Employers in the technology, media and telecommunications industry are faced with many workplace management and legal compliance challenges. Among these are trends in the shared economy and rise of the contingent workforce, data privacy and security, and use of social media in connection with recruitment, employee monitoring and termination. At the recent Epstein Becker Green 34th Annual Workforce Management Briefing held at the New York Hilton, members of the firm’s TMT Group including the authors of this post, along with in-house counsel speakers Rebecca Clar of AOL and Blake Reese of Google provided a panel workshop on these hot-button … Continue Reading
If an employer is found to have misclassified an employee as an independent contractor or other contingent worker, then liability can be substantial under applicable federal and state labor, employment, tax and withholding laws including laws regarding payment of wages, overtime and unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, discrimination and rights of workers and unions. It is equally important to understand that compliance of employee benefit plans with requirements under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, (the “Code”) can also be at risk. Employers must be mindful of the effects misclassification of … Continue Reading
Employers in the technology industry should take note of last week’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in EEOC v. New Breed Logistics (PDF). The court declined to reconsider a panel holding that, in the context of a retaliation claim, “a demand that a supervisor cease his/her harassing conduct constitutes protected activity under Title VII.”
Three former employees of New Breed Logistics, a supply-chain logistics company, asserted that they had engaged in protected activity by telling their supervisor to stop making advances and sexual comments. The district court agreed, holding that protected conduct “can be … Continue Reading
My colleague Laura A. Stutz at Epstein Becker Green has a Retail Labor and Employment Law blog post that will be of interest to employers doing business in New York City: “New York City Investigation of Hiring Practices.”
Following is an excerpt:
New York City’s Commission on Human Rights is now authorized to investigate employers in the Big Apple to search for discriminatory practices during the hiring process. This authority stems from a law signed into effect by Mayor de Blasio that established an employment discrimination testing and investigation program. The program is designed to determine if employers … Continue Reading
My colleagues Michael S. Kun and Jeffrey H. Ruzal at Epstein Becker Green has a Wage and Hour Defense blog post that will be of interest to all technology, media, and telecommunications employers: “Proposed DOL Rule To Make More White Collar Employees Eligible For Overtime Pay.”
Following is an excerpt:
More than a year after its efforts were first announced, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has finally announced its proposed new rule pertaining to overtime. And that rule, if implemented, will result in a great many “white collar” employees previously treated as exempt becoming eligible for overtime … Continue Reading
My colleague Nathaniel M. Glasser recently authored Epstein Becker Green’s Take 5 newsletter. In this edition of Take 5, Nathaniel highlights five areas of enforcement that U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) continues to tout publicly and aggressively pursue.
- Religious Discrimination and Accommodation—EEOC Is Victorious in New U.S. Supreme Court Ruling
- Transgender Protections Under Title VII—EEOC Relies on Expanded Sex Discrimination Theories
- Systemic Investigations and Litigation—EEOC Gives Priority to Enforcement Initiative
- Narrowing the “Gender Pay Gap”—EEOC Files Suits Under the Equal Pay Act
- Background Checks—EEOC Seeks to Eliminate Barriers to Recruitment and Hiring
On Monday, June 29, 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law the bill passed by the New York City Council “banning-the-box.” The law goes into effect on Tuesday, October 27, 2015. As discussed in our earlier advisory, the ban-the-box movement removes from an employment application the “box” that requests criminal conviction history. New York City’s law also imposes additional requirements upon the employer when making an adverse employment decision on the basis of criminal conviction history.… Continue Reading
Epstein Becker Green will host a complimentary webinar, “Hi-Tech Compliance in the Digital Age” on June 25th from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. (EDT) presented by Epstein Becker Green attorneys Michelle Capezza, Nathaniel M. Glasser, Adam C. Solander, and Joshua A. Stein.
Below is a description of the webinar:
All employers face unique challenges in having to comply with both overarching and targeted labor and employment, employee benefits, and civil rights laws and regulations that greatly impact their workplace and business model. As employers — including those operating in the technology, media, and telecommunications industry … Continue Reading
With the ever-increasing amount of information available on social media, employers should remember to exercise caution when utilizing social media as a part of their Human Resources/ Recruitment related activities. As we have discussed in a prior blog post, “Should Employers and Facebook Be Friends?” we live in a digital-age, and how people choose to define themselves is often readily showcased on social networking sites. Whether – and how – employers choose to interact with the online presence of their workforce will continue to develop as the relevant legal standards try to catch up.
In the lifecycle of a start-up company, there are many key issues, situations and milestones when it is important to seek legal consultation. Epstein Becker Green has developed an easy to follow guide to highlight common workforce management issues (including employment, benefits and immigration concerns) start-up employers must consider as they grow their business and application of important laws which are triggered by employee count.
The Workforce Guide outlines critical areas such as:
- Onboarding and compensation;
- Managing existing workforce;
- Separation; and
- Statutory thresholds triggered by employee count.
This is merely a guide but should be helpful in determining when to … Continue Reading
Recent discrimination lawsuits filed by former employees against Facebook and Twitter, serve as a reminder of the importance of having robust sexual harassment and equal employment opportunity policies in place. In Chia Hong v. Facebook, Inc., et al., which was filed on March 16, 2015 in the Superior Court of California in and for San Mateo County, former Facebook employee Chia Hong, who is Taiwanese, alleges that during her employment at Facebook she was discriminated against and harassed on the basis of her gender, race and nationality in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Hong, who … Continue Reading
My colleagues Steven M. Swirsky and Adam C. Abrahms published a Management Memo blog post that will be of interest to many of our readers: “NLRB Issues Critical Guidance on Employer Handbooks, Rules and Policies Including “Approved” Language.”
Following is an excerpt:
On March 18, 2015, NLRB General Counsel Richard F. Griffin, Jr. issued General Counsel Memorandum GC 15-04 containing extensive guidance as to the General Counsel’s views as to what types employer polices and rules, in handbooks and otherwise, will be considered by the NLRB investigators and regional offices to be lawful and which are likely to … Continue Reading
Our colleague Valerie Butera recently authored Epstein Becker Green’s March issue of Take 5 in which she outlines actionable steps that employers can take to improve safety in the workplace and avoid costly OSHA citations.
Following is an excerpt:
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) was created by Congress to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for employees. OSHA establishes standards and provides training and compliance assistance. It also enforces its standards with investigations and citations.
Although it’s impossible for employers to mitigate against every conceivable hazard in the workplace, there are five critical steps that every employer should … Continue Reading
Our colleagues Steven M. Swirsky and Daniel J. Green at Epstein Becker Green published an article on Management Memo that will be of interest to our Technology Employment Law subscribers: “Teamsters and Technology: Developing Labor Issues for Technology Industry Employers.”
Following is an excerpt:
Employers in the Technology Media and Telecommunications (“TMT”) industries have generally not thought that union organizing was an issue that affected their businesses and workforces. Recent developments suggest that this is no longer the case.
These industries have earned reputations for innovative workplaces, generous benefits, and free food. At the same time, technology companies … Continue Reading
Virginia has now joined the chorus of jurisdictions that ban social media snooping by employers. As we previously reported here and here, in a growing trend a number of states prohibit employers from requiring prospective or current employees to provide access to their social media accounts during the hiring process. On March 7, 2015, the Virginia legislature passed H. 2081, a law prohibiting employers from asking or requiring employees or applicants (1) to disclose the username and password to their social media accounts, and (2) to add an employer to the list of contacts associated with their social … Continue Reading
No software company wants to lose its best programmer for an extended period. But employers should take heed of the recent decision by the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals when considering employee requests for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. In Gordon v. United States Capitol Police, No. 13-5072 (D.C. Cir. Feb. 20, 2015), the D.C. Circuit held that an employer who discourages an employee from taking FMLA leave may be liable for an interference claim, even if that discouragement was “ineffective.” In other words, don’t bully, discourage, or make employees jump through unnecessary hoops … Continue Reading
We were recently interviewed in Corporate Counsel, in “Employment Law Risks Abound for Startup Companies,” by Rebekah Mintzer. (Read the full version — subscription required.)
Following is an excerpt:
“We think they should be focused on it from day one,” Ian Carleton Schaefer, a member in Epstein Becker & Green’s labor and employment practice and co-leader of the firm’s technology, media and telecommunications strategic industry group, told CorpCounsel.com. “Oftentimes it takes a triggering event, whether it’s a lawsuit or a government audit to get them focused—and we think that’s a little late.”
The risks of putting employment law considerations off … Continue Reading
Corporations incorporated in Delaware, regardless of whether they are domiciled in Delaware, should take note of a new Delaware law that went into effect on January 1, 2015 regarding the destruction of unencrypted personal identifying information concerning employees. Under the new Safe Destruction of Records Containing Personal Identifying Information law (19 Del. C. § 736), employers are required to take “reasonable steps to destroy or arrange for the destruction” of unencrypted records containing employees’ “personal identifying information.” Upon passing this law, Delaware joined the list of 30 other states that have laws regulating the disposal of personal information, including New … Continue Reading
On January 21, 2015 at The Standard, Highline, New York, New York, members of Epstein Becker Green’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications Strategic Industry Group, Stout Risius Ross (SRR), Axial and the New York State Innovation Venture Capital Fund led an informative roundtable discussion regarding “Moving to the Next Level: Valuation & Financing Considerations and Employment Strategies for Start-Ups and Emerging Technology Companies.” This two-part discussion addressed how to take a company to the next level from a financial and valuation perspective, and relatedly, how to manage and mitigate workplace employment issues to ensure the human capital engine of the business … Continue Reading
The common denominator for all start-ups – whether your start-up has $50 or $500 million in its coffers – is its people. As they grow beyond founders, each start-up and emerging technology company will welcome new faces into the organization to deliver on its business plan. Whether they are new partners, employees, freelancers, consultants or otherwise – it is the human capital engine that often dictates the success or failure of an otherwise brilliant idea.
While welcoming like-minded, passionate people into one’s organization can be source of immense pride for founders, it also presents employment law challenges and pitfalls that … Continue Reading
The unrelenting wave of wage and hour suits continues to roll through the high-tech industry.
On July 21, 2014, in Felczer v. Apple Inc., Judge Ronald S. Prager of the Superior Court of California granted class certification as to a class of approximately 21,000 current and former Apple retail and corporate employees on claims alleging Apple failed to provide timely meal and rest breaks as required under California Law. The California Labor Code, with a few exceptions, requires employers to provide non-exempt employees with 30-minute unpaid and … Continue Reading
Whitney Wolfe, former marketing vice president and co-founder of the company responsible for the popular mobile dating app, Tinder®, recently filed suit in California state court alleging sexual harassment and discrimination surrounding her experience and eventual departure from the company. Tinder Inc.’s parent companies, IAC and Match.com, are also named as defendants. While the complaint is only one side of the story, the exhibits attached to the complaint, which contain text messages between Wolfe, Chief Marketing Officer Justin Mateen (Wolfe’s supervisor and alleged harasser), and Chief … Continue Reading
One of the main battlegrounds between employers and employees relates to the ability of employers to preclude class actions by way of arbitration agreements containing class action waivers. In California, the seminal case of Gentry v. Superior Court (“Gentry”) has had the practical effect of invalidating class action waivers in employment arbitration agreements since 2007. Gentry held that an employment class action waiver was unenforceable as a matter of California public policy if the class action waiver would “undermine the vindication of the employees’ unwaivable statutory rights” under the Labor … Continue Reading
The newest issue of Take 5 is online, featuring contributions from Michelle Capezza, Nancy Gunzenhauser, Marshall Jackson Jr., Brandon Ge, Gregg Settembrino, and myself, colleagues in our firm’s Technology, Media, and Telecommunications (TMT) Strategic Industry Group.
In this issue, we cover employment issues in “The Cloud”:
- Solving Rainy Day Problems While It’s Only Partly Cloudy: Wage and Hour Concerns
- PHI in the Cloud: HIPAA, Data Privacy, and Data Security
- The Cloud, the Evolving Role of the CIO, and the Increasing Importance of Attracting and Retaining Key IT Talent
- The Cloud Keeps Following Me: Jurisdictional Challenges