Basics of an Effective Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy

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By Sally Still

With sexual harassment so prevalent in the news lately, employers are rightly asking…what is sexual harassment and what do I need to do about it?  If you’re an employer, let’s walk through your obligations to protect your employees from harassment and address how you should respond should it arise in your workplace.

First, an employer must exercise reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any harassing behavior.  The way to do this is to have an effective anti-harassment policy, disseminate it to all employees, and swiftly conduct investigations into complaints of harassment when they arise.  Be clear that immediate and appropriate corrective action, including necessary discipline, will be taken whenever harassment has occurred in violation of the company’s anti-harassment policy.  Continue reading

How To Protect Smartphone Apps & Digital Work for Hire Projects

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by Philip H. Ward III, Partner 

For many years, companies have required that employees and independent contractors hired to conduct work execute agreements which include “work for hire” provisions.  These provisions simply mean that the work for which the employee or independent contractor has been engaged belongs to the Employer, not the Employee.  Documents and work product would include engineering drawings, manuals, websites, architectural drawings, and other works.

Software development and smartphone app designs have created new issues for companies.  Recently, we negotiated a contract for a client who is developing a smart phone app.  An independent contractor was hired to design and develop the app.  In most cases, the independent contractor seeks to retain as much ownership as possible.  On the other hand, the owner needs to know that the app is theirs and won’t be copied. Continue reading

EEOC Says LGBT Community Protected Against Employment Discrimination

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by Denise J. Bleau, Esquire

In the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency vested with the authority to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, issued a decision last week, holding – for the first time – that Title VII’s ban on employment discrimination because of sex, prohibits discrimination against people because they are gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Complainant v. Foxx, Appeal No. 0120133080 (EEOC, July 15, 2015)

The ruling is not binding on federal courts.  However, courts historically rely on and defer to the Commission’s interpretations unless clearly unsupported by the law.  The full effect of the Foxx decision will not be known for some time.  This is particularly true here, because the EEOC and courts previously ruled that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of “sex” did not apply to discrimination because of a person’s sexual orientation.  However, Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision in Obergefell v. Hodges changed everything, it seems.

In the past 20 years or so, there have been a number of cases finding that Title VII or the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution prohibit certain actions involving LGBT employees. The Courts generally held during that period that sexual orientation was not equivalent to sex or gender as defined in Title VII. Continue reading

Working Out The Bugs: Pest Control Service Technicians & Overtime

ants-498731_640By: Sally Still, Esquire

The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and some state statutes, require employers to pay overtime. Generally, overtime is time and one-half the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours over 40 hours in a week. However, this requirement is subject to a number of “exemptions.”

Commissioned sales people may fall within one of those exemptions, known as “7(i)”. For the exemption to apply, certain conditions must be met: Continue reading

Epic Overtime Class Actions, A Cautionary Tech Tale

picjumbo.com_HNCK4536 by I. Jeffrey Pheterson, Managing Partner 

Two federal lawsuits were filed recently against the health information giant, Epic Systems, by two classes of technical writers alleging that the company owes them overtime pay according to the Wisconsin State Journal.  Epic is a privately held health care software company which makes software for hospitals, integrated healthcare systems and medical groups.  It is estimated that half of patient electronic medical records in the U.S. are held on Epic systems. At issue is classification of these salaried workers as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act; nonexempt employees are entitled to overtime pay while exempt employees are not. Continue reading