Site Map - The Workplace

U.S. Congressional Legislation: Workplace Safety

- A bill (H.R. 5663) that would revise federal workplace safety rules has been approved by the House of Representatives. The Senate has not announced whether it will take up the measure. The main portion of the bill addressed mine safety issues. However, the bill also addresses workplace safety in general. H.R. 5663 would increase the penalties for willful or repeat violations of workplace safety rules. Penalties for such violations would rise from a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of $70,000 to a minimum of $8,000 and a maximum of $250,000. These penalties increase when a violation causes or contributes to an employee’s death.

Trade Secrets

- A federal court has upheld a preliminary injunction preventing a senior employee from going to work for a competitor. The employee, who was one of seven employees possessing all the knowledge to create Thomas’ English Muffins, was hired by a competitor, Hostess Brands. The court ruled that the harm presented by the potential for trade secret misappropriation outweighed the restriction of the individual’s employment.

Hostile Work Environment

- A black nursing assistant can pursue a hostile work environment lawsuit against her employer. The hostile environment was allegedly created when the employer acceded to the preferences of racially biased patients who refused to be treated by black nurses.


- New York City has been ordered by a federal judge to stop using its entry-level firefighter examination. The test, which includes 195 multiple-choice questions that measure cognitive ability, personal traits, and memorization, does not measure whether applicants are qualified to be firefighters, according to the judge. And it disproportionately excludes black and Hispanic applicants.

Violence Assessment and Intervention: The Practitioner’s Handbook, Second Edition.

- Violence Assessment and Intervention is a good reference for entities that need a program to handle potentially violent individuals.

Morning Security Brief: Whistleblower Report, Immigration Enforcement, Background Checks, and More

- A Labor Department Inspector General report finds that OSHA's whistleblower protection program falls far short of its goals, failing its own standard in 80% of cases. DHS reports recordbreaking immigration enforcement. HHS announces grants to states to develop programs for background checks for job candidates at elder-care facilities to curb patient abuse. And the GAO gives the Obama Administration a decent grade on cybersecurity progress report, but raises concerns about reaching ultimate goals.

Elsewhere in the Courts: ADA

- A federal court has ruled that an employee who failed to disclose his diagnosis of depression cannot later make a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the case, the employee alleging that he was “stressed” and “anxious” did not constitute a formal request for accommodation of a disability.

State Legislation: Connecticut: Employment

- A new Connecticut law (formerly H.B. 5497) prohibits employers from firing, demoting, or threatening employees who are subpoenaed in a criminal case, participating in a criminal investigation, or have a restraining order issued on their behalf. Employers must also provide time off for victims of domestic violence who must obtain medical care, seek help from victims services, or relocate because of that violence.

U.S. Judicial Decisions: Defamation

- A woman may pursue a lawsuit against her employer after a company executive falsely accused her of illegally pulling a fire alarm. The woman was arrested and charged in the incident. According to a federal court, the woman may pursue her allegations of defamation, invasion of privacy, negligent intention of emotional distress, and false imprisonment.

Hostile Work Environment

- A court has ruled that a woman may pursue her hostile work environment claim even though the gender-based slurs at the root of the case were not made exclusively to one gender. The appeals court overturned a lower court’s ruling that the comments made by the abuser were not pervasive enough and that they didn’t create a hostile environment because his abuse was indiscriminate.

Workplace Searches

- The employee of a federal correctional institution may pursue his lawsuit against the facility after he was fired for refusing to submit to a search of his vehicle. The question of whether inmates could access employees’ parked cars and potentially plant contraband cast doubt on the constitutionality of the search, said the court in its decision, available online.

Workplace Safety

- An employee who claimed that his erratic driving behavior was caused by a workplace toxin rather than alcohol cannot contest his DWI conviction. Read the decision in which the court noted that the law prohibits driving while impaired by any substance whether taken voluntarily or due to workplace exposure.

Crafting Crisis Communications

- How a company handles the media during a crisis can affect the organization's public image.

Beyond Print

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