Your colleague begins to choke on his sandwich at lunch. The courier trips on loose carpet in your office lobby. Your co-worker goes into anaphylactic shock. What to do? Good Samaritan laws are designed to indemnify individuals who provide reasonable assistance to others in a time of emergency. The laws are intended to encourage assistance without fear of legal repercussion for unintentional injury or wrongful death. These laws have an interesting role in the office setting.
Articles Discussing Human Resources And Other Workplace Topics.
On January 27, 2014, in Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. v. Hoeper, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a former pilot’s $1.4 million defamation judgment against Air Wisconsin Airlines. The high court held that airlines are protected from defamation claims if they make a materially true statement to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA). The Court further clarified an ambiguity in the “actual malice” standard in New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964). As a result, employers now have clearer guidance on what statements would be entitled to qualified immunity in response to employees’ defamation claims.
A measure that would prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants based on their unemployment status was introduced in both the House and Senate on January 29, 2014. Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Hank Johnson (D-GA), and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) co-sponsored the Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2014 (H.R. 3972, S. 1972) in their respective chambers. The bill would prevent employers and employment agencies from refusing to consider or offer a job to an unemployed individual; prohibit the publication in any medium of an advertisement or announcement for a job that includes language indicating the unemployed need not apply; and entitle those discriminated against to bring a civil action against the employer or employment agency for actual, compensatory and punitive damages.
Amid the usual litany of aspirational goals and objectives laid out during Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Obama termed 2014 “a year of action” and announced his willingness to bypass Congress and take steps to raise the minimum wage without legislation. Specifically, the President said that in the “coming weeks” he would issue an Executive Order (EO) requiring federal contractors to pay their employees at least $10.10 per hour. As described in a fact sheet, the EO “will cover workers who are performing services or construction” and apply prospectively.
Executive Summary: On January 13, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) announced the former operator of a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Corning, New York had agreed to pay $370,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the EEOC alleging violations of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”). In the lawsuit, the EEOC alleged the nursing home operator requested family medical history as part of its post-offer, pre-employment medical exams of applicants. The EEOC also claimed that the nursing home operator fired two employees because they were perceived to be disabled, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and refused to hire or fired three women because they were pregnant, in violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”).
Just ten months after the EEOC filed its first systemic lawsuit alleging violations of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) against a nursing and rehabilitation care facility, the agency settled the case for $370,000. As stated by the Commission in its press release, “Employers should take heed of this settlement because there are real consequences to asking applicants or employee[s] for their family medical history.” Indeed, this litigation signals to employers the EEOC’s commitment to pursuing GINA cases “to the fullest extent of the law to ensure that such genetic inquiries are never made of applicants or employees.”
New laws that went into effect on January 1, 2014, are a harbinger of what employers may expect to see in the coming year regarding workplace privacy: more restrictions on access to applicants’ and employees’ criminal history, credit information, and personal social media content. To further complicate the challenges of addressing privacy in the workplace, employers will be required to grapple with next-generation issues raised by the use of social media as a business tool and the increasing adoption of “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD) programs. As reflected in the summary below, the ever-shifting balance between employer prerogative and employee privacy likely will continue to move in a direction that favors employee privacy.
It’s the time of the season when many make well-intended resolutions for the New Year. Promises usually include ending bad habits and starting good ones. With resolutions in mind, what could human resource professionals focus on in 2014? In light of the current legislative and regulatory forecast, here are some possibilities (listed in no particular order) for consideration:
The temporary emergency unemployment compensation extension bill cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday when the chamber voted 60-37 to limit debate on the measure.
In 2013, the ballooning number of employment class actions illuminated the sea change in Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) litigation. The FCRA was enacted in 1970 during President Nixon’s administration, and is hardly in its adolescence. FCRA claims against employers, even class action lawsuits, are far from novel. Historically, though, such employment claims were infrequent and did not distract the plaintiff’s bar from the feeding frenzy provided by wage and hour laws. Now, the storm clouds undoubtedly are gathering under the FCRA, and thus the investment by employers in fortifying their FCRA compliance is likely to pay substantial dividends. Below, we summarize the FCRA and offer five recommendations for weathering the stormy seas in 2014.1
As always, the new year brings a host of new laws that are the product of our state and federal legislatures. Although many important changes were made to state and federal laws, 2013 saw a reduction of more than 30% in the number of labor and employment bills enacted as compared to 2012. While the total number is lower this year, these new compliance obligations are just as important for employers. This summary provides an overview and chart of new laws that become effective in 2014. As expected, California was again the busiest legislature, but no states were left out of the push to continue to regulate employers.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has introduced a bill that would prohibit employers from asking prospective employees about their credit histories or obtaining such information through a consumer or credit report. In addition, the Equal Employment for All Act (S. 1837) would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to prevent employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their credit worthiness. The bill would make an exception for jobs that require a national security clearance or where credit information is otherwise required by law. Notably, the bill does not include exceptions for positions in the financial services or banking industries.
Thank you to everyone who responded to this year’s Employment and Labor Law Final Exam. We hope the exercise was challenging and informative. Congratulations to our winners, Melissa Nance (Sumter, SC) and Carol Williams (Charlotte, NC). Melissa and Carol will receive a basket full of goodies from the Gourmet Shop in Columbia, SC.
Federal authorities recently commenced an investigation targeting a global financial services firm’s alleged practice of hiring the children of powerful Chinese officials, often through a program that used lower hiring standards for those with elite pedigrees, to help the firm win lucrative business in China.
The holiday season is upon us – a time when many companies (and/or managers) may be organizing holiday parties, decorating offices, throwing off-site parties or holding secret gift exchanges among coworkers. Many employers, however, do not realize the risks involved with celebrating the holidays and its festivities, including the potential for inadvertently involving religion or culture-specific activities and discussions in company-sponsored events.