Author Archives: Allison B. Williams

DON’T GET CAUGHT WITH YOUR PANTS DOWN AMIDST THE #METOO MOVEMENT

Without a doubt sexual harassment has always been a serious issue for employers. Given the recent headlines relating to celebrities such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Bill O’Reilly, and others, sexual harassment is now front and center in the consciousness of the American public in ways that it was not just a short time ago.  After the Harvey Weinstein scandal hit the news, Actress Alyssa Milano took to Twitter and posted the following tweet:  “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”  Her tweet caught fire and “#metoo” peppers all vehicles of social media.  In fact, CBS News reported that more than 45% of U.S. Facebook users had friends who posted #metoo. Read More »

HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR CONFIDENTIALITY POLICY

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.).
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MANAGING CUBICLE CUPIDS: AN EMPLOYER’S GUIDE TO HANDLING OFFICE ROMANCE

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
I am never without it (anywhere
i go you go my dear;
and whatever is done
by me is your doing, my darling) i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want
n
o world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever sun will always sing to you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
And this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

e.e. Cummings 

It’s February, and it’s time for my annual “Cubicle Cupids” article.  With Valentine’s Day approaching, your employees may have romance on their minds.  Let’s face it – the workplace is a convenient venue to find that special someone given the amount of time many employees spend together in the workplace, and of course, the shared experiences.  Office romances always have some impact on the workplace, and smart employers must be equipped to handle the issues which arise from these relationships. So, what arrows can you use to fill your quiver?

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SOME RESOLUTIONS FOR A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Here’s to the bright New Year,
and a fond farewell to the old;
here’s to the things that are yet to come,
and to the memories that we hold.”
– Unknown

The New Year is often a time to reflect on the past year and to set resolutions for the coming one. Not only is this a perfect time to work on personal growth, but it is also the perfect time to work on how you manage your relationship with your employees. Here are five considerations as you enter the New Year:

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HOW DISCIPLINE AND DISCHARGE OF PUBLIC SECTOR EMPLOYEES DIFFERS FROM THAT OF PRIVATE SECTOR EMPLOYEES

HR professionals and lawyers in West Virginia know that our State is an at-will employment state, meaning you can discharge an employee for a good reason, a bad reason, or any reason at all, as long as it is not done for an illegal purpose (e.g., discrimination, retaliation, or in contravention of some public policy).  While the at-will employment doctrine is alive and well in the private sector in the State (in some form or another), the same is not true for public employees. Many public employees are afforded additional protections in the areas of discipline and discharge that private sector employees simply are not afforded absent a collective bargaining agreement, an employee-friendly handbook, or other contract.  Whether public employees are at-will employees or have this protected status depends upon how they are classified and under which statutory scheme they are employed.  This post will generally cover what additional protections certain public employees are afforded that their at-will counterparts in both the public and private sectors are not.  Read More »

SPECIAL DELIVERY FROM THE FOURTH CIRCUIT: PREGNANT EMPLOYEES NEED NOT BE ELEVATED TO A “MOST FAVORED NATION STATUS.”

A few weeks back, my colleague, Joe Leonoro, wrote a blog entry entitled, “U.S. Supreme Court Tackles Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace,” which can be found here. In his post, Joe wrote about the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Young v. UPS, in which the Supreme Court overturned the Fourth Circuit’s affirmation of the district court’s grant of summary judgment to UPS in a pregnancy discrimination case. Specifically, the Court found that a question of fact remained as to whether UPS had discriminated against Ms. Young by refusing to allow her a light duty accommodation for the duration of her pregnancy. The Fourth Circuit, acting swiftly, issued its opinion less than one month later in which it again affirmed the district court and dismissed Ms. Young’s claim. stork-1 Read More »

CUBICLE CUPIDS AND THE WOES OF WORKPLACE ROMANCE

Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
Office Romances are Sweet,
Until Somebody Sues.

It’s February, and to quote Tom Jones “love is in the air, everywhere [you] look around.”  Depending upon the make up of your work force, dating amongst your employees may be a common issue for you. A recent survey conducted by Vault.com reported that 59% of respondents had been involved in a relationship with a co-worker.
Business-couple-kissing-006

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START OFF THE YEAR WITH BOTH REFLECTION AND RESOLUTION

If you are like me, the changing of the calendar year is often a time to reflect on the past year and to set resolutions for the coming one.  Not only is this a perfect opportunity to work on personal growth, but also to work on how you manage your relationships with your employees.  Here are five particular areas of reflection and resolution for the New Year which can help in that area:2011-year-resolution-400x400 Read More »

EMPLOYERS CAN LEARN LESSONS FROM SUCCESS AS MUCH AS THEY CAN FROM FAILURE

Recently, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Hentosh v. Old Dominion University, affirmed an award of summary judgment dismissing a retaliation claim against Old Dominion University.  In so doing, the Court also declared that, in a case where a district court does not have jurisdiction over a Title VII claim due to Plaintiff’s failure to timely file a charge with the EEOC, Plaintiff’s error does not deprive the court of the ability to hear a related retaliation claim.   Read More »

RETHINKING “LIGHT DUTY”

It is no secret that employers often struggle with fashioning light duty jobs for employees on the mend. A growing trend, however, is for employers to send employees in need of light duty assignments to work for charitable or community organizations wherein the employee receives his or her regular wage and the organization receives a “volunteer.”  By engaging in community service, the employee is returning to a job and is productive, albeit in new and different ways.  The employer is getting the benefit of goodwill in the community, as well as assisting the employee in the healing and reconditioning process.light-duty-job_sm

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