As a result of numerous security issues in this day and age, employers are looking into new technological ways to counteract security risks. One such way is the use of various types of employee biometric data to confirm the identity of an individual before giving him access to the physical or intellectual property of the employer. The obvious advantages to employers are that this data is unique to the known/approved individual and may not be duplicated. The mandatory use of such data, however, creates another, non-security-related legal issue for employers.
“For, although common Snarks do no manner of harm, Yet, I feel it my duty to say, Some are Boojums –.” So goes the warning in Lewis Carroll’s 1876 poem The Hunting of the Snark. In the poem, a hunting party pursues the harmless Snark but is warned along the way that some Snarks are actually highly dangerous Boojums. If one meets a Boojum, he will “never be met with again!” At the conclusion of the story, one member of the crew believes he has found a Snark and calls out to his friends – but when they arrive, they find that he has vanished without a trace, “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.”
Facing an increasing amount of wage and hour liability these days, employers are considering every feasible method to track employee time accurately. Believe it or not, that includes biometric systems. Indeed, as a replacement for traditional time card machines, biometric systems offer employers numerous benefits. Of course, they present accompanying risks and pitfalls, too.
The NLRA requires employers whose employees are represented by a union to maintain the employee’s existing terms and conditions of employment and to negotiate with the union before implementing any changes to those conditions. Even fundamental changes in the business itself, which are exclusively the prerogative of management and not subject to bargaining, will give rise to a bargaining obligation over the effects of those decisions on unionized employees.
Human resources used to be so much simpler than it is today. In the olden days, most HR professionals just worried about which payroll deductions to withhold, how to keep track of vacation, and whether there was an attendance problem in the workplace. Now, all the key issues in HR are bigger and more complicated, with a lot at stake. Are your employees properly classified as exempt or non-exempt? Is there any way on earth to avoid a retaliation claim? How do I control what my employees are saying about the company on Facebook?
This little corner of cyberspace has devoted ample screen acreage to the impact smartphones and other mobile communication and media devices have on the workplace. The proliferation of those handy pieces of technology requires it and demands employers’ attention as well. Just last week, Apple announced its App Store surpassed 15 billion downloads to its 200 million iOS devices around the world. Earlier this spring, Google announced it had activated the 100 millionth Android device with those users downloading in excess of 4.5 billion apps.
The far reaching impacts of social media on the workplace have garnered significant attention from this blog – and rightly so. The constant appearance of employee use of Facebook and Twitter on the newswire demands that attention. And we’re not just talking about employees in low profile, private-sector positions here either, folks.
The long-anticipated cage match between technology and the law took place last week, and Round One went to employers. While it wasn’t a full and complete KO, employers at least received some guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court in City of Ontario, California v. Quon as it relates to an employee’s use of and privacy in employer-owned and provided communication devices.