Small Business Employment Issues - Free Enterprise
Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Recently in Employment Issues Category

As a small business owner, you're probably more focused on your product than on employee pensions, but if an employee dies, knowing how your company and the state deal with death benefits could come in handy.

So here's a primer on what death benefits are, who's eligible to receive them, and how they could impact your business.

Everyone wants to work hard at their job, but some job sites don't work for everyone. Specifically, workers who have environmental sensitivities can have disabling reactions to substances in the air or office that most people wouldn't notice.

An estimated 15 percent of the population has some form of environmental sensitivity, meaning that one of your employees may be suffering from a hidden disability. As an employer, how can you accommodate an employee with environmental sensitivities?

We cannot stress this enough: interns are not free labor. You can't use interns like employees and then not pay them or not provide any educational experience.

This is what the Olsen twins seem to have done with their interns, leading to litigation from one intern that has possibly ballooned into a 40-intern class action lawsuit.

Most companies are aware that matching contributions for employee donations to charity is one of the best gifts you can give your employees. Matching your employees' gifts can demonstrate that you care about the issues that they care about and it gives employees a voice in the company's charitable efforts.

But no good deed goes un-litigated, as they say, and employee gift matching programs can raise some legal concerns for small businesses.

We usually think of sexual harassment as an overly touchy boss, or the one coworker always making inappropriate jokes. That leaves one form of harassment largely overlooked: harassment by customers.

One case in particular was ignored to the point that a Safeway employee was compelled to quit her job. Now she's suing the supermarket over repeated sexual harassment from a customer. We know employers have a duty to prevent sexual harassment by employees, but does that duty extend to customer sexual harassment?

With over 50 million freelancers out there, businesses would be foolish not to take advantage of their services. After all, not all jobs require a full-time employee.

As businesses and employees are getting more flexible and agile, you may find yourself in the market for freelancers. To make sure you hire the right way, keep a few things in mind:

Poor Abercrombie & Fitch just can't get a break.

Soon after a stunning 8-1 defeat before the Supreme Court over religious head coverings, Abercrombie is going back to the courtroom. Approximately 62,000 of the company's California employees are suing over the company's strict uniform policy.

What trouble has Abercrombie gotten itself into now?

Throwing a frat-themed office party? Probably a bad idea. This idea is especially a bad for social media/tech companies, since they already suffer from heavily criticism for being overtly male-dominated. 

And then this happens: a team at Twitter through a frat-themed office party while being sued for gender discrimination? This is quite possibly the worst idea possible in terms of supporting gender equality in the workplace.

At least this serves as a good opportunity for other businesses to learn: don't do what Twitter just did.

Employees should theoretically love overtime. They get paid time and a half or even double for the same amount of work.

However, people have lives outside of work, so even the most loyal employees may be hesitant to commit to extra work. If an employee refuses to work more than the standard eight hour day, do you have any recourse?

Can you fire an employee who refuses to work overtime?

An employee is claiming harassment at work. The problem is that the employee doesn't know the identity of the harasser. How can you, the employer, resolve the harassment issue if you don't even know who to blame?

Can you just ignore harassment when the harasser is anonymous?