‘Tis The Season To Avoid Workplace Legal Troubles, Part 1

Michael T. Landen and Lisa J. Jerles

MLanden

MIchael T. Landen

The holidays are among us, which means employees can look forward to company holiday parties to celebrate another successful year with their firm or companies. Unfortunately, the holiday season can also result in legal issues for both employers and employees, which may arise from seemingly harmless activities.

Holiday Parties

Holiday parties are a positive way to promote a healthy, collaborative and comfortable working environment. Many employers strive to create a family-friendly environment in the workplace, and the holiday party is an effective way for employees to get to know one another outside of the office. The goal, however, is that employees do not become too comfortable in their surroundings and forego company policies, potentially bringing unwarranted legal claims to the company.

Lisa Jerles

Lisa Jerles

According to a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management, approximately 65 percent of companies are having a holiday party, of which 59 percent plan to serve alcohol. Alcohol can increase the chances of a legal issue arising from drunk driving, sexual harassment or worker’s compensation due to an injury. But by planning ahead, employers can take steps to mitigate issues that may arise from alcohol consumption at the office holiday party.

Read more in Part 2: http://bit.ly/1S7dVQ1 

Setback for Uber on drivers’ class action case

uber
Uber suffered a setback in a landmark class-action lawsuit on Wednesday, as a California judge ruled to expand the class of drivers who can participate and the types of reimbursement they can seek.

The case, which is set to be tried by jury in June, centers on the question of whether Uber drivers should be treated as full employees rather than contractors.

It is being closely watched as an indicator of how employment laws will be enforced in the “sharing economy”, in which companies tap legions of freelance contractors as their workforce.

A loss could weaken Uber’s business model, which is based on taking a share of the proceeds from drivers who use the app to find customers.

If the plaintiffs win Uber would have to compensate drivers for tips and, after Wednesday’s ruling, compensate them for expenses incurred on the job as well, such as petrol and wear and tear on the vehicle.

Michael Landen, a partner at Kluger Kaplan specialising in employment litigation, says the case could have ramifications for other companies. “Technology drive businesses have changed the employee/employer relationship,” he said. “For an Uber, you have a totally different type of animal in terms of how the relationship works for these people being compensated.”

Read more here: http://on.ft.com/1ThrlYu 

The Americans with Disabilities Act opened doors

July 26 marked the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a landmark law passed in 1990 that for the first time in our history created nationwide standards for combating discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, telecommunications relay services and government activities.

The Act has led to a number of significant legal decisions, which have helped to balance the rights and responsibilities of workers with disabilities and their employers. For example, the ADA requires owners of stores, restaurants and other public locations to provide access to people with disabilities — this is something we often take for granted.

As a labor and employment attorney, I often deal with cases involving the ADA. It is imperative that employers understand the law and the consequences of noncompliance.

Despite the ADA creating a benchmark for employers, it also created a strong foundation for lawmakers to build on and provide even broader protections for disabled workers. For example, President George W. Bush amended the law in 2008 and more recently, President Obama signed an executive order, requiring the federal government to hire 100,000 new employees with disabilities by 2015.

The ADA, like many other laws designed to combat discrimination, is successfully furthering the cause for equality among all people. With about 20 percent of the labor force made up of people with disabilities, everyone should take a moment to reflect on the importance of this law and be cognizant of its impact on our workforce in places of public accommodation, and how it has improved the quality of life for millions of Americans.

Michael Landen, Miami

The letter was published by the Miami Herald.

 

Reflecting on the Americans with Disabilities Act

July 26 Michael Landen_226 greymarks the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a landmark law passed in 1990 that for first time in our history created nationwide standards for combating discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, tele-communications relay services and government activities.

The Act has led to a number of significant legal decisions, which have helped to balance the rights and responsibilities of workers with disabilities and their employers. For example, the ADA requires owners of stores, restaurants and other public locations to provide access to people with disabilities – this is something we often take for granted.

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Hobby Lobby Ruling a Potential Slippery Slope

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a landmark decision in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Inc. case last week, asserting that certain employers with religious objections can deny paying for contraception under the Affordable Care Act.

Michael Landen, a partner at Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, shares his thoughts with the Daily Business Review on the ruling, and raises important questions about the full implications of the decision.

He argues the decision is a slippery slope, opening the door for “closely-held” businesses to become involved in private medical issues such as fertility, birth control procedures (such as vasectomy or tubal ligation), psychiatric care and blood transfusions. If a private employer’s religious beliefs can dictate the health care its employers receive, all kinds of health care and medical procedures, some possibly life-saving, may be at risk.

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