Legal Issues

Cost of an unwanted birthday party: $450,000

April 28, 2022
Pro tip for managers: Listen to your employees! It generally makes for a more harmonious and productive workplace. In the following case, it could have prevented an unforced error that wound up costing an employer a six-figure jury award.

Document all accommodation conversations

April 14, 2022
Here’s the best way to prevent (or win) a lawsuit claiming you failed to follow the ADA’s interactive accommodations rules: Document every conversation, email, text or phone call related to disability accommodations. Create a chronological log showing what the employee requested, when and how you responded.

OK to penalize fighting, even if provoked

March 31, 2022
Will Smith’s Oscar night slap upside Chris Rock’s head may have only bruised celebrity egos, but it shined a spotlight on the importance of preventing physical conflict in professional settings. For employers, that usually means enforcing a strict policy that prohibits all physical violence.

Beware medical inquiries before making job offer

March 24, 2022
When hiring, asking the wrong question can be an expensive mistake. In one recent case, a worker who wasn’t even looking for a job walked away with a $75,000 payday because of a prospective employer’s ill-conceived question.

War puts national origin bias in the spotlight

March 17, 2022
After 9/11, workplace harassment of Muslims increased in the United States. During COVID, the EEOC reported a spike in discrimination against workers of Asian descent. Now legal experts are warning that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing some Russian-American employees in this country—and even simply employees with Eastern European accents—to be harassed and discriminated against based on their national origin.

Follow 3-part plan for returning to work

March 3, 2022
New CDC guidance maps the way from pandemic to endemic, like influenza. Coronavirus may become something that’s always there—hovering in the background—that we learn to work around. For employers, making that transition will require following a three-part strategy.

Provide lactation privacy for new mothers

February 17, 2022
For more than a decade, federal law has required employers with 50 or more employees to provide reasonable break time for workers to express breast milk for up to one year after the child’s birth. The other key part: Employers must also offer a private location (not a bathroom) that is shielded from view and free from interruptions.

Ensure bosses accurately track employee hours

February 17, 2022
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to accurately track all the time employees work. In many organizations, the task falls to front-line managers and supervisors. That sometimes creates a conflict: Bosses under pressure to control labor costs may be tempted to require employees to work off the clock.

No, you cannot require at-will employees to stay

February 3, 2022
Employment at-will means employers and employees alike are free to end the employment relationship at any time for any reason, or even no reason at all. One employer recently got lost on that two-way street.

Train bosses: No gender stereotypes at work

February 3, 2022
In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins that work rules based on stereotypes of how a woman should look and behave at work amounted to sex discrimination under Title VII. In 2020, the court expanded that protection to include stereotypes related to sexual orientation and transgender status.