Blog Posts: Workplace Compliance
As horrific and unfortunate as it was, last December’s school shooting in Newtown, CT has brought about a significant increase in public awareness of mental-health and public-safety issues. These issues affect not just schools but extend into the workplace as well. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fact sheet, workplace violence ranges from verbal abuse, threats and intimidation to physical acts that may result in injuries or even death to the victims. Nearly two million reports of workplace violence are received each year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), there were 506 homicides in U.S. workplaces in 2010. Workplace violence can occur in any type of workplace and in any industry.
Earlier this month, several resident deans at Harvard University expressed concern over the University’s search of their e-mail accounts in connection with a cheating-scandal investigation. In response, Harvard University officials defended the searches as necessary to protect student rights to privacy and due process in the proceedings.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must make reasonable accommodations for an employee with an impairment or disability. Although compliance may seem an onerous task at first, employers can accommodate these employees successfully. The following are general tips for accommodating an employee with disabilities:
Are you feeling stressed out at work? If you answered yes, you are among the one-third of American workers who experience work stress on a regular basis, according to a recent study by the American Psychological Association (APA). This and numerous other studies have determined work to be the number-one stressor for Americans today. The reason? Too much work, not enough compensation, and an overall lack of growth opportunity, according to the APA study.
American businesses spend $5 to $6 million per year on workplace bullying, according to the Bureau of National Affairs. According to a recent survey, 37% of Americans report being bullied at work (an estimated 54 million workers); an additional 15% witness it and vicariously are made miserable.
Workplace bullying is not simple rudeness or the routine exercise of managerial prerogative. Rather, it's the repeated mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators. It can take one or more of the following forms:
Violating OSHA's standards for lockout/tagout procedures can be an expensive mistake. These procedures, used to control hazardous energy, prevent injury or death to employees that could be caused by the machines restarting or releasing energy while the employees are still working on them. On OSHA's list of violations for which it assessed the highest penalties in fiscal year 2012, lockout/tagout violations in general industry came in third, surpassed only by penalties for violations of fall protection and scaffolding requirements on construction sites.
Discrimination against the unemployed seems to be a growing trend nationwide as employers find ways to exclude them from their applicant pools. Some employers post job advertisements explicitly stating that only currently employed candidates will be considered. The reasons for doing so range from uncertainty as to the reason for a candidate’s unemployed status (e.g., downsizing versus poor performance) to the belief that an employed person would adjust more quickly to a new job and will perform better. Current high rates of unemployment may be raising employers' fears that unemployed applicants are not properly motivated and would leave the job as soon as something better comes along. However, using employment status as the sole predictor of potential job performance is likely to be ineffective.
Valentine's Day offers the perfect occasion to reflect on romance, which can bloom anytime, anywhere — even in the workplace. Relationships between co-workers are bound to occur. These relationships, however, can result in serious liability for employers. If a relationship ends and the involved employees must continue working together, the risk of sexual–harassment claims may increase. Even if they wanted to, employers probably could not completely prevent office romances. They can, however, reduce their risk of liability stemming from these romances by practicing the following tips:
Some analysts employed by Standard & Poor's (S&P) have recently seen their internal e-mails and instant messages printed in the newspapers, read aloud on TV and passed around on blogs and social media. Their messages figure prominently in a $5 billion lawsuit that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed against S&P alleging that the company deliberately inflated its ratings of risky mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations before the financial crisis of 2008. Public revelations of internal messages sent between S&P employees will likely increase as the case unfolds. Some analysts could also be called upon as deposition and trial witnesses in the case.
The number of job-related disability claims filed with the EEOC increased in 2102 for the seventh year in a row. A total of 26,379 employment disability claims were filed in fiscal year 2012 under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), up from 25,742 in 2011 and 14,893 in 2005.