywhere love it for the nail-biting finishes, the Cinderella stories, and the thrill of pulling for their teams.  People love it for the brackets.  Television networks love it for the ratings.  Employers?  Well, let’s just say that it makes some want to call for a shot-clock violation.

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