As attorneys, of course we are delighted to answer questions from our clients – even basic ones. But the U.S. Department of Labor has provided many free resources for employers to educate them about and help them comply with their obligations under a multitude of workplace laws. A particularly useful tool that many employers may not know about is the elaws Advisors. Although the elaws Advisors are directed at workers and small employers, they provide an excellent overview of numerous federal employment laws for employers of all sizes.

Continue Reading Employers, You Don’t Always Have to Call Your Attorney First… Take a Look at the US DOL’s elaws Advisors

Maryland’s highest court has ruled that the federal Portal-to-Portal Act has not been adopted or incorporated into Maryland’s Wage and Hour Law, Wage Payment and Collection Law, or the corresponding state regulations – meaning that employers may be responsible for more wages for their Maryland employees under state law than under federal law.

Continue Reading Maryland Employers Beware – State Wage Laws Do Not Incorporate Federal Portal-to-Portal Act and Its Exclusions from Compensation

I know we’re all tired of COVID-19, and many of us are just pretending that life has returned to normal. But, just as the darned variants continue to evolve, so does the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s What You Should Know About COVID and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws guidance. This week, the EEOC updated a number of its Q&As, with some more targeted guidance for employers. Of particular interest (at least to this management-side attorney) are the newly-identified factors that employers should consider to establish a business-necessity for viral testing and those that are relevant to the direct threat assessment.  Here’s our summary of most of the updated questions:

Continue Reading The EEOC Updates Its COVID Guidance for Employers – Testing, Accommodations, Direct Threat and More

Have you read the warnings on prescription painkillers? They can be pretty scary – “May cause drowsiness.” “May cause dizziness.” “Do not operate a car or dangerous machinery.” (Or words to that effect). I think by now, everyone is aware of the risks associated with controlled substances. Certainly, the opioid epidemic did not earn its name lightly. So it’s not surprising that some employers are concerned when employees take prescription medications that come with those warnings – particularly when those employees are working with heavy machinery or sharp objects, or getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. But it is important for employers to understand when they can – and cannot – prohibit employees on such medications from working.

Continue Reading Employers – Don’t Automatically Assume Prescription Meds Pose a Danger in the Workplace

When considering a request for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, many employers focus on what will enable an employee to perform the essential functions of their job. But the reasonable accommodation obligation is actually broader than that. As set forth in the EEOC’s regulations, employers must also provide reasonable accommodations that enable an employee with a disability “to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated employees without disabilities.” And this encompasses certain activity outside the workplace – such as parking.

Continue Reading Reasonable Accommodations Don’t Just Start at the Office Door…

As reported in the New York Times, more than two dozen employees were injured last week during a team-building activity in which they walked over hot coals in their bare feet (?!!!). The Times described that “Ten ambulances, two emergency medical teams and police officers from multiple agencies were deployed to help, according to the Zurich police. Thirteen people were briefly hospitalized.” The Times further noted that this activity – originally a religious ritual found in a number of cultures – has become popular as a corporate team-building exercise in recent years. (Ummmmm….)

Continue Reading Extraordinary Workplace Misconduct: Perhaps Firewalking Is Not the Best Team-building Activity…

Under a 2018 law, Maryland employers with 50 or more employees are required to submit a report by July 1, 2022 to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights regarding any sexual harassment settlements during the past two years.

Continue Reading Maryland Employers: Your Sexual Harassment Disclosure Survey Response Is Due by July 1, 2022

In today’s episode of “They Really Made a Federal Case Out of That?” the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) rejected a union’s claim that a hotel employer was obligated to bargain its decision, or the effects of its decision, to purchase and use fluffier king size pillows in its hotel rooms. (Your tax dollars at work, my friends!) Continue Reading Hotel Did Not Need to Bargain Over Puffier Pillows, says NLRB…

In this third (and final) post of our mini-series based on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s pay discrimination article, we’ll take a look at the barriers to pay equity identified by the EEOC and their suggestions for preventing pay discrimination. As previously noted, the EEOC issues a quarterly digest of EEO law that sometimes includes an article, like this one, providing insight into the EEOC’s approach to (and expansion of!) discrimination protections for employees. Again, while the EEOC’s article is focused on the federal workplace, many of their observations and action items are equally applicable to the private workplace. Our first post discussed pay discrimination claims under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII, and the second addressed the intersectionality and sex-plus discrimination theories. So now we move from the legal theories to the practical considerations.

Continue Reading The EEOC Speaks: Pay Discrimination – Barriers and Suggested Actions

In my first blog post in this little series based on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s article “In Pursuit of Pay Examining Barriers to Equal Pay, Intersectional Discrimination Theory, and Recent Pay Equity Initiatives,” I covered the EEOC’s explanation of the difference between pay discrimination claims under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII. (As I explained last time, the EEOC issues a quarterly Digest of EEO Law that occasionally contains articles of interest to the private employer community. Prior articles that I’ve shared include those on fragmentation of harassment claims,  religious discrimination, comparing harassment prevention to crime prevention, and new types of race discrimination, among other things). In this post, we’ll review the EEOC’s take on intersectionality (one of the EEOC’s new favorite topics) and sex-plus discrimination in the context of pay discrimination claims. Continue Reading The EEOC Speaks: Pay Discrimination – Intersectionality and Sex-Plus