Employment Law Articles

Employers Responsible for Added Taxes Stemming from Lump Sum Awards

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            The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that employers can be held liable for any additional taxes employees must pay when receiving a lump sum award. Eshelman v. Agere Systems, Inc., 554 F. 3d 426 (3d Cir. 2009).

Drafting an Effective Employee Handbook

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            While the law does not require employers to have an employee handbook, laws at both the state and federal level do require that employers have written employment policies. Handbooks are the most efficient way to inform employees of the organization’s expectations and achieve legal compliance. Most handbooks, at a minimum, include an employer’s human resource policies, information on compensation and benefits, conduct expectations, and disciplinary procedures. While using a template may provide a good starting point, additional effort should be exerted so that the handbook reflects the organization’s culture and philosophies. Simple, easily understood language is crucial, as are translated editions where you have significant numbers of non-English speakers.

Connecticut’s Personal Information Protection Requirements

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            Effective October 1, 2008, Connecticut employers must establish and publish or publically display a “privacy protection policy” stating how it will protect the confidentiality of, and limit access to, social security numbers in its possession. (P.A. 08-167). In addition, companies must safeguard “personal information” defined as any information capable of being associated with a particular individual through one or more identifiers, including but not limited to social security, driver’s license, credit card account, passport, alien registration, and health insurance numbers. Also, organizations must destroy, erase, or make unreadable personal data prior to disposal. Intentional violations shall subject an organization to civil penalties of $500 for each violation, provided such civil penalty shall not exceed $500,000 for any single event.

Dealing with Alcohol Related Problems

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            Employers may have rules prohibiting the possession or use of alcohol at work, or being under the influence of alcohol during work hours, and generally may discipline or discharge any employee violating its rule. However, where the employee is sober at work, but alcoholism effects job performance many employers consider a more lenient, treatment oriented approach. Such an approach also provides greater legal protection should the employee later claim he was fired in violation of the ADA or FMLA.

Florida Employees May Keep Firearms in Vehicles at Work

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            Effective July 1, 2008, Florida employees obtained the right to bring legally owned guns to work, provided they keep them in a locked personal vehicle. Employers may no longer condition employment on the fact that an employee or prospective employee holds a gun license, or discriminate against or terminate an employee for keeping a gun in their privately locked vehicle on company property. Exceptions apply for schools, correctional facilities, or employers performing national defense, aerospace or homeland security work, or those dealing with combustible or explosive materials. Employers may also ban employees from possessing a firearm in a company owned vehicle.


 

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