Naked pictures? Drunken celebrations? Sexist comments? A click of a button and all evidence of your “Weekend at Bernie’s” can disappear. Job seekers know to scrub clean their Facebook pages before they connect with potential employers, to remove all trace of their off-color on-line life. But here in Ohio you can’t delete your way out

According to a news release issued by the university, a Kansas State University study to be published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior concludes that between 60 and 80% of the time spent by people on the internet at work has "nothing to do with work." The study, which was profiled this morning on

As much as everyone loves them, the holidays create increased risk of employer liability and can result in a long list of legal problems for an unprepared employer. As our holiday gift to you, we’ve put together our top five holiday headaches employers, which will be provided to you in a week-long series starting today.
Continue Reading ‘Tis the Season for Holiday Workplace Issues. Day 1 – Avoiding Holiday Party Liability When the Office Santa Tries to Teach His Employees a Few “Reindeer Games”

Presume for a moment an employee complains to Human Resources that a co-worker’s perfume makes her want to choke. The workplace sometimes brings us "closer" together and one worker’s scent can be another worker’s source of distraction or even discomfort. If the complaining employee’s problem is just a matter of personal preference, then the employer has no legal duty to take action, but may want to explore a diplomatic way to resolve the dispute. On the other hand, a recent decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio shows that, in some circumstances, this issue can result in a legal challenge.

In Core v. Champaign Cty. Board of County Commissioners, (S.D. Ohio No. 3:11-CV-00166), an employee sued the County under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and under Ohio disability discrimination law for not accommodating her request for a "fragrance-free" workplace policy. The employee suffered from severe asthma and chemical sensitivity to certain perfumes and other scents. She began experiencing difficulty breathing at work when co-workers in her proximity were wearing a perfume called "Japanese Cherry Blossom." According to the Complaint, her initial request that the employer ask employees to refrain from wearing that perfume went unheeded. Her symptoms became more severe and eventually she had to have emergency medical treatment.

Shortly after the employee sought medical treatment, co-workers began to mock her, including in Facebook posts making fun of her condition. She also alleges that employees began to wear the perfume intentionally around her and that the employer took no action to stop this conduct.

The employee presented a request to the employer signed by a nurse practitioner asking that co-workers be advised of the employee’s sensitivity and that they be asked to avoid use of the perfume. The employer apparently communicated by email to employees asking that they not approach the employee personally, and instead communicate with her only by telephone or email. The employer also asked the employee to attempt to have face-to-face conversations with staff only in well-ventilated, open areas of the office.

Continue Reading Employer Refusal to Provide a “Fragrance-Free” Workplace May Violate ADA

While many human resources managers spend sleepless nights worrying about the negative things employees may be posting on the Internet about them, this post from our sister blog technologylawsource.com reminds us that the nice things they have to say can get employers into trouble as well. Lesson for employers: Make sure your social media policy

A recent Sixth Circuit decision addressed the issue of whether the disclosure of confidential, proprietary documents by an employee to her attorneys constitutes a protected activity for which the employee cannot be terminated or otherwise disciplined. In 2000, numerous individuals filed a class action against the Cincinnati Insurance Company (CIC), alleging that CIC had discriminated against women in violation of the Equal Pay Act (EPA). Kathy Niswander, a claims manager at CIC, was one of the plaintiffs in the class action. 

In order to respond to CIC’s discovery requests, the plaintiffs’ attorneys asked each of the plaintiffs, including Ms. Niswander, to send them any documents in their possession that related to the case or that might support their discrimination claims. In response, Ms. Niswander sent the attorneys any documents she had that could potentially be relevant, but she also submitted confidential claim-file documents that did not contain any information relevant to the alleged discrimination.

Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Applies Balancing Test In Retaliation Case Involving an Employee’s Disclosure of Confidential Documents

On March 18, 2008, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Appellate District struck down the portion of Ohio’s Tort Reform Act that created a heightened standard for employees bringing intentional tort claims against their employers. Specifically, Kaminski v. Metal & Wire Prods. Co., Case No. 07-CO-15 (7th Dist. March 18, 2008), was the first appellate decision addressing the constitutionality of this heightened standard, and it found the standard improper.

Normally, an employee who suffers a workplace injury cannot file a lawsuit but must, instead, seek compensation under Ohio’s workers’ compensation system. Proof that the employer’s conduct was intentional, however, allows the employee to go around the workers’ compensation system and file a lawsuit for damages. 

Continue Reading Intentional Tort Amendment Found Unconstitutional