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Common Work Place Issues

Jeff Coppaken June 13, 2018

Every year companies struggle to keep up with the latest employer regulations and trending workplace issues. As a legal professional, I feel 2018 and in to 2019 will be no different. Many clients of mine locally in Kansas City and the surrounding metro seek out my guidance to advise them on local, state and federal laws that are constantly evolving and impacting today’s workforce. It is my intention to provide guidance to avoid potential legal issues that can arise for violating these laws.

1. Wage and hour law: Employers often make mistakes related to wage and hour issues. These mistakes can lead to significant liability. The Fair Labor Standards Act sets the majority of wage and hour law at the federal level. Some states have passed wage and hour statutes and regulations that are stricter or contain more requirements than federal law. There are many mistakes that can be made regarding wage and hours. Knowing the requirements in Kansas and Missouri is in the best interest of your business.

2. Marijuana in the workplace: Currently, neither Kansas nor Missouri have any form of legal marijuana but this may change in the near future. As more states are on the verge of legalizing marijuana use for medical and/or recreational purposes, it is vital that employers have a clear and consistent policy as requirements do vary by state. There are statutes in many states that offer employee protections from discrimination primarily on the basis of being a medical marijuana cardholder, or for testing positive for marijuana during a drug test. The Massachusetts Supreme Court also recently ruled that employers may need to accommodate off-duty medical marijuana use in certain situations.

3. Employee use of social media: Businesses are increasingly concerned about how employees utilize social media, including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and others, outside and inside of the workplace. A proactive approach to managing this is to educate employees of your business standards. It is important to establish a policy on social media that balances the desire of the company to avoid potential liability and unwanted attention with the employee’s First Amendment and other rights.

4. Independent contractors: The incorrect classification of employees as freelancers or independent contractors is another important topic and area of enforcement to monitor closely. Some municipalities are providing additional protections for freelancers. For instance, New York City Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which establishes and enhances protections for freelance workers, specifically as to contracts, terms of payment and protection from retaliation.

5. Discrimination, harassment and retaliation: There has been a steady increase in the number of claims filed against employers in terms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliations. It is more important than ever for businesses to consult with human resources and their attorneys about whether some actions may be considered discrimination, harassment or retaliation. Knowledge of current case law is important in today’s fluid environment. Retaliation claims account for almost half of all EEOC claims made. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you and your business are protected by having strong legal and HR advisement. Your business orany other should have a carefully drafted anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy (which is required by some state laws and expected by many jurors if litigation were to arise).

Are you starting, or do you own a business in the Kansas City Metro? Do you want to make sure you are protected from any of the above common employee issues that may arise? If so, contact Jeff Coppaken for a FREE CONSULT.