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Alexander Hamilton Institute

With the Presidential election about a month away, political passions are running high — and running all the way into the workplace. As the debate over who is best suited to become our next President reaches fever pitch, it’s imperative you draw the line between healthy discourse and disruptive disagreements.

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Today’s business travelers have an extra concern when flying internationally: the possibility of having their laptop computers or other electronic devices searched and seized as they re-enter the U.S. What does this mean for employers? A potential data breach nightmare.

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In your capacity as a Human Resources professional, you must be careful of everything you say and write.  Opinions uttered or printed in personal correspondence can be misconstrued as official business if your title or the company’s name is associated with them.  E-mails can be especially troublesome because a message that is sent to one person can be forwarded to a much larger audience in an instant.

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It’s no secret that most employees don’t have a clue about how to invest their 401(k) contributions. The 2006 Pension Protection Act (PPA) allows plan sponsors to hire outside investment advisors to provide one-on-one advice to plan participants and beneficiaries. Proposed regulations, which implement this PPA provision, won’t become effective until 60 days after final regs are issued. However, plan sponsors who will be interacting with outside advisors should familiarize themselves with the regs’ main provisions now.

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It’s natural to want to keep tabs on what employees are doing and saying over employer-provided equipment. But employers had better think twice before monitoring any electronic message content that’s stored and transmitted by an outside provider.

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Contrary to what employees may think, you’re not a mind reader.  If you are unaware that an employee has a disability and they haven’t requested an accommodation, you are under no obligation to offer one.  However, if the disability is obvious, the duty to accommodate might be yours, even if the employee hasn’t asked for an accommodation.

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Meacham, et al. v. Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (No. 06-1505, 2008) demands that employers take special care to ensure that their layoff decisions are based on a reasonable factor other than age. The decision could have a “profound impact” on employers defending disparate impact claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), noted Richard L. Sloane, a management attorney with Littler Mendelson in Washington, DC . “Of course, only time will tell precisely how significant this impact will be. However, it’s clear that Meacham raises the bar on employers.”

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Riddle me this: What’s something everyone does and is impossible to stop? The answer: Gossip! Just because there is nothing you can do to completely eliminate it from your workplace, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do a thing about it. On the contrary, you and your managers can and should take steps to eliminate harmful rumors and gossip from circulating in your workplace.

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The loss or theft of personal data, such as Social Security numbers (SSNs), reached an all-time high last year, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. In 2007, more than 79 million records were reported compromised in the United States. That’s a nearly fourfold increase from the nearly 20 million records reported in 2006.

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When educating management on avoiding Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) claims, it is important to cover how employees who are not pregnant may be protected by the Act. For example, two recent circuit courts have held that the PDA protects those who have an abortion and those who seek fertility treatments.

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