Accessing an Employee’s Social Media Account? A Patchwork of State Laws


The water cooler, it seems, is a thing of the past. Or at least the actual physical water cooler is. These days, many of the office conversations take place online. Employees air their grievances, connect with each other, and catch up on each other’s lives through social media. As technology plays a bigger role in our lives and simple statements that were previously private now become public, employers have an increased interest in what their employees are doing and saying online. Are they disparaging the company? Are they harassing other employees? Are they divulging company secrets? While these are all valid questions that an employer may want answered, employers need to tread carefully when developing policies regarding their employees’ use of social media. As the technological landscape and employee behavior is changing, so too are the laws governing permissible employer actions in relation to social media. Continue reading this entry

Do You Need to Pay Minimum Wage or Overtime to Your Commission-Paid Employees?


Companies will sometimes take a chance on a new (or old) salesperson by allowing him/her to work on pure commission. This “eat what you kill” compensation system seemingly creates an incentive to sell with little risk to the company. But is there really little risk? There is a real and potentially expensive risk of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and/or state wage hour law. Continue reading this entry

Allowing an Employee to Work a Shorter Shift May Be a Reasonable Accommodation


A recent federal district court decision is a good reminder that an employer needs to explore all options before denying an accommodation request, including whether it can go back to an employment practice it has changed and applied to all similarly situated employees. The recent case involved a nurse at a hospital with a brain tumor. For years, she worked eight-hour shifts, which were consistent with her medical needs. Over a period of time, according to the hospital but disputed by the employee, the hospital changed its shift practices and required all affected employees to work 12-hour shifts. Continue reading this entry

Executive Orders: The Employment Transformers for Federal Contractors


As we have detailed on several occasions over the past year, President Obama has used executive orders to implement sweeping new workplace policies for federal contractors and their employees. For example, the president has signed orders requiring federal contractors to pay their employees a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation for employees of federal contractors. This time around, the president has signed an Executive Order now mandating that federal contractors provide paid sick leave to their employees. Continue reading this entry

An Employee Stole Your Trade Secrets but You Cannot Prove It. Now What?


Consider the following, relatively uncommon scenario: an employee stole your trade secrets and went to work for a competitor. You know the employee did it, you just cannot prove it. Even with the best forensic analysis it is not always possible to identify, specifically, what an employee took. You need to do something, but what? You can charge ahead and sue them for trade secret theft and hope you can prove it through discovery. But in many jurisdictions, before you can initiate discovery on such a claim, you must identify the stolen trade secret. If you cannot do so, then not only will you get no discovery but your claim will be dismissed. Continue reading this entry