NLRB Decision Allows Non-Work Related Use of a Company Email System

Posted in Employee Policies, NLRB

Last week the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reversed the Register Guard decision and declared that employees who have access to a company email system now have the right to use that system, on non-working time, to voice their disagreement with their working conditions to co-workers and outsiders. The majority explained that email communications have become the primary means for discussion in the workplace and that a physically disconnected workforce depends on emails for interaction with co-workers, as well as with third parties. As a result of the NLRB’s opinion in Purple Communications, employers should begin reviewing their email policies because outright bans on non-work related use of the company’s email system will be subject to scrutiny by the NLRB.

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Illinois to Welcome New Year with New Employment Laws

Posted in State Law

Written by Howard L. Mocerf

Three new employment laws will take effect for Illinois employers beginning Jan. 1, 2015: the “Ban the Box” law prohibiting employers from including on job applications inquiries into whether an applicant has ever been convicted of a crime; the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) that imposes new requirements on employers for the treatment of pregnant employees and applicants; and amendments to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA) that permit employers to pay employees using payroll debit cards, but with strict requirements on their use. The author of this GT Alert discusses the details of PWFA and IWPCA, and advises Illinois employers to review their employment policies and procedures as necessary.

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Post-Shift Security Screenings Not Compensable Under FLSA

Posted in Compensation, FLSA

Written by Laurent Badoux and Christiana L. Signs

In a much anticipated decision this week, the Supreme Court held that activities that occur before or after a work shift are not compensable unless they are “intrinsic” to employees’ principal work duties. The decision restored a measure of predictability regarding the scope of compensability for pre- and post-shift activities, and came just in time for the holiday season. Employers who have geared up for a busy season by hiring temporary employees now have a certain level of comfort knowing that most pre- and post-shift activities will likely not be considered work time. However, the authors of this GT Alert suggest that employers remain mindful that not all pre- and post-shift activities are necessarily excluded from compensation, and that any potential exclusions should be carefully evaluated with assistance from legal counsel.

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Gaining Whistleblower Protection: Engaging in Activity Protected by Dodd-Frank is Not Enough

Posted in Whistleblower

Written by Michael J. Slocum and Eric B. Sigda.

A district court recently ruled that an employee simply engaging in activity protected by the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation provision is insufficient to gain whistleblower protection. The employee must first qualify as a whistleblower within the Act’s definition. The authors of this Greenberg Traurig Alert discuss the decision in Verfuerth v. Orion Energy Systems, Inc., and the scope of Dodd-Frank’s whistleblower protections.

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Obesity: Grounds for Unlawful Discrimination in Europe?

Posted in Disability, Discrimination

Written by Dorothé Smits and Johan Nijmeijer.

According to Eurostat, during the last decade, the population that is overweight in the European Union (EU) Member States has increased significantly, which has resulted in more than half of the EU population being overweight or obese. Last year the European Court of Justice (ECJ) was asked in a preliminary ruling in a Danish case – for the first time – which provisions of EU law, if any, apply to discrimination based on obesity. The Advocate General has recently delivered his opinion and the ECJ is now expected to render a ruling any time soon. In this Alert, the authors highlight the most relevant aspects of the Danish case and related EU case-law as it currently stands. It is likely that some of the issues will seem surprising to readers in the United States, inasmuch as, since the 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the courts have already begun to rule that severe or morbid obesity is a disability regardless of the cause.

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Massachusetts Voters Approve Ballot Question Mandating Paid Sick Time

Posted in Employee Policies, State Law

On Nov. 4, 2014, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question that entitles employees to earn up to 40 hours of sick time each year.

Employees who work for Massachusetts employers having 11 or more employees could earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year. Employees working for smaller employers could earn up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time per year.

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Labor Contractor and Independent Contractor Issues

Posted in State Law

California has, for a variety of reasons, become a particularly hostile environment for alternative workforces over the past few years. The court decisions over the past year have been quite aggressive in attacking a variety of independent contractor models. As has been the case, the key items of focus are the control the service recipient exercises over the worker providing the service and the question of integration of the work done into the general activities of the business to whom the services were provided.

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Employment Impact of the Imminent Issuance of Drivers Licenses to Persons Whose Presence in the U.S. is NOT Authorized by Federal Law

Posted in Immigration, State Law

When the California Legislature chose to go its own way on immigration reform in 2013, it pulled employers in California into the middle of the immigration debate and a potentially very high stakes enforcement game. The constitutional issues with California’s choice can be left for another day and another forum. We deal here, today, with what is. Among the seemingly more innocuous non-employment laws passed last year was AB 60, which directed California DMV to begin issuing documentation authorizing persons who are not authorized to be in the United States under federal law, to nonetheless be authorized to operate a motor vehicle in California.

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New Employment Practices Required by Federal Government Contractors

Posted in EEOC, Federal Law, State Law

Two Executive Orders have been recently issued requiring federal government contractors to adopt practices ensuring the fair treatment of certain classes of workers. A new GT Alert, authored by  Johnine P. Barnes, Ryan C. Bradel and Józef S. Przygrodzki, discuss the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order,” which makes a contractor’s compliance with certain federal and state labor laws a part of the procurement process, and the “LGBT Non-Discrimination Executive Order,” which prohibits government contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in hiring decisions.

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There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Posted in Benefits, Compensation, Tax

Employees at large companies have at various times received nice perks as part of their jobs. 401(k) matches are pretty standard fare these days. Bonuses on Wall Street and at other firms during bull markets are legendary. But sometimes the everyday work incentives are a little more generous.

The perks showered upon tech company employees in Silicon Valley are well documented: kitchens stocked with gourmet made-to-order meals; beer on-tap; colorful bikes to peddle around campus; break rooms with video game consoles, pool tables and other entertainment; fitness facilities and training classes; weekly concerts and team-building activities. Companies promote this culture as a “work hard, play hard” lifestyle that is good for the bottom-line because it creates happy employees who are diligent and stick around.

If you work for such a company, life is good – until the tax man shows up. What used to be a free incentive to employees that was deducted by the company may soon show up as taxable income on a W-2. The new worry about possible action by the Internal Revenue Service, and thus California action, comes from a recently released list of regulatory items the Treasury Department intends to pursue (referred to as the Priority Guidance Plan). The agenda item that has raised interest about the IRS plans simply states that the Treasury Department and IRS intend to provide “guidance under Sections 119 and 132 regarding employer-provided meals.”

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