Nuts-and-Bolts: EEO and VETS Reporting Refresher

It is that time of year again and the window for annual reporting is quickly closing in on us. For the reporting period for the 2014-15 year, the filing deadline for filing the annual VETS4212 report is September 30th. In a recent Nuts-and-Bolts blog post, we discussed the changes to the annual VETS reporting, and how these updates will impact employers who are required to file.  (more…)

Rain, Rain Go Away

It’s that time of year. Summer is rapidly closing in on us and the skies are starting to slowly open up. With the advent of fall (or at least fall-like weather), driving conditions can get hairy. First rains often mean slippery roads, as a summer’s worth of oil and other spills on roads mix with rain, creating a less than ideal driving situation. With the weather changing, now is a great time to review your company’s policies on using mobile devices while driving. Many states have “hands free” laws in place, and adhering to these laws is especially vital when the weather does not cooperate.  (more…)

Nuts-and-Bolts: “Keep this Confidential…”

In late July, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a decision that affected blanket confidentiality policies that many organizations have in place. As this subject pertains to conducting investigations and interviews in the workplace, the NLRB ruled that even “recommending” that an employee refrain from discussing any HR-related investigations and their subsequent conversations and interviews with other employees is unlawful. The group stated that such confidentiality requirements infringes upon an employee’s Section 7 rights for concerted activity.

An employer can still require that an employee keep trade secrets and other legally protected information confidential, but discussing investigations and other goings on with fellow colleagues and coworkers is not something that an employer can prohibit. This decision will have a huge impact on businesses. Very similar to recent decisions by the NLRB relating to social media and even anti-harassment policies, this was a predictable step and ruling.

What’s the solution? How do you protect sensitive subject matter and confidential information while balancing an employee’s Section 7 rights? The first step is to update your confidentiality policy to balance the need for confidentiality without infringing on Section 7 rights. Remove requirements in which employees are required to sign notices indicating their understanding of the confidential nature of the situation. An employer can still control any information they communicate, but there are restrictions as to how the involved employees are permitted from discussing that information.

Be careful when you meet with employees during discussions on how you phrase the need for confidentiality and how you word your requirements for confidentiality in documents.  Note that the NLRB stated that an employer must consider each investigation individually to decide whether confidentiality is required for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Protection of Witnesses
  • Avoiding the Destruction of Evidence
  • Testimony is in Danger of Being Fabricated
  • Preventing a Cover-Up

It is recommended that you document your reasoning for confidentiality prior to the investigation. This can even be shared with the interviewee as appropriate. Many are stating this ruling will be overturned as it is in direct conflict with Title VII and the need for protecting against potential retaliation.

At the end of the day, it is all about how you phrase the reasoning for confidentiality. Avoid making your employees sign any confidentiality agreements, and focus on the need for confidentiality rather than placing restrictions on your employees.

What Does Labor Day Mean to You?

The first Monday in September is quickly creeping up on us, heralding a number of changes: the season is quickly turning from summer to fall, the kids are back in school, and Labor Day provides many organizations with a long, holiday weekend. While most of us relish a chance to enjoy some of the last nice summer days, we don’t often take a moment to reflect on what Labor Day signifies and why we celebrate it in the workplace.  (more…)