News & Analysis

Stand-up guy: employee requests new desk after surgery

Q One of our employees is having shoulder surgery and will be out only three days. He has asked us to buy him a stand-up workstation, which costs around $300. His surgery isn't work-related. Our issue is that if we buy him the stand-up desk, other employees will ask for one. Are we required to buy the desk?

Turnabout is fair play for Arizona employees

Arbitration proponents tout the advantages of private dispute resolution, and there are a few. There are also disadvantages that you should consider before implementing a mandatory arbitration program in your workplace. There's no doubt, however, that judges are big fans of arbitration agreements because they get cases off their dockets quickly and with relatively little use of court resources. The Arizona Supreme Court and the Arizona Court of Appeals both decided cases in July 2017 that demonstrate the strong judicial support for arbitration of employment disputes. In an ironic twist, in both cases, it was employees who succeeded in using arbitration agreements to block their former employers from having their day in court.

FMLA claim linked to others? Be wary of mandatory attorneys' fees award

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants eligible employees the right to take medical leave to care for themselves or family members with serious medical conditions. It also prohibits employers from interfering with or retaliating against employees who exercise that right. An interference claim can arise if you fail to return an employee to the same or an equivalent position when her FMLA leave ends. You should evaluate any decision to return an employee to a different position to ensure that the new job is equivalent to her old job in terms of pay, hours, and responsibilities. Failing to do so could result in an interference claim against you.

Employer's lawyer in hot water after threatening worker with possible deportation

Only an employer can violate the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). But the statute's nonretaliation provisions are broader and may sweep in "any person" who retaliates against an individual based on conduct protected by the FLSA. The 9th Circuit recently found an employer's outside lawyer to be such a person after the lawyer attempted to arrange the detention—and possible deportation—of an undocumented worker when he appeared for a deposition.

Agency Action

Agency predicts insolvency for insurance program. The insurance program for multiemployer pension plans is likely to go insolvent by the end of 2025, according to an August 2017 report from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The multiemployer program covers more than 10 million Americans. The agency said its projections for the insurance program for single-employer pension plans, which covers about 28 million people, show that its financial condition is likely to continue to improve. The program is highly unlikely to run out of money in the next 10 years and is likely to eliminate its deficit within the next three to seven years. But without changes in law or additional resources, the agency projects that the multiemployer programs fiscal year 2016 deficit of $59 billion will increase, with the average projected deficit (looking across multiple economic scenarios) rising to almost $80 billion (in nominal dollars) for fiscal year 2026.

21st century retirement: event or transition?

The Intern, a movie about Ben Whitaker, a 70-year-old bored with retirement who decides to apply for a "senior" internship position at an online fashion site. The movie does a good job portraying the interactions between younger and older workers, and how they can learn from and even enjoy working with each other, even if some of the comedic segments are farfetched. The movie's tagline, "Experience Never Gets Old," is a salute to the irreplaceable value of knowledge garnered over the course of a career.

Job descriptions: worth doing or a tedious waste of time?

Job descriptions—usually seen as just another task on the to-do list for HR professionals—are generally an underused resource. But you can rely on them for a variety of reasons, including recruiting, performance reviews, reasonable accommodations, and employee classification. The often overlooked process of writing job descriptions, if done correctly, can prove to be a significant asset for employers. By contrast, outdated job descriptions can open you up to significant liability. When was the last time you reviewed your company's job descriptions? Are your job descriptions an asset or a liability for your company? It's time to put more thought into your job descriptions.

Faking cancer delivers Colorado postal worker a criminal record

A longtime Colorado postal worker faked a cancer diagnosis to get time off work, and for nearly two years, she got away with it. Her charade was discovered, however, when she misspelled the name of her supposed physician in forged doctors' notes she provided to her supervisor. An investigation by her employer revealed the extent of her ruse, and she was eventually indicted in federal court.

Avoid these 5 mistakes in your FMLA policy

Despite the fact that it's coming up on its 25th anniversary early next year, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) continues to cause grief to even seasoned HR professionals. From relatively simple tasks like keeping up with the latest U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) forms, to the trickiest issues of tracking intermittent leave or handling suspected leave fraud, employers large and small can struggle to get it right.

Don't get tripped up by these common hurdles when determining overtime

With all the emphasis and effort that has been placed on employment law over the last decade, it's surprising how many employers still don't have a basic understanding of their overtime obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It's easy to overlook a number of tricky scenarios in which you may not even realize you owe an employee overtime.