Conducting Legal Background Checks On Applicants And Employees

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

With the number of harassment, discrimination and other employee lawsuits growing, besides examining their internal policies, employers need to be careful about who they hire. Apart from calling previous employers and schools and checking for any lawsuits with the courts, many businesses will also consider using a vendor to do a background check and to look at an applicant’s social media posts. The key to staying on the right side of the law is following the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Despite its name, the law covers more than just credit checks. It governs how an employer or a third…
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Businesses Pay Record Amounts for Lawsuits over Employee Treatment

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Employers are paying out more for legal settlements and judgments for cases brought by employees over how they are being treated. According to the employment law firm of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, settlements for the 10 biggest class-action suits brought by employees grew an astounding 55% to $2.72 billion in 2017 from $1.75 billion the year prior. The trend in employee class actions reflects a similar trend of individual actions, which should be a wake-up call for employers to review their human resources policies and practices. These cases include claims for: • Wage-and-hour violations (such as insufficient pay, failure to pay…
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#MeToo Movement to Spawn Wave of Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

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After revelations of sexual misconduct by a number of high-power executives, media personalities and politicians last year spawned the #MeToo movement, defense lawyers are predicting a record number of sexual harassment lawsuits will be filed against employers in the coming year. The #MeToo movement has emboldened women who have been sexually harassed, abused or worse by a work superior or co-worker to come out and tell their stories. Any employer whose workers were subjected to this kind of behavior is at risk of being sued, regardless of whether or not the employer knew about the incident. The costs of sexual…
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Is Your Workplace Prepared for Legal Marijuana?

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Christina Barbuto has Crohn’s disease, a debilitating gastrointestinal disorder. Her physician prescribed medical marijuana to treat the symptoms, as allowed by Massachusetts state law. When she interviewed for a job that required a drug test, she informed her would-be supervisor of her condition and prescription. The supervisor assured her that this would not be a problem, and she got the job. But, after her first day of work, a representative of her employer’s human resources department called her at home and fired her for failing the drug test. She sued the company for discrimination, and in July 2017 the Massachusetts…
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Respond quickly and effectively to harassment, discrimination complaints

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Employers need to respond swiftly when employees complain about discrimination or harassment and the response must be effective, a U.S. District appeals court has held. When a company addresses workplace it is responsible for ensuring that its solution will stave off further harassment or discrimination, a court of appeals has held in a case of a father and son who were eventually fired after complaining about harassment. The case illustrates the need for an employer to not only act swiftly to respond and investigate claims of harassment or discrimination, but also to ensure that any remedies that are put in…
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Employment Liability Threat Grows; What to Watch Out for

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One of the biggest lawsuit threats U.S. businesses face is from their own employees. Any company with employees – be that one or 500 – can be sued, and even if the case never goes to court, it can create a significant burden for your business. While most cases are settled out of court, they can drag on for as long as two years. Even if they are dismissed as meritless, the employer is often out thousands of dollars as a result. To best protect your business from these types of claims and more, you need to learn how to…
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New Workplace Notice Requirements Take Effect

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IF YOU have more than five employees you are required to have in place as of April 1 anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and complaint investigation policies. You are also required to post starting April 1 a notification to your employees about California’s pregnancy disability leave law. The regulations, updated by the California Fair Employment and Housing Council, were spurred by recent court decisions. If you have not done so, now is the time to review your anti-harassment, discrimination and retaliation policies. Steps You Need to Take Now • Include a mechanism that permits employees to complain to someone other than his or…
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How to Reduce Your Liability during Company Holiday Party

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If you’re throwing your staff a Christmas party this year, don’t forget that holiday soirees also mean increased liability for workers’ comp, harassment and third-party injuries. For example, did you know that if one of your staff is injured at your holiday party it could trigger a workers’ comp claim, since it could be considered “within the course and scope of employment”? Workers’ comp and employment law attorneys have different opinions about this, but the overriding consensus is that some of it could become a workers’ comp claim if: • Attendance is mandatory, regardless of whether it’s expressed or implied….
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EEOC Opens up New Discrimination Class: Sexual Orientation

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

In a step that creates a new protected class, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal under federal law. The ruling is significant since it essentially sets the stage for employers being susceptible to a new class of lawsuits, opening up an additional area of liability. While discrimination based on sexual orientation is not spelled out in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it does bar sexual discrimination and the commission ruled that “an allegation of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is necessarily an allegation of sex…
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Same-sex Marriage Ruling and Your Employee Benefits

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages are valid and should be performed throughout the United States. While the ruling in the case of Obergefell vs.Hodges is about personal liberties, it also will have an effect on employers’ employee benefit plans – and you need to know how to respond. First, in its ruling the court did not touch on sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. As a result, the decision does not require employers to treat the same-sex spouses of their employees the same as opposite-sex spouses with respect to the provision of health and welfare benefits….
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