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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was busy this past summer, announcing a host of new enforcement priorities.  Here we recap two: (1) combatting employee illness and injury at inpatient-care facilities; and (2) ensuring proper restroom access for transgender workers at all employer facilities.

Inpatient Care Employers Face an OSHA Inspection Ramp-Up

OSHA’s announced initiative regarding inpatient care facilities – e.g., hospitals and residential care/nursing homes – involves a plan by the Agency to:

  • Expand the resources OSHA directs for inspections at these sites, and
  • Direct inspectors to focus on five, recently identified “key hazard” areas:  (1) musculoskeletal disorders related to patient and resident handling; (2) bloodborn pathogens; (3) workplace violence; (4) tuberculosis; and (5) slips, trips and falls.

An OSHA Directive to Regional Administrators and State Designees, which accompanied the press release announcing the Agency’s health care inpatient-facility initiative, provides guidance to OSHA investigators on how to detect each of the five, newly identified hazards.  According to OSHA, these hazards are responsible for the bulk of all work-related employee illnesses and injuries occurring at hospitals and inpatient care facilities.  Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels, has also advised that
“[v]irtually all of these injuries and illnesses are preventable,” and he warns:

It’s time for hospitals and the health care industry to make the changes necessary to protect their workers. Healthcare Release (emphasis added).
Continue Reading OSHA Sets Sights on Health Care Facilities & Transgender Restrooms

For employers, a healthy workforce can mean improved productivity, lower absence rates, and a reduction in health insurance costs. In an effort to realize these rewards, many employers have implemented wellness programs, including programs that build in incentives for employee participation. One popular type of program asks employees to undergo health screenings, also known as

With a growing number of employers using personality tests to vet job applicants, it is important for management to understand the pitfalls of these tests, including the potential for costly litigation. Here, we review general guidelines to help employers benefit from the use of personality tests, while avoiding liability.

To read the full article, please

A movement to give part-time employees more predictable schedules and related perks recently made front-page news.  See Steven Greenhouse, “A Push to Give Steadier Shifts to Part-Timers,” The New York Times (July 15, 2014).  The number of jurisdictions with laws providing for such a right remains small but is likely growing, and the

The past year has seen significant developments in the whistleblower arena. Employee retaliation claims have spiked, employers have paid out large sums, and regulators have stepped up enforcement efforts. Employers need to understand the legal provisions that protect their whistleblowing employees and take steps to shield themselves from retaliation claims.

To read the full article,

The "new" guidance — accessible at — reinforces longstanding EEOC policy prohibiting employers from using arrest and conviction records to exclude individuals from employment. More recently, the EEOC has expanded enforcement efforts to include prohibitions on employer policies that exclude candidates from employment because of criminal history, arrests, and convictions. That is because such policies adversely affect or have a "disparate impact" on minority populations that have statistically higher arrest and conviction rates. The disparate impact analysis has long been used to combat race discrimination in the workplace. The "takeaway" messages for employers are in the EEOC’s specific recommendations and stated limitations on how and when criminal background information can be used. Starters are that it must be a conviction, not an arrest, and the conviction must be for an offense related to the job in question, often a tough analysis for employers. The conviction must be relatively recent in time and be of a sufficient gravity to create legitimate concern by the employer.Continue Reading EEOC “New” Guidance on Arrest and Conviction Records

This post was also written by Carl De Cicco and Amber M. Spataro.

In our everyday lives, we’ve all noticed or become a part of the phenomenon of social media Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, MySpace and more. The options offered and growth of the media have been staggering. With that growth has come new legal

This post was also written by Miriam S. Edelstein.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (“PHRC”) has extended the comment period to March 2, 2010 for its proposed “Policy Guidance” that would create the presumption of disparate impact discrimination when an employer uses criminal history information of African-American or Hispanic applicants/employees as the basis for any adverse employment-related decision. Employers in highly regulated industries may want to submit comments either individually or through an advocacy group within their industry.

The extension of the deadline appears to have come in response to urging by those in highly regulated industries for additional time to inform the Commission of the numerous laws, regulations and other authority requiring that such employers exclude from certain occupations individuals convicted of specific criminal offenses. In addition to the information in our first Alert regarding this Policy Guidance and the potential areas for comment, please read on for suggestions to employers when submitting comments. A copy of the proposed Policy Guidance can be found on the PHRC’s website, and includes instructions for submitting comments. (Note: At the time of this posting, the proposed Policy Guidance submission information had not been updated to reflect the extended deadline for comments).Continue Reading Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission Extends Deadline for Comment Submissions Regarding its Proposed Criminal History Information Policy Guidance