Personnel policies are designed to inform employees of the types of conduct that are acceptable or unacceptable. They, obviously, can only give a general overview and are subject to interpretation and application by the employer on a case-by-case basis. A recent decision arising out of a Tweet by a Vice President of Human Resources shows that such policies will be strictly construed against employers in Pennsylvania.
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.”
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.
How do you pay your employees? Although payroll debit cards can be attractive to employers and employees, employers should proceed with caution when utilizing them. Employers cannot require their employees to receive wages on a payroll card; other alternatives, such as paper checks and direct deposit, must also be offered, and these requirements vary from state to state.
Whether 2015 was good, bad, or ugly for you, 2016 is here, offering a clean slate of opportunity. Whether you want to improve your health, your relationships, or your professional life, the first step is to make a New Year’s resolution. A true New Year’s resolution is much more than a well-intentioned plan that you consider in the abstract during the serenity of your commute, between the craziness of work and home; it is something you are committed to – something you put into action and see to its completion – despite resulting difficulty.
“For, although common Snarks do no manner of harm, Yet, I feel it my duty to say, Some are Boojums –.” So goes the warning in Lewis Carroll’s 1876 poem The Hunting of the Snark. In the poem, a hunting party pursues the harmless Snark but is warned along the way that some Snarks are actually highly dangerous Boojums. If one meets a Boojum, he will “never be met with again!” At the conclusion of the story, one member of the crew believes he has found a Snark and calls out to his friends – but when they arrive, they find that he has vanished without a trace, “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.”
The NLRA requires employers whose employees are represented by a union to maintain the employee’s existing terms and conditions of employment and to negotiate with the union before implementing any changes to those conditions. Even fundamental changes in the business itself, which are exclusively the prerogative of management and not subject to bargaining, will give rise to a bargaining obligation over the effects of those decisions on unionized employees.
Regular readers of the Employment Essentials blog know that we frequently post articles about the interplay between the workplace and social media. Most of our social media posts relate to the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB”) frequent examination of the topic. In fact, two years ago this month, I posted an article about a decision from an Administrative Law Judge with the NLRB Division of Judges who found that Facebook postings constituted protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).
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.
We recently discussed here the National Labor Relations Board’s (the Board) first-ever ruling on employees’ social media postings. Now, three weeks after its initial decision, which found that Costco’s policies regarding social media were overbroad and could restrict employee activities protected by the National Labor Relations Act, the Board has issued another decision on social media. In Karl Knauz Motors, Inc. d/b/a Knauz BMW and Robert Becker, the NLRB gave employers a modest win.