Elf: one too many Christmas spirits

December 19, 2014 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

With Christmas just around the corner, my family and I have begun our yearly ritual of re-watching our favorite holiday films.  At the top of the list is a relatively newer addition, Elf.  The comedy stars Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human who crawls into Santa’s sack and ends up being raised by Papa Elf at the North Pole.  After learning that he is actually human rather than an elf, Buddy decides to travel to New York to find his biological father, who works at a children’s book company and happens to be on the Naughty List.  Much of the film’s comedy and charm comes from Buddy’s child-like innocence and genuine holiday cheer as he tries to navigate the cynical world of New York City.  At his father’s office, this same innocence leads Buddy to mistake a mail room worker’s whisky for delicious maple syrup.  As you can imagine, a six-foot tall elf can cause quite a ruckus in the workplace after having too many spirits.

Employers are well aware that illicit drug use and alcohol abuse can be costly in the workplace.  Drug-free workplace programs can be powerful tools in spreading prevention messages and intervening early with those who have already begun to use drugs.  For many individuals, especially those who may deny that their use of drugs is problematic, workplace-based programs can be a critical step along the road to treatment and recovery.  Every workplace is different and drug-free workplace programs should be tailored to match a company’s individual needs.  Some general recommendations for such programs are:

read more…

Employee personal information – the gift you don’t want to give this Christmas

December 16, 2014 - by: Josh Sudbury 0 COMMENTS
Josh Sudbury

You may have heard the news of the monumental data hack on Sony late last month, where several personal e-mails, rough cuts of movies, and screenplays were obtained and released without authorization by the media giant. According to several news outlets, the e-mails in particular reveal personal gripes about certain celebrities (shocker!) and have raised allegations of pay disparities among stars and starlets. shutterstock_171929321

Below the surface of these salacious allegations lies a more common problem: employee personal information.  According to reports, hackers also allegedly stole—and are threatening to release—sensitive, personal information belonging to Sony employees, including Social Security numbers and detailed medical information. This has serious implications under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which sets the baseline for protection of employees’ protected health information (PHI) across the country. Individual states can add their own protections.

read more…

Marky Mark and the Convicted Bunch

December 11, 2014 - by: David Kim 0 COMMENTS
David Kim

Just last week, Mark Wahlberg filed a formal petition with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts seeking a pardon for his 1988 criminal convictions for assault and battery by a dangerous weapon and possession of marijuana, amongst others. These crimes occurred well before Wahlberg became the public figure we all know from his work as an actor and film/television producer. Heck, these crimes happened before Wahlberg and his Funky Bunch were giving us all good vibrations and letting us know it’s about that time to bring forth the rhythm and the rhyme.shutterstock_96574432

There has been some blowback from certain individuals about Wahlberg’s petition, particularly and understandably from advocates for the victims of his crimes. From an employment perspective, however, what is interesting are the reasons that Wahlberg is seeking a pardon. In his petition, Wahlberg talks about the “formal recognition” an “official public redemption” would offer. But his petition also states that his criminal history prevents him from obtaining a concessionaire’s license in California and elsewhere, a likely troublesome issue in light of his “Wahlburgers” joint venture with his brothers (“Our family, our story, our burgers” – catchy isn’t it?). In addition, Wahlberg states that his criminal record precludes him from obtaining positions in law enforcement and that a pardon would help him continue his efforts to help at-risk individuals through his current involvement with law enforcement and other charitable ventures. While we like to think otherwise, there are some laws and regulations that even famous people cannot circumvent.

read more…

Ranking the high court

December 01, 2014 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

When football season kicked off earlier this year, I took the chance to glean some insights for HR professionals from the difficult job facing the new college football playoff selection committee. Now that we’re coming up on the end of the football season, I’m turning to the committee once more for inspiration.shutterstock_105026918

As I write, the selection committee is chewing over this weekend’s results and will let us know its judgment on the four best teams (so far) in college football. Soon, they will choose the “final four” who will play a two-week tournament to decide the national champion. Right now, Alabama and Oregon are pretty much the consensus #1 and #2. Despite Florida State’s best efforts to play their way out of this thing, they keep finding ways to win and are generally #3 by default. Mississippi State (last week’s #4) took it on the chin from their archrival, Ole Miss, so the committee will apply its eye test and pick a new #4 (and leave an angry #5 and #6). My money is on TCU at #4.

read more…

Workingjay

November 24, 2014 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Inspired by The Hunger Games trilogy, some employers may feel the urge to pile the employees onto a bus, head off site, and pit coworker against coworker in some form of physical competition under the guise of “team building.” Savvy employers are always looking for new and better ways to motivate the troops, solidify relationships, and build some esprit de corps. What better way than to take the workforce on a high-action field trip?

But they better be mindful of employment laws, particularly OSHA regulations, state tort law, and state workers’ compensation laws. shutterstock_196000976 In February 2009 OSHA published a letter of interpretation stating that employee injuries suffered at off-site teambuilding events are recordable in OSHA logs. The letter was requested after an employee was injured in a go-kart accident during an office retreat.

read more…

The naked truth about nude celebrities in your workplace

November 17, 2014 - by: Andy Tanick 2 COMMENTS
Andy Tanick

Celebrities lately seem to be having a hard time keeping their clothes on.

Whether it’s one of the Kardashian sisters baring her bottom or Keira Knightley baring her bosom, you can hardly look at any social media site these days without being assaulted by celebrities in various degrees of naked-idity, as Radar O’Reilly once called it. While the exhibitionism has recently arisen mainly among the ranks of female celebrities, there has been no shortage of male body parts on display in recent years, what with NFL quarterbacks, New York politicians, and others seemingly unable to resist the urge to use their smart phones to do dumb things.  NSFW

All of which raises an interesting employment law issue: How does a company’s policy against sexual harassment deal with conversations that employees might have about current events, when those events can at times be sexually charged? If an employee forwards the Kardashian photo to a co-worker, is he violating the policy? What if he merely references the photo as further proof (as if we needed it) that nothing Kardashian-related has any redeeming social value? What if several coworkers engage in a spirited intellectual debate about the statement of female empowerment that Knightley claims she was making with her revealing photo?

read more…

A scar is born

November 11, 2014 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

On The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon the other night, the host and Matthew McConaughey competed to see who could throw the most footballs at the other guy’s face. Not his physical face, of course, but glass plates printed with each guy’s face. Toward the end, McConaughey steps in front of Fallon as he is about to throw, and I immediately start thinking, “What if he hits the actor square in the nose with a football?”shutterstock_183450509

As an employment lawyer, I wasn’t so concerned about McConaughey’s career. Did you see him as modern day Rust Cohle? Dude can pull off ugly just fine. No, my concern was whether he could be compensated for his injuries. Would it be covered by workers’ comp?  Could he sue The Tonight Show or Fallon? Turns out, Hollywood has had to deal with these kinds of safety issues in the past. Here are two cases worth noting.

read more…

The Abominable Boss Man

October 31, 2014 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

In honor of Halloween, this post will address some of the many potential workplace issues in the Pixar film, Monsters, Inc.  If you’ve been living under a rock and have managed to not see this film (or its recent sequel), here’s a quick recap. A city called Monstropolis is inhabited by monsters and is powered by the screams of children in the human world. shutterstock_98138216At Monsters, Inc., employees (or “Scarers”) have the job of scaring human children and collecting their screams to power the city. The company, however, is facing a serious dilemma and potential energy crisis, as human children are become harder to frighten. Through a series of amusing misadventures, the top Scarer, Sulley, and his best friend, Mike, end up caring for a little girl they dub “Boo.” In trying to return Boo safely to the human world, Mike and Sulley discover that one of the Scarers, Randall, plans to kidnap children (particularly Boo) and use a torture machine on company property to extract their screams. Randall tries to use the torture machine on Mike, but Sulley saves the day. Sulley reports Randall and his torture device to the company chairman, who responds by promptly exiling Mike and Sulley to the Himalayas. I won’t spoil the ending for the two or three of you who have not yet seen the movie. Thankfully, in the human world, your boss can’t respond to a workplace complaint by  shipping you off to the Abominable Snowman (though this banished yeti happens to be much friendlier than expected). Indeed, a number of state and federal laws prohibit discrimination and retaliation against employees for reporting certain workplace issues. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) is intended to “assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions . . . .” OSHA contains a nondiscrimination provision, which prohibits employers from discharging or otherwise discriminating against an employee because the employee filed a safety or health complaint or otherwise engaged in protected activity under the Act. The monster equivalent of OSHA might have saved Mike and Sulley a trip to the Himalayas, but then it would have been a rather short movie. Plus, the Abominable Snowman would still be sorting mail at Monsters, Inc., rather than  serving up some delicious snow cones. Don’t worry–the yellow ones are lemon-flavored. Happy Halloween!

Halloween tips to avoid a total nightmare

October 27, 2014 - by: Josh Sudbury 2 COMMENTS
Josh Sudbury

It’s that time of year again. Time for Halloween and all the candy, cheesy ghost stories, and inappropriate costumes that come with it. While Halloween can be fun and exciting, the fallout for employers can be all fright.

Office Parties. Halloween falls on a Friday this year, which may make more employers inclined to allow employees to wear costumes to work. While workplace costume parties can lighten the mood in the office, employers should be proactive in dealing with the potential issues that can arise.

shutterstock_157867430First and foremost, employers should communicate simple and clear rules or guidelines to their employees in advance of any party. Employees should be reminded that professionalism is still expected of them at work, both in their conduct and their costumes. This is especially important if your employees will interact with customers during the workday, as an offensive or inappropriate costume could cause more than just internal employee relations issues. Employers should give their employees examples of what is potentially inappropriate, so that there is no guesswork involved for the employee.

Inappropriate costumes can include those costumes that reveal too much skin or, depending the type of workplace you operate, those that have the potential to compromise safety. This category can also include costumes that touch on hot-button political or social topics, such as an employee lampooning a high-profile political figure or dressing as a nun or priest. While some employees may be unaffected by these costumes, employers must be sensitive to how all their employees may deal with the notions raised by such costumes. read more…

Gone Lawsuit

October 20, 2014 - by: David Kim 0 COMMENTS
David Kim

[Note: Major spoilers ahead. If you have not seen/read Gone Girl, and wish to do so, please do NOT continue.]

This past weekend my wife and I got to see David Fincher’s latest film Gone Girl. While I am a fan of Fincher’s work, I had not read the novel Gone Girl and had successfully avoided any spoilers related to the movie or book’s ending. And while I enjoyed the movie very much, I’m not sure if I agree with some of the television advertisements promoting the film as the “perfect date movie.”Plan Ahead

Let’s just say that Rosamund Pike’s character Amy is all sorts of crazy. Just one guy’s opinion. Afterwards, my wife stated that yeah, Amy “is absolutely nuts but he did cheat on her,” the “he” referring to Ben Affleck’s character Nick, Amy’s husband. I laughed at first, being so appreciative of having a great marriage with a wonderful wife. Then I dissected her comment in my head. Did she think he deserved that? Why did she smirk when she said the word “but”? Later on, paranoia set in. Why did she ask me what time the Patriots are playing? Did we have plans I forgot about? Why is she telling me now about certain plot holes in the movie? Why is she saying Amy should have done this or that instead? Why are we having chicken for dinner? What is going on?

read more…

 Page 1 of 7  1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »