California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog

California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog

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Category Archives: Workplace Policies

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time to Minimize Liability

Posted in Employment, Workplace Policies
It is that time of the year again… the holiday season.  Time to celebrate!  Many employers throw festive holiday or year-end parties complete with food, alcohol and entertainment.  According to a Society of Human Resource Management Survey on Holiday/Year End Activities, in recent years about two-thirds of organizations have held holiday parties for their employees. … Continue Reading

Performance Evaluations: Why It’s A Good Thing For Public Employers

Posted in Personnel Issues, Workplace Policies
In the corporate world, the practice of giving annual performance reviews to employees is under attack.  Leading business magazines and newspapers have printed articles advocating for the elimination of performance evaluations.  There are even books in the marketplace that teach companies how to get rid of performance reviews.  Among the reasons for eliminating annual evaluations… Continue Reading

Disability Related Inquiries Should Be Reviewed for ADA and GINA Compliance In Light of EEOC Informal Letters

Posted in Disability, Workplace Policies
The EEOC issued two informal discussion letters critiquing policies and forms used by unidentified public employers when making disability related inquiries of employees.  Although informal discussion letters are not “official” EEOC opinions, they provide guidance on an employer’s legal obligations.  In these informal letters, the EEOC reviewed the agencies’ fitness for duty exam forms and… Continue Reading

What Happens in Vegas Might Be Covered by the FMLA

Posted in FMLA, Personnel Issues, Workplace Policies
The FMLA provides an eligible employee the right to 12 workweeks of leave to care for the employee’s spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition.  Consequently, employers generally grant employee requests to use FMLA leave when their family member receives medical treatment or undergoes a surgical procedure.  What happens when an employee requests… Continue Reading

5 Resolutions for the New Year

Posted in Employment, Personnel Issues, Workplace Policies
It’s that time of year again to reflect on this year’s achievements and set goals for the new year.  With the beginning of 2014 upon us, we encourage personnel and human resources directors, managers and  1.  Evaluate Your Agency’s Handling of Disability-Related Issues Employee disability-related issues are among the most complicated and confusing that employers… Continue Reading

Holidays and the Workplace: Be Merry or Bah Humbug

Posted in Discrimination, Harassment, Workplace Policies
Back by popular demand! We are reposting this blog post in time for the holidays. The holidays are a festive time to be shared with family, friends and even co-workers.  Many employers also join in the celebrations by allowing employees to put up decorations and exchange gifts.  Employers also like to host holiday parties filled… Continue Reading

Will the Supreme Court Follow California’s Lead Regarding Reasonable Accommodations For Pregnant Employees?

Posted in Disability, Workplace Policies
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to hear the appeal of Peggy Young.  She wants the Court to decide whether, and in what circumstances, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA”) requires an employer to provide work accommodations to pregnant employees.  If the Supreme Court decides to take this case, it might possibly… Continue Reading

Do Your Employees Know Big Brother May Be Watching?

Posted in Privacy, Workplace Policies
Harvard University recently had some explaining to do.  Last fall, the University conducted an investigation into the source information leaked to the media about students at the Ivy League school who had cheated.  The investigation included searching the work e-mail accounts of 16 Resident Deans without telling them.  Although the University eventually told the one… Continue Reading

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Public Employers

Posted in Employment, FLSA, Personnel Issues, Workplace Policies
With the beginning of each new year, we make resolutions that often involve improving ourselves:  lose weight; eat healthier; get organized.  The new year is also a good time for personnel and human resources directors, managers and analysts to resolve to make their agencies an even better place to work and to reduce risk.  Here… Continue Reading

Campaigns, Elections, Voting and the Workplace

Posted in Personnel Issues, Workplace Policies
Obama or Romney?  “Yes” or “No” on Proposition 30?  With the election only several weeks away, these questions are starting to make their way into the workplace as political debates among co-workers are starting to break out in lunch rooms, hallways and around the water cooler.  While such political discussions usually consist of a polite… Continue Reading

NLRB Releases New Report Regarding Employer Social Media Policies

Posted in Personnel Issues, Social Media, Workplace Policies
The National Labor Relations Board issued a new report discussing seven social media cases handled by the agency.  This report is the third released by the NLRB regarding social media in the last year, and focuses on the policies of seven companies.  The report provides guidance to employers who have social media policies or are… Continue Reading

Computer Hacking Law Does Not Prohibit Employees from Misusing Data They Are Authorized to Access

Posted in Employment, Workplace Policies
This guest post was authored by Alison L. Carrinski Last year we reported on the case U.S. v. Nosal, in which the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an employee may be criminally liable when he or she misuses employer data in violation of the employer’s computer use policy.  Reversing course, the Ninth… Continue Reading

What Does The Supreme Court’s Ruling In US v. Jones Mean For GPS Tracking By Employers?

Posted in Constitutional Rights, Privacy, Workplace Policies
Last summer we reported that an employer may under California law use GPS devices to track employer owned or leased vehicles.  We recently revisited this issue in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in United States v. Jones.   Although Jones does address the use of GPS devices to track vehicles, the holding will… Continue Reading

Balancing Conflicts Between Work And Religion

Posted in Personnel Issues, Workplace Policies
Recently, a Macy’s employee was fired because she refused to allow a teenage transgender customer use of the women’s dressing area. Natalie Johnson, who worked at a Macy’s in San Antonio, Texas, watched the teenager shop in the women’s department.  When Johnson saw the teenager in the women’s dressing room, she told the teen “You’re… Continue Reading

Court Expands Employers’ Ability To Obtain Workplace Violence Restraining Orders

Posted in Personnel Issues, Workplace Policies
This guest post was authored by Judith Islas   A recent California Court of Appeal ruling provides employers an important weapon to combat workplace violence.  The Court in Kaiser Foundation Hospitals v. Wilson ruled that courts may consider and rely on hearsay evidence to grant workplace violence restraining orders and injunctions.  This is a significant… Continue Reading

Evidence Of Harsh Discipline Against More Mature Employees Can Be Evidence Of Pretext In An Age Discrimination Case

Posted in Discrimination, Workplace Policies
When an employer inconsistently imposes discipline and does not follow its own discipline procedures and policies, it leaves room for employees to make claims of discriminatory animus.  This was recently highlighted in a recent U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, Earl v. Nielsen Media Research, Inc.  The Court held that an employee with a… Continue Reading

Holidays And The Workplace: Be Merry Or Bah Humbug

Posted in Discrimination, Harassment, Workplace Policies
The holidays are a festive time to be shared with family, friends and even coworkers.  Many employers also join in the celebrations by allowing employees to put up decorations and exchange gifts.  Employers also like to host holiday parties filled with food, music and alcohol.  However, these types of activities may create legal liability for… Continue Reading

If “Penn State” Happened Here, Would You Have A Duty To Report?

Posted in Education, Employment, Harassment, Personnel Issues, Workplace Policies
This guest post was authored by Meredith Karasch We have all heard about the scandal at Penn State that brought down college football royalty.  We cringe at what happened (or didn’t happen).  We agree there was a moral obligation to report child abuse.  However, moral obligation aside, all public and private entities need to know… Continue Reading

IRS Clarifies Tax Treatment Of Employer-Provided Cell Phones

Posted in Legislation, Workplace Policies
The IRS has issued a notice clarifying the tax treatment of employer provided cell phones and similar telecommunications equipment for business purposes.  The notice provides guidance on two key issues regarding employee cell phone use.  First, if an employer provides an employee with a cell phone for “noncompensatory business reasons,” the IRS will treat the… Continue Reading

NLRB Provides Guidance On Regulating Employee Use Of Social Media

Posted in Privacy, Social Media, Workplace Policies
This post was co-authored by Elizabeth Arce   It seems that every time you turn on the news some new technological innovation is being announced.  For example, recent weeks have seen the unveiling of new tablet computers and smartphones.  In addition, social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn are constantly announcing upgrades to their… Continue Reading