HR World Wide Week in Review

Happy Monday HR fans! It's time for our weekly, round-the-web HR World in Review uber-post. If its HR-related, you'll find it here.

Let's begin:Cracker Barrel Settles Sex and Race Discrimination ChargesGood old Cracker Barrel. The company that in 1991 publicly stated it would not hire homosexuals is at it again. As Workplace Prof Blog reports, this time they are paying $2 million dollars to settle a sex and race suit brought by 51 current and former Chicago-area employees. As a part of the consent decree, Cracker Barrel has agreed to begin training employees on harassment ("begin"?!?!?!?!).March Madness Will Cost Employers $3.8 billion in Lost ProductivityPatricia Kitchen's The Way We Work Blog has a story calculating that if fans spend as little as 13.5 minutes of the workday from March 13 to April 16 making bets or following the games online, the country's employers could be out by as much as $3.8 billion in lost productivity. Now THAT is an expensive game of basketball.The Impact of Meth in the WorkplaceStrategic HR Lawyer had what I thought was a really interesting piece this week on the direct financial damage being done to employers by employees that use Methamphetamine. According to the article, each Meth user costs an employer an average of $47,500 annually. Ouch! Not to mention the fact that Meth users often turn to theft, fraud or forgery to fund their habit. Just what you wanted in the office.Third Circuit Rules that Employers May Not Force Employees to Do All The Work In Developing a Reasonable Accommodation Through the ADA "Interactive Process."Greater Valley Forge HR Law Link has analysis this week of the Third Circuit's opinion in Armstrong v. Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hosp., No. 03-3553, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 2243 (3d Cir., Jan. 30, 2006). Another opinion from a panel including now Supreme Court Justice Alito in which the court comes out in favor of the employee. As HR Law Link points out, however, this case was an easy one - The Court "confirmed what most employers already knew: a request for accommodation from an employee does not need to be a request for a specific accommodation in order to require the employer to respond, that is, to engage in the "interactive process." Employers may not require an employee to identify on his or her own, jobs within the company that fit his or her restrictions. The "interactive process requires real good-faith participation on the part of the employer.Recent IRS Warnings About Part-Time EmployeesThe Erisa Blog has an analysis of recent IRS bulletins regarding the treatment of part-time employees under qualified plans and some traps that are present for the unwary.Million Dollar Verdict ReportRoss' Employment Law Blog covers a $1.3 million dollar verdict against Associated Security Enforcement in a sexual harassment and retaliation case brought against the company by four women. The verdict included $1.2 million in punitive damages.Return to the Mommy WarsBusiness Week online had an extended version of an interview that appeared in its hard copy this week with Leslie Steiner, author of Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career-Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families. My personal take-away from the article was more of a question as to why the media continues to frame this issue as a debate at all. Seems to me the best approach is for mommies (to use their word) to asses their work and family situation and make the best choices for their personal situation. Rather than always setting this story up as a battle of opposing views, why not focus on what employers, policy makers, and families can do to support women in their work/family trade-off decisions, regardless of whether they choose to stay in the workforce or decide that staying at home is right for them. (Not to mention the fact that there are never any daddy wars regarding this issue. Should there be? Would maternity/paternity leave be more likely to be paid leave if men were childrens primary care givers?)7th Circuit: New Cause of Action for Employers Against Employees for "Departing & Deleting"This week, Jottings by an Employer's Lawyer covered the Seventh Circuit's opinion in International Airport Centers, LLC v. Citrin (7th Cir. 3/8/06). The Court recognized a federal cause of action against an employee who deletes information from his laptop computer AND makes the deletion undetectable by use of a "secure erasure" program. More that anything, I think this case again emphasizes the emportance of good computer back-up and redundancy systems in place to guard against the danger of an angry departing employee. Once the data is destroyed, a judgment against a judgment-proof employee will be little consolation.How Not to be an Discrimination Class Action Target George's Employment Blawg discusses an article that was written by a very reputable plaintiff-side employment law group about ten major reasons why an employment discrimination class action case may or may not get certified and how companies can use these factors to help ensure their company stays out of trouble.Washington State Passes Ergonomics Statute Confined Space Blog covers passage of an ergonomics statue in Washington State this week. The new law apparently applies only to hospitals and provides a tax credit to encourage expanded use of mechanical lift equipment to assist employees.Trouble in Neverland Lastly this week, Workers' Comp Insider has the story of Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch - It's been closed by the State of California for . . . failure to maintain a workers compensation policy for its employees (I know, you thought it was going to be a more colorful reason). California 's Department of Industrial Relations has imposed fines of $1,000 per employee and his employees will not be allowed to work until he he gets another workers comp policy. So, who is going to feed the monkeys?Well that's it for our trip around the world of work for this week. Hope you found it of some use. Now, it's Monday morning...let's get to work.

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