Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Recently in Employment Issues Category

The most-watched sporting event in the world is airing right now, and depending on your time zone and your kind of small business, that could be good or bad news. If you're a bar, restaurant, or cafe broadcasting World Cup games could be a boon for your bottom line. Any other employer, and you may be wondering why your staff are taking long lunches, or screaming from their desks for no apparent reason.

With the World Cup in full swing, here's what you need to know about watching the games at work, whether it's a draw for customers to come in, or a reason for employees zoning out.

The surplus of students looking for summer work can be a boon for your small business. But if not hired and handled properly, summer employees can be more trouble than they're worth. The summer months can also offer new challenges for your year-round staff.

So how do you get summer hires right, and take care of your employees during the summer? Here are some tips for hiring, supervising, and paying summer employees, from our archives:

Janitorial work is not fun. Overnight janitorial shifts can be even worse. And working eight hours overnight cleaning a Cheesecake Factory without rest or meal breaks, and then having a kitchen manager come in and tell you there more to do before you can leave? Well, you better be getting some overtime pay for that, at least.

Not so, according to California's Labor Commissioner's Office, which found that eight Cheesecake locations in the state owed 559 underpaid janitorial workers $3.94 million in minimum wages, overtime, liquidated damages, waiting time penalties, and meal and rest period premiums. What happened?

Not only does booze saturate everything from pop culture to our weekend plans, drinking and working have long been intertwined. From hoppy ales shipped across the world to aid troops because it was safer to drink than water and lightly fermented beers designed to refresh farmhands without getting them too tipsy to till the fields, to porters and stouts sustaining dock workers in the middle of their shifts and cocktails carts in midtown agency offices, a shot while on the clock has been as common as punching a timecard.

Nowadays it's "liquid lunches" and an office kegerator. And while unchecked consumption can lead to risky behavior, giving your employees access to alcohol can create some legal risks for your company. Here's a look at five of them:

Fewer Female CEOs on Forbes 500 List

We generally think of the progress of women in the workplace as being on an upward trajectory. There are laws against gender and pregnancy discrimination in employment, and companies are under pressure to deal with their sexual harassment problems, especially in light of the current #MeToo movement. 

Along these lines, many women also occupy leadership roles within powerful companies. However, according to the latest Fortune 500 list, the number of female CEOs has actually declined from last year.

No business owner wants to find themselves litigating employment issues in court, and larger companies especially don't want to be facing off with an organized group of upset employees. That's why many employment contracts include a clause requiring employees to waive their right to resolve disputes through joint legal proceedings, and instead arbitrate their claims individually.

These mandatory or "forced" arbitration clauses have come under increasing legal scrutiny over the past decade, but the U.S. Supreme Court just handed business owners an "Epic" victory in finding that such clauses don't violate federal employment laws and are thus enforceable.

AT&T Mobility Sued for Pregnancy Discrimination

There's no denying companies need a way to keep track of and deter excessive absenteeism by their employees. After all, they have businesses to run and they rely on their employees to get the job done. But they should probably differentiate between someone who's absent because they were doing keg stands the night before, and someone who's absent because they're growing a human inside their body.

According to a federal lawsuit filed by two women, they were fired for their pregnancy-related absences. Now they're suing the company, alleging that their attendance policy discriminates against pregnant women.

This week, two women filed a federal, class action lawsuit against AT&T 's mobile phone subsidiary, AT&T Mobility, claiming the company's attendance policy violates both the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. The case could have national implications for employers and the legal boundaries of demerit-based attendance policies like AT&T's.

It can be difficult putting together family leave policies for employees in general, and especially for pregnant employees or those on maternity leave. How do you treat all employees equally? How do you make sure all the work gets done? And how do you avoid getting sued for pregnancy discrimination?

Is It Time for Your Biz to Rethink Its Drug Testing Policy?

It makes sense. You run a business and you want your employees to show up, work hard, represent the company well, and stay safe. And that's why many business owners have drug testing policies in place. After all, drug use can be accompanied by absenteeism, reduced productivity, and accidents. But laws and perspectives are changing, causing some employers to rethink their drug testing policies. Here are some factors to consider before you do.

Ridesharing is all the rage these days. And if you've got a bunch of employees all stuck in traffic commuting to work, why not get them all in the same car? Employers are not only recognizing the environmental benefits of carpooling, but the positive effects on office relationships from staff sharing their commute. And technology is making ridesharing that much easier.

But does that mean it's a good idea for your company? And should you be incentivizing employees to carpool?