Employment Law Articles

Employee Negligence Waivers Violate Public Policy

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            In a case of first impression, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that an agreement between an employer and employee precluding the employee’s right to bring a negligence claim against the employer is void as a matter of public policy. Brown v Soh, 280 Conn. 494 (2006). In this case the Skip Barber Racing School required its employee instructors to sign exculpatory agreements, which waived their right to bring suit against Skip Barber even when the School’s negligence caused them injury.  

Jailed Employees Present Unique Challenges

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            When employers receive notice that an employee has been arrested for committing a crime they often are unsure of their options. In Connecticut employers do not have to wait for the criminal justice system to determine guilt or innocence before taking action. You may terminate the employee before a final determination is made by the courts, or alternatively you may wait until a verdict is rendered.

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.


 

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