San Francisco Partner Cheryl Orr was quoted in a recent story in the Chicago Tribune on Illinois medical marijuana law and the legal implications for Illinois employers whose policies are at odds with the law. Some of the issues Illinois employers will need to confront include reconciling their drug-free work place policies with patients’ rights, what they can ask job applicants, how to deal with an impaired employee and whether or not an employer can punish an employee for engaging in what is now deemed to be a legal activity.
Cheryl submitted that the Illinois statute may offer civil employment protections for workers. One provision of the Illinois law appears to narrowly tie the ability to discipline a medical marijuana patient for failing a drug test to those employers who are specifically connected to federal work or funding. This framework, Cheryl wrote, “creates a plausible argument … Read More »
By: Mark D. Nelson
As hospitals continue to see an onslaught of flu patients, they also face challenges to flu vaccination policies designed to reduce the spread of flu to patients and fellow employees. Hospitals are understandably concerned with protecting patients, visitors and employees from contracting the flu and the potentially serious consequences to the health of elderly and infant patients. However, protecting patients against flu can create legal liability when employees are disciplined, discharged or suffer other adverse action because they do not get a flu shot.
Employment Considerations for Flu Vaccination Policies—The National Labor Relations Act
What limitations exist on a hospital’s ability to create and implement a flu/other vaccination policy? Under the National Labor Relations Act, a flu vaccination policy is a mandatory subject of bargaining. This means that unionized hospitals cannot unilaterally implement such a policy without first giving … Read More »
By: Meredith R. Murphy
As another flu season approaches and the lines are forming for annual flu shots, many employers are questioning the legality of requiring their employees to receive a flu vaccine shot when they recognize business and safety needs for ensuring their work environments and workforce are better protected from the flu virus. This need is especially acute for non-hospital employers who care for individuals with compromised immune systems, such as rehabilitation centers or schools. While a different set of considerations come into play when a hospital is assessing how to implement a flu vaccine policy (see our post on this topic by Mark Nelson here), non-hospital employers have business needs and health concerns that may make implementation of a flu vaccine policy desirable or necessary.
So, what should an employer consider before implementing such a policy?
DO evaluate the business need … Read More »
Editor’s Note: The following post by Los Angeles Partner Mark Terman appeared in the latest issue of the California HR Newsletter. To view the entire newsletter click here. To sign-up to receive the California HR Newsletter see the instructions below.
Unpaid Internships – Opportunity or Liability?
By: Mark E. Terman
The Issue: How can employers reduce risks of the sharp increase of class action litigation by unpaid interns and adverse publicity for companies and key executives over failure to pay wages?
The Solution: Employers should evaluate and correct their unpaid internship practices or, alternatively, treat interns as minimum-wage employees who, if properly classified as part-time or a short-term temporary employee, may not be eligible for certain employee benefits.
Analysis: Unpaid internships have long been used by students and newcomers to build a resume, launch a career or simply land a paying job. Employers can capitalize on this to … Read More »
Editor’s Note: The following post by Los Angeles Counsel Summer Conley appeared in the latest issue of the California HR Newsletter. To view the entire newsletter click here. To sign-up to receive the California HR Newsletter see the instructions below.
May Certain Employee Classes be Excluded?
By: Summer Conley
The Issue: May employers exclude certain classes of employees (e.g., interns, part-time employees, temporary employees) from
participation in a qualified retirement plan?
The Solution: Yes, subject to certain caveats. Employers should consider how they define excluded employees, as well as
coverage and nondiscrimination requirements.
Analysis: While employers may generally exclude a specified class of employee from participation, it is important to clearly
understand how the class is defined and beware of nondiscrimination rules. For example, “interns” and “independent contractors” may actually be employees, but it may still be possible to exclude them. In the latter category, plans often exclude temporary employees. If … Read More »
By: Meredith R. Murphy
Following the lead of its neighbor across the Hudson River [see our earlier coverage of New York’s paid sick leave law here], New Jersey’s second most populated city, Jersey City, has passed an ordinance to require employers with ten or more employees to offer as many as five paid sick days a year. The bill is sweeping in its application, impacting all businesses employing workers who work at least 80 hours a calendar year in Jersey City. However, employee headcount is critical to determining employers’ obligations under the law:
10 Or More Employees In Jersey City: 5 Paid Sick Days
Fewer Than 10 Employees In Jersey City: 5 Unpaid Sick Days
Counting Employees: Full-time, part-time and temporary workers all count toward the total number of employees for purposes of this new law. Further, if an employer’s workforce … Read More »
Members of Drinker Biddle’s newly formed “California HR” team, a cross-practice group featuring lawyers from our Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation and Labor & Employment practices, presented a webinar on the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Defense of Marriage Act ruling and what it means for employers, especially in connection wtih Proposition 8.
The webinar focused specifically on the concerns of human resources professionals and in-house counsel of companies headquartered or doing business in California, including how DOMA will impact their policies and how it will affect benefit plans and retirement plans.
Other areas of discussion include:
Possible changes California employers need to make to welfare benefit and retirement plans.
How beneficiaries are now determined.
What documentation employers can require in confirming a domestic partnership or same sex marriage?
The intersection between DOMA and FMLA.
Marital status discrimination issues and other issues of concern to California … Read More »