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Searching for Articles published in May 2013.
Found 7 Results.

Employee Personal Devices and Work-Related Risks: Trying to COPE

Posted on May 23, 2013, Authored by Ruder Ware Attorneys, Filed under Employment

BYOD (short for Bring Your Own Device) policies are all the rage these days. This is understandable given the ostensible BYOD benefits bounced around as conventional wisdom including, but not limited to: (1) organizational cost savings [BYOD proponents claim it's cheaper for companies if employees purchase their own smart phones]; (2) fostering an environment of increased productivity and collaboration [BYOD proponents claim an employee is more inclined to be productive when using a device with which he or she is already familiar]; and (3) eliminating the so-called "two pocket problem" [BYOD proponents claim the inefficiencies caused by mandating exclusive use of a "corporate" phone/device for business and exclusive use of a "personal" phone/device for pleasure justifies BYOD]. Yet, notwithstanding the undeniable popularity of BYOD policies, the inherent risks involved are equally undeniable including, but not limited to: Information security risks [how does the company protect confidential, proprietary and trade-secret information stored on a personal device; query whether the company is comfortable with a non-corporate repair technician fixing the device if technical difficulties arise as they typically do] Undetected and unrecorded "off-the-clock" work that could give rise to unpaid overtime claims for non-exempt personnel [e.g., if the dual-use phone/device rings or pings in the middle of the night, query whether an employee is inclined to respond to a work-related message creating compensable time] Reimbursement concerns [federal law prohibits employers from requiring employees to pay for business-related expenses if doing so would reduce wages below minimum wage; some state laws also have reimbursement requirements that may be implicated by BYOD] Privacy of employee personal data [including risks associated with "wiping" a personal device upon separation of employment] Burden [and associated cost] on IT department of having to configure a seemingly infinite number of devices and platforms In light of the considerable risks associated with BYOD policies, including the few mentioned above, some employers are strongly considering an emerging alternative - so-called "COPE" policies (short for Corporate Owned Personally Enabled). COPE policies implement a different IT strategy, through which employers maintain ownership of phones/devices but also relax anachronistic standards concerning personal use of such phones/devices. The key to COPE is corporate ownership which affords the company a much greater level of control and oversight over use and disclosure of confidential, proprietary and trade-secret information [and reduces the likelihood of post-employment separation issues, such as loss of confidential information or solicitation of company customers when a former sales employee owns the device and thus, owns his or her contact telephone number]. COPE policies make it easier for IT to implement Mobile Device Management options built into devices which allow employers to remotely control and configure the devices. COPE policies can also be tailored to address other concerns, including those mentioned above. BYOD policies are appropriate for some, but not all, workplaces. The good news - employers struggling to accept the risks that come with BYOD have a new, viable coping mechanism.

Employers are NOT Required to Notify of Union Rights

Posted on May 14, 2013, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Employment

A federal district court decision has struck down an administrative rule proposed by the National Labor Relations Board that would require all private sector employers to notify their employees of the right to join a union. The recent decision held that this rule was not lawful and constituted an unreasonable exercise of administrative rule-making powers because the methods identified to enforce the rule could not be exercised by the NLRB. This rule was never actually implemented because of the legal challenge which has now caused the rule to be held unenforceable. Employers will not have to do anything because of this ruling. More important, employers will not be required to post a specific notice indicating what rights an employee has to join a union or form a union at their place of business. This is a small victory for employers at a time when many administrative rules are being created to facilitate union representation and union organizing efforts. Employers should be ever watchful of potential new administrative regulations governing the employment relationship.

Supreme Court to Decide Validity of NLRB Appointments

Posted on May 16, 2013, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Employment

President Obama has asked the United States Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decision and hold that the President's appointment of three members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was constitutional and proper. These appointments took place in January, 2012 at a time when the Congress was in a recess between sessions of Congress but were not, under the Constitution on an official break between sessions of Congress. While it is hard to understand the distinction, the more important issue is that the National Labor Relations Board has lost its power to influence union/management activities because of the questions regarding the enforceability of any NLRB decision. The NLRB under President Obama has been very active, especially in the area of enforcing employee rights to pursue unionizing or engaging in conduct that could lead to unionizing efforts. This is particularly noted in the area of social media where the NLRB has been very forceful in issuing decisions and legal guidance limiting the right of an employer to discipline an employee because of their postings on social media that are critical of the company. While there is a significant question regarding the enforceability of these decisions because of the lack of a majority of NLRB members, employers must still be sensitive to taking discipline against individuals because of their social media commentary. Employers do not want to be scrutinized by the National Labor Relations Board even if there is a question regarding its ability to enforce an order against a company. The NLRB scrutiny could result in employees looking favorably upon union representation. To avoid this scrutiny, employers should be careful when considering discipline for social media commentary and give progressive warnings before making a decision to terminate an employee.

Anita Seering Selected for Prestigious Paralegal of the Year Award

Posted on May 28, 2013, Authored by ,

Ruder Ware is pleased to congratulate Anita Seering on receiving the "Paralegal of the Year" Award from the Paralegal Association of Wisconsin (PAW). At present, there are approximately 3000 paralegals in the state of Wisconsin with over 200 of these paralegals members of PAW. The "Paralegal of the Year" award is the most prestigious award given by PAW. The award celebrates the dedication and efforts of an individual exemplifying a successful paralegal. Honorees are not only heavily involved within their firms but also their communities, giving back civically. Vusala Bentley, previous award recipient, board member for PAW, and founding member and Director of PAW Wausau Chapter, comments, "Anita was instrumental in providing procedural and emotional support while the Wausau Chapter of PAW was in the process of being founded. She possesses the talents and drive of the ultimate paralegal and somehow, still finds time to serve on the board of the Women's Community." A senior paralegal with Ruder Ware, Anita has been a business law paralegal for over 30 years. She focuses on transactional corporate law matters involving mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, and private equity financing. Her responsibilities include coordinating due diligence and assisting at managing documentation for live and electronic closings, as well as handling post-closing matters. In addition, Anita works with business clients, ranging from single entrepreneur start-ups to large, well-established businesses, assisting with the initial organization of all types of business entities, as well as ongoing legal compliance.

Aggressive Investigation Strategies - EEOC

Posted on May 21, 2013, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Employment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces federal laws relating to the employment relationship, particularly in the area of discrimination. The EEOC recently issued a new Strategic Enforcement Plan which gives employers a clear indication of what will be the focus of investigations by the EEOC. The EEOC said they have limited funds so they will be focusing their resources on the following areas: Hiring and recruiting especially the use of criminal background checks and various types of screening tools used by employers to narrow the candidate pool for new positions; Harassment of all types from sexual harassment to racial harassment; Reasonable accommodation and undue hardship determinations as well as pregnancy and sexual orientation discrimination are considered emerging issues that will have priority; Equal pay with particular focus on audits of federal projects; Immigrant and highly underpaid worker rights; Review of employer agreements and releases used to obtain protection from an employee claim that may be overbroad or non-compliant with federal regulations. Employers need to be aware of these target areas and make sure that training is done so that the supervisors on the forefront in the workplace are aware of these areas of concern and are trained on how to properly make employment decisions. Employers should also review their personnel policies and procedures to avoid a potential investigation by the EEOC.

2014 Health Savings Account Cost of Living Adjustments

Posted on May 2, 2013, Authored by Mary Ellen Schill,

The Internal Revenue Service today announced the cost-of-living adjustments for the HSA contribution limits and for High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums for 2014. HSA/HDHP Requirement Cost-of-Living Adjustments Limit on HSA Contributions - Self-only HDHP 2013 - $3,250 2014 - $3,300 Limit on HSA Contributions - Family HDHP 2013 - $6,450 2014 - $6,550 HDHP Required Deductible - Self-only HDHP 2013 - $1,250 2014 - $1,250 HDHP Required Deductible - Family HDHP 2013 - $2,500 2014 - $2,500 HDHP Out-of-pocket Maximum - Self-only HDHP 2013 - $6,250 2014 - $6,350 HDHP Out-of-pocket Maximum - Family HDHP 2013 - $12,500 2014 - $12,700 HSA Catch-up Contribution Limit 2013 - $1,000 2011 - $1,000 All of the above are for calendar year 2014. For further information, please contact Mary Ellen Schill, the author of this article, or any of the attorneys in the Employment, Benefits & Labor Relations Practice Group, or the Business Transactions Practice Group of Ruder Ware.

Accommodation for Disabled Applicant?

Posted on May 29, 2013, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Employment

We are seeing more and more requests from an applicant to have some type of accommodation for the individual to be considered for a vacant position. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued an informal letter to a public employer outlining the duties of an employer to make an accommodation for an applicant that suffers from a disability. Legal Counsel for the EEOC made it clear that the requirements of Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 required a public agency to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified applicants for a vacant position, unless to do so would cause an undue hardship. The same requirement would exist under the Americans with Disabilities Act that is applicable to all private employers. In discussing what type of accommodation must be made to an applicant, Legal Counsel said that an "accommodation is a change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done, that would enable an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities." Legal Counsel went on to say that "the accommodation is "reasonable" if it "seems reasonable on its face," i.e., if it appears to be "feasible" or "plausible." An accommodation also must be effective in meeting the needs of an individual so for a job applicant, the accommodation should enable the applicant to have an equal opportunity to participate in the application process and be considered for a job. EEOC also stated that an employer must engage in an informal process (often known as the "interactive process") to clarify what the individual may need, and to identify the appropriate reasonable accommodation for the applicant to participate in the hiring process. This would necessitate the employer asking individual, relevant questions that would enable the employer to make an informed decision about any requests from the applicant for an accommodation. An employer may also require that there be documentation provided by the applicant to document or identify the applicant's disability and the functional limitations that the applicant suffers from. The employer may require that this documentation be from an appropriate health care or rehabilitation professional. This would include doctors (including psychiatrists), psychologists, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, vocational rehabilitation specialists, and licensed mental health professionals. An employer does not have to provide all accommodations that may be requested by an applicant. The employer does not have to provide an accommodation that would impose an "undue hardship" on the operation of the employer. It is important to understand that the undue hardship determination must be based on an individualized assessment of current circumstances that show whether a specific reasonable accommodation would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer. Employers are experiencing more requests for accommodation from applicants seeking employment. In these cases, the employer must participate in an interactive process and address whether or not an accommodation is needed and can be provided for the applicant to be given an equal opportunity to be considered for a vacant position. Employers must be careful to do an interactive process by meeting with the individual and asking for information that may be needed to assess whether or not an accommodation is necessary and would actually work.