Monthly Archives: March 2013

A NEW BLOG FROM STEPTOE & JOHNSON PLLC

The Steptoe & Johnson Labor and Employment Blog team would like to officially welcome the newest entry to our firm’s blogosphere. The Steptoe & Johnson Energy Essentials International Energy Blog recently launched, and we would appreciate you taking a few seconds to check it out and, if you like it, spread the word about it.

The Energy Essentials International Law Blog will focus exclusively on International Energy Law, emerging energy policies, news and international challenges and opportunities for energy producers around the world. The blog’s primary author is Steptoe & Johnson’s Philip D. Vasquez, the leader of the firm’s International Energy Practice.  .  

To access the Energy Essentials – International Energy blog, click here, or visit http://www.steptoe-johnson.com/blog/international-energy.

IN WEST VIRGINIA, ARBITRATION CLAUSES DO NOT REQUIRE “SEPARATE” CONSIDERATION

West Virginia has joined a majority of states in concluding that an arbitration provision that is part of a larger contract does not require separate consideration if there is adequate consideration for the contract as a whole. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals’ November 2012 opinion in Dan Ryan Builders, Inc. v. Nelson focused on an arbitration provision that required a home purchaser to submit all claims to arbitration, but allowed the home builder/seller to pursue litigation in some instances. 

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How the Need for a B.Y.O.D. Policy can make human resources BEGIN to YEARN for the OLDEN DAYS

Human resources used to be so much simpler than it is today. In the olden days, most HR professionals just worried about which payroll deductions to withhold, how to keep track of vacation, and whether there was an attendance problem in the workplace.  Now, all the key issues in HR are bigger and more complicated, with a lot at stake.  Are your employees properly classified as exempt or non-exempt?  Is there any way on earth to avoid a retaliation claim?  How do I control what my employees are saying about the company on Facebook? 

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SUPERSTAR EMPLOYEES: VIEWS ON HOW TO KEEP THEM AND HOW TO MAKE THEM

You know which employees are your superstars.  They’re the folks who exhibit more ambition, higher productivity, and greater initiative than your average employee.  They may also present more difficult challenges than your average employee, whether by being less of a team player, by questioning decision-makers more, or by jumping ship more readily when their needs aren’t being met.  Managing these employees properly can result both in long-term retention of your stars and the cultivation of your good performers into stars.

First, challenge your stars.  Give them the tougher projects that will require them to use their initiative, as well as their innovation skills.  You should give them room to make mistakes and take risks because that is where they can excel and bring more to your company.

Second, reward your stars.  Money isn’t the only reward a star employee wants or needs.  Face time over lunch with an important member of your company or more input into the decision on which project he or she will tackle next can also reward and motivate your stars.  Remember, however, that many star employees have quirks that you do not want to reward.  For instance, instead of focusing only on your star’s contribution to a successful project, recognize him or her as a member of the team. 

Third, ensure their growth.  Spend time with your stars, providing them with feedback on their performance, informing them of job expectations, and developing their future.  Your stars need to know their long-term potential with your company.  And, they want to be a part of planning that future.  Grow their leadership skills so that you’ll know if a move to management is appropriate for them.  Just because an employee is a star does not mean he or she has the skills to manage people.  Encourage leadership in the community as one source of experience.  Allow your star to mentor one of your good performers, giving that person a chance to become a star, too.

Finally, hold your stars accountable.  While a star knows (and in some cases overestimates) their worth, don’t find yourself in an untenable situation.  Always keep an eye out for good recruits for your business.  The star who thinks he’s irreplaceable may become unmanageable.  While high productivity and revenue generation are great attributes in an employee, you also want your stars to play well with others.  Attitude is important and should not be overlooked in the evaluation process simply because someone has good numbers.  Doing that might alienate a future star in your pool of good performers.

All of this is not to suggest that you should play favorites with your employees.  Morale is key to a healthy organization, and fairness is vital to morale.  But remember, it is often said that 20% of your employees will consume 80% of your time – and not in a good way.  Make sure you invest some of what’s left in your stars, and you’ll brighten your company’s future.

OBAMA’S NLRB CONTINUES TO TURN THE LABOR RELATIONS WORLD UPSIDE DOWN

While the validity or invalidity of the National Labor Relations Board’s early 2012 recess appointments has been all the rage in labor relations news recently, it’s important not to overlook all of the other things the Board has been doing in recent months.  Like overruling 34 years of precedent on when witness statements must be exchanged between the employer and union. 

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SIXTH CIRCUIT DISTRICT COURT CONCLUDES TELECOMMUTING IS NOT A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION UNDER THE ADA

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s recently appointed CEO, has come under fire for her decision to end Yahoo’s telecommuting program. This drastic measure has Human Resources professionals wondering whether a blanket ban on telecommuting could have legal ramifications.  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.  Can working from home ever be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA?  

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THE ENERGY INDUSTRY ISN’T THE ONLY THING BOOMING: FLSA LITIGATION OVER DONNING, DOFFING, AND PRE-SHIFT/POST-SHIFT MEETINGS

In recent years, there has been considerable litigation on the subject of compensation, or the lack thereof, for time spent donning, doffing, and attending pre-shift/post-shift meetings.  Employees (current and former), often banded together as part of collective actions, have sued their employers for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) based upon the fact that they were not paid for time spent donning and doffing protective gear or uniforms and time spent attending pre-shift/post-shift meetings.  While this is not a new trend, it is an area that warrants the attention of employers, particularly those that require their employees to don and doff protective gear or uniforms and attend meetings while “off the clock.” 

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