Monthly Archives August 2014

EEOC targets employers’ waiver and release agreements

Employers should be cautious about the language included in waiver and release agreements. In this article, BLR provides valuable steps that can help reduce the risk that an employer and its severance agreements become a target of the EEOC.

Employers and employees routinely enter into agreements where the employee waives potential claims and releases the employer from liability in exchange for consideration, typically severance pay, from the employer. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC” or the “Commission”) contends to support this kind of private settlement of disputes, but it has recently waged an attack on employer agreements containing waivers and releases.

In the last 15 months, the EEOC filed three lawsuits against employers based on the alleged illegality o...
Read More

Philadelphia latest city to ban e-cigarettes in public places

Although Vaporizers, also known as digital, electronic or e-cigarettes, continue to gain popularity, and research on the personal and public health effects have been inconclusive, several cities and states are imposing tougher regulations and banning the indoor use of these products. Below BLR points out a few of the most recent cities to join the ban.

Philadelphia joined Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles in prohibiting e-cigarette use indoors when Mayor Michael Nutter signed into law legislation unanimously approved by the City Council. The new law took effect on July 1, 2014.

Bill No...
Read More

3 ways to retain employees in the hospitality industry – and revamp its image

Rather than accept the high turnover rate in the hospitality industry, and the high costs associated with it, hotels can benefit in many ways by breeding a culture of “team members” that are all responsible for participating in reaching the overall goals of the hotel. Below, BLR outlines some helpful ideas for how to achieve a culture where employees feel empowered and part of a team.

The Hospitality Industry is commonly grouped into the “high turnover” category. I remember my professors in college continually mentioning the statistics regarding turnover in the industry. I simply accepted the statistics and moved on.

However, it all started to sink in once I started working, and it became even more of a concern once I took my first management position...

Read More

Two-thirds of employees are currently not happy with their salaries, says survey


As the recession becomes a thing of the past, many employees are saying that they are not happy with their current salaries. CareerBuilder recently conducted a survey that asked how happy employees are with their current pay. According to the survey, 65 percent of all full-time employees say they do not currently earn their desired salary.


Even though more than half of the people surveyed are unhappy, there does seem to be a positive correlation with the desired salary and the rising income. Respondents who earn between $75,000 and $100,000, say they are happy with their current salary...

Read More

Mental Illness at Work

By Patricia M Trainor and WAKEUP CALL

The tragic death of Robin Williams causes us to reflect on mental illness and how it can overtake every aspect of a person’s life, including work. From the assembly line to the C-Suite, mental illness in the workplace is both widespread and shrouded in secrecy.


According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mental disorders are common; about one in four American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder* in any given year. Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the United States, yet very few job applicants or employees openly discuss their mental illness...

Read More

Gender Identity & Expression


Last year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) obtained a $50,000 settlement for a former employee of a South Dakota supermarket who was fired for being transgender. The settlement required the employer to obtain professional antidiscrimination training annually for all of its employees, implement and distribute an antidiscrimination policy to all employees, report all future complaints of discrimination to the EEOC, and provide the former employee with a letter of apology and a neutral letter of reference.


Keeping employment policies and practices from discriminating against transgender employees has never been more crucial.

More and more states are adding laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on gender identity...

Read More

Are Tattoos in the Workplace Still Taboo?

By Jasmin Rojas and WAKEUP CALL

Turn on the television at any given time you will probably either find a reality show about tattoos, or a celebrity flaunting his or her body art. Even the famous tattoo artist, Ed Hardy, has a popular clothing and perfume line. Indeed, tattooing has become one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, successfully appealing toward the mainstream culture.


What was once limited to bikers, ruffians and drunken sailors is now the “it” thing amongst soccer moms. In fact, a 2009 survey conducted by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that 36 percent of Americans age 18 to 29 have at least one tattoo. A Harris poll in 2012 found that 1 out of every 5 adults has at least one.

That’s a whole lot of ink!

Today, tattoos are cons...

Read More

5 Changes That Can Help Lessen Employee Absences for Back and Neck Pain


Even though there’s no OSHA ergonomics standard, it is an employer’s duty under the law to provide a workplace free of recognized hazards. So when is the last time someone sat down with your employees to discuss the way they sit, move, and lift? Did you know that addressing workplace ergonomics can lessen absences—and healthcare expenses?


According to Portland, Oregon chiropractor Dr. Samantha Stuart, simple ergonomic changes can make a big difference in the management of back and neck pain and in preventing future health problems. The problem, she says, is lumbar and cervical spine compression caused by poor posture.

Stuart stresses the importance of improving habits at work and at home...

Read More

Employee With Chronic Illness: Do They Have a Disability?

By Patricia Eyers and WAKEUPCALL

An employee with chronic illness may actually be an employee with a disability. If so, this triggers all the rights and responsibilities outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As such, employers need to be cognizant that an employee requesting leave to handle an aspect of a chronic illness may actually be entitled to reasonable accommodation and other protections afforded by the ADA. Reasonable accommodations might include things like a change in scheduling, altering the way certain non-essential job duties are performed, or reassignment to a vacant position.


Before any of these questions arise, it’s important for employers to understand what constitutes a disability so that they can know when an employee with a chronic illness may be enti...

Read More

NLRB: Was Employee’s Profane Tirade Protected?

By Dinita L. James and WAKEUP CALL

The owner and two managers of a Yuma used car lot, Plaza Auto Center (PAC), sat in a very small office with salesman Nick Aguirre, who had worked at PAC for only two months. The owner began the meeting by telling Aguirre that he was “talking a lot of negative stuff” and asking too many questions. Aguirre responded that he had questions about vehicle costs, commissions, and minimum wage.


The owner responded that Aguirre had to follow company policies, salespeople don’t know vehicle costs, and he shouldn’t be complaining about pay. During the discussion, the owner twice told Aguirre that he didn’t have to work there if he wasn’t satisfied with the pay or policies.

Aguirre lost his temper and began berating the owner, using the “f” word, calling him names, ...

Read More