North Dakota News & Analysis

  • New tax law creates catch-22 for sexual harassment settlements

    One of the primary concerns addressed through the #MeToo movement is that claims of sexual harassment in the workplace are often settled discreetly and without scrutiny. For years, employers have resolved sexual harassment claims with a settlement payout in exchange for a general release of the company from all liability. The terms of the settlement would include a confidentiality or nondisclosure clause barring the employee from discussing the allegations or the settlement with others. In particularly egregious circumstances, this creates a culture of secrecy in which employees are kept in the dark about a supervisor's, owner's, or some other individual's past indiscretions. The recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) encourages employers not to cloak settlements with a nondisclosure or confidentiality clause.

  • New DOL program offers self-reporting of wage and hour violations

    The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced in March 2018 that it is launching a program to allow employers a chance to self-audit their wage and hour practices—and report any violations they find—in exchange for limited protection from additional liabilities and claims. The program, dubbed the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (or PAID) program, will start as a six-month pilot, after which the DOL will decide whether to offer it on a permanent basis.

  • Handling sexual orientation discrimination in confusing legal landscape

    In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that sexual harassment could be perpetrated by a man against another man or a woman against another woman. When that decision was issued, many commentators pondered whether discriminating against or harassing someone because of her sexual orientation also violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Who would have thought that 20 years later, there still wouldn't be a clear answer to that question?

  • If you break it, you pay for it

    Q One of our employees was involved in an accident while he was driving a company car. Since the employee was at fault, his manager wants to make him pay for the repairs. We currently don't have a policy covering this type of situation. May we require the employee to cover the cost of the car repairs?

  • Workplace Trends

    Survey finds global engagement levels at all-time high. Global employee engagement levels hit an all-time high in 2017, according to research from Aon, a global professional services firm. The 2017 figures follow a dip in engagement levels the previous year. Aon's analysis of more than five million employees at more than 1,000 organizations around the world found that global employee engagement levels reached 65% in 2017, up from 63% in 2016. The percentage of employees who were highly engaged increased from 24% in 2016 to 27% in 2017. Aon research shows that a five-point increase in employee engagement is linked to a three-point increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year.

  • Get out your checklist: 10 tips for spring cleanup time

    Despite a series of pesky snowstorms that persisted throughout our state in March as we hoped to wrap up another North Dakota winter, many of us are hoping that April finally brings SPRING. As we look forward to sunshine, warmer temperatures, and fresh air coming in through open office windows, here is a top 10 checklist for your organization's spring cleanup.

  • If a picture paints a thousand words, what's wrong with emojis?

    What do a pair of scissors and an eggplant have in common? At first glance, the answer would appear to be "nothing." But what if I told you that in combination, they can constitute a threat of bodily harm?

  • Avoiding employment problems when you decide to outsource

    Outsourcing has become common across many industries as a method for companies to reduce costs and gain efficiency. However, the effects on the organization's employees often are overlooked or not timely addressed. There are a number of ways to communicate with and protect employees that you should embrace to facilitate a successful transition and avoid complaints and employment problems.

  • Risky business: the discharge decision

    After law students in an employment discrimination class discuss the facts of a case, the professor routinely asks, "And then what happened?" Meaning, what led to the lawsuit? The class quickly responds, "The employee was fired." Why? Because terminating an employee is one of the riskiest decisions employers face.

  • Opioids in your workplace? Tips for prevention and response

    These days, it seems impossible to tune into the news without hearing about the opioid crisis. In addition to tragic reports of overdose deaths and heartbreaking addiction stories, most of the news focuses on the rapid rise of opioid use over the past 10 to 15 years and what—if anything—can be done to turn the tide.