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E&U Law Blog

Are Professional Football Players Protests Protected by Minnesota State or Federal Law?

With President Trump's announcement to fire the "SOBs" who kneel in disrespect to the flag and national anthem, the whole NFL protest has been the subject of discussion in our office. This brought up the question of whether firing the "SOBs" would be permissible, or retaliation under some law.

EMPLOYERS BEWARE: 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Finds Workplace Recording Policy is Unlawful

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently became the second federal appeals court to hold an employer's policy prohibiting photographing and recording in the workplace violates the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"). The Court held unlawful the employer's policy that prohibited all "photography and audio or video recording in the workplace" without prior permission from a manager, human resources, or the employer's legal department. (T-Mobile USA, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board).1

Google - An Opportunity Lost

Google found itself in the middle of a situation regarding diversity and free speech this month. The basic facts are this-a tech employee, on a Google sponsored message board, wrote a ten page "manifesto" offering "biological" reasons for the abundance of males in Google's tech area, potential solutions for remedying this disparity and challenging Google's diversity activities as discriminatory, among other things. Somehow the document was leaked outside Google and, on the progressive side, the manifesto was met with outrage for its alleged biases and stereotypes. On the alt-right side, it was welcomed as a reasoned assault on rampant political correctness. I encourage readers to look at the manifesto yourself and make your own conclusions. Having done so, I don't see the author as malicious or evil or a right wing zealot. Either way, Google found itself on the horns of a dilemma. On one hand it values the free expression of ideas without fear or shame. On the other, it values its commitment against bias and to promote diversity in the workplace. What it ended up doing was to fire the author. Now the author, James Damore, has become a pariah to the left, and a sacrifice to the altar of political correctness to the right. After reading the statement of the CEO, I thought of 1984 by George Orwell. Google says it "strongly " supports the right of employees to express themselves, even with unpopular ideas, yet the message remains, if they do so, they violate the Code of Conduct. See statement of Google CEO here. https://www.blog.google/topics/diversity/note-employees-ceo-sundar-pichai/ Google has only itself to blame for the division that has exploded within its workforce, its users, and the internet because of this event. It has demonstrated it has a no tolerance policy regarding diversity-diversity of thought that is.

The Trump Administration Appears Primed to Aggressively Enforce the False Claims Act and to Target Lending Institutions

Even though President Trump and his Administration have not made any official pronouncements regarding enforcement of the False Claims Act ("FCA"), it would appear that the current U.S. Department of Justice will not be a taking a less aggressive approach to its handling of FCA cases than it previously did under the Obama Administration. In fact, both U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testified in connection with their confirmations that they believed the FCA was a useful tool in combating government fraud. Attorney General Sessions testified in a January 10, 2017 Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing that, "if I am confirmed, I will make it a high priority of the department to root out and prosecute fraud in federal programs and to recover any monies lost due to fraud or false claims." Similarly, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein affirmed under oath during a March 7, 2017 Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing that he would vigorously enforce the FCA to recover taxpayer dollars.

Friedlander clarifies Minnesota Whistleblower Law

The Minnesota Supreme Court, on August 9, 2017, answered a question that has plagued Minnesota employment lawyers for four years. Prior to August 9, 2017, an employee seeking to "blow the whistle" on the employer's practices arguably had to demonstrate, as part of the employee's "good faith" report, that the employee made the report for the "purpose of exposing an illegality." I say arguably, because in 2013, the Minnesota Legislature had ostensibly removed this obligation when it codified a definition of "good faith" in the Minnesota Whistleblower Act. Despite this 2013 amendment, which most practitioners recognized significantly broadened the law in favor of whistleblowers, some courts stubbornly continued to apply the former court-created definition of "good faith." In Friedlander v. Edwards Life Sciences, LLC, the Minnesota Supreme Court finally put that issue to rest by officially holding that the "purpose of exposing an illegality" is no longer a part of an employee's burden of proof.

MINNEAPOLIS AND ST. PAUL EMPLOYERS: ARE YOU READY TO IMPLEMENT THE SICK AND SAFE TIME ORDINANCES EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2017?

The Minnesota legislature did not pass a bill to preempt the Minneapolis and St. Paul ordinances resulting in the respective paid sick and safe time ordinances becoming effective on July 1, 2017. Employers should be planning to implement paid sick and safe leave policies and practices.

How to Incorporate Family Values in Your Estate Planning

Baby boomers know money isn't the only important aspect of estate planning.

A 2012 study released by the Allianz Life Insurance, Co. showed baby boomers wanted to leave their family more than just financial assets. Researchers found baby boomers identified family values as some of the most important things to pass down to heirs.

In 2012's economic climate, it's no wonder family values imparted through stories, life lessons, and family possessions were at the top of the list. In an economic downturn, financial inheritances are more tenuous, unlike the abiding worth of family values. Thus, family values, tax-free of course, made the top of the list in importance. 

Lessons To Be Learned For Employees And Employers Alike In Viral Blog Post On Sexual Harassment At Uber

A couple of weeks ago, a blog post by a former female engineer at Uber went viral, caught the company a whole lot of negative press and precipitated an investigation involving former Attorney General Eric Holder.

The post's author, Susan J. Fowler, is an engineer and best-selling author who worked for Uber for about a year. In her post, she writes that when a supervisor propositioned her, she complained to human resources but was told nothing would be done because it was a "first offense." When she persisted in complaining about the way she had been treated, she found herself subjected to negative performance reviews and threatened with termination.

Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order 13673 Limps Into 2017

On July 31, 2014, President Obama signed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order 13673 ("EO"). EO 13673 requires federal contractors and subcontractors bidding on contracts and subcontracts in excess of $500,000 to disclose any violations they have incurred under 14 different federal workplace laws (and their state-law equivalents) in the three years preceding their bid. EO 13673, which has also been referred to as the "Blacklisting" EO, also prohibits arbitration agreements relating to claims of Title VII violations or sexual assault, and requires that certain pay information be given to employees and independent contractors. On August 25, 2016, the Rules implementing the EO were published. Prime contractors had a deadline of October 26, 2016 to comply with those requirements, while subcontractors are to comply starting on October 25, 2017.

Missing Emails? Lessons Learned from Election 2016

This year's presidential campaign has famously included repeated accusations that Hillary Clinton improperly deleted over 30,000 emails from a private server during her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/hillary-clinton-deleted-33000-emails-secretary-state/story?id=42389308 Similarly, Donald Trump's companies have been accused of destroying emails in defiance of court orders. http://www.newsweek.com/2016/11/11/donald-trump-companies-destroyed-emails-documents-515120.html These headline-grabbing barbs offer a reminder to those parties who anticipate legal action or are in litigation that document preservation is no laughing matter.

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