South Dakota News & Analysis

  • Travel policies, payroll, and leave—COVID-19 questions that won't go away

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, questions regarding when employees may or may not travel, how to assess temperature checks at the front door, and a wide array of other issues have continued to crop up. Whenever employers feels like they've gotten their arms around the appropriate answers, circumstances change, with states opening and closing, infection rates spiking, and politicians continually issuing new direction and orders. Regardless of the day or the noise, however, some basic questions remain the same.

  • Employers facing 'onslaught' of new litigation under FFCRA

    When Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), we all knew it wouldn't take long for some interesting new lawsuits to spring up. We were right—employers are facing an onslaught of litigation primarily alleging they retaliated against employees for seeking and/or using the FFCRA's leave and sick pay provisions. While most of the cases haven't yet been adjudicated or resolved, it's helpful to review the allegations to get a sense of where and how the conflicts tend to arise.

  • 8th Circuit finds no breach of contract, either express or implied

    The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota employers) recently upheld the summary dismissal of an employer's breach of contract and related claims against three former employees who departed to start their own company. The decision is instructive because it addresses issues concerning actual express contracts and whether the employees had "implied contracts" with the previous employer as well as allegations of breach of duty of loyalty, unlawful use of trade secrets, and rights to inventions and patents.

  • Employee staycation—PTO policies in the age of COVID-19

    Throughout 2020, employers have faced uncertainty and challenges because of the COVID-19 outbreak. While you should prepare to adapt to any changes the pandemic presents, additional challenges will arise, including employees using paid time off (PTO). To avoid the spread of the virus, many continue to cancel trips and vacations, and PTO is going unused. The current state of the pandemic doesn't indicate vacation as usual will resume in the months remaining in 2020. The unused PTO could result in issues for employers at the end of the year and even into 2021.

  • Sheriff gets busted for tainted harassment probe

    When an employee complains about discrimination, it's best not to add fuel to the fire by conducting an investigation that looks unfair and biased.

  • Employee's failure to timely report work-related injury nixes retaliation claim

    Most states recognize a claim for workers' compensation retaliation or wrongful discharge (public policy) if an employee is terminated in retaliation for having engaged in protected activity. The 8th Circuit recently upheld the summary judgment (dismissal without a trial) of an employee's retaliation claim under the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), which provides workers' comp coverage and whistleblower protection for employees of railroads, based on his failure to timely report a work-related injury in violation of the employer's established policies.

  • Calling an employee a temp doesn't make it so

    Staffing and hiring during the pandemic are especially chaotic. Many employers that don't traditionally use temporary staff are seeking to fill short-term gaps in the workforce or simply want employees for a short time because it's unclear what the business structure will look like once the pandemic business issues have shifted. Employers also may want to use temporary staff to avoid paying benefits and similar items. But temporary isn't always temporary in the eyes of the law.

  • Imagining postpandemic workplace: Comfy, sterile, or mix of both?

    Everybody—from CEOs to frontline workers, design specialists to space planners, Gen Z and Millennials to Boomers—is wondering what the post-COVID workplace will look like. Despite the myriad ideas floating around, the consensus seems to be that only time will tell. Another largely agreed upon notion: The "new normal" will be noticeably different from the offices people abandoned at the beginning of the pandemic.

  • Q - A: Allowing COVID-positive employee to continue teleworking

    Q Our North Dakota organization has an employee working remotely from home (in Texas). She tested positive for COVID- 19 and has a doctors note stating she can return to work in two weeks. She is asymptomatic and doesnt want to use emergency paid sick leave (EPSL)she is hoping to continue working because she isnt feeling ill. (She wants to save her EPSL time in case her elderly mother gets sick and she needs to take care of her.) Can we let her work from home during the self-quarantine period?

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Most HR pros consider themselves strategic partners, survey finds. A survey from payroll and benefits provider Paychex, Inc., released in August found that 88% of HR leaders feel they are a strategic partner within their organization, particularly as they play a vital role in navigating new regulatory challenges compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey also shows that 80% of HR professionals believe workplace technology helps support their role as a strategic contributor to the business and another 79% say technology enables their workforce to be more efficient and productive. When asked to define their role within their organizations, most HR leaders describe themselves as a "strategic partner," which rose from the fourth most common self-described role in 2019 to first in 2020.