Kansas News & Analysis

  • EEOC background check guidelines shot down by federal appeals court

    One of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) top priorities has been to stop employers from instituting blanket bans on hiring individuals with criminal records. The agency's focus stems from national data suggesting such bans have a disparate impact on minorities. On a somewhat long and winding road, its battle against criminal background checks led to a showdown with the state of Texas and a surprising decision by a federal appeals court.

  • Be careful what you say about terminated employees

    Employers often must decide how to respond when asked about former employees. Questions about employees who have been fired can be particularly troublesome for public-sector employers, which, unlike private-sector employers, are subject to constitutional claims. A recent decision by the 8th Circuit (whose rulings apply to employers in Arkansas and Missouri) is a good example for all employers about why you should remain circumspect when discussing former employees.

  • What you say? Headphones, earbuds, and OSHA standards

    Whether used for air travel, at sporting events, or during workouts at the gym, the popularity of headphones and earbuds has spread rapidly. But are they appropriate for the workplace? Prompted by an employer's questions, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has addressed headphone use by employees while on the job.

  • Surprise! Diagnosis doesn't always equal disability

    If an employee discloses a medical condition or diagnosis, you should assume she is disabled, right? Wrong. Although a condition or diagnosis could constitute a disability under state law, a new Missouri Court of Appeals decision shows a fact-specific inquiry is required to determine whether the condition substantially limits a major life activity. Read on to learn how Missouri's courts analyze the issue.

  • Risk of a future disability not always an ADA claim

    Suppose you have an applicant or employee who is currently healthy, but you are concerned she may develop an impairment or condition in the future. Can you make any decisions based on your concern without violating disability discrimination laws? Two cases—one in Illinois and another in Oklahoma—suggest that may be permissible in rare circumstances.

  • Good faith is good enough when it comes to investigating harassment complaints

    When it comes to investigating harassment complaints, employers often feel damned if they do and damned if they don't. If the accuser's claim can't be confirmed, she might sue, and if her complaint is vindicated, the perpetrator might sue. A recent case from the 8th Circuit indicates that an employer's good-faith intentions in conducting the investigation may be good enough.

  • Eye in the sky: What to know about OSHA's use of drones during inspections

    In May 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a memorandum permitting the use of drones to inspect workplaces under certain circumstances. Since that time, OSHA has used unmanned aircraft systems (UASs or drones) in a number of investigations, and their use is expected to become more common in the future.

  • Coping with loss in the workplace requires more than just implementing a policy

    Perhaps no other subject in the workplace requires more sensitive treatment than the death of an employee. Bonds among people who work together every day can be strong, and coworkers can be left reeling from the loss of one of their own.

  • Hiring challenges persist despite effective recruiting and smart candidates

    Employers are getting used to dealing with an almost constant talent search. The postrecession economic growth over the past decade has spurred employers to create more jobs, and while that would seem to be good news, the challenge of filling those jobs is often daunting.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Political talk disruptive? 'Guardrails' can help. The Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM) Politics at Work survey, released in November, reveals that 42% of respondents have personally experienced political disagreements at work, and 34% say their workplace isn't inclusive of differing political perspectives. What should you do about such disruptions? SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. says companies shouldn't try to quash political conversations. "But what they can do is create inclusive cultures of civility where difference isn't a disruption," he says.