Can employers violate employees’ rights by creating policies that prohibit certain hairstyles at work? New York City and California think so; and they likely won’t be the last jurisdictions with a say on the matter.
Just this year the New York City Commission on Human Rights issued guidelines saying that while employers can require that employees maintain a work-appropriate appearance, a grooming policy that prohibits locs, cornrows, fades, Afros, and other such hairstyles will be considered racial bias. Specifically, the guidelines state:
For employers, flu season is a great time for a checkup – not with your doctor, but with your policies and procedures related to employee sick leave. Below are some common questions employers may have about how to handle employee sick leave during this flu season.
A wave of class action lawsuits has been filed alleging violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), a statute aimed at regulating how companies use information based on “biometric identifiers” such as fingerprints and retina scans. Violating BIPA can be costly, so employers operating within Illinois should review their business practices to determine whether they are using “biometric information” and plan accordingly.
The National Labor Relations Board has long held employers cannot stifle employee communications about the conditions of their employment in general handbook confidentiality clauses, but on Aug. 27, the NLRB took that prohibition one step further.
In a 2-1 decision, the board ruled The Boeing Co.’s confidentiality restriction for employees under HR investigations violated the National Labor Relations Act. (Boeing Co., 2015 BL 278958, 362 N.L.R.B. No. 195, 8/27/15.)
Whether it’s using a company laptop at home or accessing social media and other personal sites via an office desktop computer, the lines between an employee’s personal and work lives are increasingly blurred.
As revealed by the recent Ashley Madison website hack, many employees across the United States use business computers and business email accounts for very personal reasons — reportedly over 15,000 email addresses used to register accounts were linked to government or military servers. However, dealing with an employee who “cheats” on an employer’s computer, Internet or email use policy may not be as simple as it seems.
On this blog, we have previously written about employee handbooks and arbitration clauses in the employment setting. However, the Missouri Court of Appeals recently weighed in on what happens when you combine the two by inserting an arbitration clause in an employee handbook. The results were not good for the employer.
There are two schools of thought on employee handbooks. The kitchen sink approach is to throw in everything that could be useful and defer the decision on actually enforcing particular provisions until the need arises. Arbitration clauses often fall in that category. The other – and better – view is to treat the handbook as a guiding document that sets rules not only for the employees but the employer as well.
“We're all throwing the dice, playing the game, moving our pieces around the board, but if there is a problem the lawyer is the only person who has read the inside of the top of the box.” – Jerry Seinfeld
Employers often find it difficult to set and manage their expectations for employees. Like playing a board game, however, managing employees is markedly easier and purposeful when the rules are clear, widely read and consistently followed. Workplaces, like board games, operate smoother and more efficiently when everyone is aware of and familiar with the rules. And, like board games, people are best served to read the rules before beginning.
The use of medical marijuana is currently authorized in 18 states and the District of Columbia. Two of these states—Colorado and Washington—have also legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Despite these recent changes in state law, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, creating confusion as to how the passage of these laws will affect employers’ rights in the workplace.
The simple answer is that state laws legalizing marijuana (whether for medicinal or recreational use), do not change an employer’s rights. Federal law still prohibits the use of marijuana, even for medicinal purposes.