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The Perils of HR: Beware of Texting Applicants
09/21/2015
By: Donald Berner

For most somewhat technologically adept members of society, the use of text messages to conduct business has become somewhat common.  It is an easy and quick means of communication.  It is often viewed more informally than an email or other written correspondence.  Putting aside all the standard warnings about the use of text messages for business purposes, HR personnel must now be wary of other more scary concerns. 

A human resources manager in the Chicago area recently reported receiving nude selfies from an applicant after making a conditional offer of employment to the individual.  As the story goes, the man indicated they were accidentally sent to the wrong person.  This does highlight the danger of using text messaging for official workplace communications.  My guess is the HR manager and the candidate had exchanged relevant work-related texts.  This led to the candidate confusing the phone numbers when sending his photos.

So next time you pick up your phone and contemplate texting someone about work-related issues, think twice.  Maybe it would be a better idea to send an email instead.

 
Kansas City Royals Face Hot Dog Liability
11/10/2013
By: Jason Lacey

Sometimes we like to take a break from our core topics on this blog and bring you other law-related news of interest. 

In a case being watched closely by sports-law experts and t-shirt-cannon enthusiasts around the country, the Kansas City Royals may be on the brink of making new law on the issue of the liability of professional sports teams for injuries incurred by fans attending games.

News reports on the case are here and here. The basic facts are as follows:

While attending a game in September 2009, a fan was struck in the eye by a foil-wrapped hot dog thrown into the stands by the Royals's mascot, Sluggerrr. The resulting eye injury required the fan to undergo two surgical procedures and is alleged to have permanently impaired his vision. He sued for damages in excess of $20,000. After a trial in Jackson County, Missouri, the jury found for the Royals, but the Missouri court of appeals overturned that verdict, and the case is now on appeal to the Missouri supreme court.

Under a long-standing rule, professional sports teams are generally protected from liability for injuries incurred by fans as a result of things that happen in connection with the game itself. So, for example, fans cannot sue if they are struck by a foul ball, a broken bat, or an errant hockey puck. Fans are deemed to have assumed these inherent risks in attending the game.

But the law has never addressed whether that liability protection extends to injuries incurred as a result      Continue Reading...

 
Gaga Case Goes Bye-Bye
10/22/2013
By: Boyd Byers

Kansas Employment Law Blog's action news team brings you the hard-hitting stories and latest news from the world of employment law. Consistent with that mission, it is our duty to report that yesterday Lady Gaga has reached an out-of-court settlement with her former personal assistant, who claimed the pop diva owed her nearly $400,000 in unpaid overtime under the FLSA for work performed over a 13-month period.

We've been following the case for nearly a year. (Gaga over the FLSA Monster (01/27/2013); Court Not Goo-Goo over Gaga--the FLSA Monster Revisited (10/03/2013).) Jennifer O'Neill, Gaga's (now former) friend, served as her personal assistant during a world tour. O'Neil alleged she was paid a base annual salary of $75,000, but was cheated out of thousands of hours of overtime while she was on call 24/7 to attend to Gaga's every need. Last month the court ruled that O'Neill had enough evidence to take her FLSA claims to trial, where a jury would need to decide whether her on-call time was compensable. But rather than endure a trial, which was scheduled to start on November 4, Gaga decided to open up her purse and settle the case. The amount of the settlement was confidential. But whatever she has to pony up, Gaga should be able to cover it--she earned $80 million in the first six months of 2013, according to Forbes

In our original article about the case (link above), we identified seven lessons HR professionals can learn from this case. Here are four more takeaways: 

(1) Overtime wages can rack up quickly when you mistakenly treat an employee as exempt from the FLSA. So make sure any employees who are treated as salaried exempt, and thus not      Continue Reading...

 
Memorable Job Candidates
10/09/2013
By: Boyd Byers

During a job interview, the HR manager asked the applicant, "What's your greatest weakness?" The applicant answered, "Honesty." The HR manager followed up, "I don't think honesty is a weakness." To which the applicant retorted, "I don't give a sh*t what you think."

That joke is a classic. But there are plenty of real-world interviews that are just as funny. In a recent survey by CareerBuilder, hiring managers and HR professionals were asked to share the most-memorable methods candidates used to stand out from the crowd, and whether their creativity backfired or got them hired.   

Here are some my favorite techniques that (not surprisingly) didn't work so well for the candidate:

  • Back-flipping into the room.
  • Dressing like a clown.
  • Doing a tarot card reading.
  • Giving the interviewer a lotto ticket.
  • Sending a fruit basket to the interviewer's home address . . . which the interviewer hadn't given her.

Some memorable interviews that resulted in job offers included the following:

  • Repairing a piece of company equipment during the interview.
  • Asking to be interviewed in Spanish to showcase his skills.
  • Volunteering to help make copies when he saw the interviewer's assistant was frazzled.

You can read the top 10 successful and unsuccessful methods here. Has an applicant you interviewed ever pulled a memorable stunt, and did it work? Tell      Continue Reading...

 
What the NSA Learned When They Tapped My Phone This Week
06/13/2013
By: Jason Lacey

“For years, intelligence officials have tried to debunk what they called a popular myth about the National Security Agency: that its electronic net routinely sweeps up information about millions of Americans. But since the disclosures last week showing that the agency does indeed routinely collect data on the phone calls of millions of Americans, Obama administration officials have struggled to explain what now appear to have been misleading past statements.” -The New York Times, June 11, 2013

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Report #493849

Subject: Jason Lacey

Age: 37

Occupation: Attorney (or so he says)

# # #

Saturday 6/8, 12:45 pm: Met wife and children at Chick-fil-A for lunch. *Flag for possible Tea Party affiliation.

Sunday 6/9, 5:32 pm: Ordered pizza; cheese with no sauce. *Flag for possible un-American activity. (Who gets pizza without sauce?)

Sunday 6/9, 8:16 pm: Downloaded Angry Birds app.

Monday 6/10, 3:24 pm: Text from wife; daughter went to dentist to have cavity filled; went fine.

Monday 6/10, 4:52 pm: Text to wife; proposes to make pasta with tomato sauce for dinner. *Scratch flag for possible un-American activity.

Monday 6/10, 10:48 pm: Plays Angry Birds.

Tuesday 6/11, 12:30 pm: Text from wife; buys coffee at Starbucks. *Scratch flag for possible Tea Party affiliation.

Wednesday 6/12, 7:15 pm: Phone call with mother; needs to finish her tax return. *Flag for possible tax evasion conspiracy.

Wednesday 6/12, 7:19 pm: Plays Angry Birds.

Wednesday 6/12, 7:32 pm: Phone call with mother; she's getting a refund. *Scratch flag for possible tax evasion conspiracy.

Wednesday 6/12, 9:11 pm: Text to wife; stopped for speeding; 30      Continue Reading...

 
On Facial Hair and Flexible Spending Accounts
05/12/2013
By: Jason Lacey

I have worn a beard for most of my adult life, and I appreciate a solid stand of men's facial hair. So I couldn't help noticing an article last week touting a growing industry in Turkey: Turkish mustache transplants. 

For a mere $5,000, the "follicly challenged" can have a cosmetic surgeon enhance their mustache or beard. The procedure is done under local anesthetic and takes only a few hours. In true medical tourism style, the procedures are being offered as part of "transplant packages" that may include additional amenities such as a beachside vacation on Turkey's Mediterranean coast.

If you're looking to boost your masculinity and catch a few rays in the process, this might just be the thing you've been waiting for.

That got me to thinking: This is bound to become wildly popular because - let's face it - who could resist a shot at the mustache of their dreams. Which means it's only a matter of time before we find an employee or two claiming reimbursement under a health FSA, HRA, or HSA for the cost of the procedure. It's medical, so it's covered - right?

Well, not so fast. 

To be reimbursed from a health FSA, HRA, or HSA, expenses generally must be for "medical care," and the tax code specifically excludes cosmetic surgery from the definition of medical care. What counts as cosmetic surgery? Any procedure that "is directed at improving the patient's appearance and does not meaningfully promote the proper function of the body or prevent or treat illness      Continue Reading...

 
Fun Final Four Facts
04/03/2013
By: Jason Lacey

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this important news update . . .

Wichita is awash in black and gold this week as we proudly celebrate and anticipate WSU's appearance in the NCAA men's Final Four. Here are some fun facts to tuck away in case you need to drop some obscure knowledge on your friends and family as you gather to watch the game.

The history of WuShock. WuShock, the WSU mascot, was originally a nameless shock of wheat, used as a symbol for the WSU football team, known as the Wheatshockers. The mascot took on its first persona in 1948, and has evolved over the last 65 years from a scowling, no-nonsense intimidator into the grinning, wide-eyed fellow we know and love today. WuShock's most recent makeover came in 2006, shortly after Sports Illustrated identified Wu as one of college sports' worst mascots. (read more here)

Against all odds. A political statistician has been calculating the likelihood of success for each team in the NCAA tournament and writing about it in his blog for the New York Times. Before the tournament began, he put WSU's chance of reaching the Final Four at 1.3%. So I'd say they've done pretty well for themselves, all things considered.

What are their odds of winning it all now? You might think they've got a 1-in-4 chance (25%), since there are only four teams left. But when the teams are weighted to take into account their regular-season resumes and the quality of their prior wins in      Continue Reading...

 
The Day After the Election: A Recap of What I Learned on Election Day
11/07/2012
By: Donald Berner

As most of the free world can attest, yesterday (and last night) was election day here in the United States, which is a very serious and somber process. It is on election day that we select candidates to serve all the way from local positions up to the President of the United States. These choices can have a major impact on how government interacts with employers and their employees over the following four years. 

This election day was much different for me than those in past years. I learned a lot by looking and listening as the election process was fed back to me through the eyes and ears of my children. My high school junior and 8th grader had strong feelings about who the right candidate for the job might be for President. The problem is they did not agree. Talk about partisan politics. It's hard enough to keep the normal sibling squabbles under control without tossing politics into the equation. 

While the older siblings were entertaining at some times and irritating at others, the 2nd grader brought the political process into a whole new light for me. On election night at the dinner table I was grilled by her about whether I had voted yet. I had not done so, which seemed to be a big deal even though the polling locations were still open for another ninety minutes (I like to slip in near closing in hopes it is quieter). Not only did I get chastised for not having exercised my right      Continue Reading...

 


Authors
Don Berner Image
Don Berner, the Labor Law, OSHA, & Immigration Law Guy
Boyd Byers Image
Boyd Byers, the General Employment Law Guy
Jason Lacey Image
Jason Lacey, the Employee Benefits Guy
Additional Sources
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