New York City is often on the fringe.  From its fashion to its tall buildings to its restaurants, the Big Apple likes to be cutting edge.  Even when it comes to its laws.  Really, who can forget the controversial proposed ban on “big” sugary sodas?  Fortunately, that specific attempt to regulate personal choice was ultimately stopped in its tracks.  Continue Reading New York City Proposes Right to “Ignore Your Boss” Law

In a previous post about pet bereavement leave, I noted that the Family and Medical Leave Act does not provide leave to care for an ill or dying pet. (Because a pet is not technically a family member. Really. Despite how we pet-owners feel about our fur babies. That’s mine in the picture.) But I also said that, “if an employee becomes depressed because of the death of a pet, it is possible that this could rise to the level of a disability that would require a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or a serious health condition for which leave must be granted under the [Family and Medical Leave Act].” I further noted, however, that most people may experience grief but not become clinically depressed as the result of a pet’s death. So my interest was piqued by a recent case in which the employee claimed that his insomnia following his dog’s death was a serious health condition under the FMLA. Continue Reading No FMLA for Pet’s Death

Apple has a new $5 billion headquarters building on its campus in Cupertino, California.  It was constructed from the imagination of iconic founder, Steve Jobs, who envisioned the structure with its glass-encased interior and exterior rings as a true “temple of design” (according to the San Francisco Chronicle).  In fact, architecture and interior design often are aspirational.  We construct spaces to reflect not who we are, but who we would like to be, to elevate us from the clutter of our messy lives to a higher plateau.  We seek feng shui – uplifting energy.  Sometimes, however, concept clashes with real life (like when I realized my amazing new master bathroom with the walk in shower and granite counters had no place to hang hand towels; my interior designer thought that towel rings would interrupt the feng shui).
Continue Reading Does Apple’s New HQ Violate OSHA?

The National Labor Relations Board’s Office of the General Counsel recently issued an Advice Memorandum and, although the employer and employee names are blanked out, it obviously is about James Damore and Google. Unless you have been in the wilds of Pago Pago for a year, you have heard the story of James Damore, the “Googler” (that’s what they call themselves at Google) who, in response to one too many company diversity training initiatives, prepared a memo to convey his thoughts and engage in open dialogue. Continue Reading NLRB GC Is Woke! (In more ways than one…)

Employers struggle with the challenges of social media platforms that allow employees to post information, complaints, and even disclose confidential company information on an anonymous basis. Often, the information is false or misleading – but employers usually find little recourse, as we’ve discussed in a previous post, Employee Warning – GlassDoor Posts May Not Always Be Anonymous (in which we discuss the rare case where the employer triumphs). This week, CNN Money reported on another new app, “Blind,” for employees to make these anonymous postings. Continue Reading Another Anonymous Employee Posting App? Watch Out!

My world shifted slightly last week, when a federal court in Texas ruled that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could not enforce its Enforcement Guidance on “Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” After all, for years now I had looked to this Guidance as the EEOC’s definitive position on the use of criminal background records, particularly in hiring. I had referred clients to it, provided legal advice based on it, cited it in articles and presentations…. But now? Continue Reading No Enforcement of the EEOC’s Criminal Background Check Guidance?

Emojis and emoticons, which we all use to add flavor and emotion to dry, text based communication on our phones, emails, or Facebook messages, have become points of contention in a variety of legal disputes. (For those of us not in the know, emoticons are created from a standard computer keyboard while emojis are more commonly used when texting or using social media.) This phenomenon should not be too surprising, as there are now an estimated 2,600 emojis (and counting) and they are so commonly used that emojis even had their own feature film this summer, The Emoji Movie (albeit to questionable reviews). Continue Reading Employers – Don’t Let Your Emojis Get the Best of You

I am a luddite (meaning that I fear technological change) and am wholly inept when it comes to my smartphone. I know it can do many marvelous things of which I am unaware – but apparently it has a darker side as well, as illustrated by a recent case, Lee v. Trees, Inc. In that case, the court threw out an employee’s Title VII lawsuit because she had submitted fabricated texts, supposedly from her supervisor, to support her claims of sexual harassment and retaliation. Continue Reading Fabricated Texts? Something Else for Employers to Be Aware Of…

Just before the holidays, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice was rescinding 25 documents that the agency considered to be unnecessary, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper. The DOJ’s press release, which includes quotes from Sessions regarding his decision to withdraw the guidance can be accessed here. Of note, he categorized the process agencies have been adopting in the digital age (especially under the Obama Administration) of publishing a letter or posting a webpage to signify a change in agency guidance to be an “abuse” of the regulatory process, as prescribed by Congress. Continue Reading The ADA Under Attorney General Sessions

Only days after California started selling recreational pot, which had been legalized under state law, CNN reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will announce that he is rescinding Obama-era guidance that had set forth a policy of federal non-interference with state legalization laws. This action further complicates an already confusing situation for employers struggling with how to navigate the battling federal and state laws on the workplace impact of marijuana use. Continue Reading The Federal Government Is Challenging State Legalization of Marijuana – What Does This Mean for Employers?