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Employment Law Blog

How Small Businesses Can Protect Themselves from Hackers

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Telework has exploded in the era of COVID-19, and many Americans will likely continue working from home long after the virus-related shutdowns have ended and businesses are reopened. With teleworking on the rise, now is the perfect time for employers to make sure they protect themselves from hackers who prey on small businesses that don't have the benefit of large cybersecurity budgets. Although small businesses might not have the time or resources to hire dedicated IT specialists, or provide their employees with cybersecurity training, there are still some easy steps they can take that will go a long way towards warding off hackers.

PPP Loan Forgiveness--A How-To Guide

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Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress established the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a $669 billion-dollar loan program designed to help small businesses continue to pay their employees. The most attractive feature of the program is up to 100% loan forgiveness-if borrowers used the funds for an approved purpose. Until recently, employers who got a PPP loan received little guidance regarding how to obtain loan forgiveness. On May 15th, the Small Business Administration issued the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application, as well as instructions, to answer borrowers' questions. Below is a summary of the Application and its instructions.

Interested In The WOTC? You Can Ask Applicants About Status

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is an opportunity to close skills gaps by hiring workers who are often overlooked: people with disabilities, those with criminal histories, veterans and the long-term unemployed. Employers can get a tax credit of between $1,200 and $9,600, depending, to offset the hiring costs of members of the targeted groups.

The WOTC is a win-win-win situation. Not only do employers get a tax credit, but a person gets a job who might otherwise not have. On top of that, the person may move off of public benefits programs, saving taxpayer money.

How Can Employers Protect Themselves Against COVID-19 Litigation?

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Now that Governor Larry Hogan has announced Stage One of Maryland's plan to re-open, employers can expect an increase in lawsuits from employees-particularly whistleblower and retaliation claims. The reason for this is two-fold: (1) some employees will be hesitant to come back to work and may put up a fight when asked to return; (2) with layoffs and unemployment at an all-time high since the Great Depression, some employees could threaten litigation to hold onto their jobs. This is especially true in highly-regulated industries like healthcare and consumer goods, in which whistleblower complaints are more common.

Fourth Circuit Upholds Strict Non-Compete-Style Agreement

Non-compete agreements keep employees from competing with the company for a period of time after their employment ends. Non-solicitation agreements can prohibit soliciting former co-workers or former clients on behalf of a new company for a specified period.

In general, these agreements (called "restrictive covenants") need to be drafted carefully because courts see them as restraints on trade. They can materially affect a former employee's job prospects for at least some period of time, and this can only be done with care. When determining whether such agreements are valid, courts typically consider factors such as:

Paid Leave for COVID-19 -- Is Your Small Business Exempt?

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The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires employers with fewer than 500 employers to provide paid emergency sick and family leave to their employees. However, if your small business cannot afford to provide paid leave, you might be eligible for the FFCRA's small business exemption.

Are All Computer Employees Exempt From Overtime Under The FLSA?

No. If you are an employee working in a computer-related occupation such as computer programming, systems analysis or software engineering, you may have been told you are not entitled to overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). That is not necessarily true.

The FLSA guarantees most employees in the U.S. pay of at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked, along with overtime pay of 1-1/2 times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked beyond 40 in a single workweek. If your employer and your employment relationship meet the threshold for FLSA coverage, you are generally covered by the law. That means you are entitled to the minimum wage and overtime rate unless there is a specific exemption in the law.

An Employer's Back-to-Work Guide

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Many employers wonder how they can ensure a smooth transition back to work once states allow businesses to reopen. Employers should develop their policies beforehand, and clearly communicate to employees that they will be safe in their workplaces. When employers let their employees know that their health, safety and wellbeing are a priority, they will likely be more comfortable, and productive, when they return.

When An Employee Asks For A Medical Or Religious Accommodation

Under federal law, employers are generally required to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities or religious requirements. But what should my company do when an employee asks for one?

Ideally, you have a process in place for identifying accommodation requests and responding to them. This process should encourage discussion with the employee about what is actually needed. This is because, while you are generally required to provide a reasonable accommodation, you are not necessarily required to provide the exact accommodation the employee asks for. You just need to find something that will meet their needs.

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