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  • March 19, 2020

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Where it Stands Today

In this period of rapid change, few things are moving faster than the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). This federal legislation creates new sick leave benefits and temporarily expands the scope of the Family and Medical Leave Act to assist certain employees and their families confronting challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The FFCRA was passed by the House on March 14, amended by the House over the weekend, and then passed by the Senate yesterday evening. The President wasted no time and quickly signed it into law. With his signature, the legal obligations of many employers changed. Those…

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  • September 3, 2019

New Maryland Employment Law Will Expand Employer Liablity for Workplace Harrassment.

Maryland’s new employee harassment law (HB 679) is set to become effective October 1, 2019.  The law dramatically expands the scope of actions that can be brought against employers, and (perhaps most importantly) is much broader than protections now available under Federal law. The new Maryland law covers harassment against workers based on race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.  It does not have a specific definition of “harassment,” but rather maintains the “judicially determined meaning” – which involves unwelcome behavior, comments, or actions that create a hostile or offensive working…

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  • August 24, 2017

REVISITING WHEN AN EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK IS A CONTRACT UNDER MARYLAND LAW

Is your employee handbook a contract? Thirty years ago, Maryland’s courts ruled that a jury had to decide that question, unless the handbook contained a “clear and conspicuous” disclaimer stating that it was not a contract.  Since then, most Maryland employers have wisely introduced disclaimer language to avoid litigation seeking damages because something in the handbook was not followed exactly as written.  A recent Maryland case revisits this question and identifies a new problem created, in part, by our societal move into the digital age. James Tucker was an employee of the Johns Hopkins University (“the University”). He was notified…

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  • December 5, 2014

Employee Courtesy and Other Workplace Conduct Standards: Why The NLRB Says They May Violate Federal Law

Most employers think (incorrectly) that they can decide what conduct will be deemed appropriate in their workplace.  What they don’t appreciate is that the federal government is looking over their shoulder and, increasingly, ruling that many common sense standards for workplace behavior violate federal law. Take this quick quiz. Is it permissible to prohibit an employee from expressing a “discourteous or inappropriate attitude” towards customers, co-workers, or the public?  Can you discipline an employee for making false or derogatory comments about coworkers and management?  Can you tell employees that when they are in the community they should represent your business…

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  • April 29, 2014

OFCCP Adopts Final Rules Expanding Veteran Hiring Requirements for Federal Contractors

The past few years have seen a flurry of regulatory activity by the Department of Justice’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).  A previous post discussed the newly-revised rules concerning disability hiring requirements for federal contractors.  Another important development has been the adoption of new rules imposing requirements for the hiring of veterans, now codified as Title 41 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 60-300.  Like the disability-related rules, these amendments took effect on March 24, 2014. The newly-amended rules impose several new requirements that will change the way federal contractors do business.  Among the most important are…

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