Client Newsletter
Has Pikachu Invaded Your Workplace?

You have noticed some of your employees getting caught up in the Pokémon GO craze, chattering about the mobile game. You know it's only a matter of time before this current fad creeps into the workplace and your employees are on their smart phones during work hours or on extended breaks in search of "Pocket Monsters". 

You fear this new obsession will affect productivity and possibly cause accidents and other workplace issues. You believe the only way to avoid complications is to establish a policy against playing Pokémon GO.

How should you handle this issue?

A. In order to discipline employees for playing Pokémon GO during working time, you must have a specific policy prohibiting employees from playing this game.

B.  Playing Pokémon GO during working time likely violates one or more of your existing policies (e.g. a Cell Phone policy, Computer and Network Use policy, Safety policy and Rest Break policy). Use your existing policies to discipline employees playing Pokémon GO during working time.

C. You cannot prohibit employees from playing an online game, even during working time. This is a right protected by the National Labor Relations Act.

D. Enact a policy that prohibits your employees from bringing cell phones into the workplace.

Scroll down to find the answer.
Upcoming Webinars

Employee Handbooks: 
Key Updates, Drafting Tips, and Enforcement Advice for 2016 

This webinar is scheduled for one hour and has been approved for one hour of HRCI credit and one hour of SHRM credit. 
The NLRB continues to scrutinize employer handbook policies, as evidenced by a recent case in which the NLRB claimed that four provisions in an employer's handbook infringed on its employees' "section seven rights" (an employee's right to engage in protected concerted activity). This case illustrates the importance of an annual review and update of your employee handbook. 
Do you know what to look for when updating your handbook? Join experienced employment law attorneys Matthew R. Simpson and Michelli Rivera as they provide guidance on the key handbook updates for 2017. 

Event ID: 1013
Password: 9870

EEOC Expands Title VII: 
Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation Discrimination

The EEOC's recent announcement that Title VII's prohibit against sex discrimination now includes discrimination and retaliation against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered individuals.  

This webinar will explain the EEOC's expansion of Title VII's prohibition of sex discrimination and retaliation to now include employees and applicants in the LGBT community and will provide guidance employers can provider their managerial and supervisory employees can use to avoid claims.

The Answer is B!


Fads will come and go. First, it was Facebook. Then it was Candy Crush. Today, it is  Pokémon GO . Tomorrow, it will be something else.

Employers are free to enact whatever workplace policies they want -- provided those policies don't violate the law and as long as such policies are uniformly applied with no exceptions for any reason.

While implementing a cell phone ban in the workplace is technically legal, it may cause a mutiny in the workplace. Moreover, an all - out cell phone ban may be difficult to enforce, as some of your employees may legitimately need their cell phones to perform work.

Enacting a policy that specifically prohibits playing Pokémon GO is also a viable option, but it might not be the best solution. Creating a narrow policy will solve this problem, but it will not address future mobile gaming trends. When the next trend hits, you will need to create another policy to prohibit that trend. Ultimately, your employee handbook could become as large as a phone book.

Instead, create policies that prohibit employees from playing games such as Pokémon GO during work time (even if it is downtime) and restrict when and where such games can be played on work property during non - work hours.

You may already have such policies in place (e.g. policies prohibiting employees from using company - provided computers and cell phones for personal use and from using personal cell phones during working time). Review these existing policies and determine if they effectively address the problem and then modify the policies as necessary. Then, discuss these policies with your employees. Remind them that playing Pokémon GO during working time would violate these policies, which may result in disciplinary action. 

Sexual Harassment...Do You "Know It When You See It?"
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature when:
  • Submission to such conduct is made a term or condition of employment;
  • Submission to such conduct by any individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting that individual;
  • Such conduct substantially interferes with an individual's work performance; or
  • Such conduct creates a hostile work environment. 




Is this sexual harassment?
Using the above definition, can you identify which of the following scenarios is sexual harassment?

X - Y, Inc. only has male employees. Throughout the workday, the employees tell bawdy jokes. Gregory, a long - term employee, regularly tells these jokes and, oftentimes, his jokes are among the most crass. One day, Gregory complains to HR about the jokes - claiming that he is being sexually harassed.

This is an example of potential sexual harassment.

Even though Gregory has been a willing participant in the conduct, allowing employees to tell vulgar jokes in the workplace can create a hostile work environment that makes employees uncomfortable. Gregory ' s complaint should be investigated and those employees who are found to have engaged in the behavior should be disciplined and should receive sexual harassment training. If it is found that the problem is widespread, company - wide training may be appropriate.

Until recently, Harry, a supervisor at Caff - Me Shoppe, was dating Sally, one of his subordinates. Two weeks ago, Harry " dumped " Sally. Sally is now claiming that Harry has been sexually harassing her for months.

This is an example of potential sexual harassment.

Even though Harry and Sally were dating, there is a possibility that Sally felt pressured to date Harry (i.e., Sally may have believed that she would lose her job if she did not date Harry). Therefore, Sally ' s complaint should be investigated.

Workplace relationships can cause a lot of problems for employers - especially after the relationship ends. The best defense is to develop policies addressing relationships in the workplace. The policies can range from prohibiting workplace relationships altogether to requesting that employees who are involved in a workplace relationship complete a " Love Contract. "

Romeo, the Plant Manager at Star - Crossed Glass, is engaged to Juliette, a recently - promoted Team Lead. HR has received several complaints that Juliette ' s promotion was the result of sexual favoritism (e.g. that Juliette only received the promotion because she is involved with Romeo).

This is likely not an example of potential sexual harassment.

Even if Romeo didn ' t show favoritism towards Juliette, an isolated instance of favoritism toward a paramour may be unfair, but it does not constitute sexual harassment.

That being said, the employees ' complaints should still be thoroughly investigated because if the investigation reveals that Romeo has a practice of " rewarding " employees who date him, that practice of sexual favoritism may create a hostile work environment for other employees. If favoritism based upon the granting of sexual favors is widespread in a workplace, that can create a hostile work environment for both male and female employees - especially if it sends the message to other employees that the only way to " get ahead " is to date the boss. 

ACA Update - Exchange Procedure
Many of you may have received notices from the Health Insurance Marketplace or the Exchange due to employees seeking health insurance from a government subsidized exchange.  

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact the REI benefits department.  If you are needing options to help you stay in compliance and avoid penalties, we have several options and can help structure a program that works best for you.

Open Enrollment 
For many of you, we are getting closer and closer to your benefits renewal.  Look for communication from our department about due dates and expectations for this process.  If you have an insurance broker, please advise them to be timely in their reporting to us so we can make sure to get your benefits set for the next year.  As always, we are here to help with any questions!

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