As noted in our June 2017 Employment Law Letter, the West Virginia Legislature passed the West Virginia Safer Workplaces Act. The new law, which went into effect on July 7, 2017, generally expands the circumstances under which employers may conduct drug and alcohol testing, with some important limitations. If your business conducts drug or alcohol testing, now is a good time to revisit your policy and consult with your attorney to ensure that it is compliant with the new law. Here, we will summarize the new law, including what it permits and what it prohibits.
Let’s say that one of your employees gets in an accident at work while performing his or her usual job duties. The employee is injured, and you want to know whether to test the employee for intoxicants. After all, you have a substance use policy, and don’t want to face a lawsuit or administrative claim alleging that you are responsible for the accident. Can you require the employee to be tested for intoxication?
The legal concept of joint employment has been buzzing in 2015, and a new opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit – covering primarily Pennsylvania and New Jersey – recently addressed the issue. As those who read this blog regularly know, the Fourth Circuit addressed the question a few months ago, which we discussed here, and back in August, the National Labor Relations Board issued its much-discussed Browning-Ferris ruling, which we discussed here.
As we transition from summer picnic season to fall/winter party season, you may be inclined to hold a gathering for your employees. After all, you appreciate them and want to show your thanks by showing them a generous, good time. However, too much of a good time at these functions can cause put employers in a sticky legal situation, so it’s a good idea to keep a few tips in mind as you consider having such a function.
The West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act is the law that governs the way employees are paid upon separation from their employment in West Virginia. That Act has been in a state of flux recently. If you are an employer, you probably know that you used to have to pay employees within 72 hours of their separation from employment, and then the statute was changed to require payment by next regular payday or 4 business days, whichever comes first. As of June 11, that law changes again.
I was recently asked what happens if an employee is injured at work, and the employer is not at fault. For example, an employee trips over a chair that is properly tucked into a table, and the employee is injured. The employer was not at fault for the employee’s fall – after all, the chair was properly placed – and yet the employee could still be entitled to workers’ compensation. Why is that?
Allowing employees to take FMLA leave is good for employees, it’s good for families, and, of course, it’s required by law. But what if you have an employee who takes FMLA leave when nothing seems to be wrong? For example, you could have an employee who reports that he is taking FMLA leave every time his request for a specific vacation day is turned down. Certainly, you don’t have to allow an employee to take the day off just because the employee has suddenly decided to say that it is FMLA leave, right?
As people in the world, we face difficult situations all the time. If someone seems sad or depressed, we may want to help but not know how. When it’s your employee who is going through tough times, you may have legal concerns to worry about too. It’s good to be as prepared as possible beforehand. For example, let’s imagine that one of your employees seems depressed and starts making comments around the workplace about hurting him or herself.
Many employers understandably want to perform a criminal background check on potential employees. It is possible for employers to lawfully ask about criminal convictions on applications or to administer a criminal background check. However, it is not “open season” on criminal background checks, and you need to be careful when conducting this kind of inquiry.