The Department of Labor just issued updated FMLA forms, good through August 31, 2021. No more using “expired” forms! For anyone who was expecting “updated” to mean changed or improved…well, I am sorry to disappoint you – the only thing that was updated was the date! The forms are otherwise identical.
I recently spoke on the topic of “Establishing Social Media Policies, Contracts and Legal Advice for PR Professionals” to members of the Gulf Coast Chapter of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in Naples. Social media continues to be a hot topic for employers and thought it would be good to share a few items that were discussed.
In the Beginning
Under the Obama administration, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) developed an employee-favored social media policy. The NLRB broadly protected private employees in their social media activity. Private employees could not be fired or punished for posting certain information on social media. Specifically, private employees are permitted to engage in “concerted activity” which is a fancy term for discussing their working conditions on social media. But, what does it really mean?
What exactly may an employee say about his or her work on social media without being reprimanded or disciplined?
Can employers arbitrarily terminate a person’s employment in Florida? Florida is an “at will” state, meaning employers generally can terminate an employee for any lawful reason, just as employees may quit for any reason. Certain public employees, however, enjoy a property interest/right to their employment and may be terminated only for cause.
Both the United States and the Florida Constitutions provide that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. In the employment context, this guarantee of due process functions to protect certain public employees from being deprived of a protected property interest in their employment. Bd. of Regents of State Colleges v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564 (1972). Indeed, in Roth, the United States Supreme Court held that, where public employees have a property right or property interest in their continued employment, the employer may not terminate the employee without certain due process protections.
We are just TWO WEEKS away from the 26th Annual HR Law & Solutions seminar – where does time go?! Our HF team is working hard on final preparations, and we are excited to see that so many of our readers have already registered. If you haven’t registered, there is still time! You can register online now by clicking here or by contacting Gail Lamarche at 239-344-1186 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those of you who will be attending, we need your help to make the Employment Law Potpourri session as helpful to our audience as possible. During that session, we will go through a general update on some of the employment/HR-related hot topics that we did not otherwise address earlier in the day, then we will answer questions from the audience. If you would prefer not to waive your hand and ask your question in front of your 350-closest HR friends, please email them to me before the seminar. We will keep your name and company confidential, but we will make sure to address the question in that session. Time permitting, we will also take questions from the floor, so don’t be shy! We will take the written questions first, though, so if you have a burning question you’d like us to address, please do send it my way. You can reach me at email@example.com.
Make plans to attend the largest employment law conference in Southwest Florida, HR Law & Solutions, now in its 26th year! Henderson Franklin’s Employment Law and Workers’ Compensation attorneys will return to Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa in Fort Myers on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, for a fun-filled day of education and networking. Click here to view the seminar brochure.
Topics and Speakers
8:30 – 9:45 a.m. Legislative and Case Law Update
Speakers: John D. Agnew, Esquire and Robert C. Shearman, Esquire
John and Bob will provide an interactive update on notable court decisions,
including cases addressing contentious employment policies and contract provisions, discrimination against protected classes of workers, as well as other noteworthy employee claims. EEOC trends and legislative developments impacting employers also will be addressed.
10:00 – 11:00 a.m. When Can I Fire This Injured Employee
Panel: Michael McCabe, Esquire (Moderator); Martha Bryson, SHRM-SCP, SPHR; John F. Potanovic, Esquire; David H. Roos, Esquire; and, Frank W. Piazza, Esquire (Mediator)
A panel of workers’ compensation and employment defense attorneys will be joined by an HR professional and a claimant’s attorney/mediator to address best practices when confronted with discipline or termination of an employee with an ongoing or recent workers’ compensation claim. The discussion will explore issues that can arise when dealing with this sensitive scenario, under workers compensation law, the ADA, and the FMLA, with the goal of avoiding unnecessary costs (wages and benefits) and reducing the risk of litigation.
11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. #MeToo: Addressing the Harassment Epidemic in the Workplace
Speakers: Suzanne M. Boy, Esquire and John F. Potanovic, Esquire
One can hardly turn on the news these days without being bombarded by allegations of sexual harassment against celebrities and other public figures. #MeToo has become a powerful symbol of just how widespread sexual harassment is across the planet, with women and men of all backgrounds and in countless professions sharing their stories of abuse and harassment. In this session, attendees will learn about the many forms of sexual harassment, the types of behavior the courts say constitutes sexual harassment, the EEOC’s guidance and legal considerations regarding harassment, and an employer’s obligations under the law. Attendees will also learn practical tips, including specific actions to foster a harassment-free workplace; how to develop and enforce an anti-harassment policy; and day-to-day management practices that safeguard an organization.
1:45 – 3:15 p.m. Hide Your Goat: Strategies to Stay Positive When Negativity Surrounds You
Guest Speaker: Steve Gilliland
Not only do problem employees perform poorly, they make it tough for everyone else to do their jobs, too. The infection can spread quickly and those who discharge the poisonous toxin are masquerading as managers, supervisors and co-workers. The venom they eject produces by-products of bad attitudes, including resistance to change and personality conflicts. They cost plenty in terms of productivity and morale and make life tough for everyone. They delight in getting your goat! You’ll learn why people have bad attitudes and explore ways to head off conflict and confront people about their bad attitudes. Armed with information you gain from this session, you’ll be on your way to finding win-win solutions that will have you and your colleagues working effectively together. This session is guaranteed to make you laugh a lot, learn a lot, and leave outfitted with the means necessary to Hide Your Goat.
3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Employment Law Potpourri
Panel: John D. Agnew, Esquire; Suzanne M. Boy, Esquire; John F. Potanovic, Esquire; Robert C. Shearman, Esquire; David H. Roos, Esquire; Michael McCabe, Esquire
The legal issues facing HR professionals in the current economic climate are many, and the ever-evolving nature of employment law can make management and prevention of problems difficult for even the most experienced HR professional. Thorough knowledge of employment laws, early recognition of issues, and swift problem solving is key to reducing your company’s exposure to the many employment claims so prevalent today. Have questions you would like answered by the panelists? Email them in advance to Gail Lamarche at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Happy Hour
Please join us after the conference for happy hour.
This conference has been approved by SHRM for 5.75 PDCs and from HRCI for 5.75 Recertification Credit Hours (General).
We are grateful for the support and sponsorship of Lykes Insurance (lunch sponsor) and of Gravity Benefits (breakfast and happy hour sponsor), as well as our in-kind partners Charlotte County SHRM, SHRM SWFL, and HR Collier.
Registration is $50 per person and includes a continental breakfast, plated lunch, seminar materials, and valet parking. To online register now, click here.
Join the discussion on social media using the #swflhrlaw hashtag.
We hope to see you soon! For group reservations or questions, please contact me at email@example.com or by phone at 239-344-1186.
Today’s guest post comes from Susan Smith Erdelyi, Esquire, Marks Gray, Jacksonville. She will be presenting at the Florida Law Alliance Fall Employment Law Conference taking place on Friday, November 10, 2017 with EEOC District Director Michael Farrell:
Did you know that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is becoming paperless? That’s right. The agency now uses a portal for employer position statements and no longer accepts paper documents from employers. So, if your employer/client is still mailing paper documents to the EEOC, it’s time to step aboard the EEOC Respondent Portal.
How Does It Work?
Today’s guest post comes from Michael Schofield, Esq., from the Clark Partington firm in Pensacola. He will be presenting at the Florida Law Alliance Fall Employment Law Conference taking place on Friday, November 10, 2017 (see below for more details):
Traditionally, when an employer and employee have a dispute over working conditions, terms, pay, or whatever, the employee quits or is fired, the employer then receives notice of a pending claim, either through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the EEOC), or the state’s agency, and perhaps notice of a lawsuit. Recently, however, more employers are requiring arbitration in contracts of employment and such contractual agreements are being upheld.
In an employment context, is arbitration a good thing, bad thing, or simply and alternative to trial?
Today’s guest post comes from Jeff Wilcox, an associate at the Hill Ward Henderson firm in Tampa. He will be presenting at the Florida Law Alliance Fall Employment Law Conference taking place on Friday, November 10, 2017 (see below for more details):
Are you making deductions from your exempt employees’ pay? If so, you may lose the right to classify the employee as exempt and, as a result, may end up owing the employee overtime pay for all overtime hours worked over the last two, or possibly three, years.
As a general rule, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not permit deductions from an exempt employee’s salary, because the salary cannot be dependent on the number of days or hours he or she works, or even the employee’s quantity or quality of work. There are, however, limited exceptions where deductions can be made. For example, if the employee is absent from work for one or more full days for personal reasons, a deduction is permissible. Moreover, if the employee is absent from work for one or more full days for sickness or disability, and the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide “sick leave” plan, policy, or practice, a deduction is again permissible. Other limited exceptions exist, and it is important for employers not to deduct from an exempt employee’s salary unless one of the exceptions applies.
Join us in Fort Lauderdale in November
Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing guest posts from our member firms with the Florida Law Alliance, who will be producing an employment law conference on November 10, 2017, at the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel.
Today’s post is from Craig Salner, a partner at the Clarke Silverglate law firm in Miami:
Most South Florida practitioners are familiar with the barrage of recent lawsuits against places of public accommodation challenging their equal accessibility for the disabled. The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), a statute more known for its ban on disability discrimination in the workplace, has a section known as “Title III” which requires places of public accommodation to provide equal access to persons with disabilities. ADA Title III requirements typically have been applied to components of a business’s physical structure – appropriate linking of the parking lot to the adjacent sidewalk, sufficient main floor space for a wheelchair-bound patron to ambulate between and around aisles, bathrooms with sufficient space to maneuver with reachable soap and paper dispensers, etc.
Successful ADA Title III litigants are entitled to injunctive relief (i.e., the accessibility flaws must be remedied) plus attorney’s fees. Despite the lack of monetary damages available to litigants, ADA Title III litigation has spiked in South Florida with the emergence of certain serial “tester” plaintiffs – specific individuals claiming to test places of public accommodation for ADA Title III compliance and suing in instances of alleged non-compliance. Title III ADA lawsuits have nearly tripled nationwide in the last three years, rising from 2,722 in 2013 to 6,601 in 2016, including a 37 percent increase from 2015 to 2016. Florida is second only to California in the number of 2016 filings.
Are Internet websites places of public accommodation covered by Title III of the ADA?
If you are like me, you have been focused on all things weather-related the last day or two. In Southwest Florida, we are firmly stuck in the “cone of uncertainty” in the path of Hurricane Irma, a storm the weather-folks keep calling “potentially catastrophic.” There were even rumors of a Jim Cantore sighting in Fort Myers yesterday…and anyone who has lived in Florida for a hurricane season or two knows what that means!
I know many of you are working on storm preparations, which, with a storm of this magnitude, naturally means you are faced with potential workplace closures. If the number of questions I received yesterday is any indication, there is a lot of uncertainty about when and how to pay employees if your business closes before and/or after the storm.