Strict Enforcement of Non-Negotiable Employment Policies: A Few Horror Stories

While having well written policies and procedures for employees is very important, these policies and procedures cannot cover every situation. Employers need to retain some flexibility. Non-negotiable rules can violate employment laws and result in very expensive claims.

How expensive?

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Two Turks are better than one!

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We are pleased to welcome attorney Stephanie Turk to our Labor & Employment Law group in Miami.  Yes, she is my daughter-in-law.

Stephanie brings experience in both Employment Litigation and Employment Counseling.

On the litigation side, Stephanie defends employers in a variety of employment matters including discrimination, retaliation, wage and hour, and whistleblower claims. She represents clients in federal and state courts, nationwide arbitrations, and before administrative agencies including the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Department of Labor (DOL), and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

On the counseling side, Stephanie advises employers on union avoidance strategies and election campaigns, the formation and dissolution of employment relationships, including the negotiation of employment, separation, and non-compete agreements, and other day-to-day employment issues.

She is excited to get started as a regular contributor to our blog and as a presenter at our 30th Annual Labor & Employment Seminar.  Please join us in welcoming our newest member to the Stearns Weaver Miller family!

Florida Employers: Do Your Employees Text and Drive?

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If yes, they need to stop today. Why? Effective October 1, 2019, Florida drivers can use wireless communication devices (e.g., cell phones) only in a hands-free manner when driving in a designated school crossing, school zone, or work zone where construction personnel are present or operating equipment on the road or immediately adjacent to the work zone area.  If they are stopped by law enforcement under these conditions, they will be issued a warning.  On January 1, 2020, however, they will be issued a ticket, which will be punishable as a moving violation with a base $60 fine and 3 points assessed against their driver’s license.

Why should you care?  Employers have an obligation under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)  to create a safe and healthful workplace. Therefore, employers should consider adopting policies banning their employees from texting while driving on company business or in a company-owned car (if they haven’t already).  Moreover, they should not create any incentives for employees that encourage or condone texting.  When conducting employee training, they also should consider including a discussion of their policy as well as the dangers of distracted driving.

If you are still wondering about the so-called “rules of the road” that can get you and your employees into trouble, here’s a little cheat sheet:

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“5 Tips to Help Avoid Employment Lawsuits” Key Takeaways

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Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting at the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce’s IMPACT Series: A Seminar Series for Small Business. The audience was comprised of business and human resources professionals across several sectors. For those of you who were not able to attend the presentation, I have included my top takeaways.

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Automation and the ADA

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With rapid automation there comes a tipping point for the need of humans in the workplace. Automation will become so pervasive that companies will need to cobble together remaining job duties into hybrid job positions to be performed by the remaining human employees. Is this the future? No, it’s the “now.” What does that mean for employers with disabled employees who may need to be accommodated? Continue Reading

Stay Safe and Prepared During Dorian.

With Hurricane Dorian expected to make landfall this weekend, Floridians are stocking up on water, batteries, gas, and canned food. It’s important to be prepared and plan ahead for your home and family.

Please see our suggestions below on important action items to take to prepare for and recover after a storm. Continue Reading

Pay for Travel Time? The Scenic Route to Work Won’t Cost You

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Employers often wonder when they should be paying hourly employees for their travel time and the answer may not always be straightforward. Broadly speaking, federal wage and hour laws require that employers compensate employees for the hours they spend traveling for work-related activities. But the law makes several distinctions that every business should consider when calculating wages and overtime for non-exempt hourly employees. A few scenarios might help to illustrate employers’ obligations.

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Religious Discrimination: Gone Today, Hair Tomorrow

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As an update to this post from April, New York recently became the second state to prohibit race discrimination based on hair bias. The bill, signed into law on July 12:

Prohibits race discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles; defines “race” for certain specific purposes to include, but not be limited to, ancestry, color, ethnic group identification, and ethnic background, and to include traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles; and defines “protective hairstyles” to include, but not be limited to, such hairstyles as braids, locks, and twists.

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NLRB Speak on Employee Handbook Provisions (Again). Private Sector Employers Take Note.

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Coastal Industries, a Jacksonville, Florida employer, thought it had an employee handbook that was compliant with the dictates of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). After a NLRB review of its handbook, however, it got a rude awakening. Remember, the NLRB can find workplace policies to be unfair labor practices at both union and nonunion companies alike.

Within the last couple of years, the NLRB has begun using a test, called the Boeing test, which places workplace policies in one of three categories: (1) lawful, (2) unlawful, or (3) it depends. In reviewing the “it depends” policies, the NLRB will look at both the impact the policy has upon expression covered by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) (which protects what is known as “concerted activity”) as well as whether the employer has a good business reason for creating the rule.

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A Four Day Workweek?

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It sounds dreamy doesn’t it? The other morning on my drive to work, I heard a story on the radio program Marketplace about four day workweeks.  According to the most recent Marketplace – Edison Research Poll, nearly two-thirds of the workers polled said they would prefer a four day workweek with ten hour days over the standard eight hour, five day workweek. I suppose the allure of the four day workweek depends on the nature of your work.  For me, the thought of work piling up in my absence and having to play catch-up – each and every week – would create more stress than benefit.  Apart from the issue of balancing the continuous flow of work, the Marketplace story made me wonder about employment law implications of a ten hour, four day workweek. Continue Reading

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