Any business in the service industry feels a certain amount of pressure to hire the most attractive employees to represent their public “face.” While it might not seem fair to hire or reject people based on their attractiveness, it’s not generally illegal. Being a plain Jane or Joe is not federally protected. What makes appearance standards illegal is when they are based on protected characteristics, such as age, race, and gender.
Employers generally are not liable for employees’ injuries sustained during routine travel to and from their regular place of work. This so-called “going-and-coming rule” is commonly recognized by states in the Workers’ Comp arena. As with any rule, there are exceptions, particularly if an employer has control over or directs an employee’s going-and-coming mission. Employees will try novel arguments to claim the exception.
Some employers have retooled the traditional method of setting paid time off in separate categories by folding vacation, personal, or sick leave entitlements into one “bank.” These so-called paid time off (PTO) programs allow workers to use banked time without designating the reason for taking a day or multiple days off from work. PTO offers benefits for employers and employees alike, but there are some potential pitfalls if you are not careful.
Severance plan documents sometimes stipulate that employees who are fired “for cause” are disqualified from benefits. That places a burden on plan administrators to fairly review the facts before making a benefits determination. This includes checking out the employer’s policies, procedures, and enforcement. If an employer was lax in any of these areas, and benefits were denied, they may be called on the courtroom carpet for violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
The Department of Labor (DOL) issued final notice rules under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), which contain changes to notice requirements that have been slightly altered from the proposed rules.