The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has once again clarified whether certain types of employee handbook policies will violate federal labor law. Specifically, the NLRB took the position that: it is unlawful to require employees to keep employee handbooks confidential; it is unlawful to prohibit employees from disclosing pay and benefits information; when an employer allows employees to use its email system for work, the employer may not prohibit employees from using its email system for personal use of the email system during non-working time, unless they can show “special circumstances” necessary to maintain production and discipline; and an employer may not prohibit employees from using cell phones during all “working hours” (but the rule would be different if it referenced “working time”). We recommend all employers have SESCO review their Employee Handbook on annual basis to ensure compliance with all federal and state laws.
Pulmonary Specialists of Tyler (PSOT) and Sleep Health have agreed to pay $30,000 and change their policies and practices to settle allegations that they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when they required employees to respond to unlawful medical inquiries and then fired one based on her answers. Sleep Health required employees to complete a medical questionnaire that contained unlawful medical inquiries that were neither job related nor required by business necessity. The medical questionnaire allegedly asked if employees had any of more than 20 listed medical conditions, whether the employee had an impairment or disability, and whether the employee had previous surgery or received a permanent disability rating. An employee answered all of the questions , stating that she had been injured on-the-job in 1996 and had back surgery, and as a result, was given a permanent partial disability rating. However, this back surgery and resulting disability allegedly did not impact her ability to perform the work of Billing/Collections Specialist. Within a week after completing the medical questionnaire, the employee was terminated. Under a three-year consent decree entered by the court, in addition to the monetary relief to the employee, the Tyler, Texas-based medical providers will stop using the medical questionnaire and implement policies prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities.
The days of the “one size fits all” employment application may soon be coming to an end. As federal, state, and local governments increasingly heighten employer hiring process requirements, national employers must be diligent to avoid getting tripped up by the varying rules across different locations. Specifically, three areas may expose employers to liability if asked about on employment applications: "ban the box" laws, salary/compensation history bans, and medical inquiries. Employers may order compliant employment applications on SESCO's web site, www.sescomgt.com, or may submit their current employment application for review.
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"Thanks, Brenda. I appreciate all of the help and hard work you put into our handbook. It was a pretty hefty task, and you did a great job. Thanks again."
– Tony Vermaas — Sobie Company, Inc.More Client Testimonials