November 2009 Archives

Recent Employment-Discrimination Jury Verdicts

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 30, 2009In: Cases of Note

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Below are summaries of three recent employment-discrimination cases involving multi-million-dollar awards for the plaintiff-employee. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Marcus v. PQ Corp. $6.2 million

Two scientists were awarded a total of $6.2 million (not including attorney’s fees, motions for which are now pending), by a federal jury in Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs alleged that they were laid off due to their ages, instead of other, non-discriminatory criteria.

The total is so staggering for a few reasons. First, the plaintiffs were awarded approximately $667,000 and $190,000 in back pay. The layoffs occurred in 2005, so the plaintiffs were able to recover for back pay lost as a result of finding other work for less pay or for not finding work at all. These amounts were doubled because the jury found that the discrimination was willful.

The plaintiffs also received front pay damages in the amounts of $670,000 and $375,000, presumptively as compensation for the time they would have worked past the date of the verdict had they not been wrongfully discharged. Add to that amount emotional-distress damages of $1.5 and $2 million each to get to a total award of $6.2 million. (via Law.com)

Susel v. Dix & Eaton $1.03 million

The plaintiff alleged that she was fired at age 59 for complaining about age discrimination. She claimed that she went to the HR manager and reported her suspicions that she was being set up to be terminated because of her age. She filed suit after she was fired five months later. In all, she took 5 counts to an Ohio state-court jury, which ruled in her favor on only the retaliation claim, ordering the defendant to pay $1.03 million.

Blount v. Stroud $3.08 million (1.18 million fees)

The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed a verdict returned in favor of the plaintiff and awarding damages in the amount of $3.08 million, plus an award of attorney’s fees and costs in the amount of $1.18 million. The jury found that the plaintiff had witnessed racial discrimination and sexual harassment of another employee and had agreed to testify on the coworker’s behalf. The plaintiff claimed that she was terminated in retaliation for agreeing to testify.

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3 Reasons to Check the Court Rules Before Filing that Document

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 30, 2009In: Just for Fun

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Bad things can happen when you fail to proofread. For example, I previously wrote about surprisingly severe consequences that resulted from less-than-perfect legal filings. (See 3 Reasons to Proofread that Document One More Time). Little did I know how common these stories actually are. Apparently, the longing desire for better writing is a popular sentiment. Here are a few recent stories demonstrating the trend:

Double-Spacing Is for Suckers

Defense lawyers in the Blackwater case were put on notice that single-spaced documents just won’t cut it. Federal Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered the attorneys, who had filed a memo in single-spaced type, to comply with the court’s typeface rules, which require that submissions be double-spaced in Times Roman or Courier font. Judge Urbina may have been more generous than necessary when he described counsel’s submission as “an apparent attempt to include more information . . . than would otherwise be permitted.” At the risk of being dubbed a cynic, I think Judge Urbina’s conclusion may be unavoidable. What else could explain such a failure to comply with the most basic of formatting rules—line spacing—in court documents? (via the ABA Journal)

The Case of the Harmful Staple

A motion for default judgment was denied due to the “negligent stapling” of the motion papers. In his order denying the plaintiff’s motion, New York Supreme Court Justice Charles J. Markey wrote, “[T]he poor stapling of the papers was so negligent as to inflict, and did inflict repeatedly, physical injury to the court personnel handling them. . . . Such negligence on the part of counsel shows a lack of consideration.” (via Law.com)

An Obvious Absence of Simplicity

In Nazir v. United Airlines, the parties submitted a whopping total of 5,415 pages in support of their positions on a motion for summary judgment. That’s right—more than 5,000 pieces of paper were submitted on a single motion. The motion was filed by the defendant, who sought to have the race-discrimination case dismissed before trial. Although the trial court granted the motion, the decision was overturned by a California appellate court. The decision on appeal makes sense, after all, because the standard for summary judgment—that there be no material fact genuinely in dispute—seems unlikely at best. After all, if there were no material facts at issue, what were they writing about in their novel-length briefs? It was, the court said, "a record the likes of which we have never seen." (via Lowering The Bar)

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Larry Johnson: A Twitter Termination

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 23, 2009In: Social Media in the Workplace

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Employers are struggling to develop effective social-media policies. And for good reason--it can be hard to draft a policy that is intended to address issues that are unfamiliar and that arise from technology that many employers don't quite understand.  Which may explain why some employers have been making news headlines with their Facebook and Twitter policies. twitter-art

One of the reasons that employers implement (and should implement) social-media policies is to help mitigate the risk of liability.  When given an unrestricted forum in which to "express" oneself, people often write things that they shouldn't.  The anonymity of the Internet makes this risk all the more real because things we would never say to another person in conversation become much easier to "say" online. The fact that our online expression comes in the form of the written word further exacerbates the potential problem because what we write online is as permanent as permanent can be.

This "perfect storm" of potential liability came to fruition with the postings of NFL player, Larry Johnson, who, at the time, played for the K.C. Chiefs.  First, Johnson took on Chiefs Head Coach Haley, tweeting about what he perceived to be Haley's lack of credentials.  If there's one thing we should know by now about social media, it's that tweeting bad things about your boss is generally a bad idea.

But, for Johnson, it got worse.  One of his followers engaged Johnson in a series of tweets, heckling him about his comments. The heckler apparently was effective--getting Johnson so agitated that he tweeted back with a gay slur.  As a result, he was suspended and fined $213,000, the amount he would have been paid had he not been sidelined for his inappropriate conduct. 

Johnson was released from his contract with the Chiefs on November 9, making him one of the first professional athletes to be fired for his Twitter activity.  He was later picked up by the Bengals.

The big-picture lesson here is that employers must consider whether they need a social-media policy.  But the real take-away is this: if you have employees who are in the public eye (for whatever reason), they may need to be subject to stricter or at least more specific rules for their social-media activity.  The larger the audience, the greater the potential harm when an employee missteps and conducts himself in a way that does not reflect the organization's views or culture. 

Hat tip to Rob Radcliff, whose Texas blawg, Smooth Transitions, made my list of 2009 Top 100 employment law blogs.

Facebook Pictures Cause Insurer to Revoke Benefits for Depressed Woman

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

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Thanks to Facebook, a Canadian insurance company has revoked the disability benefits of a woman who had been out of work for more than a year and a half due to depression.  Former IBM employee Nathalie Blanchard, 29, claims that she called her insurance company when her monthly sick-leave checks stopped coming and was told that she was deemed as able to return to work based on what it had found on her Facebook page. 

The alleged smoking-gun evidence was Blanchard’s Facebook page, which Blanchard insists was set as private.  She admits, though, that she had posted photos of herself on holiday at the beach and at a Chippendale’s show.  But, she said, she had gone on trips to exotic destinations and partied it up at local bars only because of doctor’s orders.  Her doctor had advised her to take short getaways to sunny locales to escape her problems.

But, she said, those getaways were no more than band-aids on a far bigger problem. She’s still depressed, she claimed.  “In the moment, I’m happy, but before and after I have the same problems,” she said.  Which is why she’s so confused about why the insurance company has cut off her benefits. 

Follow me on Twitter at @MollyDiBi or read these related posts:

Employers Should Be Aware of the Results of Social-Media Survey
More than Half of Employees Can’t Access Facebook or Twitter at Work
What Employers Don’t Want to See When They Search Your Online Profile
Journalist Fired for Asking One Tough Question Too Many
Social Media Is Here to Stay: Time to Start that Workplace Policy
It Ain't Private If You Post It On the Internet
Employers Make Headlines With Facebook and Twitter Policies
New Statistics on Employers Using Social Media to Research Applicants
Jury Verdict Against Employer Who Accessed Employee's MySpace Page
Hopeful New Lawyers Will Be Subject to a Social-Media Review
Delaware's Indian River School District Bans Cell Phones

Even the Dictionary Recognizes the Power of Facebook

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 18, 2009In: Social Media in the Workplace

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"Unfriend," according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, is the word of the year. According to CNN.com:

"Unfriend" beat out a tech-heavy field that included "netbook," "hashtag" and "sexting" to take the annual honor.

"It has both currency and potential longevity," said Christine Lindberg, a language researcher for Oxford's U.S. dictionary program. "In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year."

Oxford defines "unfriend," a verb, thusly: "To remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as Facebook."

If this doesn't solidify the place of social media in modern culture, I don't know what would. It's just one more reason why employers are best advised to stop running and face the social-media-music. 

See also:

Social Media Is Here to Stay: Time to Start that Workplace Policy

Dec. 2 Audio Conference: Employee Caregivers Dealing With Dementia

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 18, 2009In: Seminars, Past

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Adria B.  Martinelli will be speaking about how to accommodate workers who are caregivers and the workplace issues that commonly arise with dementia.  The audio conference is 90 minutes and will cover:

  • Helpful ideas for accommodating an affected employee, including EEOC recommendations: reducing hours and responsibilities, having co-workers act as support, and more
  • Laws that come into play, and how to meet your obligations under ADA and FMLA
  • Sample HR policies that can reduce the burden for your caregiver employees
  • What savvy employers are doing to minimize the problem of distracted and absent employees with caregiving responsibilities
  • Signs or behavior that could indicate your employee has Alzheimer's or other dementia
  • Options for work duties you can legally provide employees with dementia
  • And more...

HR Hero is hosting the event and you can learn more or register at the HR Hero website.

Bad Workplace Idea #274: Bikini Fridays

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 18, 2009In: Just for Fun

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Careerbuilder has a new survey about some of the “most memorable requests” made by employees via the office suggestion box.  As you may guess, the requests were a bit, well, odd.  Here are a few samplers:

  • Allow people to change clothes in their cubicles
  • Put beer in the vending machine
  • Replace the employee’s desk with a futon so he could lay down and work
  • Institute “bikini Fridays”
  • Permit family medical leave for jail time

I’m certain that I’ve heard odder requests but I’ll save that story for another day.

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Dec. 16 Webinar: What HR Needs to Know About Twitter

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 17, 2009In: Seminars, Past

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If you're using Twitter to search for talented job candidates, you're not alone. The popular microblog received more than 23 million unique visitors just this September and more and more employers are utilizing it in their talent-acquisition efforts.

I'll be teaching a webinar on December 16 for HR Hero, where I'll focus on how Twitter can improve your organization's recruiting, branding, and engagement strategies, and how to avoid the legal issues associated with using microblogs in the workplace. twitter speech bubble

The seminar, called Recruiting in 140 Characters: Everything HR Needs to Know About Twitter, is 90 minutes and will be conducted via live webinar.  I'll show participants step-by-step instructions for setting up a Twitter account, so you can begin "tweeting" during this live event! You'll get live interactive guidance, so you can learn:

  • How to make a tweet compelling enough to attract the most desirable candidates
  • Techniques to get followers who will help spread your message and brand
  • How you can stay on the cutting edge in your industry by following the right people
  • How to find relevant content using hash tags and search functions
  • Twitter manners: the dos and don’ts of tweeting
  • How to locate passive job candidates online
  • Blogging techniques to build brand recognition the RIGHT way and how to make your organization the employer of choice
  • How to use Twitter to keep your all-star employees passionate and enthusiastic about their work
  • The legal mistakes often made when using Twitter at work, and how you can avoid them
  • Special tips and tricks to make sure your blog postings are relevant and how to make tweeting a breeze

Registration is available at the HR Hero website.  Hope to "see" you on December 16!

And, if you're in the Chicago area and want to learn more about social media for employers, check out the upcoming HR Social Media Summit, on December 2-4.  Dec. 2-4: Social Media & HR Summit (Chicago, IL)

Until then, you can follow me on Twitter at @MollyDiBi . . . .

Court Rules No Misconduct Where Juror Friends Plaintiff After Trial Ends

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 16, 2009In: Social Media in the Workplace

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Ah, Facebook in the courtroom. It's a relationship that appears to have a long and tumultuous future ahead.

In Wilgus v. F/V Sirius, Inc., (decision below), the jury returned a verdict for the defense and against the plaintiffs, who alleged personal-injury and wrongful-death claims.  Four days after the verdict was returned, the plaintiff's lawyer received an e-mail from one of the jurors, which stated:

[D]id you know your plaintiff[s] advocated the use of mushroom and week smoking, and binge drinking all over the internet? . . . It['s] really sad what happened but with all the work going into this don['t] you think you should have address[ed] this issue and known such things so they could clean up their acts before court? I'm just trying to help.[]  [If you want more info and insight [I] will help you.

The lawyer filed a notice of juror contact and filed a Motion to Conduct Post-Trial Voir Dire of the juror. The judge had explicitly told the jury "more than once" not to do Internet research about the case or the parties but the e-mail implied that the author may have done just that. 

During the judge's investigation, the judge determined that a post-verdict response to a juror questionnaire stated that one of the plaintiffs "was a party drug [illegible] animal" and that the handwriting on the response was similar to the handwriting on the pre-jury selection survey that the e-mailing juror had completed.

The jury foreperson did not recall any discussion of material from the Internet during deliberations. The foreperson did, however, remember that someone on the jury had wondered aloud whether the plaintiffs had Facebook pages but said that "nothing else came of that."  The judge asked the juror what information the juror had found on the Internet, to which he answered:

After the jury duty was over and the case was decided, I did the research that you said we couldn't do during the case.

He found the information about two of the plaintiffs on Facebook.  He gained access to those plaintiffs' Facebook pages by sending them friend requests, which the plaintiffs apparently accepted.  On their Facebook pages, the juror said that he found pictures that provoked the allegations in his e-mail. 

The juror insisted that he found the pictures "a day or two after . . . it was all over" and that he had not otherwise contacted or communicated with the plaintiffs. He denied that the information he'd learned online had ever been discussed during deliberations.

The court determined that there was no evidence to conclude that the juror discovered the Facebook pictures (or any other information from the Internet) during the trial or deliberations, and denied the plaintiffs' motion for a new trial, finding no evidence that juror misconduct actually occurred.

Wilgus v. FV Sirius, Inc. (D. Me. 2009) Order Denying Motion for New Trial Due to Juror Misconduct

For more on the relationship of social media and the courts, see:

Use Facebook, Get Arrested. Use Twitter, Get Fired.
In Case It's Not Obvious: Don't Text Witnesses During Trial
Michigan's Supreme Court Bans Jury Members from Mid-Trial Twitter Use
More Stories from the Facebook Frontier
Ethical Implications of "Friend-ing" a Witness on Facebook
Discoverability of Facebook Profiles
Searching MySpace and Facebook for Job Applicants and . . . Judges?
Employers Use MySpace for Hiring and, Now, Defending Discrimination Claims

Social Media & Hiring

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

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Our seminar today on social media for employers was great. Thanks to everyone who attended (live and online with apologies for the short interruption in audio to those online). As promised, the handout is posted below for downloading.  As is my standard, the handout is not a copy of my slides but, instead, is intended to be a reference for future use and deals with some to the resources and statistics that I touched on but did not go into great detail on. 

There are, though, some noteworthy statistics from the presentation that stood out, so I'll post them later today in a separate post.  Again, thanks for attending and I'm looking forward to hearing about all of the great ways that everyone puts social media to work for their organizations, so keep me posted!

Social Media for Employers: Presentation Handout

Should Employers Ban Employee Text Messaging?

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 11, 2009In: Policies, Social Media in the Workplace

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A reported 4.1 billion text messages are sent each day in the U.S., according to CITA, the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry. The popularity of text messaging or "texting" has seen explosive growth in the past few years.  But are employers really in touch with this tool and its potential legal risks? 

One employer has.  Alachua County, Florida, has banned County employees from sending text messages for County business.  The prohibition was announced after County official  became concerned that text messages constituted public records that are subject to a FOIA-type request.  FOIA laws require public entities to produce official records when a proper request is made.  SMS text marketing

Textual harassment has gotten quite a bit of press lately, and for good reason.  According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 46 states, including Delaware, currently have an electronic harassment or "cyberstalking" law. 

The Delaware law provides that a person is guilty of criminal harassment when, with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another, the person . . . communicates by telephone. . . or any other form of written or electronic communication in a manner which the person knows is likely to cause annoyance or alarm. 

When an employer learns of a possible hostile environment, it must comply with fairly strict rules relating to how and how quickly to respond.  Textual harassment adds another layer to the process because employers must determine whether any electronic evidence of harassment (or evidence that disproves harassment) exists on computers, laptops, and, now, cell phones.

Employer should consider whether their employees are using work (or personal) phones to send text messages about work during working time.  If so, you are obligated to take active steps to preserve these messages once you have reason to believe there may be potential litigation. If you're not in a position to do that, you may want to consider implementing a "no-texting" rule for all business-related correspondence.

Presentation Focuses on Recent ADA and FMLA Changes

Posted by William W. BowserOn November 11, 2009In: Seminars, Past

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I had the privilege of speaking on recent ADA and FMLA developments at breakfast seminar this morning. The event was presented by the Delaware Employer Council and held at Delaware Park’s beautiful facilities. Over 50 HR professionals attended.

This morning's topic included the regulations proposed last month by the EEOC as a result of the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act of 2008 (“ADAA”). I also talked about last weeks’ expansion of FMLA military leave by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 (“NDAA”). projection screen

Highlights of the presentation included:

· The vast expansion of the scope the ADA by lowering the standard for establishing whether an individual has a disability.

· The prohibition against considering the effect of medication or other mitigating measures in determining whether a person is disabled.

· The six rules of construction in determining whether a person is disabled under the ADA

· The ability of families of injured veterans to take FMLA “military caregiver” leave under the NDAA.

· The ability of families of active members of the Armed Forces to take “qualifying exigency” leave under the NDAA.

As promised, my materials are linked below.  ADA FMLA Update

Nov. 17: Audio Conference on Non-Compete Agreements

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 9, 2009In: Seminars, Past

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Maribeth L. Minella and Molly DiBianca will present an audio conference on non-compete agreements for Human Resource professionals on Tuesday, Nov. 17. The conference begins at 11 a.m. Eastern and will last for 90 minutes.  HR Hero is hosting the event and registration can be found on the HR Hero website.  Here's the agenda:

  • How to draft and implement legally solid noncompete, nonsolicitation, nondisclosure, and confidentiality agreements
  • The the typical restrictions built in noncompete agreements
  • How widely-varied state laws complicate the issue
  • When and how to use nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements and policy statements
  • Tactics you can implement NOW to prevent corporate raiding by former employees
  • How to handle applicants and new hires with pre-existing noncompete agreements. Are such employees off limits? How do employers know if an applicant or new hire comes with restrictions?
  • The latest court precedents relating to enforcement of noncompete agreements. How has the climate changed in light of the economic downturn?
  • The dangers awaiting unwary employers talking to potential employees who are under noncompete agreements
  • The employer’s options if an employee is under restrictions placed by a former employer

Non-compete agreements have become increasingly popular. If your organization is using them or is considering using them, this is an excellent way to ensure that you've got the key points covered for maximum enforceability.  We hope you can join us!

Will Cleaning Windows Improve Employees’ Morals?

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 9, 2009In: Just for Fun

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BYU researchers claim that improved morality can be linked to Windex. No kidding. Kate Liljenquist and her team tested individuals' reactions when introduced to a room that smells like Windex, the popular blue window cleaner. image

According to the results, participants in the room that smelled like Windex were significantly more interested in volunteering than those in the room without Windex.  

In another scenario, 22% of participants in the Windex room said they would like to donate money, compared to only 65 in the comparison room.

Based on this research, does it follow that employers seeking to guard against ethical improprieties should encourage staff to clean windows?  Likely not.

How Often Should Employees Check E-Mail After Hours?

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 6, 2009In: Women, Wellness, & Work-Life Balance

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If you’re an associate at the law firm Quinn Emanuel, the answer is “very, very often.”  According to legal tabloid, Above the Law, clients of the firm expect their attorneys to be on call 24/7.  Well, according to a memo written by a partner and circulated to associates, 24/7 may be “something of an exaggeration—but not much.”

In fact, the memo tells associates, they should check their e-mail while they’re in the office, as well as during off-duty time.  Specifically, unless there is a “good reason not to,” which the memo defines as “when you are asleep, in court, or in a tunnel,” associates are expected to check their e-mails once an hour. 

How would your employees respond to a directive like this? How would such an instruction affect morale, not too mention productivity.  This means that, when out to dinner, associates would have to check their Blackberries twice, maybe more, during the meal.  How romantic.

3 Reasons to Proofread that Document One More Time

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 6, 2009In: Just for Fun, Resources

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I host a bi-monthly “lunch and learn” for the staff in my department; attendance is voluntary.  In advance of the meeting, attendees suggest and vote on the session’s topic.  Topics range from software-specific, like Adobe Acrobat or PowerPoint, to soft skills, such as time management, and just about anything else they find relevant and productive. At the most recent session, we had a mixed bag of topics but ended with a quick review of some grammar and usage “troubleshooting tips.”

This particular topic was at my suggestion and was urged not by anything I’d been seeing in their writing but more by the stories circulating the legal blogs over the last few weeks. Let me say that these stories are almost hard to believe, not because I have a hard time imagining legal writing that is just plain bad—trust me, that’s the easy part.  But I do have a hard time imagining the court that actually responds in the ways described in these stories. 

Part of me loves the idea of a court that takes legal citations very seriously and part of me cringes.  I mean, everyone makes mistakes.  I am hopeful that I don’t make the “mistakes” that the lawyers in the stories below made.  But everybody has bad days, right?

In any event, here are a few stories that scare me enough to review Garner’s The Redbook: A Manual of Legal Style, by Bryan A. Garner one more time before I file that brief.

 

#1:  Bad Writing Can Cause Public Humiliation

Although public humiliation may seem like the least terrifying of the three reasons listed here, it also seems like the worst.  It’s the most likely to happen; after all, what are the chances that your writing is going to get you tossed into jail?  It’s a bit difficult to imagine (thankfully).

But having a judge be so irritated by grammatical and typographical errors that he red pens the document and publishes it on the official court docket for all the world to see is much closer to reality, making it all the more horrifying.  A federal judge in Florida, apparently, was just that irritated over errors in an attorney’s brief.  The errors ranged from “excess spacing” to typos to incorrect capitalization to word choice.  Here’s one example, cited by the ABA Journal: “[the plaintiff] had attended on filing” this action, instead of saying the plaintiff had “intended” to file an action

 

#2:  Bad Writing Can Lead to Monetary Fine

The ABA Journal brings us a great story about a Wisconsin lawyer who was fined $100 for submitting a brief that contained an incorrect citation, which led the court on a wild goose chase to hunt down the case that should have been cited.  I’ll confess, this strikes me as nothing more than justice at work.  Erroneous case citations are enough to drive even the most even-tempered to the edge.

 

#3:  Bad Writing Can Result in Jail Time

Carl Smith, an attorney is Missouri was charged with criminal contempt and sentenced to 120 days in jail for language used in court filings.  In his papers, Smith said that certain events indicated a “personal interest, bias, and purported criminal conduct” by and between the judge, the prosecutor, and other court officials. The ACLU is one of several organizations that came to Smith’s defense, claiming that the punishment of an attorney based on his legal filings would have a chilling effect on free speech in the justice system. 

If these stories motivate you to polish up your writing skills, you can get a great start by checking out our post on the 10 Funniest Writing Blogs, 20 Online Dictionaries, and Top 30 Blogs on Writing.

Top 100 Employment Law Blogs . . . plus 10

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 4, 2009In: Resources

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The Top 100 Employment Law Blogs is back and updated for 2009. Ok, so it’s the Top 110 this year. There were just too many great blogs that 100 wouldn’t do the trick. The list, of course, is totally subjective and based only on my personal opinion. One criteria that I did use this year, though, was a most-recent-post criteria. Blogs that hadn’t posted more recently than September weren’t eligible for the list. If you write a blog that addresses with employment-law issues and I’ve missed it, please let us know by posting a comment.

Adjunct Law Prof.

Affirmative Action Blog Spot

Aging Workforce News

Alabama Employment Law Report

Alabama HR Law

Alaska Employment Law

Arkansas Employment Law

Atlanta Employment Lawyer Blog

Boston Employment Lawyer

California Employer Bulletin

California Employment Law Report

California Workforce Resource Blog

Canadian Privacy Law Blog

Charles A. Krugel

Colorado Employment Law Blog

Colorado Non-Compete Law Blog

Connecticut Employment Law Blog

Constitutional Law Prof Blog

Current Employment

Defending the Digital Workplace

Doorey's Workplace Law Blog (Canada)

Drew Capuder's Employment Law Blog (W.Va.)

Diversity Insight

Daily Developments in EEO Law by Paul Mollica

EBG Trade Secrets & Noncompete Blog

ELI, Inc. Insights Blog

Employee Free Choice Act

Employee Handbooks

Employer Law Report (Porter Wright)

Employers Law Blog (Day Pitney)

Employment Law Bits (Bacon Wilson)

Employment Law Matters (Ogeltree Deakins)

Employment Law Watch (Reed Smith)

Employment Advisory

Employment Lawyer Blog (Joseph Herzeld)

Executive Counsel Blog

Fair Labor Standards Act Law

Fair Labor Standards Act (Beasley Allen)

Federal Sector FMLA Blog

First Amendment Law Prof Blog

Florida Employment Law Blog (Mark Addington)

Florida Employment & Immigration Law Blog

FMLA Law blog

George's Employment Blawg

Gruntled Employees

HR Bits

HR Briefcase

HR Counsel blog

HR Lawyer's Blog

HR Legal News

Human Rights in the Workplace (Canada)

Immigration Law for Employers

Iowa Employment Law Blog

Jottings By An Employment Lawyer

Juz the Fax

Labor & Employment Law Blog (Sheppard Mullin)

Labor Law Center

Lawffice Space

LawMemo Employment Law

Legal Developments in Non-Compete Agreements

Lisa Law View

Manpower Employment Law Blog

Maryland Employment Law

Maryland Employment Law Developments

Miami Employment Lawyer Blog

My Disability Blog

New Jersey Employment Law

New York Employment Lawyer Blog

Northern Exposure (CA)

New York Public Personnel Law

OFCCP Blog Spot

Ohio Employer's Law Blog

Overtime Law Blog

Pennsylvania Labor & Employment Law Blog

Privacy & Information Security Law Blog

Privacy Law Blog

Public Sector Law Blog

San Antonio Employment Law Blog

Storm's California Employment Law

Strategic HR Lawyer

Suits in the Workplace

Tennessee Employment Lawyer Blog

Texas Employment Law Update

Texas HR Law Update

Texas Non-Compete Law Blog

The FMLA Blog

The Laconic Law Blog

The Legal Intelligencer

The Word on Employment Law Blog

Thoughts from a Management Lawyer (CA)

Toronto Employment Law Blog

Trade Secret / Noncompete Blog (Foley Lardner)

Transgender Workplace Diversity

Trading Secrets

Virginia Non-Compete Law Blog

Wage & Hour Counsel

Wage & Hour Development & Highlights

Wage & Hour Defense Blog

Wage & Hour Law Update

Wage Law

Wait a Second! (2d Cir. Civil Rights)

Washington DC Employment Law Update

What's New in Employment Law

Womble Carlyle Non-Compete & Restrictive Covenants Blog

Work Matters

Workplace Privacy Counsel

Workplace Prof Blog

World of Work

Wyatt Employment Law Report

[Updated Nov. 13] Alterted by their comments and duly impressed with their sites, I'm going to add two more to the list--really, what difference will 2 more make, we've already got 110.

Social Networking Law Blog

Overtime Advisor

Service Animals That Provide Psychiatric Service

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn November 3, 2009In: Disabilities (ADA)

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Last week, I posted twice on the recent controversy surrounding service animals. (See Table for Two, Please--Me and My Seeing-Eye Horse; Quit Monkeying Around: Court Rules Monkey Is Not a Service Animal).    Apparently, I'm not the only one who finds the issue interesting. Over the weekend, the New York Times' Week In Review feature included a piece on the same topic.  In Good Dog, Smart Dog, Sarah Kershaw writes about service animals that provide "psychiatric service." Certainly, the animals discussed in Kershaw's article appear to provide far more meaningful services than those discussedimage in some of the news pieces I cited last week.  

Although it is not clear how these animals are able to do it, they are said to have certain cognitive powers that enable them to detect the onset of conditions, such as seizures, minutes before they begin. The abilities of these animals is tremendous, to say the least.  It appears that they have the ability to save the lives of their owners in remarkably astonishing ways.  Take, as an example, the labradoodle who has been trained to:

anticipate seizures, panic attacks and plunging blood sugar and will alert his owner to these things by staring intently at her until she does something about the problem. He will drop a toy in her lap to snap her out of a dissociative state. If she has a seizure, he will position himself so that his body is under her head to cushion a fall.

The piece is timely and fascinating.  It is well written and insightful and provides an entirely unexpected perspective of an already complex issue.