Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Can You Serve Notice Via Social Media?

Posted by Eric Robinson on Wed, Jan 25, 2017

The Internet continues to develop and evolve at lightning-fast speed, with new sites and platforms bursting into prominence as others lose their popularity and fade away. Meanwhile, the law, which is not known for its rapid acceptance of new ideas and technology, struggles to keep up, and so do those who must keep up with both the technological and legal developments.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Employer Best Practices, Employee Rights, Internet

OSHA Revises Walking, Climbing and Fall Protection Standards – Part I (Surfaces and Pathways Between Levels)

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Jan 23, 2017

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued massive revisions to its regulations requiring most employers (“General Industry”, in OSHA parlance), to protect employees from slip and fall hazards in most workplace contexts, including:

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Tags: Employer Best Practices, Health & Safety, OSHA, Employee Rights

Social Media and the Law

Posted by Michael Lambert on Fri, Jan 20, 2017

Buzz, buzz. Ring, ring. Your eyes are instantly open as the sharp sounds of your smartphone alarm ring in your ears. After reaching over to quell the noise, you jump out of bed, eager to begin your first day as director of marketing for Tech, Inc. Your workday begins with HR orientation. Without much explanation, your hiring manager drops reams of paperwork on your lap. One of the documents is titled “Tech, Inc. Social Media Policy,” while another is a form seeking your personal social media account usernames and passwords. After orientation, you are escorted to your new office, which, to your chagrin, is a small cubicle instead of a plush corner suite. You are assigned your first task: to launch an advertising campaign comparing Tech to rival company, Widget, Inc., along with a promotion in which customers pick three numbers for $2 for a chance to win Tech’s latest gadget. You proudly squeeze promotional information, a slight jab at Widget, and a photo of the prize in a 140-character tweet. After a long first day of work, you arrive at home and post to Facebook: “First day of work. :-) HR sucks. Cubicle is tiny. :-) Thinking about complaining. #newjob #TechInc #funemploymentover #realworld.”

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Tags: Business & Legal, Employer Best Practices, Internet

EEOC Issues Rule to Make Federal Government a Model Employer for People With Disabilities

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Jan 12, 2017

Federal laws prohibit employers from basing employment decisions on a variety of factors, including “disability.” Private employers are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), while public agencies are subject to the Rehabilitation Act. Both laws are administered and enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), with states generally cooperating with EEOC or imposing similar requirements on state and local agencies. EEOC generally provides the same requirements and guidelines to both sets of employers, but there are differences.

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Tags: Employer Best Practices, Employee Rights, EEOC

Nanotechnology Workplace Safety

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Dec 06, 2016

As entrepreneurs commercialize “nanomaterials”, occupational safety and health (OSH) agencies and professionals are developing standards to evaluate and manage the associated hazards. These protective efforts cover the full range of OSH agency efforts. The easiest step is to expand application of the Employer’s General Duty to protect workers against workplace hazards to cover nanomaterials –easiest since this Clause requires employers to take steps against “recognized” hazards, and do not bind the agencies to promulgate specific standards (I’ve written about the General Duty Clause here, and about recommendations for comprehensive safety and health programs here). At the other extreme, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or other OSH agencies can issue enforceable OSH standards –so far there are none exclusively addressed to nanomaterials, although some materials do trigger some standards (see below). Between these extremes, agencies can and do offer non-mandatory but detailed guidelines for some hazards – the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) just issued such a guide for nanomaterials, building on similar publications by other agencies. The rest of this blog discusses the new NIOSH guide, “Building a Safety Program to Protect the Nanotechnology Workforce: A Guide for Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises” (NIOSH Guide), and references some of resources used to produce them.

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Tags: Employer Best Practices, Health & Safety, OSHA, Employee Rights, EPA

Creating a Security-Conscious Community to Prevent Violent Acts in the Workplace

Posted by W. Barry Nixon on Tue, Nov 22, 2016

The time has come to shift our thinking about how to prevent violent attacks in the workplace. Business as usual will not keep our workplaces safe from terrorist attacks.

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Tags: Employer Best Practices, Employee Rights, Workplace violence

OSHA Revised Safety and Health Program Guidelines

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Nov 15, 2016

On October 18, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued “Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs” (Recommendations) – which revises its 1989 “Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines” (S&H Guidelines). As the name indicates, these recommendations suggest activities employers should undertake to ensure their employees’ safety and health. They are not regulations or other requirements, but the 1989 Guidelines have long been used by agency inspectors and onsite S&H personnel as generally applicable roadmaps to safer workplaces. This month’s revision end a review process that included a proposal and request for comments published in November 2015 (I blogged about the proposal here).

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Tags: Employer Best Practices, Health & Safety, OSHA, Employee Rights

OSHA Proposes Technical Changes To Dozens Of Requirements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Nov 08, 2016

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed to update and/or clarify dozens of provisions in its regulatory standards, within its General Industry, Construction, and Shipbuilding Standards, as the latest round in an ongoing “Standards Improvement Project.” The proposals were published in the October 4 edition of the Federal Register, and comments are due by December 5. Depending on the comments (and perhaps on the outcome of the Presidential election), OSHA plans to finalize changes early in 2017.

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Tags: Employer Best Practices, Health & Safety, OSHA, Employee Rights

Ontario Court Rejects Employee’s Claim That Director Owed Duty of Care to Employee

Posted by Ron Davis on Thu, Oct 27, 2016

The Ontario Psychological Association is a not-for-profit voluntary association that aims to advance the practice and science of psychology through advocacy and education. Charlotte (Carla) Mardonet was hired by the Association in 1990 to manage its affairs and administer its finances and money. In Ontario Psychological Assn. v. Mardonet (2016 ONSC 4528 (Ont. S.C.J.)), the Court granted the Association’s motion to strike the part of Mardonet’s counterclaim alleging that the Association and its officers and directors owed Mardonet a “duty of care and a fiduciary duty which they breached as a result of their failure to provide her with the supervision, management, support and guidance that was part of their responsibility” and claiming full indemnity and contribution from the directors for any amounts that Mardonet might be liable to the plaintiff. The defendant’s counterclaim was issued in response to the plaintiffs’ lawsuit alleging the defendant had “misappropriated the funds [$1.6 million] and converted them to her own benefit and the benefit of her family members and friends,” with the assistance of her immediate family.

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Tags: Employer Best Practices, Employee Rights, Canadian, directors, directors & officers

EEOC Issues New Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Oct 04, 2016

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) administers and enforces most national anti-discrimination laws. As part of these responsibilities, EEOC issues formal regulations, and a host of less formal guidance documents – some directed to employers, some to employees, and/or some to the agency’s own personnel. In August 2016, EEOC reissued EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues (“the Guidance”), describing its approach to situations where employees claim they’ve suffered retaliation for asserting rights against discrimination under the laws EEOC administers, or even just for questioning workplace rules and situations.

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Tags: Employer Best Practices, Employee Rights, EEOC, directors, directors & officers