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Managing the Modern Workplace
V&E International Labor & Employment Resources

  • 03
  • November
  • 2017

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Astros and the Modern Workplace – Believing in Your Employees

The best managers believe in their employees and give them opportunities to succeed. The modern workplace is one that is heavily regulated and is often put under a microscope in social media and elsewhere. Under these circumstances, it can be a temptation for a manager to try to control all aspects of the workplace. But managers should be wary; this approach can backfire and demoralize the workforce.

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  • 02
  • November
  • 2017

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Non-Compete Agreements Are Getting Even More Personal

In crafting their non-competes, employers often focus on the “big ticket” questions: How long can a former employee be sidelined? How large of an area can the former employee be prevented from working in? What type of conduct can the former employee be restricted from doing? Given that the answers to these questions have a large practical impact on an employer’s operations, it is perhaps unsurprising that the more abstract concept of personal jurisdiction does not often steal the spotlight. But, in light of a recent decision by the Court of Chancery of Delaware, perhaps it should.

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  • 31
  • October
  • 2017

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What Ever Happened to that Obama-Era Overtime Rule?

About a year ago, employers were gearing up for the implementation of the Department of Labor’s updated overtime rules, which would have doubled the baseline salary-level eligibility requirement for white-collar exemptions to the FLSA’s overtime requirements (up to $47,476 from $23,660). However, to the delight (and admitted confusion) of many businesses and employment lawyers, Judge Amos Mazzant enjoined the implementation of those rules, and this past August ruled them to be unlawful because, in the Judge’s view, the doubling of the salary level “effectively eliminates a consideration of whether an employee performs” executive, administrative, or professional duties, which is intended to be the central inquiry of the white-collar exemptions.

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  • 27
  • October
  • 2017

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What’s California Got to Do With Me?

Although state employment laws generally do not have extraterritorial application, what constitutes an extraterritorial application when it comes to the California Labor Code is not clearly settled. As such, employers that are not headquartered in California but have employees who work in the state from time to time should take into account California law — and its potential applicability — when developing and reviewing employment policies and practices.

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  • 17
  • October
  • 2017

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PSM and Petroleum Refineries: Lessons Learned (Part 1)

Although the PSM standard was promulgated by OSHA in 1992, it wasn’t until 2007 that OSHA began to systematically inspect petroleum refineries as part of its Petroleum Refinery Process Safety Management National Emphasis Program (NEP). Many safety managers at refineries around the country were surprised at how easily OSHA was able to use the PSM standard to issue dozens of high dollar value citations by simply issuing multiple citations for each subsection of the standard.

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SOX Liability From A Whistleblower Outside the United States? Maybe

It is natural (and logical) to assume that United States laws do not apply to an individual’s actions in another country. Although this is not always the case — federal discrimination laws, for example, cover U.S. citizens employed by U.S. employers in a foreign country — one would usually expect that conduct is governed by the law of the country where the alleged violation occurred. A recent Department of Labor Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) decision, however, held that Sarbanes-Oxley’s (“SOX”) whistleblower protections may also apply to employees stationed outside the United States.

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Stop, Prioritize, and Simplify – the Mantra for a Better Health and Safety Program

Over the past year, we have held several roundtable discussions with safety and operations managers in which we have talked about the challenges of improving safety and health systems at the same time that top managers are trying to cut costs. Based on the helpful feedback that we received from many of the safety managers and operations managers who participated in these discussions, consultants from ERM helped us come up with a three-step mantra for addressing this problem: Stop, Prioritize, and Simplify.

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  • 28
  • September
  • 2017

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Will Industry's Legal Challenge of New Silica Standard Succeed?

I just finished listening to the oral arguments that were made earlier this week before the D.C. Circuit in the case challenging OSHA’s new silica standard. As we have explained in other posts in this blog, the new silica standard not only reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for silica dust to 50 micrograms per milliliter, but also requires many industries — including the fracking industry — to begin complying with a host of new requirements, including medical surveillance for exposed employees and implementing engineering measures to reduce exposure (see herehere, and here).

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  • 26
  • September
  • 2017

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The ADA is Not a Leave Law, But Someone Forgot to Tell the EEOC

Does the ADA require employers to allow unpaid leave for accommodation when such leave doesn’t present undue hardship? This has actually been an open question under the ADA for a while, and the EEOC last year said that unpaid leave might sometimes be a reasonable accommodation; most employers would probably say that unpaid leave is not a reasonable accommodation. After all, an accommodation request can only be reasonable if the employee, “with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position.”

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It’s Time to Get Serious About International Human Rights

Take a look at your company’s website. When you do, is it quickly clear to you that your company is serious about its efforts to avoid violations of international human rights in its operations? If it is not, it is time to get to work on this issue. Governments, courts (legal and those of public opinion), and the markets are steadily showing less tolerance for companies whose operations either actively or through neglect create violations of internationally recognized human rights.

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How to Define Environmental Health and Safety Services

The lawyers in the safety practice here at Vinson & Elkins, along with our friends at ERM, recently held a round table discussion with management from several local companies concerning risk management. During our conversation, one company representative said, “EHSS [Environmental Health and Safety Services] is a value creator, not just a cost center as it has been historically defined . . . if you define it correctly.” This is an excellent point.

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Contributors

Thomas H. Wilson

Thomas H. Wilson Partner

Christopher V. Bacon

Christopher V. Bacon Counsel

Sean Becker

Sean Becker Partner

Stephen M. Jacobson

Stephen M. Jacobson Partner

Martin C. Luff

Martin Luff Counsel

Lawrence S. Elbaum Partner

S. Grace Ho

S. Grace Ho Counsel

Jacob D. Ecker

Jacob D. Ecker Associate

Robert Sheppard

Robert Sheppard Associate