Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Modern Workplace: 2016 in Review

Well, what a year 2016 has been! As the retrospectives start pouring in, we want to get ahead of the curve and look back on some of the workplace and employment law developments of 2016.

According to a recent Forbes article, innovations in the world of work this year have included Dutch desks that pull up to the ceiling at 5:30 pm, putting an exclamation point on the end of the workday, and desks in Greece that convert into beds for “power naps” or overnighters. We see the latter as especially rife with employment law risk. Overtime anyone? (Not to mention the potential for office romance gone awry …)

Another Forbes article summarized the findings of a PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey showing how modern workers are really feeling about their jobs right now. The news is a little grim, with a third of workers supposedly being unhappy with their jobs.

A 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll revealed that workers are primarily motivated by money. But the poll results also reveal that free food and open floor plans can increase employee engagement, or at least the amount of time spent at the office.

And the New York Times provided an illustrated guide to the 8 friends you make in the modern workplace. Keep an eye on “The Pharmacy,” HR.

From a legal perspective, we have planned and prepared for a major change in federal wage and hour law, only to have the new requirements suspended mere days before they were to go into effect. We have also prepared for changes to OSHA, which, at least for now, remain effective. There has been a big push for sick time ordinances, and we expect this push to continue and for new requirements to be passed in cities across the United States. The EEOC tried to help us out with clarifications to regulations affecting employee wellness, and has continued to focus on protecting LGBTQ individuals from discrimination in the workplace. A new federal trade secrets protection law was passed, and Scalia, a giant in the legal world, passed away. And in case you missed it, there was a major election, the results of which will influence the legal landscape for years to come.

As we look back on the year, we are thankful for our readers, our clients, and our friends. We wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season, and we look forward to another year of employment law adventures in 2017.

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