Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Employment Law Blog Carnival for January 2014 is LIVE!

It’s a brand new year, and I, for one, am hoping for better things from the workplace … like a decrease in discriminatory behavior, workplace bullying, and general organizational stupidity… and oh, higher wages and more jobs.

Sigh.

Yeah, that’s probably not going to happen—especially that part about the stupid.

Still, the start of a new year is an opportune time for reflection, speculation, and conjecture, and let’s not forget those resolutions! (Actually, I take that back—let’s forget those.)

But enough about what I want. What does the gang that brings you the Employment Law Blog Carnival have to say about the world of work in 2014? Well shucks, keep reading and find out!

Adam P. Whitney of DamnedIf.com warns employers that even cases that win small judgments could still result in big bucks for those on the losing end once legal fees and costs are calculated. (Maybe 2014 will be the year more cases settle through mediation? Hmmm ...)

What else should employers strive for in 2014? Randy T. Enochs from Wisconsin Employment and Labor law Blog recommends ixnaying the stray comments about someone’s (advanced) age (yup, recommendations STILL needed), lest the employer end up in court fighting an age discrimination charge following a termination the employer thought was completely justified.

Another consideration when terminating an employee is whether certain forms of income provided by the employer (like disability payments) can be deducted from severance pay. Stuart Rudner of Canadian HR Law discusses what our Canadian neighbors would say about that, especially regarding pension payments.

Back in the states, Ari Rosenstein of CPEhr’s Small Biz HR Blog reminds us that the debate over a “living wage” will continue in the months ahead, with the federal government smack dab in the middle. Is it possible that the federal minimum wage will increase to $10.10 per hour in 2014? ….

Now dang it, I’m almost certain I requested less organizational stupid in 2014. Let me check … Yes! I did. Geez is anyone listening?? Certainly not that employer accused of forcing his employees to scream at ashtrays as part of a Scientology indoctrination. Eric Meyer of the Employer Handbook tells us all about it. As Eric reminds us, employers should refrain from mandating employee “participation in certain forms of religious expression without reasonably accommodating those who feel that participation would conflict with a sincerely-held religious belief.” (And yes, I’m aware these events took place prior to 2014, but come on, there’s enough stupid here to count for several years, easy.)

For those two employers really, really trying to do better in 2014, Jon Hyman of the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog offers a bit of employee-relations wisdom. Said wisdom comes from some disgruntled, talking crayons, but so what? I think employers need all the help they can get. Plus, who doesn’t want to know what a crayon would say if he could talk?

Hey! If this talking crayon were a lawyer who also blogs, how would the headline for his first article of 2014 read?

Well, I don’t rightly know, okay? But if the headline were salacious and dramatic, meant to convey the idea that Mr. Crayon Lawyer were presenting THE thing that will change the workplace forever, Daniel A. Schwartz of Connecticut Employer Law Blog would have a few words for him! As Daniel tells us, when it comes to employment law happenings, there's not a whole lot that's new under the sun, regardless of what those attention-grabbing headlines imply.

But we can’t let a few misleading headlines keep us from staying in the know, right? We still need to keep reading. And lucky for us, John Holmquist from Michigan Employment Law Connection has put together a legal heads up for 2014, even while admitting that “the likelihood of the enactment of additional employment laws is slim.”

And while John is looking ahead, Donna Ballman from Screw Your Guys, I’m Going Home is looking backwards (but sort of forward, too), by reviewing how well her 2013 employment law predictions fared. (She did good.)

But regardless of what anyone says, one thing is certain. In 2014 we’ll all continue to put our pants on one leg at a time, because going to work naked is a really bad idea, and that’s why God created workplace dress codes and people like Vanessa L. Goddard from Employment Essentials to provide legal (and commonsense) do's and don'ts every employer should know before drafting those workplace dress codes.

Besides turning up to work naked, another bad idea for 2014 would be not responding to notices from unemployment compensation. (Thank you, Michael Haberman from Omega HR Solutions, Inc.) Did you know (I didn’t) that a law passed by Congress in 2011 provides a means to penalize employers who don’t respond to notices from the UC if the non-response results in payments that shouldn’t have been made? Apparently, nearly $14 billion (that’s “billion,” with a “b”) was overpaid in 2011. (Seriously, UC, y'all need to get it together.)

Anyhoo… for all those whistleblowers concerned that it’s time for their employers to get their stuff together, OSHA has provided a little help. Mark Toth from ManpowerGroup Blogs tells us about the new online tool that makes it easier for whistleblowers to file complaints. (Listen up, employers!)

And that’s not the only resource for beleaguered employees in this here law blog. Heather Bussing from HRExaminer has provided a handy-dandy five-question questionnaire for anyone thinking of filing a lawsuit. The answers aren’t always pretty, but they’re important. (Whaddaya think? Less employment lawsuits in 2014?)

And if that’s not enough, Liza Favaro of Non-Compete Counsel lists all the reasons a non-compete could be deemed unenforceable in court (while teaching me a new word, “fungible,”—although I’m not sure I like that word applied to people, Liza. Just sayin’), which could be real helpful to someone bound by an overly restrictive non-compete (as well as those responsible for crafting non-competes, I imagine).

And in a spooky coincidence (okay, maybe not that spooky), Robert B. Fitzpatrick of Fitzpatrick on Employment Law has a few words to say about non-competes as well, specifically the enforceability of physician non-competes.

Well, I believe that about does it for the 2014 January issue of the Employment Law Blog Carnival. Bring it on 2014!