addict-1032371_1280Editor’s Note:  At the time of publishing, there was a typographical error in the title of “Wedding.” We apologize for any confusion.

Amendment 2 has passed – it’s no longer a pipedream (no more puns, I promise). So now what for employers? Will it gut employers’ drug-free workplace policies? Will employers be required to grant accommodations to prescription card carrying users (e.g. provide a location for such employees to light up during the work day?). Will employees be able to successfully sue employers who terminate them for failing a drug test due to a positive test for medical marijuana use? There are sure to be other questions and issues arise, some of which may take court cases to fully answer, but let’s take a look at what we know:

  • A Constitutional Amendment takes effect the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January. That would be an effective date of January 3, 2017;
  • The Florida Department of Health will then have six months to pass implementing regulations;
  • The Department must begin issuing patient and caregiver identification cards, and registering MMTC’s (Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers) a/k/a/ “dispensaries”, within nine months from that effective date.

While the infrastructure and implementing regulations are ramping up for the new law and the industry it will spawn, employers may be well served to use the time now to survey their approach to the law. Consider these facts:

  • The Amendment specifically states that it shall not require accommodation in a place of employment.
  • It specifically states that it does not purport to give immunity under federal law.

Why are these facts important?

Continue Reading Weeding Out Workplace Impacts of Medical Marijuana Legalization

Last week, the Defense of Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) was signed into law. The DTSA creates a federal legal scheme for the protection of trade secrets. Previously, protection of this form of intellectual property was solely a matter of state law, unlike patent, trademark and copyright, which have always been matters of federal law. The DTSA has a number of unique provisions, one of which immediately impacts employers who use confidentiality agreements with their employees. My colleague Mark Nieds and I offer the following summary of this new law.

Whistleblower Protection

Due to concerns over the impact that confidentiality agreements might have on employees who might otherwise report their employer’s wrongdoing to the government, an amendment was tacked on to the DTSA to provide civil and criminal immunity to whistleblowers under state and federal law for disclosing confidential or trade secret information to the government as part of whistleblowing activity.

Continue Reading Why Employers Need to Review Employment and Confidentiality Agreements in Light of the Newly-Enacted Defense of Trade Secrets Act

11084136_870847629623565_1393615644063915399_o

We are so excited to announce that registration is now open for the 2016 HR Law & Solutions Seminar. Now in its 24th year, this full-day seminar is a fantastic opportunity for both new and experience HR professionals and other business executives to learn about important employment laws, network with their peers, and, of course, have a little fun! This year, we return to the gorgeous Sanibel Harbour Resort and Spa on, Monday, April 4, 2016. Topics and speakers include:

  • Legislative and Case Law Update. Attorneys Robert Shearman and Vicki Sproat will provide an interactive update on notable court decisions, including cases addressing contentious employment policies and contract provisions, and other noteworthy employee claims.
  • The Intersection of Immigration and Employment Law: What You Need to Know and Probably Don’t. Immigration law is a hot button topic in our country’s current political landscape, particularly since this is an election year. For many HR professionals, the relevancy of immigration law is limited to I-9 forms and E-Verify. Attorney Tulio Suarez will give attendees insight on key immigration-related HR issues potentially faced by all employers.
  • Breakout Sessions. Henderson Franklin’s employment law, immigration, and workers’ compensation attorneys will break out in smaller groups to facilitate discussions and give attendees an opportunity to gain more information on specific topics of interest to them and answer any legal questions on any aspect of laws and issues impacting their workplace. More specifically:
    • Welcome to the Company, Please Sign Here. In such a litigious climate, it is more important than ever for employers to have their workplace documentation in order from the start of the employment relationship. Attorneys John Agnew and Suzanne Boy will give HR professionals, business owners, and managers guidance on how to prepare and implement solid employment policies and contracts.
    • You’re From the Government, and We’re Here to Help. Claims against government or other public sector employers often present special challenges. Attorneys John Potanovic and Bob Shearman will delve into the framework of, and best practices in dealing with, Florida Public Sector Whistleblower claims and Constitutional claims.
    • Tips to Recognize, Reduce, and Deal with Workers’ Compensation Fraud in the Workplace. For many HR professionals, employers, agents, attorneys and adjusters, fraud in the workers’ compensation system is often frustrating and confusing. Attorneys David Roos, Michael McCabe and Tania Ogden will give attendees insights on key issues and strategies to recognize and identify insurance fraud at the time of hire, after a reported work accident, during the course of providing benefits and how to best deal with the situation.
  • Ego vs. EQ: How Top Business Leaders Beat Eight Ego Traps with Emotional Intelligence. Somewhere along the line, while climbing the corporate ladder or growing their own company, highly-technical strong employees can struggle with maintaining a healthy level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) that keeps them connected to their workforce and grounded in the day-to-day realities of their business. The risk of falling into “ego traps” increases, hurting the business and threatening their hard-won success. In this session guest speaker Jennifer Shirkani will help attendees discover ways to be an inspirational and emotionally-engaging leader.
  • Lawful and Unlawful Use of Social Media for Hiring and Retention. Researching applicants for employment is common place in today’s online environment. If your company searches prospective candidates on social media without appropriate guidelines to ensure compliance with state and federal laws, you may be subject to lawsuits for discrimination. Social Media Attorney Ethan Wall will educate attendees on the laws that govern the use of social media for hiring and retention.

Continuing Education

This conference has been approved by SHRM for 5.25 PDCs and by HRCI for 5.25 Recertification Credit Hours (General).

Conference Partners

We are grateful for the support and sponsorship of Lykes Insurance (lunch sponsor), Charlotte County SHRM, SHRM SWFL, and HR Collier.

Overnight Accommodations

Since the seminar is on Monday this year, we have reserved a block of rooms at Sanibel Harbour for $189/night. To make hotel reservations, click here. Reservations must be made by March 3 to take advantage of the group rate.

Seminar Registration

Registration is $40 per person and includes a continental breakfast, plated lunch, seminar materials and valet parking. Click here to download the brochure. Click here to register.

If you have any questions, please let us know. We look forward to seeing you all on April 4!

IMG_3428We want to send a special THANK YOU to the more than 300 of you who attended HR Law & Solutions last week. It is always such a pleasure for all of us – it feels like an annual reunion! Congratulations to all of our raffle winners, and especially to our new HR Law & Solutions Hall of Fame recipients (pictured left to right): Patti Reigle (of Digestive Health Physicians), Fran Barker (of Physicians’ Primary Care), and Kim Hopkins (of McGregor Baptist Church.

As I mentioned during our What Would You Do? session, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) recently issued a report on employer handbook policies. It is…interesting, to say the least. The report gives examples of (supposedly) lawful and unlawful handbook policies on issues like confidentiality, conduct toward supervisors and fellow employees, conflicts of interest, and employees leaving work. Generally, “lawful” vs. “unlawful” turns on whether the NLRB thinks the particular policy infringes upon employees’ Section 7 right to engage in concerted activity regarding terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

Continue Reading Seminar Wrap-Up and NLRB Report on Handbook Policies

Time to test your Employment Law IQ again! Consider this scenario:employee handbook

Mike R. Clean hired Tommy as a night-time janitor at Squeak E Clean, Inc. During the first month of his employment, Tommy was a super star, but his performance went downhill quickly after that. Mike tried to coach Tommy, but Tommy just could not get it together. At the end of Tommy’s second month at Squeak E Clean, Mike terminated Tommy’s employment. A couple of weeks later, Mike was shocked when he found out Tommy would not only get unemployment, but it was going to be charged to Squeak E Clean’s account.

Why are Tommy’s unemployment benefits being charged to Squeak E Clean’s account?

A.  Because Tommy was not terminated for gross misconduct.

B.  Because Squeak E. Clean did not notify Tommy of the probationary period within the first 7 days of his employment.

C.  Because Mike did not write Tommy up before he was terminated.

D.  None of the above.

Continue Reading Employment Law IQ: Unemployment Benefits and Handbook Headaches