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Supreme Court Applies 2nd Amendment to State and Local Gov’ts — Employers?

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Supreme Court Applies 2nd Amendment to State and Local Gov’ts — Employers?

In McDonald v. City of Chicago, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms applies to state and local governments just as it does to the federal government. This ruling is hardly surprising in light of the Court’s decision two years ago in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Court found that the District of Columbia’s absolute ban on the possession of handguns (similar to what Chicago’s ordinance did) violated the Second Amendment.

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Tip of the Week — Clarifying Problems

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Tip of the Week — Clarifying Problems

As you may have noticed, I’m not blogging as much right now as I usually do. That’s partly because of my current schedule and partly because I need some time to refresh and recharge. I won’t fall off the grid completely, however. I’ll be doing a post here and there and relying on the posts of some fellow bloggers. This week’s tip or tips come from three of my favorite bloggers. They provide significant diversity of thought and a lot of good practical advice related to human resources, the workplace, employment law, and life.

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Lincoln on Generals

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Lincoln on Generals

I don’t know whether President Obama considered how President Abraham Lincoln dealt with his generals during the Civil War in deciding how to deal with General McChrystal. Lincoln would have been a good resource, since he had more than his fair share of trouble with generals. And this is what he concluded:

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McChrystal and Insubordination

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McChrystal and Insubordination

The definition of insubordination is sometimes elusive. Everyone seems to agree that insubordination can result in a discharge. The question that causes disagreement is whether whatever the conduct in question is actually constitutes insubordination. I’m not in a position to judge what kind of job General Stanley McChrystal has been doing in Afghanistan, but I feel certain that what he said and did as reported in Rolling Stone amounts to insubordination. President Obama didn’t have to fire McChrystal, but he’s absolutely justified in doing so from an employment law standpoint. Employers who struggle with the meaning of insubordination should file this incident away as a good example of the offense.


Kagan’s Supreme Court Stats

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Kagan’s Supreme Court Stats

When I did the first post on Elena Kagan’s Solicitor General briefs, I indicated that she had submitted briefs in nine cases having employment law implications. As noted in my last post, one of them involved the same issue as New Process Steel v. NLRB recently decided by the Supreme Court. One of them (Mohawk Industries, Inc. v. Carpenter) is a strictly procedural case and doesn’t seem worth discussion for purposes of discerning anything about her labor and employment views.

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Supreme Court Disagrees with Kagan — Voids 600 NLRB Decisions

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Supreme Court Disagrees with Kagan — Voids 600 NLRB Decisions

The only Elena Kagan brief I haven’t covered was filed in the case of New Process Steel v. National Labor Relations Board. (She also filed one in National Labor Relations Board v. Laurel  Baye Healthcare of Lake Lanier, but this case involved the same issue decided in the New Process Steel case.) New Process Steel concerned the issue of whether the NLRB could properly decide cases with only a two-member board. Representing the NLRB’s position, Kagan argued as Solicitor General that the NLRB could act with only a two-member board. The Supreme Court has now decided that it couldn’t.

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Supreme Court Upholds Email Monitoring — Agrees with Kagan

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Supreme Court Upholds Email Monitoring — Agrees with Kagan

A few days ago, I did a post on the brief Elena Kagan filed as Solicitor General in the case of City of Ontario v. Quon. The U.S. Supreme Court has now decided this case, and its unanimous decision sides with the argument Kagan made in her brief. As  you may recall, this is the only brief filed by Kagan as Solicitor General supporting an employer’s position.

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Minimum Wage — HR Song of the Week

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Minimum Wage — HR Song of the Week

They Might Be Giants brings the Fair Labor Standards Act into the HR music mix. “The minimum wage is guaranteed. But I can’t make it this day and age.” When Congress has another debate on increasing the minimum wage, it might be good to have this song playing in the background. Or it might not, depending on your point of view. “Land of the free. Home of the brave. I can’t make it on the minimum wage.”

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Upside-Down Supervision

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Upside-Down Supervision

Two nights ago, a subject I’ve blogged about recently (here, here, here, here, and here) — supervisors — came readily to mind. Because of bad weather, I found myself with many others stuck in an airport. Most everyone had missed connecting flights. We were instructed to go to ticketing for a next-day ticket. We might as well have been ordered to embark on a death march. It was 1:15 a.m.

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Worst Interview Ever? Close

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Worst Interview Ever? Close

Some interviews go well. Some don’t. If one is going to interview for a job, however, he should give it his best shot. He should exude confidence. He should prepare. He should know the difference between up and down. That’s difficult — perhaps impossible — for an idiot. With jobs being as tight as they are, the guy on this video clip will be unemployed for a long time.

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Percy on the Ordinary

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Percy on the Ordinary

All year, we have been bombarded with extraordinary events.  Unfortunately, these events have begun to impact adversely things we usually view as ordinary or perhaps take for granted: the marshes of Louisiana; the beaches of Alabama and Florida; fishing as a way of life; going on a camping trip; buying a house; getting a loan; having a job; etc., etc. etc. We are fascinated by the extraordinary. The great Southern writer, Walker Percy, thought we had it backwards and had some very simple advice we perhaps should seriously consider now and in the future:

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Kagan’s Brief on Monitoring Email

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Kagan’s Brief on Monitoring Email

A closely watched case before the Supreme Court right now is City of Ontario v. Quon. The case deals with the question of how far a government employer can go in monitoring an employee’s email. The case was argued before the Court two months ago. This case gives the Supreme Court its first opportunity to address head-on an issue that’s increasingly a point of conflict in the workplace. Moreover, most employers have some type of Internet usage policy that permits the monitoring of employee email.

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Kagan’s Brief on Title VII’s Statute of Limitations for Disparate Impact

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Kagan’s Brief on Title VII’s Statute of Limitations for Disparate Impact

The City of Chicago administered a written examination to 26,000 applicants as part of its hiring process for entry-level firefighters. After scoring the tests, the results were grouped into three categories: applicants who scored 89 or above deemed “well qualified”; applicants who scored between 65 and 88 deemed “qualified”; applicants who scored lower than 65 deemed as having failed the exam. The “well qualified” group consisted of 75.8% white and 11.5% African-American. African-American applicants filed suit, contending that the cutoff scores had a disparate impact on racial minorities.

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Evaluating Supervisor Performance Evaluations — Tip of the Week

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Evaluating Supervisor Performance Evaluations — Tip of the Week

Recently, I had a post wondering whether it was time to stop performance reviews. Then, I had a post making the case for stopping performance reviews. While reactions to such notions are always interesting, it’s quite unlikely that performance reviews are going away. This week’s tip: If you’re going to keep them (and I suspect most of you will), then at least evaluate the manner in which your supervisors do the evaluations. Part of the review of a supervisor should be how he or she evaluates subordinate employees. If you don’t do this, that’s another reason for the serious consideration of putting performance evaluations on the shelf to stay.


Kagan’s Brief on Deference to Plan Administrator Under ERISA

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Kagan’s Brief on Deference to Plan Administrator Under ERISA

Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), it’s well settled that the administrator of a benefits plan governed by ERISA is entitled to significant deference in making decisions concerning the plan, unless a decision by the administrator is found to be arbitrary and capricious. In Conkright v. Frommert, the Xerox Corporation changed its pension plan. The plan administrator interpreted the changes, and this decision was challenged.

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