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

  • 22
  • August
  • 2019

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Union — Employer Scandals Hurt Many Modern Workplaces

In many American workplaces, the union that represents the employees has been ensconced for decades. So long, in fact, that it’s quite possible that none of the current employees ever voted for the union that represents them. Even so, the odds of these employees turning against that union or seeking to decertify it are very low.

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  • 15
  • August
  • 2019

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Does Fifth Circuit Ruling Allow Employers to Discriminate Against Ex-Felons?

In 2012, the EEOC issued guidance stating that blanket bans on hiring employees with criminal records disproportionately impact minorities and instructing employers to ensure that their hiring policies link specific criminal conduct to the risks inherent to a particular position. The State of Texas challenged that guidance on the grounds that it should be allowed to categorically exclude felons from certain categories of public jobs and the District Court enjoined the EEOC from enforcing its guidance.

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Has New York Become the New California for Employment Law?

In the last year, the Empire State has begun to give the Golden State some serious competition for being the most pro-employee state in the Union. Earlier this summer, for example, I wrote about New York’s new laws to address harassment in the workplace. Last week, Governor Cuomo signed two additional bills that expanded New York’s equal pay law.

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  • 25
  • July
  • 2019

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Political Animals in the Workplace

All of us are, by nature, political animals, according toAristotle’s essay on “Politics.” And it’s politics season again, even despite the distance to the next presidential election. For HR Managers, it won’t come as a surprise that employees have political opinions and that they vocalize them on social media. Many companies today have also taken public positions on political issues. The perennial question arises: What if an employee posts something on social media that does not accord with the company? What if an American-based (nonunion) nonpublic company takes a public stance on ICE’s immigration raids, and one of its managerial employees disagrees with the company’s position in a Facebook post? Can the company fire this employee or ask them to stop speaking against its official position? 

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Know the Facts Before Making a Decision

I recently coached a law student working at Vinson & Elkins for the summer that when she writes a legal memorandum, she should always start with a statement of the facts of the matter as she knows them. The reason for doing this is that if she makes a conclusion on the facts, but does not tell the reader what she believes the facts to be, there could be a misunderstanding. Sometimes associates are not provided all of the facts needed for their memorandum. We will catch that if the associate repeats back the facts in their memorandum. This is also good advice for a young lawyer when they first start writing opinions for clients, because clients may forget some important facts.

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  • 18
  • July
  • 2019

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To "Blue Pencil" a Non-Compete — What Does That Mean?

Some people worry about the drafting of non-competes more than others. One reason for this is probably that the people who are more relaxed about how the provisions are drafted are in jurisdictions that have the safety net of local courts that will reform or “blue pencil” provisions that are found to be overly broad. If that’s the case, you might be tempted to ask for a little more protection than you need. But if you are a business that has employees in multiple jurisdictions (whether different U.S. states or different countries), you need to pay closer attention because the way the courts deal with this issue can be very different and could result in an all-or-nothing decision on restrictive covenants that your business is relying on.

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  • 16
  • July
  • 2019

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California Outlaws (Some) Hair Discrimination

A couple of months ago, I discussed whether a company could terminate an employee who had dyed her hair pink. My conclusion was that employers could legally — at least for now — prohibit employees from having pink hair although I noted that employers were increasingly reconsidering prohibitions on hair color, tattoos and certain piercings which might have the effect of eliminating talented younger candidates from the applicant pool.

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  • 11
  • July
  • 2019

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How Emojis Can Cause Trouble in the Workplace

As emojis have morphed from a cute novelty into a staple element of business communication, they have begun to pose liability risks to companies. Many of these risks stem from the fact that emojis lack universal definitions, can have multiple — often subjective — meanings, and look different on different messaging platforms. This means that emoji use can easily lead to misunderstandings between sender and recipient, which in a business setting can have consequences ranging from contract claims to allegations of harassment and discrimination. Business litigation in which emojis are key evidence has increased significantly in recent years, and shows no sign of abating.  Employees’ use of emojis to supplement text or provide an emotional valence can also enhance liability risk. This occurred memorably in Apatoff v. Munich Re America Services, where the use of emojis by managers led to denial of a company’s motion for summary judgment against a claim of wrongful termination under the Family Medical Leave Act.  2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106665 (D.N.J. Aug. 1, 2014).

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  • 09
  • July
  • 2019

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Play Ball: MLB’s Gig Economy and Lessons for Other Employers

“The Dodgers are the Uber of baseball,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci in the magazine’s February 11, 2019 issue. He meant that the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have represented the National League in the World Series the last two seasons, have achieved remarkable success by borrowing the idea of short-term contracts from the gig economy.

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Celebrate Freedom, Hug a Lawyer (Previously Posted on July 3, 2018)

“I have gone to jail for what I have said.” That’s what I was recently told by a lawyer from another country when he received a call from a reporter asking him to comment on a recent decision from one of his country’s courts. When I asked him how careful he had to be with what he said, he described his time spent in jail for statements he has made.

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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