Employment Law Articles

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.

Prior Notice Not Required to Place GPS Tracking Devices in Company Vehicles

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            In a case of first impression, the Connecticut Superior Court, see in granting a motion to dismiss, found an employer does not violate Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-48d by placing a GPS tracking device in a company vehicle without prior notice to employees operating the vehicle. Vitka v. City of Bridgeport, 2007 Conn. Super LEXIS 3486 (Conn. Super. Ct. Dec. 31, 2007).

Drafting Effective Complaint Procedures

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            When a supervisor engages in discriminatory conduct that causes an employee to suffer a tangible employment loss, such as a termination or loss of pay, the employer is strictly liable for its supervisor’s actions. Where the supervisor’s actions do not result in a loss, or the discrimination is conducted by a co-worker, an employer may avoid liability by raising an affirmative defense that it had in place an effective complaint procedure, and that the employee unreasonably failed to use the procedure to end the discrimination. In a recent case the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that in order for a complaint procedure to be “effective” it must be understandable to the average employee working for the employer. EEOC v. V&J Foods, Inc., 507 F.3d 575 (7th Cir. 2007).

Employee Tattoos and Body Piercings

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            Employers generally have a right to enforce dress codes, as well as grooming and appearance standards. Such policies may limit or prohibit the display of tattoos and piercings. Courts have generally rejected employee complaints raising first amendment claims, or claims of physical appearance discrimination.


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