Tag Archives: Fisher & Phillips LLP

FMLA Leave App

Fisher & Phillips Introduces New FMLA Leave App

Beta Version Available at National SHRM Conference

Fisher & Phillips LLP announced today that it has developed a Smartphone and Tablet app that allows employers to calculate certain FMLA leaves of absence. The Beta FMLA Leave Calculator app will allow human resource professionals and other managers to calculate basic leave requests and determine how much FMLA leave an employee has available. This Beta version of the iPhone and Android app will be introduced during the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago June 16-19.

Fisher & Phillips Chairman and Managing Partner Roger Quillen said: “The FMLA is a complicated law and FMLA leave calculations can be challenging for employers. Our attorneys frequently field questions about calculating FMLA leave. This new app is a free tool we’re providing to anyone to help them with basic FMLA leave requests. The Beta version covers requests for leave for employees working a standard 40-hour work week. The next version will cover more complicated situations such as employees working reduced work weeks. We’re very excited about introducing the app for the first time to the SHRM members attending the national conference in Chicago.” Quillen added that the firm is eager to receive feedback from the SHRM members who test the new app. The app will provide an easy way for users to call or email the firm with comments and suggestions.

How the app works

The app offers a user-friendly interface and works very simply utilizing the rolling 12-month method measured backwards from the date of any FMLA leave.

  • Enter the number of FMLA leave days the employee is requesting
  • Enter the number of days of FMLA leave the employee has already used
  • Enter the start date of the requested leave
  • Indicate the days of the week the employee works
  • Click “Calculate Now!”

The app then reports:

  • Number of days of FMLA leave available
  • When the employee should return to work based on the new leave request
  • How much leave the employee has remaining after the current leave request is completed; if leave has been exhausted at the time of this request, it will indicate such

The HR professional or other manager using the app can then email the information directly to the employee who requested the leave. Of course, further documentation to the employee should be provided as required by the FMLA.

How to get the app

The Fisher & Phillips FMLA Leave app can be downloaded at the Apple App Store or Google Play. On the Apple App Store or Google Play search for “Fisher & Phillips.” You can also visit www.laborlawyers.com/FMLALeaveApp to get the app.

Fisher & Phillips attorneys and marketing professionals worked with developers at Saturno Design to create the new app.

About Fisher & Phillips LLP (www.laborlawyers.com)

Fisher & Phillips LLP represents employers nationally in labor, employment, civil rights, employee benefits and immigration matters. The firm has 280 attorneys in 31 offices. Founded in 1943, it is one of the largest U.S. law firms to concentrate its practice exclusively upon representation of employers in labor and employment matters. The firm has offices in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Gulfport, Houston, Irvine, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Memphis, New England, New Jersey, New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Tampa, and Washington, D.C.

Office Holiday Parties

Avoiding Unhappy Office Holiday Parties

Avoiding Unhappy Office Holiday Parties

Everyone loves a good company holiday party. They’re usually a fun way to unwind with your peers in a non-work environment, but sometimes these situations can take a quick turn for the worse. From sexual advances to drunken car rides home, holiday cheer can quickly turn into fear when you realize your job may now be on the line due to an irresponsible act.

There’s always going to be risks when hosting parties where alcohol is involved. In fact, according to a recent study conducted on employers, 36 percent of holiday party-goers behave poorly at their company parties. A lot of companies have chosen to go as far as to nix alcohol from holiday parties all together.

Therefore, here are some recommendations on how employers and employees can avoid the unhappiest of holiday parties and lawsuit-filled New Years:

  • If you choose to opt out of serving alcohol, celebrate by hosting a catered lunch at the office.
  • Be sure to allow each person a guest, whether it be a spouse or significant other. These guests could serve as “adult babysitters” to make sure the employee does not act out of line.
  • Have food and non-alcoholic drinks readily available. Food helps to absorb alcohol and the non-alcoholic drinks will serve as an alternative for those who would rather stay sober.
  • Consider serving just wine, beer and/or non-alcoholic drinks. These are not as harsh as hard liquor and will all pair nicely with dinner parties as well.
  • Just say “no” to open bars! Unlimited booze rarely brings about any good decisions, so instead opt for a cash bar or ticket system.
  • As an employer, it is important to remind your managers that they are there to assist you in making sure the party runs smoothly. They can serve as extra eyes to make sure the subordinates are behaving accordingly.
  • As we all know, inhibitions are lowered after alcohol has been consumed. People say and do things they typically would not have had they not been drinking. In cases where alcohol will be served at the party, remind employees that work conduct is still in force and disciplinary actions will be taken if employees are to act unruly.
  • Don’t hire within! Hire a professional bartender. They have the proper training when it comes to identifying people who are and aren’t of age, measuring drinks and knowing when someone has had too much.
  • Have a taxi service or hotel rooms available that are of no-cost to the employee.
  • This may sound silly, but never, under any circumstance, hang mistletoe! As mentioned in No. 4, inhibitions tend to get lowered when people are intoxicated, and the last thing you want to see at the company holiday party is two co-workers letting loose under a green plant hanging from a doorway.

For more information about office parties and avoiding a lawsuit, please visit www.laborlawyers.com.


March Madness in the Workplace

Beware The Ides Of March…Madness

This obscure phrase, once a warning uttered to the ill-fated Julius Caesar, serves now as a reminder of the coming workplace distraction otherwise known as March Madness. Since even before the days of Caesar and gladiatorial combat, humankind has been enticed with the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and the exhilaration of college hoops bracketology. Okay, maybe not the college hoops part until recently, but you get the picture.

According to a Gallup Poll conducted a few years ago, roughly 40 percent of Americans are college basketball fans. Those fans are likely to regularly watch games featuring some of their favorite teams. Those who may not take time to watch games on television often at least follow their team’s progress through the myriad of electronics resources now available at our disposal — from radio, to the Internet, to cell phones and pda’s.  

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament in March creates the greatest enticement for even the mildly tech-savvy college basketball fan. It also creates the greatest distraction.

Anywhere from $1 billion to $4 billion will be lost in worker productivity, experts estimate, during the three-week tournament in which 65 different college teams will vie for a chance at the National Championship. This productivity is lost, in part, because the tournament games are played throughout the day, working hours included. Selection of potential game-winners, bet designations and routine game updates can take their toll on even the most dedicated and productive of workers.

If an average employee spends just 15 minutes of working time a day on hoops and makes the average wage of $18.00 per hour, this “costs” an employer $4.50 per day in lost work. With an estimated 58 million workers following the tournament, the daily loss is $250 million.  That’s $4 billion over the 16 working days of the tournament.

The resulting work drop-off, otherwise known as sudden onset bracketitis, is a not an uncommon ailment during March Madness. The dreaded affliction is commonly marked by nervousness, sudden shrieks and convulsions and an insatiable compulsion to visit college team and sports websites for updates on the tournament brackets.

These sports websites host greater amounts of material and live access with each passing year. Live tournament games are even available via the Internet thanks to CBSSportsline.com. In the first day of the tournament last year, over 3.4 million hours of streaming video and audio from the tournament were consumed by visitors to the CBSSportsline.com page. The highly-touted “Boss Button” was clicked over 1.7 million times on the first day alone. If its less-than-dubious title did not reveal its purpose, the “Boss Button” hides the live action video feed on the screen and silences the audio on the CBSSportsline.com page, replacing it with a “businesslike” image designed by cartoonist Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic.

Despite the efforts taken by some to conceal sports website distractions from supervisors, many supervisors already know that their employees are actively involved in the frenzy of March Madness. Some supervisors even promote it. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, approximately 30% of all employers know that NCAA office pools are taking place in their offices.

This leads us, of course, to the risks of betting. Social gambling generally is permissible under Arizona law with some important caveats — not that police have resources or the interest to raid the typical, small-scale office betting pool.

Employers, nonetheless, must be wary. Those employers with policies against workplace gambling who look the other way for sports pools may face questions and accusations of selective enforcement when trying to enforce those policies against more serious on-the-job gambling. Claims of selective enforcement may even erupt when employees are disciplined for wasting company time, but can readily pinpoint other employees who invest hours of work time on office pools. Selective enforcement accusations fuel claims of discrimination. Many claims of discrimination are often won or lost based on little more than selective enforcement of company policies.

Employees who decline to participate in office pools may also face peer pressure or ostracism by co-workers. Even those who participate may face taunting throughout the tournament. Trash-talking and other inappropriate behaviors are common-place during March Madness.

To reduce these risks, employers should establish their policy stance towards March Madness now, not in March. Prohibiting managers and supervisors from coordinating or soliciting employee involvement in pools or gambling is one measure that employers should follow as a minimum. Employers may also strictly enforce their Internet access policies, monitor Internet usage, and take action against employees who “go mad” and invest too much time in tournament watching or who otherwise act out.

Such strong positions may not be necessary, but they serve as a reminder of what actions employers may take if things get out of hand. Lesser approaches, such as limiting tournament activity time to break and lunch periods may prove more than adequate. Whichever approach one takes, it is also worth explaining the company’s position to all employees to ensure consistency and understanding.

Also, we should not forget that employees who exhibit a compulsiveness beyond mere appreciation for the tournament may need more help than human resources is normally equipped to provide. The Arizona Office of Problem Gambling offers a litany of resources to help. These include counseling, treatment programs and literature on warning signs and symptoms.

For many of us, March Madness is a rite of passage in the Spring – a chance to build camaraderie with co-workers, reconnect with college friends and indulge in chicken wings and all the fixin’s with family. As long as the need for responsible workplace behavior and attention to job duties is communicated along with other office policies, March Madness will continue to be a revered tradition in the workplace and elsewhere for years to come.