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

  • 06
  • December
  • 2017

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A Sea Change – A Modern Workplace Series Digesting the NLRB General Counsel's Sweeping Reforms

It’s no secret that the NLRB has been subject to some swings in policy over the years, largely based on which party is in power. But many agree that the pace of these changes accelerated significantly under President Obama’s general counsel and Board. The new General Counsel of the NLRB—Peter Robb—made clear in a Memorandum he issued Friday, December 1 that he’s among those who wants to roll back many of those policy changes. Because of the breadth of the Memorandum, which takes aim at a broad swath of issues that have characterized the area of labor law over the last eight years, over the next several weeks, the Modern Workplace blog will individually examine some of the potential policy implications of this Memorandum.

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  • 30
  • November
  • 2017

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There Are Limits — CSB Cannot Ask for Everything

The Chemical Safety Board has been a magnet for controversy. Over the years, it has used its broad mandate from Congress to pursue lengthy and sweeping investigations. With an authorization from Congress to investigate the probable cause of any accidental release resulting in a fatality, serious injury or substantial property damages and to issue periodic reports recommending majors to reduce the consequences of accidental releases, it is difficult to see what limits on CSB’s investigative powers exist.

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  • 28
  • November
  • 2017

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Australia Follows Suit with Modern Slavery Reporting Requirements

Australia is set to be the next country to enact legislation to address modern slavery, after the recent publication of a Consultation Paper by the Australian Government (available to read in full here). The UK became the first country to require reporting of this kind through the Modern Slavery Act (the “MSA”), which came into effect in 2015 and appears to have been well received by the business community.

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  • 21
  • November
  • 2017

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Giving Your Employees a Reason to be Thankful by Keeping Them Safe

Recent court decisions and those of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission support the point that OSHA may not cite an employer for a violation when that employer has not exposed an employee to the alleged violative circumstances. This is an important point when an employer is considering staffing and job assignments, workplace layout, and safety policies. In facilities where there are moving vehicles, conveyer belts, or harmful chemicals being used, employers can reduce exposure to any potential hazards by placing controls in locations where employees perform their tasks, where they move around the facility, and where non-essential employees are located while performing potentially dangerous tasks.

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Holiday Hiring — Don’t Get a Lump of Coal from the DOL

As retailers begin to light up big Christmas trees, play merry carols, and otherwise prepare themselves for a busy and festive gift-giving season, they and other employers may onboard seasonal workers to help with the holiday rush. If you’re one of those employers, here are a few key reminders to stay on the U.S. Department of Labor’s “nice” list this season.

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  • 14
  • November
  • 2017

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The Challenges of "Scanning" In and Out

As technology advances, so do the means by which employers manage their employees, including such non-glamorous tasks as tracking employee time. Some users have begun using biometric scanning technology (i.e., devices that utilize fingerprints, handprints, retinal data, or face-recognition technology) to track employee hours. But this technology is giving some employers headaches and leading to new types of lawsuits.

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Hold Them or Fold Them — What to Do with a CEO in the Midst of Controversy

I sometimes wonder why anyone would want to be a CEO of a public company in today’s climate. Gone are the days when CEOs were venerated members of the community. Today’s CEO is much more likely to be facing off with aggressive shareholder activists, a critical public or an unfriendly media on the hunt for an adversarial story. Unfortunately for the companies that employ them, some of the attacks on CEOs are justified because of their behaviors or decisions. When its CEO is embroiled in a scandal or simply accused of mismanagement, what should a company do? When should a company hold onto its CEO, and when should it fold, and hope to be dealt a better hand the next time?

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  • 06
  • November
  • 2017

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PSM and Petroleum Refineries: Lessons Learned (Part 2)

In this second installment of our series on “Lessons Learned” in the last ten years of the Petroleum Refinery Process Safety Management National Emphasis Program, I would like to talk about the requirement that a PSM-covered employer conduct a Process Safety Analysis (“PHA”). For our readers who are general human resources practitioners or general counsel, a PHA is an organized and systematic effort to identify and analyze the significance of potential hazards associated with a company’s processes that involve the handling of highly hazardous chemicals. 

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  • 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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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

Robert Sheppard

Robert Sheppard Associate