Alaska News & Analysis

  • Effective restrictive covenants are harder than ever to draft

    Are you considering asking employees to sign a confidentiality or nonsolicitation agreement? If so, have you carefully considered just what you're trying to protect? Before creating an agreement with postemployment restrictions, you must understand what you're seeking to cover and keep that legitimate interest in mind as you prepare the agreement. Trying to include more than what is legitimate and protectable may not survive legal challenges in an area that's proving to be increasingly difficult for businesses to enforce.

  • Washington extends protections for 'high-risk' workers during COVID-19 crisis

    Washington is extending certain protections to high-risk employees through the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency, Governor Jay Inslee recently announced by proclamation. He also issued a memorandum clarifying which workers are considered "high-risk" under the proclamation and when you may request medical verification from them.

  • Paying for prospect persuasion: Set up effective sales compensation plan

    What is converting prospects into customers worth to your business? Your organization might have a phenomenal product, but if no one buys and uses it, its value will stay your little secret. Motivating salespeople to get your goods into customers' hands is essential to the product's success. Properly rewarding your salespeople reinforces and encourages their future successful performance. Read on to learn more about how to set up an effective sales compensation plan.

  • Incivility and harassment at work? Employer policies can help

    Employers concerned about racist, sexist, and other unacceptable outbursts in the workplace cheered a decision from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in July that makes it easier to discipline or fire employees for offensive speech. Under the previous standard, employees disciplined for profane outbursts often could look to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) for protection since Section 7 of the Act prohibits employer policies that may impede employee efforts to join a union or otherwise band together to improve the terms and conditions of employment. The previous standard was tolerant of some degree of heated speech uttered in the exercise of Section 7 rights as long as it wasn't violent or otherwise too extreme.

  • Despite recent court decisions, questions remain for religious employers

    The U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions recently that were welcome news for religious organizations and other employers that rely on religious convictions as they conduct their business. One decision bolstered the "ministerial exception," a doctrine stemming from the First Amendment that prevents government interference in religious organizations' ability to hire and fire employees. The other decision says certain private employers with religious or moral objections to birth control can exclude contraception coverage in their employer-sponsored health plans even though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates such coverage for most employers.

  • NLRB expands employer options for social media, nondisparagement rules

    Employees often believe anything goes when it comes to social media expression. But the Na-tional Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently provided clarity on the types of social media activity employers may regulate, giving them more latitude to discipline workers for conduct that violates company rules and threatens the brand.

  • You don't have to cross state lines to be involved in interstate commerce

    The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) states that most arbitration agreements are as valid and enforceable as any other contracts. One exemption relates to "seamen, railroad employees, [and] and other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce."

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Next Chapter aims to help formerly incarcerated people. Workplace communication company Slack announced in July that Dropbox and Zoom have joined its Next Chapter apprenticeship program, which is designed to bring formerly incarcerated individuals into engineering roles. In making the announcement, Slack said criminal justice reform has never been more vital to the country's health, and formerly incarcerated individuals account for unemployment rates nearly five times as high as those faced by other jobseekers. "This partnership is a small but meaningful step toward addressing the long-term, systemic changes that are needed to make our companies and our country more just and inclusive places to work and live," the Slack announcement said. Slack began its pilot program last year, and all three of its first apprentices have joined the company as full-time engineers.

  • Federal Watch

    EEOC launches study of EEO-1 Component 2 data. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced in July that it would fund a statistical study with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) to conduct an independent assessment of the quality and utility of the EEO-1 Component 2 data for fiscal years 2017 and 2018, which was collected last year. The Information Quality Act requires the EEOC to assess and ensure the quality and utility of data collected by the agency. To meet the requirements of the law, the assessment must examine the data's fitness for use, including the utility of pay bands in measuring pay disparities and potential statistical and analytically appropriate uses of the data. The EEOC said the assessment also will inform the EEOC's approach to future data collections.

  • HR Technology

    Doubts increase about facial analysis technology. The recent announcements from IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft that they won't sell facial recognition software to police departments are triggering more doubts about other uses of the technology. The companies are concerned about flaws that lead to skin-type and gender biases. It's not just police departments using the technology. Vendors market other kinds of facial analysis products aimed at helping employers evaluate video interviews. Companies claim their technology can improve screening by evaluating facial expressions, word choice, and tone. But researchers are casting doubt on the accuracy of the algorithms used, which are overwhelmingly developed from primarily male and white datasets, according to a July article from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). "To understand micro-expressions, for example, would require a deeper understanding of that one person's behaviors and not just a crowdsourced base line of everyone's expected expressions," Elaine Orler, CEO of Talent Function, a talent acquisition consulting firm, says.