Monthly Archives: January 2013

AN HR MANAGER’S NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS (OR WHAT YOUR EMPLOYMENT LAWYER HOPES THEY WILL BE)

If you are in Human Resources, it’s not too late to come up with some resolutions to start doing things differently in 2013.  And in case you are looking for suggestions, here are ten ideas that should help make the next twelve months and beyond less troublesome for you:

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WHEN AN EMPLOYER’S COLLECTIVE BARGAINING OBLIGATIONS SURVIVE EXPIRATION OF THE CONTRACT

On December 20, 2012, the NLRB released its decision in WKYC, Inc., a case in which a union challenged the Board’s long-standing rule that an employer’s obligation to withhold union dues expires when the collective bargaining agreement expires. 

Not surprisingly, the Board sided with labor in the case, holding that an employer must continue to withhold union dues even after an agreement expires, unless the employer can show that it has bargained to impasse with the union, or that the union has expressly waived its right to continue receiving dues. 

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THE GLOVES ARE COMING OFF: OHIO SUPREME COURT HOLDS IN HEWITT V. THE L.E. MYERS CO. THAT PERSONAL SAFETY EQUIPMENT NOT A “SAFETY GUARD” FOR PURPOSES OF DELIBERATE INTENT ACTIONS

Recently, the Ohio Supreme Court decided a key case regarding a statutory exemption to workers’ compensation laws for so-called “deliberate intent” actions.  The Ohio statute in question allows an individual injured on the job to recover under a tort theory of liability if the individual can prove the employer committed a tortious act with the intent to injure the worker or with the belief the injury was substantially certain to occur.  This can include removing a safety guard or precaution from the workplace, which creates a rebuttable presumption of intent to injure.

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NEW FCRA SUMMARY OF RIGHTS FORM REQUIRED FOR EMPLOYERS

Beginning at the first of the year, employers are now required to use a new version of the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s Summary of Rights form.  This change was prompted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), who replaced the Federal Trade Commission as the agency overseeing rulemaking and enforcement of the FCRA.  The new Summary of Rights issued by the CFPB instructs individuals to contact the CFPB, instead of the Federal Trade Commission, for more information about their rights under the FCRA.  The list of contacts included in the Summary of Rights has also been updated.  Employers should begin using the new Summary of Rights form immediately.  A link to the form can be found HERE.

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NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS OF A WORKING MOTHER/ATTORNEY/EMPLOYEE

1.      I will become better organized.

Given that we are more than a week into the new year, and this is the first you’re hearing from me, I’m clearly getting a slow start on the resolving.  With work and home creating new and exciting challenges for me every day, organization is an evolutionary process.  I recommend a family calendar.  Mine includes both my work obligations and deadlines, as well as my and the three amigos’ school and family activities.

This concept translates to the workplace too.  Improve communication with your employees and avoid harmful stressors by keeping an office calendar.  It could note the dates you expect important visitors, scheduled outages, major deadlines, or other items of a time-sensitive nature that can help your employees plan their work more effectively.

2.      I will be more positive.

I’m all over this one.  For example, when describing my home and work life above, I used the phrase “new and exciting challenges” instead of “bizarre and nearly insurmountable obstacles.”  That’s a half-full cup, my friends.  All kidding aside, not every day can be a good day.  But when you’re working in an atmosphere where everyone tries to stay positive, it can buoy morale in dark times.

3.      I will do more random acts of kindness.

This Christmas, the boys and I put this one into practice, and we hope to keep it going all year.  I put them in charge of shopping for our “angel,” and gave them the chance to make a difference in another kid’s life.  We spread some Christmas cheer by knocking on the door of our favorite decorated house, telling them how much we enjoyed their display, and giving them a Christmas ornament for their tree.  These random acts of kindness are good for our souls too.  So, why just do it at Christmas??  And, why limit it to the line at McDonald’s (thank you to the secret Santa ahead of me who bought dinner for this harried mom’s kids one evening)?

Bring those random acts of kindness to work.  At the end of a wintry day, clean off the windshield of a neighboring vehicle before you go home.  Refill the coffee pot when there’s not a cup left.  Loan a book to someone who will appreciate it.  Offer to carry a package when someone’s overloaded.  Then insist.  Smile with your eyes.  Little things like these can make a big difference in how we view our jobs.

4.      I will set reasonable expectations . . .

a.      For myself.  The winter weight will come off now that I can’t have cookies for breakfast.

b.      For my family.  Reading a book for 15 minutes a day won’t kill you.

c.       For my job.  I will keep the lines of communication open and flowing with information.

The point is, setting and communicating reasonable expectations is a good practice in life, whether you’re living it at work or at home. 

If you have any views on how new year’s resolutions can spread to the workplace, please share your inspirations.

 

 

NLRB REAFFIRMS PROTECTION FOR CONCERTED ACTIVITY ON FACEBOOK

About 16 months ago, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) made quite a stir when one of its Administrative Law Judges ruled that it was unlawful for a non-profit to fire 5 workers for violating the agency’s anti-harassment policy when the harassment – done on Facebook – was determined to constitute protected concerted activity over working conditions.  We’ll give you one guess as to how the appeal to the full Board turned out.

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I’M NOT A SUPERVISOR; I JUST PLAY ONE AT FAMILY DOLLAR: OVERTIME SUIT DISMISSED DESPITE PREVALENCE OF NONEXEMPT DUTIES

Recently, a federal court in Kentucky dismissed a putative class action suit against Family Dollar, Inc. brought by store managers, stating that the claimants were exempt under a Kentucky labor law statute that delineates employees from supervisors.  The named plaintiffs, Donna Barker and Janet DeKalands, claimed that their working conditions at Family Dollar prevented them from receiving applicable overtime pay, mandatory rest breaks, and additional compensation due for working seven days a week.

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