EEOC to host meeting about social media on March 12, 2014 – this should be lively!

March 11, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Posted in EEOC, Employee, Employer, Employment Law, Facebook, New employment laws/amendments, Social Media/Social Networking | Leave a comment
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PRESS RELEASE DIRECTLY FROM THE EEOC’S WEBSITE

3-5-14

Next EEOC Commission Meeting on March 12

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold a meeting on Wed., March 12, at 9:30 a.m. (Eastern Time), at agency headquarters, 131 M Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20507. In accordance with the Sunshine Act, the open session of the meeting will be open to public observation of the Commission’s deliberations.

The Commission will hear from invited panelists on how the use of social media in the workplace is impacting the enforcement of equal employment opportunity laws. Participants will address a range of issues, including recruitment and hiring, harassment, and records retention and discovery. The Commission is scheduled to hear from the following confirmed panelists during the meeting (in order of appearance):

  • Carol Miaskoff, Acting Associate Legal Counsel, EEOC, Office of Legal Counsel
  • Rita Kittle, Senior Trial Attorney, EEOC Denver Field Office (via video teleconference)
  • Lynne Bernabei, Partner, Bernabei & Wachtel PLLC
  • Renee Jackson, Associate, Nixon Peabody LLP
  • Jonathan Segal, Partner, Duane Morris LLP; Managing Principal, Duane Morris Institute, testifying on behalf of the Society for Human Resource Management

Seating is limited, and the EEOC encourages visitors to arrive 30 minutes before the meeting in order to be processed through security and escorted to the meeting room. Visitors should bring a government-issued photo identification card to facilitate entry into the building.

The Commission meeting agenda is subject to revision. Additional information about the meeting, when available, will be posted at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/index.cfm.

As part of the EEOC’s commitment to cut costs whenever possible, every effort is being made to utilize local resources and technology to facilitate testimony. The agency will continue to fulfill its mission to stop and remedy employment discrimination by balancing the need to provide service to the public with fiscal responsibility.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

NLRB strikes down yet another Social Media Policy, this time it is Georgia-Pacific’s policy that must be revised

January 24, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Posted in Employee, Employer, Employment Law, Facebook, Legal, Social Media/Social Networking, union | Leave a comment
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The NLRB has reached a settlement with Georgia Pacific regarding the Company’s Social Media Policy.  Georgia Pacific’s Social Media Policy had prohibited employees from sharing “personal information” such as wages/compensation, hours, and other “terms and conditions of employment.”  Georgia Pacific must now post a notice, approved by the Regional Director of the NLRB, telling the Company’s employees about their rights to:

1.  Form, joint or assist a union;

2.  Choose a representative to bargain with Georgia Pacific on the employee’s behalf;

3.  Act together with other employees for the employees’ benefit and protection;

4.  Choose not to engage in any of these protected activities.

Take a look at the notice that must be posted:  http://www.local1097.org/index_htm_files/NLRB.pdf

Georgia Pacific must also post information that it will NOT issue policies that interfere with the employees’ right to share information relating to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment with other employees, including on social media sites.

Social Media issues continue to be a hot topic, evolving it seems on a weekly basis.  Take out your policy, review the policy, and examine how far your policy goes in limiting the information employees can share.

The above is not legal advice nor is this posting the creation of an attorney client relationship between the Sensenig Law Firm and the reader.

It’s only a bill, yes only a bill, sitting there on Capitol Hill – but it is something to be aware of!

November 20, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Employee, Employer, Employment Law, FLSA, New employment laws/amendments, wage & hour | Leave a comment

As taken directly from http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th/senate-bill/1687?goback=%2Egde_2479785_member_5808759237924397059#%21
 Summary: S.1687 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)

There is one summary for this bill. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Introduced in Senate (11/12/2013)

Payroll Fraud Prevention Act of 2013- Amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) to require every person (including every employer and enterprise) that employs an employee or non-employee who performs labor or services, including through an entity such as a trust, estate, partnership, association, company, or corporation, to: (1) classify such individuals accurately as employees or non-employees; and (2) notify each new employee and new non-employee of his or her classification as an employee or non-employee, together with information concerning their legal rights.

Makes it unlawful for any person to: (1) discharge or otherwise discriminate against an individual (including an employee) who has opposed any practice, or filed a complaint or instituted any proceeding related to this Act, including with respect to an individual’s status as an employee or non-employee; and (2) wrongly classify an employee as a non-employee.

Doubles the amount of liquidated damages for maximum hours, minimum wage, and notice of classification violations by an employer. Subjects a person who: (1) violates such requirements (including recordkeeping requirements) to a civil penalty of up to $1,100; or (2) repeatedly or willfully violates such requirements to a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation.

Directs the Secretary of Labor to establish a single webpage on the Department of Labor website that summarizes the rights of employees and non-employees under the FLSA and this Act.

Amends the Social Security Act to require, as a condition for a federal grant for the administration of state unemployment compensation, for the state’s unemployment compensation law to include a provision for: (1) auditing programs that identify employers that have not registered under the state law or that are paying unreported compensation where the effect is to exclude employees from unemployment compensation coverage, and (2) establishing administrative penalties for misclassifying employees or paying unreported unemployment compensation to employees.

Requires any office, administration, or division of the Department of Labor to report any misclassification of an employee by a person subject to the FLSA that it discovers to the Department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). Authorizes the WHD to report such information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

What this means for employers is the employees MUST be notified as to whether they are exempt or non-exempt from overtime, as well as how the employer is classifying the employment relationship – employee or independent contractor.

The above is not legal advice and there is no attorney client relationship created between the author of this post and the reader.

Sometimes it is fun to do something a little less serious…..

August 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=90b255b20087b1d87f7762948&id=6d415880d0&e=056708127e

 

 

The new Form I-9 is here – along with newly revised M-274 Handbook!

March 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Posted in E-Verify, Employee, Employer, Employment Law, H2-A, I9, Immigration, Legal, New employment laws/amendments | Leave a comment
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It is hard to believe but the U.S. government actually issued a new Form I-9 without ten years of committee meetings to discuss those revisions.  The new Form I-9 is here, effective March 8, 2013, for all employers to begin using.  The questions will continue to roll in about the new format, about what documents to accept, about what pages to keep, and how the new Form I-9 affects internal Form I-9 audits.

The newly revised Form I-9 can be found at:

http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf

Another surprise is that the Form I-9 Handbook, the M-274, was revised as well – the revised version was released yesterday.  Please print the new M-274 and review it carefully.  This revised version of the M-274 has color photos and better examples of the documents usually provided to employers by non-citizens.

http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/m-274.pdf

Follow the instructions carefully and be sure that the form I-9′s you keep have the list of documents on the back of the actual completed portion.

There will be confusion as to how to address concerns.  E-verify will also be affected by the new Form I-9.  Stay posted for updates!

The above is not legal advice nor is this posting the creation of an attorney client relationship between the Sensenig Law Firm and the reader.

FMLA adds news protection for military veterans and flight crews

February 5, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Posted in Employee, Employer, Employment Law, FMLA, Health Care, New employment laws/amendments | Leave a comment
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Today, February 5, 2013, is the 20th anniversary of President Clinton’s signing into law the Family Medical Leave Act.  It is only fitting that today is also the day new regulations extending the protections under the Act are released.

The FMLA was amended in 2008 in 2010 to provide additional protection for employees with family members serving in the Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserves.  These amendments not only protected the service member, but the family who had to act quickly to ensure a speedy departure for that individual.  The FMLA was also amended to include a special eligibility provision for airline flight crew employees.

The expansion of the military regulations provides families of eligible veterans with the same job-protected FMLA leave currently available to families of military service members, and it also enables more military families to take leave for activities that arise when a service member is deployed. The second expansion modifies existing rules so that airline personnel and flight crews are better able to make use of the FMLA’s protections.

The acting Secretary of Labor, Seth D. Harris issued the following quote today about the new regulations:

“Enabling our military families to care for their loved ones without fear of losing their job and to actively participate in deployment, reunification and recovery reflects our deeper understanding of the role family members have in sustaining an all-volunteer force. Today’s rule makes clear this administration’s strong, ongoing commitment to respond to the needs and sacrifices of our military families. The rule also helps ensure that pilots and flight crews will no longer need to choose between career and caring for a loved one.”

The rule, being expanded today, implemented congressional amendments to the FMLA permitting eligible workers to take up to 26 workweeks of leave to care for a current service member with a serious injury or illness. Exigency leave is also permitted, allowing eligible employees to take up to 12 workweeks of leave for qualifying exigencies arising out of active duty or call to active duty in support of a contingency operation of a family member serving in the National Guard or Reserve. As stated on the Department of Labor’s website:  “This means that workers can attend a spouse’s farewell and welcome home ceremonies without being penalized at work. They also can spend time with family members on leave from active duty service without risking their jobs.”

For more information, including the rule, a military leave guide, fact sheets and other materials, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/2013rule.

A debt of gratitude is owed to the people who protect us; this amendment provides a small way for employers to say “Thank You” to those individuals, and their families, for their service.

The above is not legal advice nor is this posting the creation of an attorney client relationship between the Sensenig Law Firm and the reader.

Directly from the Department of Labor’s website: Obama administration moves forward to implement health care law, ban discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions

November 27, 2012 at 1:28 am | Posted in Employee, Employer, Employment Law, Health Care, New employment laws/amendments | Leave a comment
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The information below is taken verbatim from the Department of Labor’s website: 

Release Number: 12-2311-NAT

Obama administration moves forward to implement health care law, ban discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration moved forward today to implement provisions in the health care law that would make it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. The provisions of the Affordable Care Act also would make it easier for consumers to compare health plans, and employers to promote and encourage employee wellness.

“The Affordable Care Act is building a health insurance market that works for consumers,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Thanks to the health care law, no one will be discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition.”

“The Affordable Care Act recognizes that well-run, equitable workplace wellness programs allow workers to access services that can help them and their families lead healthier lives,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Employers, too, can benefit from reduced costs associated with a healthier workforce.”

The Obama administration issued:

  • A proposed rule that, beginning in 2014, prohibits health insurance companies from discriminating against individuals because of a pre-existing or chronic condition. Under the rule, insurance companies would be allowed to vary premiums within limits, only based on age, tobacco use, family size and geography. Health insurance companies would be prohibited from denying coverage to any American because of a pre-existing condition or from charging higher premiums to certain enrollees because of their current or past health problems, gender, occupation, and small employer size or industry. The rule would ensure that people for whom coverage would otherwise be unaffordable and young adults have access to a catastrophic coverage plan in the individual market. For more information regarding this rule, visit
    http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/market-reforms11202012a.html.
  • A proposed rule outlining policies and standards for coverage of essential health benefits, while giving states more flexibility to implement the Affordable Care Act. Essential health benefits are a core set of benefits that would give consumers a consistent way to compare health plans in the individual and small group markets. A companion letter on the flexibility in implementing the essential health benefits in Medicaid was also sent to states. For more information regarding this rule, visit

    http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/ehb11202012a.html.

  • A proposed rule implementing and expanding employment-based wellness programs to promote health and help control health care spending, while ensuring that individuals are protected from unfair underwriting practices that could otherwise reduce benefits based on health status. For more information regarding this rule, visit
    http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2012/11/wellness11202012a.html

http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/ebsa/EBSA20122311.htm#.ULQVdxgmyRs

 

Employers need to become informed as to their responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act as employees will have questions and penalties will be assessed against eligible employers who fail to comply with the law.

 

 

The current Form I-9 expires August 31, 2012 – but an extension of the Form has been granted!

August 22, 2012 at 1:22 am | Posted in agriculture, E-Verify, Employee, Employer, Employment Law, H2-A, I9, Immigration, New employment laws/amendments | Leave a comment

Until further notice, employers should continue using the Form I-9 currently available on the forms section of http://www.uscis.gov.  This particular I-9 Form should continue to be used even after the OMB control number expiration date of August 31, 2012 has passed. The Immigration Service will provide updated information about the new version of the Form I-9 as it becomes available.  We waited well over ten years for the last revision so I am not particularly optimistic that a new version will be issued anytime soon.

Employers must complete Form I-9 for all newly-hired employees within 72 hours of commencement of employment to verify the employee’s identity and authorization to work in the United States.

Manatee County Teacher who posted unflattering comments about a student on Facebook is not disciplined by the Florida Department of Education

August 11, 2012 at 1:39 am | Posted in Employee, Employer, Employment Law, Facebook, Legal, Social Media/Social Networking, union | Leave a comment

The Florida Department of Education has declined to apply discipline to Lauren Orban, the Manatee County Music Teacher who made snarky comments on her personal Facebook page regarding a student in her class.  The Manatee County Superintendent, Tim McGonegal, had previously asserted that teachers were governed 24/7 by the amorphous  Teacher Code of Conduct such that Ms. Orban’s conduct could be sanctionable.  This author respectfully disagrees that someone’s status as a teacher means they can’t ever be frustrated with a student, or that they can never think an unflattering thought about a student.  Ms. Orban made a poor judgment call in sharing work related comments with social network “friends”, not all of whom were necessarily inclined to keep her comments confidential.  While the First Amendment does not usually apply to your employer’s premises, this writer would argue it does apply to a personal web page created during personal time and accessed and used during non-work hours.

It is significant that the Manatee County School Board does not currently have in place a social media policy.  This lack of a policy could have had an impact on the DOE’s decision not to assess discipline against Ms. Orban; without a policy in place to provide guidance to teachers, teachers are not aware of the rules that could be applied to their personal web usage – on their own personal time.

In this case, Ms. Orban was disciplined by her Principal.  The matter was thought to have been resolved at that level, but the student’s Mother was unhappy with what she perceived to be a lack of punishment for Ms. Orban.  Publicity ensued, a report was made to DOE, and the DOE  just recently refused to further sanction any of the teachers involved in making the Facebook comments.  For want of a social media, a child was embarrassed, a teacher’s reputation was harmed, and a School District was maligned.

This unfortunate situation shows the need for employers – public and private sector – to have clearly defined policies as to the employer’s guidelines – and prohibitions – when using social media.

For more information, please refer to the recent Sarasota Herald Tribune article:

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20120808/ARTICLE/120809646

Also see ABC 7′s site for an article and an interview with me on this topic:

http://www.mysuncoast.com/content/topstories/story/What-you-can-safely-say-on-social-media/aOaZBBBvAUqDK_gmqpyS1g.cspx

 

 

Manatee County School Board in News Again For Teacher Facebook Comment Problems

July 10, 2012 at 12:22 am | Posted in Employee, Employer, Employment Law, Facebook, Social Media/Social Networking, union | Leave a comment

The last time Manatee County’s School Board was in the news it was due to a teacher’s comments on Facebook about allegedly being inebriated, including alleged profanity Facebook style.  See my prior October 2010 and January 2011 blog postings.  Challenges were filed regarding the disciplinary action attempted, and the parties agreed to settle their differences outside of the administrative process.  The Manatee County School Board said then it would attempt to draft policies about Facebook use by teachers and staff; those policies were never issued.  This author hypothesizes that it was just too difficult to come to  consensus on a policy that balanced the privacy rights of teachers with the School Board’s asserted duty to uphold their Handbook policies and the various codes and statutes that govern teacher conduct.

Manatee County is again in the news because a music teacher in Manatee County, Ms. Lauren Orban, recently made disparaging comments on her Facebook page about one of her second grade students.  The teacher’s friends on her Facebook page, including fellow teachers, joined in the conversation.  One of these Facebook friends provided copies of the conversation to the administration at Ms. Orban’s school.  At some point, the media learned of the incident and now the student’s parent is calling for Ms. Orban’s termination.   Ms. Orban has been reported to Florida’s Department of Education for additional inquiry into whether her conduct violates the very broad Teacher Code of Conduct.

Manatee County’s School Board is back to the drawing board on the need to create policies that govern Facebook and teachers.  Teachers – and other professionals – have been warned as a matter of good professional practice not to “friend” students or subordinates.  In today’s modern age, students communicate via technology – text, Facebook, or IM – rather than via older more traditional methods like phone trees and fliers.  Teachers of drama or other clubs have found Facebook to be an effective method of communicating with their students as to practices and event reminders.  When creating policies, the District may want to carve out exceptions for this type of “friending” or communication.

In an interview with ABC 7 here in Sarasota, Florida, Manatee County School District Superintendent McGonegal stated that teachers need to be aware that wherever they are, their Facebook postings could be an issue.  This statement is troubling in that I do not think the Manatee County School Board has the right to govern what teachers do or say in the privacy of their own homes behind closed doors, say at 1:30 a.m.?  Teachers, and other public employees, have due process rights in their jobs.  In the private sector here in Florida, an “at-will” employment state, as long as a termination is not based upon a discriminatory reason, an employee can be terminated for no reason at all.  Writing Facebook policies governing private sector employees is a simpler task due to this “at will” status.  Facebook policies reflecting the expansive view expressed by Superintendent McGonegal will likely be met with a challenge from the local teacher’s union as well as civil rights groups.

For more information, go to ABC 7 reporter John McQuiston’s article about the issue, along with my reported comments:

http://www.mysuncoast.com/content/topstories/story/What-you-can-safely-say-on-social-media/aOaZBBBvAUqDK_gmqpyS1g.cspx.

For more information about the series of events at issue, including the actual comments made by Ms. Orban, go to ABC 7 reporter Max Winitz’s article:

http://www.mysuncoast.com/content/topstories/story/Bradenton-teacher-in-hot-water-after-Facebook/Kw8YaII46kyi4U7bys4WAA.cspx.

I will post updates to this story as they occur.

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