News & Analysis

CA court refuses to permit employee to change claims during trial

A salesperson sued her employer for breach of contract. The employee attached one version of an employment agreement to her complaint, but a second, significantly different version of the agreement was introduced into evidence at trial. Halfway through trial, the employee moved to amend her complaint to incorporate the second agreement. The trial court denied her request and granted judgment in favor of the employer. The California Court of Appeal affirmed the ruling in an unpublished decision.

The new 'Uber' trend: anonymous complaints

In HR practices in days of yore, anonymous complaints were regarded as inherently suspect and unreliable. Fast-forward to 2017, however, and anonymous complaints alleging discrimination and harassment have become relatively common and are recognized as potentially reliable indicators of workplace problems, including harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

Never out of the woods: Barred claims can still show up in future lawsuits

Just as "double jeopardy" prevents an individual from being tried for the same crime twice, the law is supposed to prevent employees from filing the same claim against an employer twice. Unfortunately, employees are finding ways to bring back old claims that have already been litigated. In an unpublished decision, the California Court of Appeal found that an employee's lawsuit could proceed despite his dismissal of a similar prior lawsuit against his employer and despite his failure to pursue similar claims well after the statute of limitations had run on them.

Top 10 employer mistakes in accommodating disabled employees

Even experienced HR professionals have a difficult time with requests for reasonable accommodation from disabled employees. This process is even trickier if the employee needs a leave of absence as an accommodation because of the intersection of different laws that govern leaves of absence. Below are some of the most common mistakes employers make when accommodating employees with disabilities. Recognizing and avoiding these mistakes will go a long way toward preventing unwanted litigation.

Trump's parental leave plan likely will leave employers footing bill

President Donald Trump's latest budget proposal calls for six weeks' paid leave for new parents. And while the employee wage replacement that comes with the leave would be paid out by states, experts say states will have to draw at least some of the funding from businesses.

With HR's help, employee network groups can improve retention

From the employer's perspective, employee network groups can boost engagement and retention—or they can create divisiveness. To ensure the former, employers need to be involved from the start.

The sue you, sue me blues

Popular wisdom has always been that employers cannot sue ex-employees. One concern is that the employee may retaliate with a suit of his own. You also run the risk that any judgment you get may be small or uncollectible. Jurors often side with the underdog—generally the employee. Finally, it can be hard to prove the damage an employee caused to the organization. Historically, it wasn't worth the candle.

Agency Action

DOL establishes HIRE Vets Medallion Program. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced in May 2017 the HIRE Vets Medallion Program to recognize employers that recruit, retain, and employ veterans and offer charitable services in support of the veteran community. The DOL is establishing the program under the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act (HIRE Vets Act), which President Donald Trump signed into law on May 5. Criteria for the awards include the percentage of employees who are veterans, the percentage of veteran employees who are retained, the establishment of veterans assistance and training programs, the employment of dedicated HR professionals for veterans, and income and tuition support for veterans.

Workplace Trends

Fudged time recording blamed for burnout. Many employees underreport the hours they work, a problem that many employers are unaware of and that is to blame for employee burnout, according to a study from Kimble Applications, a provider of professional services automation. In cases in which employees are working more than 40 hours a week, management is aware only about half the time, according to the Billing and Burnout Report. Whether employees are told to underbill or are afraid of the consequences of working beyond their normal scope, the tactic leads to inaccurate projections for future projects. The study found that 19% of professionals think their management team lowballs the hours a new project will take to win a new client or project.

Union Activity

Unions speak out against OMB proposal. Unions representing government employees have spoken out in opposition to a memorandum from Director Mick Mulvaney of the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) calling for a reduction in the federal governments civilian workforce. Its beyond insulting to hear OMB Director Mulvaneys characterization of this proposal as the coolest thing nobodys talking about, Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, said about the April 2017 memo titled Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Civilian Workforce. Theres nothing cool about firing hard-working people whove devoted themselves to government service, or about hurting communities that depend on the services they provide, Saunders said. J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said the memo contains some good ideas and some very dangerous ideas. He favors examining whether there are too many layers of management, but he opposes more outsourcing.