I’ve borrowed Garrison Keillor’s sign-off from his Writer’s Almanac as a way of bidding farewell for a while. It’s hard to imagine life without blogging, but I’ll just have to get used to it. I’ve been asked to become General Counsel and Vice President of Human Resources of the newly created CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries, Inc.
According to the author of this article, as employers cut perks that cost money, they’re looking for new perks that don’t cost money. Some employers are now allowing employees to bring their pets to work. There can be problems with such a perk, but a stressed employee will have a friend with him or her everyday to help alleviate the stress. If this becomes a significant trend, employers may decide to further cut costs by replacing employees with animals. And that’s when the Animal Employment Protection Act comes into play.
For the past two years, I’ve had a post commemorating Veterans Day. In 2008, the post gave a history of Veterans Day. In 2009, I wrote of Veterans Day in conjunction with the tragedy at Fort Hood. This year, I’m a day late because of a bit too much travel this week. It’s important every year for all of us — employers, employees, citizens — to remember the fallen and all veterans on this day.
A Los Angeles public school teacher killed himself after the Los Angeles Times recently published the database of “value added analysis” for all LA public school teachers on which the teacher in question didn’t fare well. The “value added analysis” uses improvements in student test scores to evaluate teacher effectiveness. The analysis is designed to replace the tenure system with a performance system. Its critics use the teacher in question as proof of its flaws. This teacher was regarded by his students and colleagues as a good teacher. He tututored students before school started and stayed with them after school if necessary.
Employers are doing more with fewer employees, which means employees are working more hours. That’s fine as long as nonexempt employees are paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. If they’re misclassified as nonexempt employees, employers will owe overtime for the extra hours being worked. That could amount to big money.
At times, I have surmised that one reason women are usually the victims of sexual harassment is that most men can’t resist the power of The Man Gene. A recent case demonstrates that some men can defeat The Man Gene and even be the victims of sex harassment. In EEOC v. Prospect Airport Services, Inc., a male employee filed a harassment claim against his employer and a female co-worker.
For a long time, an employment decision based on pregnancy has been against the law. It violates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which is part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Apparently, it’s not as well know as I thought, or employers continue to ignore the law, at least according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
I’ve been thinking about people I greatly admire. I’ve limited my thoughts to people I know. What is it about them that causes my admiration? As I compiled my list, I noticed that these people come from all walks of life. Some of them are leaders; some are not. Some are highly successful (as we normally think of success); some are not. My list contains significant diversity, however one defines diversity. So, what is it that makes them admirable to me?
I’m not sure there’s been an employment law subject receiving as much attention in the last 12-18 months as social media. Employers have implemented policies to prevent employees from using social media to put the employer in a bad light. The National Labor Relations Board has just issued a complaint contending that such policies can be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of worker fatalities, and distracted driving increases the risk of such accidents. Texting is the distraction of all distractions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the risk of a crash for a driver who is texting is more than 23 times higher than an undistracted driver. President Obama has signed an executive order banning texting by federal employees while driving government vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued regulatory guidance prohibiting commercial vehicle drivers from texting. Now OSHA has entered the fight against texting while driving. (Here and here.)
I have previously posted a survey of the laws in all 50 states concerning an employee’s right to vote. In case you’ve just heard about the survey, I’m giving you a link to the post again, so you can easily find it. In addition to the voting laws themselves, the post contains some practical tips concerning employee voting. Click here.
The owner of a chain of McDonald’s restaurants in Ohio sent a letter to his employees about the upcoming elections. The letter accompanied employee paychecks and said that employee wages could only be raised “if the right people” were elected. If others were elected, “we will not” raise wages. The letter encouraged employees to vote for Republican candidates in the Governor’s race, the U.S. Senate race, and a congressional district race. Then the walls of legal hell collapsed on the franchise owner.
Much has been written about how the great recession has changed things forever. Those over 50 and unemployed may never work again. Consumerism will never be the same. Home ownership as the primary means of saving and investing is history. Today’s children won’t have nearly as good a life as we’ve had. The workplace will never again provide security and a reasonable living for most people.
Once a hot employment law issue, drug testing has been cool for quite some time. Most courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have ruled that there’s nothing wrong with testing for unlawful drugs, particularly in the private sector. So, for two decades, an increasing number of employers do drug testing routinely. The types of drug testing most commonly done are pre-employment, for cause or reasonable suspicion (for example, when an employee is involved in an accident at work, seems to be under the influence of something, etc.), and random.
The recent hubbub over Virginia Thomas asking Anita Hill to apologize to her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, got me to thinking. Almost 20 years had past since the original Hill/Thomas conflict. It’s still referred to occasionally, but it hasn’t been an issue for a long time. After the substantial media coverage of Mrs. Thomas request for an apology, Thomas’ long-time former girlfriend decided to come forward with allegations that her relationship with Thomas made her aware of Thomas’ addiction to pornography. More media coverage.
Much has been written on this subject, and I’m not sure I can add much. It seems that most people are outraged; want Juan Williams rehired; and accuse NPR of wrongful termination. A firing always gets people upset. The more public the firing of a well-known person, the greater the chance for outrage. It’s not like Juan Williams is the first person to ever be fired for subjective reasons.
Citizens are angry. They’re angry with Democrats and Republicans. Some say there’s no difference between the two parties. Both are interested in power, not results. Right now, candidates from both parties are saying that this has been true in the past, but it won’t be anymore if whoever is talking is elected. Washington is the problem. Send outsiders, and change for the better will occur.
No one was disciplined or fired in connection with the Christmas day (2009) attempted airplane bombing. No supervisor of Major Nidal Hasan (the Fort Hood shooter) was disciplined or fired in connection with their failure to act on clear signs that Hasan was a danger to himself and others. (Here) And now (here and here), no one is being disciplined or fired in connection with the suicide bombing in 2009 at an Afghan base, which killed seven CIA employees. It’s clear now that critical warnings about the suicide bomber simply weren’t reported to other CIA.
An analogy between Macbeth and one of the most bizarre, polarizing, and deeply personal confirmation hearings ever conducted by the U.S. Senate in 1991 on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court may not seem clear. Not the first time my analogies have been off the wall. But there’s a legitimate HR or employment point here.