button Vol. 5
No. 4
Spring 2000

line INSIDE line

More on Workplace Romance -
Dating, Harassment, Court Rulings
and More!
line Allergies and Asthma in the Workplace
- Deserve Attention
line Drug Testing of Workers
Is Not Cost Effective Says ACLU
line New Concerns About Union Organizing and E-mail
line Some Employers Crack Down on Personal Online Time
line Briefs


Braun Consulting News
News on Personnel, Labor Relations and Benefits

See our Archive Pages for Back Issues of Braun Consulting News!

button Briefs

- Help for Veterans in DOL Website

The Department of Labor's Veterans Employment and Training Service announced on Jan. 3 the launch of a new credentailling network web site designed to "make it easier for current and former military personnel to obtain the licenses and certifications they need to practice in the civilian work force," said Espiridion "Al" Borrego, assistant secretary of labor for veterans employment and training. The network has two components: one directed towards service members and veterans who are seeking work; the other directed towards employers seeking qualified employees. The web site is located at: http://www.dol.gov./dol/vets

- Religious Practices, or Harassment?

A laboratory supervisor was fired after fellow employees complained that the born-again Christian harassed workers about their sexual preferences, dating habits, and personal faiths. They charged that he constantly confronted them about their lifestyles and religious faiths. A federal district court ruled that the employer was within its rights in firing the employee for his religious harassment of others.

The federal district court explained that the employee's behavior put his employer "in a position of possibly losing employees to resignation or, worse, being sued by employees for toleration a religiously hostile work environment." This ruling set aside a jury verdict for the fired employee, who claimed that he was fired because of his religious practices,

The employer had "not only the right, but a legal duty to keep its workplace free of religious harassment," the court said, granting judgment as a matter of law to the employer under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. (Weiss v. Ren Laboratories of Florida Inc., S.D. Fla., No. 94-6333-CIV, 9/24/99)

- Non-job Related Demands: a Potential Mine Field of Legal Problems

What if a supervisor's demand - one that has nothing to do with the job - leads to an injury, is the employee still eligible for comp benefits?

Workers' compensation laws vary from state to state, but usually injuries that occur in connection with employment are compensable - regardless of whether a supervisor ordered special work or the duty performed was part of the employee's regular job. A potential legal bombshell often awaits supervisors who direct workers to perform actions that they are not accustomed to.

For example, use of automobiles poses one such safety hazard, and supervisors should stop to think twice before they ask a subordinate to run an errand outside of the workplace. If an employee is not covered by adequate insurance and is involved in a serious accident while using a personal vehicle on company business the resulting legal difficulties can be immense.

The occasional "borrowing" of an employee's care for company use can create a large accident liability risk for employers. Even if employees are using their own cars to run minor errands, an employer can be held liable for damages stemming from an accident if a court decides that a worker was acting on behalf of the employer for the employer's benefit. Imagine an auto accident with injuries and/or property damage that happens while an employee engages in some non-job-related activity... and it becomes the employer's liability.

Avoiding assigning non-job-related duties to employees is the best solution to this problem. Some companies include a "non-ownership automobile liability insurance policy" in their insurance coverage as well. This protection would apply to all liabilities incurred by or through employees while they are operating personal vehicles on company business.

Years of comp benefits awarded to an employee for performing a non-job-related duty is not something that would help a supervisor's career advancement probabilities. With this in mind, it is advisable for a supervisor to think again before asking an employee to do something they don't ordinarily do in the course of their job duties.

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