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Employment Law Articles

Beware of making tipped workers do non tip-earning tasks

Many employers in the service industry take what’s called a “tip credit.” In other words, they pay workers performing tip-generating tasks a lower wage (as little as $2.13 an hour, far below the federal minimum wage) with the expectation that tips will make up the difference. There’s also been a controversy for some time over whether tipped workers have to be paid at least minimum wage for time spent on non-tipped tasks. For example, do restaurant

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Firing workplace harasser may not be enough to avoid responsibility

A recent Virginia case highlights the importance of addressing reported harassment in the workplace quickly and supervising your managers in the process. It also shows that even eventually firing the harasser won’t be enough to shield you from liability if you didn’t respond sufficiently at first. In this case, employee Perry Funk claims that a male coworker subjected him to sexually inappropriate conduct, including opening his fly and thrusting his crotch in Funk’s face and grabbing

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Employer’s delay waives right to arbitration

If your employees have signed an agreement to arbitrate any employment disputes, you need to act fast if you really want to keep the case out of court. If you sit on your rights, you might lose them. That happened recently in Rhode Island, where an exotic dancer brought a class action against the club she worked for, claiming it misclassified her and other dancers as “independent contractors,” resulting in their losing out on pay the

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Employer’s dilemma: balancing ADA requirements with rules of the workplace

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must accommodate workers with disabilities. If an employer takes a negative employment action (firing, refusing to hire, demoting, refusing to promote, etc.) against an employee with a physical, mental or even emotional disability, the disability can’t be the reason. If an otherwise-qualified employee needs reasonable (not overly burdensome) accommodations for his or her disability in order to do the job, the employer must provide them. Employers also face

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Employer can’t stop employees from taking selfies at work

An employer cannot ban all audio and video recording in the workplace, a federal appeals court recently decided. In the case in question, cellular giant T-Mobile included several controversial rules in its employee handbook, including a rule encouraging a “positive work environment,” a rule prohibiting arguing and failing to demonstrate “teamwork,” and a rule prohibiting all photography and audio/video recording without prior permission from management, HR or legal. A communication workers’ union challenged these rules before

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Suit over workplace comments can go forward in part

It’s a popular misconception that “freedom of speech” protections in the Constitution mean that you can say whatever you want in any circumstance and not have to deal with negative fallout. The truth is, your First Amendment rights protect you from being arrested, prosecuted, fined or imprisoned for things you say. But if you’re a worker expressing opinions at work that others find objectionable, don’t count on the law necessarily protecting you from employment consequences. If

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Thin line between ‘social networking’ and solicitation

LinkedIn is probably the most popular social media site for connecting with other professionals. That’s because users provide only work-related information on their pages, such as skills, experience, certifications, and networking groups. As a result, people have felt comfortable connecting with pretty much anyone in order to increase the size of their networks. But a recent Illinois case demonstrates that some employers will try to take action against professionals over whom they connect with on LinkedIn

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Calif. employers can sue workers for online defamation

In recent years, websites like glassdoor.com and vault.com have given workers an online forum to write anonymous reviews of their employers, providing an insider take on salaries, working conditions, management style and anything else a prospective job applicant might want to know. A lot of times an employer might receive negative reviews that it thinks are unfair. But traditionally employers have had little recourse against employees who post nasty comments since the postings are anonymous unless

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What employers need to know now about the new tax bill

The new tax law passed winter of 2018 has been very controversial for a number of reasons. Critics say it’s going to increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion and its benefits are going to flow primarily to huge corporations and the very wealthy. Others say it’ll fuel economic growth with more business investment and hiring. But what hasn’t been talked about as much is how its provisions could impact the workplace and employers’ practices. One

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Use personality tests with caution during hiring process

Personality assessments are a commonly used tool for employers to evaluate applicants during the hiring process. But recent settlements between the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and two large retail chains, CVS and Best Buy, suggest that companies using these tests should tread carefully. That’s because, according to the EEOC, these tests may be racially or culturally biased, creating a pattern of discrimination against racial or ethnic minorities. The EEOC did not accuse either company of

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