July 2009 Archives

Tweet Me! It's Friday, for cryin' out loud!

Posted by E-LawOn July 31, 2009In: Employee Engagement, PDFs, Social Media in the Workplace, Women, Wellness, & Work-Life Balance

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Twitter continues to gain popularity and I've jumped on the bandwagon.  Here are my "tweets" from this week, grouped into rough categories by topic.

 

Social Media

Video HowCreate an Account in LinkedIn (via Professionally Speaking) http://bit.ly/R130x Now you've got no excuse to avoid #social #networking

Using Twitter as a teaching tool (via #elearning future) Twitter_logo.jpeg

RT @mashable High School Admins Coerce Cheerleader for Facebook Password http://bit.ly/1O2xWf (and then disclose the info on her pers. pg.)

RT @fyiscreening4 Tips On How To Use Social Networks For Employee Screening (from N.Y. Law Journal)  http://bit.ly/j3zcv

RT @Twitter_Tips Top 10 Rules of Twitter Etiquette: http://ow.ly/iekG --Share this guide: http://bit.ly/44Vft3

RT @LissaLawyer: AmLaw Daily asks whether the Future is "Oh So Social" http://bit.ly/LmVpV

RT @HRSocialMedia: White House using LinkedIn to get comments from small business on health care reform http://tinyurl.com/lcnexv

Canada's #privacy commissioner gives #Facebook a failing grade http://bit.ly/5VCoh (RT: @cybercourt)

RT @mashable Top 5 Funniest Fake Facebook Pages http://bit.ly/bkPDV. Slate's fake Obama #Facebook page is a riot

 

Legal

FTC has postponed (again) the start of its "Red-Flag Rule" until November due to ?s re: how to comply. http://bit.ly/drImZ

Thanks to @MelanieMcClure for mention of my "anti-harassment policy tip sheet" http://tinyurl.com/mhh5hn

RT @Eric_B_Meyer: Philly Inquirer article rips Sen. Specter for wavering on #EFCA.

In Philly, $10m #verdict in police officers' race-bias suit cut to $30k max per Title VII cap http://bit.ly/KJJoH

 

Presentations and Public Speaking

Delaware gets its own #Ignite night! (via The News Journal) YCST E-law did #Pecha Kucha back in April w/great response. http://bit.ly/OLi09

RT @pptninja: 31 Flavors of PowerPoint - Part I http://bit.ly/Dvdxb #ppt (Great post re: diff. presentation styles needed diff. settings

 

Work-Life Balance

WSJ's The Juggle talks about how we handle pressure differently at home vs. at work. Is there anyone who doesn't? http://bit.ly/xaNwW

RT @DrDavidBallardRT @jessicapeterson Employees financial problems cost employers $4.5 billion annually (BusinessWeek) http://bit.ly/TiM3b

 

The Paperless Office

RT @DisabilityTips 6 Myths of Going "Paperless" | Colorado Social Security Law http://bit.ly/nYAJV

Why are fed courts so opposed to #technology in the #courtroom? NY lawyers want the rules changed. Agreed. http://bit.ly/11WvzD

Great #acrobat article re: What You Can Accomplish With Adobe Acrobat Forms http://is.gd/1NqkM RT @acroboy: RT @wikiatech.

 

Management & Leadership

Here's a real shocker from @nytimes: Corner Office: No Doubts: Women Are Better Managers http://bit.ly/3eFOVv (via @wbowser)

Great book on management: Not Everyone Gets a Trophy by Bruce Telgan. Supposed to be re: Gen Y but is applicable to all http://bit.ly/EB3mj

RT @hrmagazine: PricewaterhouseCoopers offers program to develop 1st-yr college students. http://bit.ly/M9H7s Great idea for #GenY!

Fourteen Leadership Traits for Success*

Posted by E-LawOn July 31, 2009In: Employee Engagement

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Leadership is an important factor to the success of any organization. Likewise, being a good leader is often an important component to the success of an individual in his or her career. Possessing leadership abilities is not only important when interacting with subordinates, but also when interacting with peers, supervisors, and individuals from other organizations. People are more willing to work for or with a person who has leadership abilities than they are to work for or with a person who does not.  leadership

The United States Marine Corps has identified fourteen traits that good leaders possess: justice, judgment, dependability, integrity, decisiveness, tact, initiative, enthusiasm, bearing, unselfishness, courage, knowledge, loyalty, and endurance. Marines remember these fourteen leadership traits through the mnemonic device “JJ DID TIE BUCKLE.” Each of these leadership traits will be briefly discussed.

Justice is the quality of being consistent and impartial. A person displays this quality by giving rewards and punishments based on merit, not favoritism.

Judgment is the ability to think about things clearly and calmly, and the ability to weigh facts and possible solutions in forming an opinion or deciding on a course of action.

Dependability is the certainty and confidence others have in one’s ability to properly perform duties. A good leader can be counted on by supervisors, peers, subordinates, and clients alike.

Integrity is the honorableness of character and soundness of morals. A person that has integrity is, among other things, honest and uncorrupt.

Decisiveness is the ability to make decisions timely and to announce them in a clear manner. While it is important to think about issues clearly, there are times when a quick decision may be necessary.

Tact is the ability to interact with others without creating offense. Good leaders know what to say and how to act in situations in order to maintain favorable relationships with others.

Initiative is taking action in the absence of instructions. A good leader does not always wait to be told what to do.

Enthusiasm is the display of sincere interest in the performance of duty. An enthusiastic leader is better able to motivate others in the performance of their duties.

Bearing is the creation of a favorable impression in appearance and personal conduct.

Unselfishness is the absence of providing for one’s personal advancement or comfort at the expense of others or one’s organization.

Courage is the mental quality that recognizes fear, but enables one to proceed in the face of it with calmness and firmness. Although courage may seem important when leading a military unit into battle, and not so important when supervising an office, courage is an important trait for all leaders. An office manager must have the courage, for example, to deny an employee’s vacation request when necessary or to speak in front of a large audience.

Knowledge is the understanding of a science, art, or technique. A good leader continually seeks to improve his or her understanding of a subject and seeks challenging assignments.

Loyalty is the quality of faithfulness to one’s supervisors, subordinates, peers, and organization. You cannot expect others to be loyal to you or your organization if you are not loyal to them or the organization.

Endurance is the ability to withstand fatigue, stress, pain, and hardship.

Although some of these traits may be more important in some situations than in others, the presence and development of each of these fourteen leadership traits can mean the difference between a smoothly run organization and an organization plagued by strife.

*This post was written by guest blogger, Paul Loughman.  Paul is a 3L at the University of Virginia School of Law.  Paul served as a Marine prior to college and is one of the outstanding summer associates participating in Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor's Summer Associate Program this year.  Thanks, Paul!

Aug. 4: Caregiver Discrimination for Employers

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 31, 2009In: Seminars, Past

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In April, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new guidance for employers on avoiding Family Responsibility Discrimination. FRD is defined as discrimination in which male or female workers are fired, demoted, not promoted, denied employment benefits, or harassed because of their caregiving responsibilities for a child, partner, or elderly relative. The EEOC recommends work-life balance programs, flexible work arrangements, flexible sick leave policies, and part-time job opportunities to prevent discrimination lawsuits from caregiver employees.

Adria B. Martinelli and Molly DiBianca, Esq. will present an important audio conference on this subject on August 4, in which we'll teach employers how to use work-life balance programs to prevent costly litigation and how to create a workplace free from caregiver discrimination by participating in the all-new HR Hero audio conference, When Employees Are Also Caregivers: Legal Advice and EEOC Guidance for Employers.

In just 90 minutes, you'll learn:

  • How flextime schedules, flexible week opportunities, telecommuting, and other programs can protect your organization against caregiver discrimination claims -- and actually boost productivity and the bottom line
  • The EEOC’s best practice advice for launching and managing flexible work arrangements
  • Your legal obligations regarding employees with caregiving responsibilities under the EEOC guidance, arising from Title VII, the FMLA, and ADA, among others
  • EEOC guidance on training your managers to recognize caregiver discrimination at work
  • The types of workplace conduct that could invite caregiver discrimination claims
  • Hands-on advice for structuring policies that can protect your organization from caregiver discrimination
  • An overview the responsibilities faced by an employee who is also a caregiver, and how employers can accommodate these needs while eliminating legal risks

To register for the audio conference,visit the registration page on HR.Hero.com

Now's a Great Time for Workplace-Civility Initiatives

Posted by E-LawOn July 30, 2009In: Employee Engagement, Jerks at Work

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Workplace civility is a value that all organizations should strive to achieve. For those employers who may need a bit more motivation to implement a workplace-civility initiative, now is the time! August is "Win With Civility" month.  Chase’s Calendar of Events includes a list of causes to which August has been dedicated as a “special month.”

Noting that it is a national dedication, I thought the dedication must warrant certain recognitions, so I did a Google search for ways employers celebrate, observe, or at least acknowledge the special dedication. Surprisingly, a Google search uncovered little more than other websites noting the dedications of August and companies selling promotional materials. Although I was disappointed at the search results, I assume the results reflect a lack of interest in the special dedication rather than a lack of interest in “winning with civility” as a general principle. To help readers who want to “win with civility” in August I have included a reminder of what civility means and some suggestions on how a person can behave to “win with civility.” 

Civility is one of those words that is often tossed around but rarely defined. Everyone knows it means something like “be nice.” This is not out of line with the Free Dictionary Online definition of civility as “polite or courteous behavior” or “the act of showing regard for others.” The general definition provides some guidance for behavior, but other websites have provided more specific ways a person can “show regard for others.” Although the specific suggestions were not necessarily written to provide guidance for workplace behavior, many are particularly appropriate for workplace civility.

One website,Because It Matters, lists 10 Keys to Civility. Although the keys are not specific to the workplace, they provide guiding principles that apply to all circumstances. The 10 keys are:collection of cartoon faces

1. Respect others

2. Think positively

3. Pay attention

4. Make a difference

5. Speak kindly

6. Say thank you

7. Accept others

8. Rediscover silence

9. Listen

10. Keep your cool

Another source of guidance can be found on the National Public Radio (NPR) website. In 2003, NPR reproduced George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility, editing them for readability. Although some of the rules are inapplicable to most modern workplaces, others are perfectly applicable and well worth noting during a special month dedicated to civility. I have included below 10 of the rules that struck me as particularly applicable to all workplaces.

1. Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another though he were your enemy. (Rule 22)

2. Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive. (Rule 35)

3. Strive not with your superior in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty. (Rule 40)

4. Undertake not to teach your equal in the art himself professes; it savors of arrogancy. (Rule 41)

5. When a man does all he can, though it succeed not well, blame not him that did it. (Rule 44)

6. Being to advise or reprehend any one, consider whether it ought to be in public or in private, and presently or at some other time; in what terms to do it; and in reproving show no signs of cholor but do it with all sweetness and mildness. (Rule 45)

7. Take all admonitions thankfully in what time or place soever given, but afterwards not being culpable take a time and place convenient to let him know it that gave them. (Rule 46)

8. While you are talking, point not with your finger at him of whom you discourse, nor approach too near him to whom you talk, especially to his face. (Rule 76)

9. Undertake not what you cannot perform but be careful to keep your promise. (Rule 82)

10. When your superiors talk to anybody hearken not, neither speak nor laugh. (Rule 84)

In the spirit of civility, thank you for taking the time to read this post. Happy “Win with Civility” month!

Related Posts:

Courtesy and Respect Get Tossed to the Side by Political Staffer

Rude Employees Are Bad for Business

Disrespectful Workplace Costs State $314k

15 Things that Jerks at Work Usually Do

Bosses Aren't the Only Workplace Toxins: What to do with toxic employees?

Jerks-At-Work Expert Confirms Fridge Raiding Is #1 Worst Workplace Incivility

Employee Handbook Policy #502: Respectful Workplace

*This post was written by guest blogger, Elisabeth Bradley, who is wrapping up her second summer as a summer associate at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP. Thanks, Elisabeth--great post!!

Somebody’s Watching You (and it’s not the money you could be saving on car insurance): New Drug-Testing Regs from DOT

Posted by William W. BowserOn July 30, 2009In: Drug Testing

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Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations require employers to administer drug and alcohol testing to employees or applicants who operate or who will operate commercial motor vehicles. Employers must conduct pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, random, post-accident, return-to-duty, and follow-up testing. Geico Image

The DOT issued a new regulation today requiring that urine samples for return-to-duty and follow-up testing be submitted under “direct observation.” The regulation was announced last August but, after complaints from the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trade Department, the DOT delayed the implementation of the new rules. (See DOT Delays Implementation of New Drug-and-Alcohol-Testing Procedures). The regulation eventually was challenged but recently upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The regulation, effective August 31, 2009, requires a same-gender observer to “watch the urine go from the employee’s body into the collection container.” To comply, employees must raise their shirts above the waist and lower their clothing so as to expose their genitals and allow the observers to verify the absence of any devices that would permit the employee to cheat the test.

Both return-to-duty and follow-up testing involve employees who are returning to safety-sensitive duties after failing or refusing to take a drug test. A copy of the DOT’s new regulation is here.

Employers should review their DOT drug and alcohol testing programs to ensure compliance with this new requirement.

Nov. 3-4 Delaware SHRM State HR Conference

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 29, 2009In: Seminars, Past

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Registration is open for the 2009 Delaware SHRM State HR Conference, which will take place on November 3 and 4.  The registration page of the DE SHRM website lists the topics and speakers on this year’s conference schedule.  Bill Bowser and Scott Holt will be presenting their very popular, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” presentation.  And, in light of the number of changes during the past year, they’re sure to have plenty to talk about!   We hope to see you there!

Corporate Tweeting Made Easy*

Posted by E-LawOn July 28, 2009In: Social Media in the Workplace

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Employers can now efficiently use Twitter to interact with consumers and manage the branding of their companies. Large businesses like Starbucks, JetBlue and Whole Foods are already using CoTweet.

CoTweet is a platform where companies can easily manage several Twitter accounts from a single user login. With its unique features, employers can simultaneously accomplish two goals: keeping employees engaged and responding to customers’ questions and concerns.Twitter_logo.jpeg

CoTweet enables employers to give account access to multiple employees, who then can write on behalf of the company. Employees can indicate to other account members when they are “on-duty” and will receive email alerts when they need to take action on a Twitter account that they are responsible for. While multiple employees can post to one account, they can monitor actions in all accounts at real-time, and thus, prevent duplicate or conflicting actions.

In addition to responding faster to consumer concerns, companies create a more personal appeal. Each employee is identified with a “CoTag,” which, like an email signature, automatically appends to his/her posts. Another marketing perk is “Tweet Scheduling,” which allows companies to post entries at a scheduled time in the future—a useful tool when releasing new products or promotions.

CoTweet is a new easy way for companies to use social networks as a business venue.

Read more posts on the topic on social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

*This post was written by guest blogger, Felicia Yen.  Felicia is a 2L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  She is one of the amazing students participating in this year's summer-associate program at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP. Thanks for your hard work, Felicia!

Survey Says: It’s Not Easy Being Green In This Economy

Posted by William W. BowserOn July 28, 2009In: Going Green

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The Society of Human Resources (“SHRM”), has released a new poll which surveyed 368 HR professionals about the green initiatives at their workplaces. The poll reveals that. by far, the cost is the greatest barrier to starting and maintaining a green program. Ninety percent of those polled said that cost was a barrier to establishing a program, while 84% said that cost was a barrier to keeping a program going.

3d man goes green

The poll also found that the following elements were most likely to be included in a green initiative:

· A recycling program for office products (88%)

· Encouraging employees to be more environmentally friendly by encouraging double-sided copies, lowering blinds, etc. (84%)

· Using energy efficient equipment and lighting systems (73%)

 

The poll next asked about the major reasons or drivers for going green. The top reasons given were:

· Contributions to society (64%)

· Environmental considerations (55%)

· Economic considerations (53%)

 

The poll also explored how companies demonstrated their commitment to going green. The top 2 reasons were:

· Including the efforts in company newsletters and publications (74%); and

· Making environmental responsibility a stated goal of the company (45%).

 

Finally, the Poll sought to measure the perceived benefits of going green at work. Those surveyed gave the following as the most likely:

· Improved employee morale (46%); and

· Stronger public image (41%).

 

A PDF version of the PowerPoint slides are linked here: 

Social Networking Site Accused of Identity Theft x 60m

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 27, 2009In: Privacy Rights of Employees

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Social networking site Tagged.com is accused of stealing the identities of 60 million people. N.Y. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced that his office intends to file suit. In short, Tagged.com is alleged to have sent invitational e-mails that appeared to be from one of their users to one of the user’s contacts. The e-mail read that the recipient was being sent photos from his or her friend—the Tagged.com user. To view the photos, the recipient non-member, had to register for a Tagged.com account. Then Tagged.com accessed the new member’s contact list, restarting the cycle.

(via Death By Email)

This is a serious and unfortunate example of the wide-spread danger that can result the misuse of technology.  Combined with the far-reaching power of social media and, as this story makes clear, the potential impact can increase exponentially. 

The Power of an Almost-Apology

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 27, 2009In: Employee Engagement, Jerks at Work, Women, Wellness, & Work-Life Balance

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President Obama has made an "almost apology" to the police officer he offended with his "acted stupidly" comment.  The President made the comment when discussing the arrest of Black Harvard scholar, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., by Cambridge, Mass. police. The police were called to Gates' home to investigate a possible break-in but ended up arresting Gates for disorderly conduct.  From most accounts, it seemed that both sides probably overreacted. No charges were pressed.  When later asked to comment on the incident, which was perceived as having racial undertones, President Obama said the arrest was a "stupid" thing to do.

Oh my.  Cambridge police, as you may imagine, didn't appreciate the accusation that they, as a collective whole, tending to act stupidly.  3d businessmen communicating

Responding to the escalating pushback, Obama called Gates and the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, to "clear the air."  At a subsequent press gathering, the President told reporters that he had called both men and invited them for a beer at the White House.  The President did not say whether his calls included an apology, nor did he apologize publicly about his comment.  

Many are now asking whether a true apology is necessary or appropriate, or whether it's enough to simply "clear the air" and put the whole issue to rest.

My answer to this question is a practical one.  If "clearing the air" without a full-blown apology actually does the trick, then no apology is needed. But, more often than not, if you want to be sure that the matter is resolved, an apology is the way to go.  Remember, you don't have to apologize for something you didn't do. So, if your intentions were good but the words came out wrong, then apologize for your word choice. 

Is a public apology needed?  Again, I vote "no."  If those persons who were offended by the comment, they were offended only on behalf of the individuals involved.  No slight was done to members of the public directly.  So, it makes sense that, if the individuals involved are satisfied with the President's almost-apology, then the public should be satisfied, as well. 

In the workplace, conflict arises constantly.  Employees who understand the value of a sincere and immediate apology (or even an almost-apology), will avoid more senseless arguments, hurt feelings, and have less stress overall.  Plus, when you are the one apologizing, you feel as if you've conquered a big part of the conflict just by stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for your actions. Then, even if the conflict does not resolve, you can take away the satisfaction of knowing that you tried and then let go of the results over which you have no control.

With that in mind, be extra kind to your co-workers today.  It's Monday, after all.

Nov. 13: Breakfast Seminar, Social Media & Hiring

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 26, 2009In: Seminars, Past

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The impact of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is undeniable but, also, undefined. Hundreds of millions of Americans now use these sites and others like them for an expanding number of reasons. And it’s not just the country’s youth online, either. Twitter users are more likely to be Baby Boomers than they are to be youngsters in the 12-to-24 crowd.

So it’s no surprise that social media is causing tremendous changes in the way employers recruit and hire new employees. Employers have to look beyond standard recruiting tactics if they hope to secure the most sought-after candidates. But the adventure into the social-media sphere is not without risks. Before you send that friend request to that job applicant, be sure you know how it could expose your organization to legal liability.

Whether you’re a master of your Facebook page, or you’re still wondering what a “tweet” really is, Molly DiBianca will guide you in the right direction when it comes to social media and hiring. This 90-minute seminar will be presented live in our Wilmington office and over the internet via webinar for those who cannot attend in person. The cost? Free. First come, first serve, though, so don’t delay—e-mail or call Felicia G. (302.571.5718) to sign up today.

P.S. This is our final seminar in the Breakfast Seminar Series for 2009. We’d love to hear what you want the topics to be for our 2010 Series. Have an interest in something in particular? Drop us a line or let us know by leaving a comment.

Nov. 12-13: ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 25, 2009In: Seminars, Past

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This exciting conference will be presented by the ABA Law Practice Management Section and held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia.  There are plenty of valuable topics worthy of mention, including a panel in the Small-Firm Track featuring our own William W. BowserimageBill, along with Tom Mighell, author of the national legal blog, Inter Alia, and co-author of the latest book for lawyers on effective collaboration tools,  The Lawyer's Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, our friend and legal-blog guru, Tim Stanley of Justia.com, and Immigration Law blogger, Greg Siskind, make up the panel who will discuss How to Maximize Web Sites, Blogs, Social Networking Profiles, and Other Aspects of Web 2.0.  

One of the two keynote speakers also has my interest piqued.  David Lat is the founder of Above the Law, a blog that puts the saying "any publicity is good publicity," to the test.  I'd guess that Mr. Lat will offer conference attendees some very valuable insight into how firms can best handle bad online publicity and avoid ending up the feature in his wildly popular online legal tabloid.

To take advantage of all of this great knowledge, visit the section's website to register or learn more about the conference.

And, for information about other upcoming seminars, see the following posts:

October 7-8:  HR's Social Media Virtual Summit (filmed live from Nashville, TN and streamed directly to your office over the web, hosted by M. Lee Smith Publishers, moderated by Molly DiBianca).

November  3-4: Delaware SHRM State HR Conference (Young Conaway's Employment Law Department is the platinum sponsor of this year's exciting annual event.  William W. Bowser and Scott A. Holt will present their always popular employment-law update, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly).

November 18:  Employment Law Department (Topic and Speaker TBA)

December 2-4:  Social Media and HR Summit (hosted by Ragan Communications and M. Lee Smith Publishers at the Aon Center in Chicago, Molly DiBianca will present during the preconference about social media policies; during the main conference about the legal limits governing employers' monitoring of employees' social media usage; and as a panelist to discuss the biggest blunders made by employers in this Web 2.0 world.)

Social Intelligence: A Hidden Key to Employment Success*

Posted by E-LawOn July 24, 2009In: Employee Engagement

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The crux of employment success is social intelligence. For years, individuals have been judged by various aptitude tests (i.e. I.Q. test, SAT, LSAT, GRE, MCAT, GMAT). However, individually, those tests are not the best indicators of who will be successful. Recent studies show that success is largely attributed to social intelligence. Social intelligence is equivalent to interpersonal intelligence and involves perceptiveness, situational savvy, and interactional skill. Social intelligence is understanding and acting in accordance with social situations and environments to obtain cooperation, objectives, and achieve results.

In employment fields like law and business, social intelligence is one of the hidden keys to success. Lawyers, in particular, are constantly engaged in a continuum of social interactions. One minute they are dealing with people within their firm and another minute they are interacting with clients, other firms (lawyers), and/or the judiciary. As a result, a proper understanding and use of social intelligence is fundamental to a lawyer’s success.

In Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success, Karl Albrecht presents a five-part model of social intelligence: (1) Situational Awareness; (2) Presence; (3) Authenticity; (4) Clarity; and (5) Empathy. Albrecht’s break-down and presentation of social intelligence is helpful for those interested in developing or improving their social intelligence. Each of those parts, as presented by Albrecht, will be discussed in turn.

Social Radar”

Situational awareness can be thought of as having a “social radar,” or the ability to read situations and interpret the behaviors of others in terms of possible intentions, emotional states, and reactions. It includes a knowledge of cultural “holograms”—the unspoken background patterns, paradigms, and social rules that govern various social situations and interactions. It also means having an appreciation for the perspective of others, and a practical sense of the way people react to stress, conflict, and uncertainty. Situational awareness requires a respectful interest and understanding of other people. Being self-centered or preoccupied with ones own feelings, needs, and interests and not open to those of others, will hamper situational awareness.

Presence incorporates a range of verbal and nonverbal patterns, such as physical appearance, body language, mood, demeanor, voice quality, and subtle movements. It involves the way those factors/signals affect people’s evaluative impressions or opinions of us. Presence requires that we pay special attention to the manner and way in which we communicate, as it is also the way we convey our sense of self.  3d businessmen communicating

Authenticity, Clarity, Empathy

Authenticity regards the social radars of others, and what signals they identify in judging you as being honest, open, ethical, trustworthy, and well-intentioned. Authenticity is fundamental to developing rapport and people’s perspective of you. It requires that you constantly assess your actions, and whether people will interpret you as being “authentic.”

Clarity is the ability to explain oneself, illuminate ideas, articulate views, proposed courses of action, and pass data clearly and accurately. Clarity is fundamental to effective communication and cooperation. It requires being an active and attentive listener so one can adequately and effectively respond to an individual or group.

Empathy, in the context of social intelligence, goes beyond its plain definition. It entails having the ability to sympathize with another but includes having a shared feeling between two people. It is a state of connectedness with another person, which creates the basis for positive interaction. That interconnectedness inspires people to cooperate. It is a condition of rapport. To achieve empathy with another person means getting that person to have a shared feeling of connectedness with you, which leads them to move with and toward you rather than against you. Accordingly, empathy requires avoiding or abandoning toxic behaviors, and adopting or increasing nourishing behaviors toward other people.

When taken together, understood, and employed, these five-parts of social intelligence can foster effective client counseling and client-attorney interaction in addition to intra and inter-firm (attorney) interactions­—whether or not they are in court, during negotiations, or involve general interactions. Importantly, social intelligence can help maintain and develop working relationships with judicial figures.

*Written by guest blogger, Darius Ravangard.  Darius is a rising 3L and joint-degree student at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is pursuing his J.D. and a Masters of International Affairs.  Before law school, Darius played division-one soccer at Binghamton University.  And, this year, Darius has been blazing trails at Young Conway as a summer associate.  Thank you, Darius!

Tweet Me! It’s Friday, After All!

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 24, 2009In: Social Media in the Workplace

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Thanks to fellow employment-law blogger, Dan Schwartz, of the CT Employment Law Blog, convinced me to give Twitter a try. So I tossed my hat into the Twitter ring and have been pretty happy with the results.  It’s a super-fast way to access all the news you want in real time.  To give you an idea of what you can expect on Twitter, here are some of my “tweets” from the past week or so.

Technology & Public Speaking

 twitter-logo

Social Media and Networking

 

Dress & Attire

  • WSJ Style: Save the swim trunks for vacation; they're not to be worn at the office pool party http://is.gd/1FV4d
  • Lady Gaga wears Kermit the Frog dress. http://tr.im/tl7e Because this would be the ultimate dress for the firm's annual bbq

 

HR

Want to give it a try? Follow me at www.twitter.com/MollyDiBi

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: Government to the Rescue of Employers?

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 23, 2009In: Privacy In the Workplace

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Employee theft, especially electronic theft, has been on the rise. Some blame falls on the state of the economy. Another explanation is the current state of technology.  Employees are more savvy with technology today than ever before.  And the workplace is more digital than ever before, so there's more data where employees can find it. Once they find it, they know how to use it, remove it, or, in some cases, destroy it. 

Stories of employees' theft and destruction of their employers' data are scarily commonplace.  Usually, employers are left with little recourse. Although they can, of course, terminate the wrongdoer, this option doesn't compensate the organization for the harm caused. Some employers have looked to the legal system and found the Computer Fraud Abuse Act (CFAA), hoping to find a civil remedy to employers whose computer system has been hacked by an employee.  Some courts have agreed with this interpretation, while others have not.  And some employers are left without recourse, especially those who don't have the resources to detect the source of the breach.   

But wait!  There may be another answer!  The government!

No, really.  The government is here to help. I know, I know, when that investigator from the Department of Labor called, there was no mention of any gratuitous assistance, right? But really, there may be some hope. 3d men in need of help with computer

There have recently been a few high-profile stories of "employees who hack" who are then investigated and prosecuted in criminal court.  Former Philadelphia news anchor, Larry Mendte, is the first such story that comes to mind. Mendte was convicted of computer crimes after the FBI discovered that he hacked into his co-anchor's personal email accounts hundreds of times and leaked personal information about her to the media.  Mendte served time on house arrest and recently was released from the confines of his Main Line property and is free to carry out the terms of his probation from the Jersey Shore. 

Another, more recent story is a real-world example of an employer's worst-case scenario. When LifeGift Center, a nonprofit organ and tissue donation center, terminated its IT director, she accessed the computer network remotely from home.  Once she gained access, she deleted organ-donation database records, invoice files, and database and accounting software.  Danielle Duann, 51, then disabled the computer logging functions on several LifeGift servers and erased the computer logs that recorded her remote access to cover her trail. LifeGift claimed more than $94,9000 in damages from the intrusion.

Enter the government!  The DOJ prosecuted Duann. She was indicted by a grand jury last summer and, in May, pleaded guilty to one count of causing damage to a protected computer. Earlier this month, she was sentenced to a two-year prison term, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay the full amount of damages as restitution.

Read more posts on the topic of technology's impact on the modern workforce.

Warnings Against LinkedIn Recommendations: Justified or Propaganda?

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 20, 2009In: Social Media in the Workplace

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LinkedIn, a popular social networking site, enables users to "recommend" other users with whom they've worked or done business. Not a bad idea, really. In theory, a recommendation could improve the legitimacy or credibility of a user, even making the user more desirable to potential clients or employers--the basic premise of the professional-networking site.  So why, then, have commentators suddenly taken up the issue in protest? Even the ABA Journal warns against recommendations, suggesting that employers are best advised to avoid them altogether. 

I am of the opinion that this new story is nothing more than propaganda.  I don't think there's much to the theory at all. But, to be fair, let's look at it more closely.

What's the potential harm, according to those who caution against permitting managers to recommend an employee?

Well, they say that a positive recommendation could be detrimental to the employer in a later lawsuit brought by the recipient of the recommendation.  If the employer claimed to terminate an employee due to performance, a positive recommendation would seem to contradict that claim.  The contradiction could act as pretext evidence, tending to show that the employer's proffered reason (poor performance), was a mere pretext for a discriminatory reason for the termination.  linkedin

Sounds legitimate to me.  Indeed, if a supervisor tells an employee how wonderful he or she is all the while thinking terrible things about the quality of the employee's work product or habits, then there is likely going to be a contradiction between the reason the supervisor tells the employee he or she is being fired and the real reason.  Or not.  Maybe the supervisor, who is too chicken to be upfront and honest with the employee requesting a recommendation to just come out and say, "You know, Bob, I'm going to have to pass.  I don't think I could write a recommendation for you because you haven't been a very good performer while you've worked for me." 

Instead, the supervisor chickens out and says, "Uh, sure, Bob.  I'd be glad to write a recommendation for you.  Right after I get back from lunch."  He then proceeds to write a "recommendation" that is pretty bland, entirely generic, and, to most people, having nothing to do with the specific individual.  Good for the wimpy supervisor!  If it's a "positive" recommendation that is purely vanilla standard issue, then no harm done.   3d angel

But what about the linguist supervisor who loves to play wordsmith any chance he gets and who pens a lovely recommendation filled with gloriously specific adjectives and adverbs?  Then it may be a little trickier, right? Well, that depends. Does the junior Shakespeare write the same wordy recommendations for everyone or did he reserve his poetry for this one individual? 

Even if the employee who later sues is the only lucky recipient of this supervisor's digital words of praise, the realities of modern-day life--including our online lives--are not simply ignored by the courts.  Just because the law has not caught up with the constantly changing dynamics of social media doesn't mean that it has turned a blind eye to it, either.  The courts and juries recognize that the fact that you "friend" someone on Facebook or "recommend" someone on LinkedIn is a far cry to an actual off-line friendship or analogue reference letter.  

Don't believe me? Just ask the court!

Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which addressed the plaintiff's suggestion that some of the individual defendants' online connections with one another constituted evidence that they were acting in concert to solicit proxies and vote shares to gain control of the company in violation of the Exchange Act. Here's how the court responded to this "evidence:

For purposes of this litigation, the Court assigns no significance to the Facebook "friends" reference.  Facebook reportedly has more than 200 million active users, and the average user has 120 "friends" on the site. The fastest growing demographic is those [users] 35 years old and older. Facebook Pressroom. (citation omitted).  Regardless of what Facebook's apparent popularity or usefulness may say about the nature of 21st century communications and relationships, the site's designers' selections of icons or labels offer no substance to this dispute. Indeed, the Court notes that electronically connected "friends" are not among the litany of relationships targeted by the Exchange Act or the regulations issued pursuant to the statute. Indeed, "friendships" on Facebook may be as fleeting as the flick of a delete button.

Quigley Corp. v. Karkus, No. 09-1725, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41296, at *16, n.3 (E.D. Pa. May 19, 2009).

Exactly!  The court's decision merely recognizes what everyone already knows--"relationships" are not evidenced by a simple online recommendation made on a one-time basis, especially if solicited by its recipient. So, to the critics out there, relax. The real reason employers should be nervous about managers who write recommendations about employees is that those things take time to create and employers would be wise to make sure the recommendation-writing isn't consuming an inordinate amount of time better spent supervising

Want more? Try these related posts:

Facebook Set to Overhaul Its Privacy Settings

Job applicants required to submit Facebook passwords for background checks

More Stories from the Facebook Frontier

Ethical Implications of "Friend-ing" a Witness on Facebook

Facebook and YouTube Make Employees More Productive. Really??

New FMLA Regulations Restrict Substitution of Paid Leave for FMLA

Posted by William W. BowserOn July 17, 2009In: Benefits, Family Medical Leave, Leaves of Absence

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The substitution of paid leave for unpaid FMLA leave occurs often.  A employee eligible for FMLA leave will substitute accrued vacation, sick, medical, or other similar types of paid leave so that he avoids a loss of pay during the leave.  In most circumstances, employers also benefit because, when substitution occurs, the time counts against both the employee’s FMLA and paid time off 3d man sick with red crossentitlements.

Under the prior FMLA regulations, substitution of paid leave could be abused.  For example,  vacation leave was required to be substituted for any FMLA leave.  Common restrictions imposed on the use of vacation such as advanced notice or requiring it to be used in minimum blocks of time could not be imposed to prevent substitution.  This ready availability of paid leave surely was very tempting to some employees that could not otherwise use such time.

The new FMLA regulations, however, give employers the ability to reduce abuse.  Under the new 29 C.F.R. § 207, employers can require employees to meet all of the normal requirements of paid leave policies before permitting substitution.  For example, if a policy requires that vacation be taken in full day increments, an employer can deny substitution for an employee’s one-half day FMLA leave.  Similarly, if vacation time cannot be taken during a particular month, substitution could be denied during that time period.

The consequences of the new rule are obvious.  Employees might now be required to take unpaid FMLA leave rather than substitute paid leave.  As a result, the temptation to use the FMLA to obtain paid leave that they otherwise would not be entitled is eliminated.

No Such Thing As Work-Life Balance?

Posted by Adria B. MartinelliOn July 17, 2009In: Women, Wellness, & Work-Life Balance

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"There’s no such thing as work-life balance . . . There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences,” proclaims former General Electric Co. Chief Executive Jack Welch. The Wall Street Journal reported Mr. Welch’s comment made to the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual conference in New Orleans on June 28.climbing-ladder

Mr. Welch added that he knows the women who have reached the top of Archer Daniels, and of   DuPont, and that they’ve had “pretty straight careers.”

One female CEO quoted in the article commented that women can “take a couple of years off,” to raise children and still become CEOs. “But if you take a decade off, you probably aren’t going to make it to the top.”

None of these observations is particularly shocking. It’s not surprising that most current female CEOs have had “pretty straight careers.” Nor should it be a barn-stormer that someone who spends ten years out of the work-force—male or female—is unlikely to make it to the highest possible rung on the corporate ladder. I would expect that anyone who makes it to the CEO level has had to make tremendous sacrifices in their personal life to get there. Obviously, those who make it to CEO are a unique breed in many respects.

For anything short of CEO, however, to the extent “straight career” means full-time with no time out of the workforce whatsoever, one would hope companies are learning that’s not the only way to get from point A to B. When a woman takes time off or slows down her career for family reasons, it may take her longer to get to the top, but her cumulative experience should be what counts. Her path to get there—whether straight, jagged, or curvy—should not matter.

To read more posts on work-life balance, see:

Maybe It’s Not All Gloom and Doom for Work-Life Balance
Editor’s Note: A Moment for Reflection
Looking a Flexible-Schedule Gift Horse in the Mouth

Employee Theft Is More Common than You May Realize

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 17, 2009In: Policies, Wellness, Health, and Safety

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Nearly 60% of terminated or  laid off employees steal proprietary company data when leaving, says a new study released by the Ponemon Institute, an Arizona-based research company.  Most employees take hard copies or paper documents but they also admit to downloading and saving data and sending information as attachments to personal emails.

The study does not indicate whether this trend is on the rise but I'd venture to guess that it is, based only on my clients' experiences.  It's become very common for an employer to discover that an exiting employee emailed himself sensitive information prior to his exit.  The study reports that approximately 25% of the employees who admitted to taking data admitted that they were able to access the company's network even after they'd left.  This is obviously the first step when preparing to terminate an employee--remove their access to all confidential data, whether in electronic or paper form. theft

It's best to have IT turn off electronic access prior to the termination meeting.  And, at the same time, have them scan his emails to determine whether the employee has sent any emails in the last couple of weeks to his personal account, such as a G-Mail, Yahoo!, or AOL account.  And determine whether these emails contained any attachments.  If so, you should determine just what it is exactly that the employee forwarded in those emails before the termination meeting.

If the termination is a particularly contentious one (i.e., this is a "problem" employee), you should also consider whether you want to preserve all of the individual's incoming and outgoing emails if you don't have a system in place to do that automatically.  Users of the full version (i.e., not Reader) of Acrobat 9 can do this in a flash by converting all emails to a single PDF document.  Or you can forward all of the emails to an HR or other secure email account.  Should the employee later file a claim, his emails could very well be the key to your defense so don't risk losing them.

The founder of the Ponemon Institute suggested that employees steal data because they think they are entitled to it as something they helped to create.  Other theories include that employees want to use the information in their portfolios or to otherwise help them seek other work.  Of course, the traditional school of thought says that employees steal to "get back" at the employer in response to the wrong they perceive has been done to them. Whatever the reason, employers cannot afford to take this lightly. Confidential and proprietary information belongs to the organization--not to the employee--so the organization must be diligent in preventing the loss of its rightly-owned data.

Objection! Opposing Counsel Has Violated the Basic Rules of Fashion!

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 14, 2009In: Dress & Attire, Just for Fun

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A lawyer who cares a lot about shoes. That description applies to me, as I just love, love, love shoes of the high-heeled variety, in particular. There's another lawyer feels passionately about shoes, but in a very different way. The Palm Beach Post broke the story of a Florida lawyer who filed a motion to compel his opposing counsel to wear better-looking shoes.  Nope, I am not kidding. 

In short, the lawyer felt that, by wearing old, ugly shoes to court, his opponent was unfairly garnering the sympathy of the jury.  It's a high-drama story, far more so than even this description implies, if you're interested.  But I just love the fact that the attorney actually noticed his opposing counsel's shoes in the first place!  Nevertheless that the guy had the guts to file a motion about the darned things!   This story reaffirms my admiration of the justice system and sense of awe of lawyers who take the details very, very seriously. 

Overview of the Risks Inherent to Employment Testing

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 13, 2009In: Discrimination

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The Supreme Court's recent decision in Ricci v. DeStefano, has put a spotlight on the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Nominee Sonia Sotomayor.  But, for most employers, the case has much broader implications, casting further doubt on the long-term viability of employment testing for hiring and promotion decisions. Employment testing is on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC's) "least-favorites" list for a number of years but employers, recognizing the critical nature of these decisions, continue to utilize testing as a screening mechanism.  The Ricci decision presents a good opportunity to review the laws around employment testing.  Failing_grade_istock-c

Disparate-Treatment Discrimination

Employers that are considering using an employment test must take special care to avoid violating the federal anti-discrimination laws, particularly Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Title VII prohibits two types of discrimination" disparate treatment and disparate impact.  Disparate treatment is what most people think of when they think of discrimination. This involves an intentional act of discrimination.  In the employment context, an employer takes an adverse employment action, such as deciding not to hire, against an individual because of the individual's race, sex, religion, or other protected characteristic.  In other words, you treat someone differently (disparately), because of a protected characteristic. 

Disparate-Impact Discrimination

Disparate impact, on the other hand, does not necessarily involve any animus towards an individual.  Instead, a policy or a practice (such as a test), is applied equally and without regard to membership in a protected class.  But the outcome or result disparately affects a protected class, thereby having a discriminatory impact.  Here's an example. Let's say an employer required all new applicants for any secretarial position to take a strength test as a prerequisite to being awarded an interview.  The test required applicants to bench press 110 pounds.  Most women applicants would not be able to pass the test and, as a result, only men would (for the most part) be awarded the positions. Because the test, which only tests physical strength, does not demonstrate whether the applicant is qualified for the position (i.e., can type X words per minute), the test would likely be found to constitute unlawful discrimination if challenged in court. If the test measured some trait or skill that was clearly related to the position being sought, the employer would have a much greater chance of success in defending the test.

The courts employ two methods to determine whether an employment test has a discriminatory impact.  First, if the selection rate for members of a protected group is statistically significantly different from the selection rate for the general pool, discriminatory impact is said to exist.  Second, there is said to be a discriminatory impact when the selection rate for members of a protected group is less than 80% of the selection rate for the group with the highest selection rate.

How to Demonstrate Job-Relatedness 

If either test is satisfied, the employer may still avoid liability by proving that the test measures job-related qualities.  To show job relatedness, the employer must prove three things: (1) that the test does correlate with successful job performance (criterion-related validation); (2) that the test actually measure the performance of job-related tasks or traits (content validation); and (3) that the trait being identified or measured by the test a trait that is a required to do the job well (construct validation). 

In our strength-test example, the employer would fail under the criterion-related prong if the employees could compare the scores of applicants on the strength test did not correlate to scores on a typing test.  For example, if the fastest typists were not able to pass the strength test, then either typing skills or strength must not be a valid criterion since it seems that applicants couldn't score well in both.  The employer would fail under the content-validation prong if the job did require physical strength, but only leg strength and the ability to bench press any weight was irrelevant.  The employer would fail under the construct prong if the employer could show that current secretaries, who were successfully working in the job, could not pass the strength test.  If they could do the job without passing the test, then the test, by definition, does not relate to job success and, therefore, is not job related. 

Best Practices

Employment tests seem to be going out of style with employers but are still serve as a key factor in many employers' hiring and promotion decisions.  If your organization either uses these tests currently or is considering their use, you can never be 100% sure that the test won't lead to a lawsuit. But you can take the steps discussed below to reduce your risk. 

First, as the most basic requirement, employers must issue all tests equally and without regard to race, religion, disability, or other protected characteristic.

Second, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that the test has been validated and meets all three requirements discussed above. An employer that uses tests should retain a professional testing company or other expert to conduct a validation study to determine whether the test will have a disparate impact in violation of the anti-discrimination laws. The validation study must be conducted in accordance with "generally accepted professional standards for evaluating standardized test."  In other words, you must hire a professional--home-grown tests won't stand up in court. And remember, a test vendor's data on the test's validity may be helpful to your analysis but you, as the employer, are ultimately responsible to ensure that the test truly is legitimate.

Third, the employer should maintain records and retest for at least two years as a way to self-audit any potentially discriminatory impact.  What to look for in these self-audits?  Employers must evaluate the test for fairness for each race, sex, and ethnic group that constitutes a "significant factor" in its workforce.

The Dangers of "Home-Grown" Employment Tests

The EEOC has the following to say about tests that are casually adopted without having survived the rigors of validity testing:

Employers should ensure that tests and selection procedures are not adopted casually by managers who know little about these processes. A test or selection procedure can be an effective management tool, but no test or selection procedure should be implemented without an understanding of its effectiveness and limitations for the organization, its appropriateness for a specific job, and whether it can be appropriately administered and scored.

(See EEOC Fact Sheet on Employment Testing).  This is where most employers get it wrong.  With the best intentions, an employer finds an "aptitude" test on the Internet and then "modifies" it for use during the screening process.  When clearly-qualified applicants fail the test or identify a flaw in a test question, the employer just changes the answer key or permanently strikes the "bad" question.  This is a disaster waiting to happen, isn't it?  The test wasn't validated in the first place (at least not that the employer could identify if questioned) and has since been changed, depending on the whims of an individual test giver or hiring manager.  That, in my opinion, is a guaranteed way to fail the EEOC's test for discriminatory impact.

Facebook Continues to Mature, And So Do Its Users

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 13, 2009In: Social Media in the Workplace

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Facebook's popularity is spreading to an older audience. According to a new study, the largest group of Facebook users are now 35-54, accounting for 28% of all U.S. users.  24-32 year users follow closely behind, representing 25.2% of users.  facebook logowithreflection

More interesting is how quickly older users have taken interest in Facebook.  The surge in interest has been rapid.  Since January, new users in the 35-54 age group joined in on the Facebook trend, increasing 190%.  More astounding was the growth in new users age 55+--that population grew 590%!!  By contrast, the youngest group (18-24), increased only by 4.8% since January. 

Also interesting was the decrease in the 18-24 group's overall Facebook presence.  They now account for only 25.1% of users, which is a decrease of 40.8%  since January.

See recent related posts:

Facebook Set to Overhaul Its Privacy Settings

Job applicants required to submit Facebook passwords for background checks

More Stories from the Facebook Frontier

Ethical Implications of "Friend-ing" a Witness on Facebook

Facebook and YouTube Make Employees More Productive. Really??

Delaware Adds Sexual Orientation to List of Protected Characteristics

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 9, 2009In: Delaware Specific, Legislative Update

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Delaware's anti-discrimination laws have been amended to include
sexual orientation as a protected class.  

S.B. 121 passed the General Assembly on June 24, 2009, and was signed by Gov. Markell on July 2, 2009.  The law took effect immediately. e-lert logo

Additional Key Information

  • Sexual orientation is defined exclusively to mean "heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality." 
  • Religious organizations are exempted from the law.
  • The law does not require employers to offer health, welfare, pension, or other benefits to domestic partners to the extent offered to spouses of married employees.
Employee Handbook Update
Handbooks should be updated to reflect the new law.  Manuals now should also prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.  Please contact any of the attorneys in our Employment Law Department to learn how this new law may affect other policies in your organization or with any other employment-related questions. 

3 Reasons Why Employers Don't Have a Social-Networking Policy

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 9, 2009In: Social Media in the Workplace

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Employees are social networking in droves. And their online activities can have a direct impact on their employers.  So why don't more employers have social-networking policies to address the many potential issues that can arise in cyberspace?  If your organization hasn't yet adopted and implemented an effective social-networking policy, you may want to consider why this is before trying to tackle the problem internally.

A Social-What-Working Policy?

I'll boldly venture that the number one thing holding back organizations from working towards a social-networking is good old-fashioned ignorance.  At a seminar for HR professionals in 2005, we polled the audience and learned that approximately 5 of the more than 100 attendees actually knew what a blog was.  I'm sorry to say that most of my clients still aren't familiar with the world of blogs or social-networking sites like FaceBook and LinkedIn.  If you don't know what it is, you're not likely to feel a pressing need to regulate it in great detail.  This is especially true when ignorance of the subject matter is directly linked to ignorance of the potential impact (positive and negative) of the medium.

Avoidance By Committee

One sure-fire way to avoid having to implement any kind of policy is to require the policy to first pass the approval of a committee. Hiring Committee. Technology Committee.  Glee Club Committee. It's irrelevant which one the policy must get through--so long as it's a committee, it probably won't go anywhere at all. A committee guarantees that there will be someone who doesn't "get it"--even if most members actually are familiar with social networking. 

If We Ignore It. . .

No, it won't go away.  But lots of people surely hope this is the case.  Here are some comments you're likely to hear if this problem is preventing the implementation of an effective policy:  "Technology is changing so rapidly. If we wait it out, it will work itself out;". or "By the time we get a policy drafted, the technology will already have changed and our policy will be outdated."  Oh come on, now!  Intelligent professionals certainly can draft a policy that is grounded in principles and values that are deeply ingrained in the organization's culture and not, therefore, likely to change any time soon. 

Put your thinking caps on, soldiers!  You can do it! 

Michigan's Supreme Court Bans Jury Members from Mid-Trial Twitter Use

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 6, 2009In: Social Media in the Workplace

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Stories of jurors tweeting from the jury box have been popping up around the web.  So it was just a matter of time before judges put limits on juror's electronic activity during trial.  The Michigan Supreme Court has taken the lead by banning jurors from using electronic communication devices during trial.  twitter icon

As of September 1, Michigan judges "will instruct jurors not to use any handheld device, such as iPhones or Blackberrys, while in the jury box or during deliberations." Law.com reports that the new rule prohibits all electronic communications during trial.

It seems inevitable that similar rules will follow.  Courts will have to institute these rules if there is to be any chance of preventing jurors from obtaining prohibited information while performing jury duty.

PDF Security: Sharing Your Work Product With the Public

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 5, 2009In: PDFs

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You’ve got something to share. A newsletter, a brochure, a seminar handout. You’ve spent time making the document look its best. You converted it to PDF. Everyone can access your shiny new PDF and no one can steal your work product. Well, almost.

Unless your PDF is properly secured, its contents can be copied and pasted into a word-processing document, where your work can be manipulated or altered. Anyone with Adobe Acrobat and a little knowledge can reuse and repurpose the content, taking credit for your hard work.

But don’t worry. All is not lost. You can use Acrobat to secure your documents and protect your work product. The steps are listed in short form first, with a more detailed explanation below.

1. Open your PDF in Acrobat and select File, Properties from the menu toolbar. In the dialog box that opens, go to the Security tab.

2. From the Security Method drop-down box, choose Password Required. A new dialog box opens. There are several options in this dialog box but we only need one of them to accomplish our objective. (See Figure 1).

3. Under Permissions, check the box next to Restrict editing and printing of the document. Type a password in the Change Permissions Password box. (See Figure 2).

4. In the drop-down box for Printing Allowed, select High Resolution. If you select None, your readers won’t be able to print the PDF, which they likely would find particularly annoying. After all, the point of sharing your newsletter or other publication is for recipients to read it. Prevent printing and you defeat the purpose to a large degree.

5. In the drop-down box for Changes Allowed, select None. And make sure that the check box next to the Enable copying of text option is not checked.

Figure 1

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Figure 2

image

Here’s a tip about password selection. Choose one easy-to-remember password that will be used for all documents created internally that you want to share with the public. The purpose of the password is to protect the contents of a quarterly newsletter. Although this is a perfectly legitimate goal, it doesn’t necessitate the same level of security as, let’s say, entrance to the NASA offices. Shoot for something that can be remembered and you’ll avoid the frustrating experience of being locked out of your own document.

Make sure that everyone who has any part in the creation or publication of these documents is given the password and knows that it is the only password that may be used. This includes your assistant, who may make any final changes to the document before converting it to PDF. It also includes the individuals responsible for posting these documents on your firm’s website. And it includes members of your marketing team who may send the documents to news and media sources. Everyone should know the password and should know to check the security of every document prior to releasing it the public.

Former Philly Politician, Vince Fumo, Seeks New Trial for Juror's Twitter Use

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 3, 2009In: Social Media in the Workplace

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Twitter in the courtroom has caused a lot of controversy. Former Pennsylvania legislator, Vince Fumo, is saying it caused more than that. He’s asked the judge who presided over his criminal trial, which ended in a multiple-count conviction, to overturn the jury’s findings based, in part, on a juror’s postings on Twitter and Facebook during the trial. Fumo requested a new trial, alleging juror bias based on their knowledge of information not in evidence but learned during the case through various media sources, reports Philly.com.

Vote for Your Favorite Leadership Blog

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 2, 2009In: Employee Engagement, Internet Resources

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What is the best leadership blog? The Remarkable Leadership Blog is set to answer that question.  It's narrowed it down to 10 of the "World's Best Leadership Blogs."  All 10 blogs are listed below but you'll want to go to the original list to cast your vote (and register to win some great prizes, too).

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Leading Blog by Michael McKinney


Great Leadership by Dan McCarthy


Seth Godin’s Blog by Seth Godin


Jon Gordon’s Blog by Jon Gordon


Leadership is a Verb by John Bishop


All Things Workplace by Steve Roesler


Work Matters by Bob Sutton


Leader Talk by Mountain State University


Next Level Blog by Scott Eblin


Leadership At Work by John Baldoni

 

And if 10 isn't enough to satisfy your need to read about leadership, you might want to check out our list of 100 of the Leading Blogs on Leadership.

Facebook Set to Overhaul Its Privacy Settings

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 2, 2009In: Social Media in the Workplace

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Privacy settings in Facebook have been the topic of several posts. Part of the problem has been that users have only one choice--you can accept a friend request. . . or not.  If your college roommate sends you a friend request, you are likely to accept it.  You've got nothing to hide, right?  But then you get a friend request from your boss. Or your former professor.  Or your mom.  It's likely that there just may be things on your Facebook page that should never be seen by any of these individuals.  Facebook is set to change this.  facebook logowithreflection

According to the NYT blog, Bits, Facebook plans to overhaul its privacy controls so that users can choose to share only parts of their profiles with designated "friends."  Like Twitter, Facebook's new privacy settings would allow users to share updates only with those they designate or with the public at large.  The settings themselves wouldn't change. But users will be able to apply different settings for different users. 

This will be a major improvement for users who want to separate their personal and professional lives and even subdivide different aspects of their personal lives.  Users can set up feeds for "family," "poker buddies," and "parents of Johnny's friends."  The pictures you post following Friday night's card game won't make its way to your brother-in-law or to your kid's friends' parents. And you can dish about the dress Aunt Moira wore to Suzie's wedding last month without losing credibility with your poker friends.

And, in the employment world, it means that you can post about how bored you are at work without worrying that your boss (whose Friend request you felt compelled to accept), will see it.

Although Facebook hasn't announced when its new privacy settings will be available for all users--currently the settings are being beta tested by 40,000 users.

If you're wondering what could be so bad about sharing all updates with all of your Facebook friends, you should take a look at these previous posts:

Job applicants required to submit Facebook passwords for background checks

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Delaware Employers Face a Rising Obesity Rate*

Posted by E-LawOn July 2, 2009In: Delaware Specific, Wellness, Health, and Safety, Women, Wellness, & Work-Life Balance

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Delaware has the 17th highest rate of adult obesity in the country, with more than one in four adults classified as obese, according to a new report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Employers bear many of the indirect costs of this obesity rate, including higher disability costs, more sick days, and increased workers’ compensation claims. The report indicated that Delaware’s obesity rate increased significantly in the past three years—a sign that current health and wellness policies aren’t cutting it.

So what can Delaware employers do? The study highlights three steps employers can take to promote healthier lifestyles: apple, red

· Provide workplace wellness programs and preventative care benefits

· Give employees a chance to take breaks for exercise during the work-day

· Offer coverage for wellness services such as nutrition counseling and weight management programs

Some companies have already rolled out in-house yoga classes, discounted gym memberships, and free massages for stress reduction. How those perks will weather the economic downturn is an open question. Other options? Employers can offer healthier food choices at company meetings and events, and improve selections at the office cafeteria.

F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America 2009, was released on July 1, 2009.  For a list of other blogs covering wellness and work-life balance, see our blogroll, including the 50 Best Blogs on Wellness, Women's Interests, and Work-Life Balance

*This guest post is by Summer Associate Christen Martosella. Christen will be entering her second year of law school at NYU in the Fall but, until then, she's busy making a great impression at YCS&T.  Thanks, Christen!

Delaware Employers: New Minimum Wage to $7.25

Posted by Maribeth L. MinellaOn July 1, 2009In: Delaware Specific, Wages and Benefits

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Delaware's hourly wage increase is effective July 24, 2009, and the new hourly wage $7.25/hour.  Additionally, the federal minimum wage is set to increase to $7.25 on July 24, 2009. 22 other states will also increase the minimum wage for employers subject to state wage and hour laws. The majority of these increases take effect on July 24, 2009, but three states (KY, IL, NV) raised their minimum wage effective July 1, 2009.   3-24-2009 8-41-02 PM

Employers-- make sure that starting July 24, 2009, you properly display a copy of Delaware's most current minimum-wage poster in a conspicuous location in your workplace.