Employment Law Articles

Telecommuting and the Law

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            Telecommuting has grown over the last decade with millions of employees now working from home on a part or full-time basis. While many companies and employees enjoy the advantages of these arrangements some disturbing legal trends are emerging. A growing number of claims are being made by telecommuters alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), OSHA, and ADA.

Electronic Employee Monitoring

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            With the increase of electronic devices at work, employers are becoming more aggressive in monitoring personal use of company systems in order to maintain productivity. Such monitoring is permissible, provided employers comply with any applicable statutory requirements, and take steps to protect themselves from employee invasion of privacy claims. Improvements in technology now allow employers to monitor computer use, phone use, voicemail messages, email systems, and track employee movement through GPS devices. A recent study by the Center for Business Ethics found 90% of employers perform some form of electronic monitoring, with one-third terminating employees found to have violated company policies.

Employees Bring RICO Suit to Combat Illegal Immigration

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            A group of current and former employees of Mohawk Industries, Inc. filed a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) suit claiming that the company engaged in a pattern and practice of recruiting, hiring and harboring thousands of undocumented workers for its facilities throughout Georgia. Williams v. Mohawk Industries, Inc., 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 24306 (11th Cir. 2006). Plaintiffs alleged the company’s widespread and knowing conduct depressed wages for legally hired employees in violation of federal and state RICO statutes. In denying defendant’s motion to dismiss, the court found that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged that Mohawk engaged in a pattern of racketeering causing injury to plaintiff’s business interests; the right to be paid market rates that are not artificially depressed through unlawful acts.

Employees Increasingly Addicted to Technology

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            According to the American Physical Therapy Association over 2.5 million employees use a Blackberry or similar hand held device. Their use has increased the number of musculoskeletal disorders, including repetitive stress injuries, which now account for one-third of all workplace injuries. So called “Black Berry Thumb,” defined as pain or numbness in the thumbs and hands caused by too much time using a personal data assistant (“PDA”) to check, compose and send emails and instant messages across the internet is the newest form of injury.

Employer Has Duty to Provide Emergency Aid to Employee Falling Ill at Work

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            The Connecticut Superior Court found that an employer has a duty to care for and furnish medical aid to an employee who in the course of his employment suffers an injury, or is suddenly stricken by illness, where such action is demanded to save life or prevent further serious bodily harm. Parekh v. DST Output, CV054013796 (Conn. Super. Ct. Feb. 10, 2006). The employee’s estate sued the employer for failing to render adequate emergency care when the employee fell ill while at work. The employee died as a result of his illness.


 

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