In keeping with his promise of a “year of action” during this year’s State of the Union address, on July 31, President Obama signed an executive order — entitled Fair and Safe Workplaces — that vastly extends the federal government’s enforcement reach over private federal contractors’ employment policies.
Positive workplace policies have long been uncontroversial. Typically, these policies set the expectation for employees that they will represent their employer in a positive light, and won’t make negative comments or engage in gossip. This seems common sense — what could go wrong?
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and now some courts are considering obesity a disability, and employees who are severely overweight may qualify for protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Taken separately, workers’ compensation laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) represent complicated laws that are often difficult to figure out. When workers must be absent from the workplace under two or three of these laws, the situation becomes even more complex.
More states are legalizing medical marijuana, and recreational use is legal in two others. A tangle of federal laws adds to the confusion. Being aware of the legal issues involved and the changing legal landscape is important for employers to ensure that their drug testing policies are legal and enforceable.
One of 2013’s hallmarks in the labor and employment field is the aggressive stance taken by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces federal anti-discrimination laws. One of the EEOC’s areas of focus has been the use of background checks, especially criminal history.
As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ratchets up its scrutiny on temp workers, employers must understand and comply with their duties regarding training and safety, before accidents occur.
Non-union companies usually work to keep an eye out for signs of union organization among their workforces. However, they are generally focusing on unions and union organizers, not nonprofit groups like “worker centers.” Yet some of these worker centers have begun partnering with unions.
If companies with federal contracts or subcontracts are found to be non-compliant in regard to equal employment and affirmative action, they can face mandatory changes in their employment policies as well as bad publicity.