The approaching holiday season offers employers the opportunity to show their appreciation for a year of hard work by hosting holiday parties where employees can relax and enjoy themselves with co-workers. However, without the appropriate precautionary measures, legal consequences can quickly dampen the festive nature of these company-sponsored events . Whether it's inadvertently including religious or cultural activities, an inappropriate comment by a manager to a subordinate or a car accident following the overconsumption of alcohol, employers can be held liable in connection with workplace events.
Following the Third Circuit Court of Appeals' rejection of the "Mailbox Rule," employers face new delivery restrictions when providing employees with Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) paperwork. The “Mailbox Rule” presumes a letter will reach the person to whom it is addressed once deposited with the U.S. Postal Service. The rejection of this rule means that first class mail is no longer a viable delivery option for employers.
Following a string of publicly disclosed cyberattacks against both retailers and financial institutions, New York's top financial regulator called on the financial sector to be more proactive in its cybersecurity efforts. A letter issued to dozens of banks and brokerage houses by Benjamin Lawsky, Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), urged institutions to close the gaps in their cybersecurity practices.
On September 10, approximately 1,000 federal agents raided Los Angeles' fashion district, seizing documents, electronic data and approximately $90 million in cash, with nine people arrested for alleged money laundering violations. Carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit (HSI) as part of its "Operation Fashion Police," the raid was aimed at uncovering money laundering operations by Mexican drug cartels within the city's fashion district.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel recently announced that a federal government agency violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against an employee who transitioned from male to female in 2010.
Employment is heavily regulated in the U.S., where it is illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because he or she made a discrimination complaint, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment-discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently launched a national dialogue aimed at revising its permissible exposure limits (PELs) to more effectively prevent the adverse effects of working with hazardous substances. As the first step in this discussion, the agency called on relevant stakeholders to provide information on their current management practices for hazardous chemical exposure in the workplace and suggested strategies for updating OSHA's PELs.
Many human resource professionals go beyond the use of traditional resumes, references and face-to-face interviews and turn to social media to gain additional insight into a candidate's qualifications and personality. However, while these websites may appear to be a quick and easy resource for assessing job applicants, they also contain information that — if used improperly — can lead to violations of state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Therefore, employers may find that the potential legal risks far outweigh the convenience of using social media to evaluate job applicants.
Government regulators have been increasingly willing to hold individuals personally liable for their role in compliance failures. Therefore, it is no surprise that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently brought charges against a former bank employee for her failure to properly detect and report insider trading violations while acting as the bank's compliance officer. In fact, the SEC claims the officer not only overlooked suspicious activity, but attempted to conceal her mistake by altering a document before submitting it to the agency during an insider trading investigation.
On September 15, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in connection with the mandates set forth in Executive Order 13665 (EO 13665). If adopted, the proposed rule would prohibit a federal contractor or subcontractor from maintaining what are known as "pay secrecy" policies banning the discussion of compensation among employees.