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Verrill Dana, LLP

Verrill Dana, LLP is one of New England's preeminent regional law firms. With offices in Portland and Augusta, ME; Boston, MA; Westport, CT; Providence, RI; and Washington D.C. Verrill Dana provides sophisticated legal representation to businesses and individuals in the traditional areas of litigation, real estate, business law, labor and employment law, employee benefits, environmental law, intellectual property and estate planning.  The Firm also has industry-focused specialties including higher education, health care and health technology, energy, and timberlands. 

Disclaimer:  The content presented in this blog is for general information only, is not intended to constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by any person as legal advice. While we welcome you to contact our blog authors at hrlawupdate@verrilldana.com, the submission of a comment or question does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and you. 

Entries in Policy Handbook (6)

Friday
Mar032017

Your Watch Does What? Wearable Technology in the Workplace… For Better or Worse

From wristwatches that can take pictures to retinal scanners to fitness trackers, wearable devices are becoming increasingly popular in everyday life, including at work. A study found that employees using wearable technology reported an 8.5% increase in productivity and a 3.5% increase in job satisfaction. Although wearable devices can have many benefits, they can also present many challenges for HR professionals. Beth Smith and Ben Ford discuss how to maximize the benefits of wearable technology in the workplace, as well as how to implement policies that can protect employers, and their employees, with HR Power Hour’s host David Ciullo.

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Wednesday
Nov092016

Marijuana is Legal in Massachusetts . . . Now What

On Tuesday, Massachusetts residents legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.  How does this effect your relationship with your employees and what steps should you be taking in the near future? 

First, the statute includes an employment provision which provides that: “This chapter shall not require an employer to permit or accommodate conduct otherwise allowed by this chapter in the workplace and shall not affect the authority of employers to enact and enforce workplace policies restricting the consumption of marijuana by employees.”  Accordingly, now is the time to get out your employee handbooks and your anti-drug policies and review the language included in the policies to make sure that the language restricts the use of drugs that are illegal under either state or federal law, as you don’t want to find yourself in a position arguing that marijuana is “legal” under state law, but “illegal” under federal law.

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Tuesday
Jul282015

Tasty Tuesday: Arbitor Ends Cupcake War - Cupcake is Not an Intoxicating Beverage

Let us frost your day with a tasty treat—an arbitration decision out of Ohio, In re First Student, Inc. What is sweet about this arbitration you ask? Well cupcakes of course!

Grievant was a former bus driver who was discharged after bringing cupcakes to work for a Halloween party. The cupcakes in question were “Irish Car Bombs” and “Strawberry Margarita,” which included “varying amounts of alcohol respectively in the baked batter, filling, and icing.” While Alton Brown was not called as a witness for the arbitration (nor was the alcohol content of the cupcakes ever tested), the employer’s position was that these cupcakes were no different “than college party jello shots or marijuana brownies” and thus terminated the individual for violation of the company policy which prohibited “possession, use or sale of any intoxicating beverage.”

The Arbitrator disagreed on the appropriateness of the termination, finding that a “beverage” was defined by Webster’s Dictionary as a “drinkable liquid,” and that a cupcake is eaten, not drunk. Accordingly, the Arbitrator found that the policy was not broken when the cupcakes were brought on the property.

Thursday
Dec112014

Two Turtle Doves….and How You Handle Office Romances

In keeping with the twelve days of Christmas, today let us imagine your company’s HR Manager is faced with two turtle doves. You are faced with one of the few animals that mate for life—not in the literal sense of more birds since we talked about partridges yesterday—but with a blossoming romance that started, you guessed it, in the office. So how do you handle office romances without creating legal liability for your organization?

Start With a Policy-
First, it is important to have a policy in place that discusses how you will, in fact, handle office romances. Recent studies show that only approximately a fourth of all companies have a workplace romance policy. However, if you fall into the remaining 75% it’s important that your company makes a conscious choice not to have one, and recognizes that potential liability that could be created by not adopting one.

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Tuesday
Jun172014

Where Do You Work?

Depending on your point of view, a recent decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals either recognizes the effect that technology has on an employee’s need to be physically present in the workplace or may ultimately require employers to make the choice between allowing workers to use a telecommuting policy to its fullest extent regardless of its effect upon operations and tightening these policies to avoid legal liability.

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Monday
Mar172014

Does Instant Message Equal Instant Liability?

A recent TechNewsWorld article indicates that 80 to 90 percent of companies have some form of instant messaging (IM) in use by employees. A majority of these IM programs are taking place over external programs and a 2013 survey concluded that IM users send nearly 20 billion IMs each day—outranking “traditional’ SMS text messaging. Employers should be aware of the legal risks surrounding IM and recognize that while this form of communication is arguably the “water cooler” of the millennial generation, unlike real-world conversations around the water cooler, in the lunchroom, or over employee cubicles, instant messages can be captured, preserved and ultimately displayed in a courtroom setting.

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