Blog Archives

  • Lashly & Baer Ranked Best In Customer Service

    Congratulation to Lashly & Baer, P.C. for being ranked “Best In Customer Service” by the readers of St. Louis Small Business Monthly. The award will be featured in their February, 2017 issue. Click here to view the complete list of businesses recognized.

     

  • Lashly & Baer Hires Three New Associates

    Michael P. McGinley, Hannah M. Nelson and Emily M. Slaten have joined Lashly & Baer, P.C. as associates.  McGinley holds a J.D. from Saint Louis University School of Law and practices in the area of business litigation. He is a 1997 graduate of Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in English. Nelson holds a J.D. from Saint Louis University School of Law and practices in the area of health care.  She is a 2010 graduate of Saint Louis University, cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and minors in Spanish and Legal Studies. Slaten holds a J.D. from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and focuses her practice in the areas of governmental and public institutions law and education law.  She is a 2007 graduate of Saint Louis University, summa cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree in History and a certificate in Business Administration.

    CLICK HERE to download the press release.

  • EMPLOYERS BEWARE: The Federal Government Wants to “Friend” Your Employees

    The federal government is looking for ways to communicate with your employees. Why, to gain access to disgruntled employees to start regulatory investigations and audits?

    Many federal agency investigations and audits begin with a single disgruntled worker (or union) filing a complaint to the government, often after being terminated. Without the inside mole, i.e., the informant, it is difficult for a government agency to uncover employment law violations. To this end, federal agencies are expanding their outreach to employees, placing businesses at risk for more government investigations and audits.

    The United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) just published an “Employee Guide” on the Family and Medical Leave Act. In addition to explaining the requirements of the law, it instructs employees on how to file a complaint with the agency. The DOL hosted a webinar explaining the Guide and encouraged participants to publicize the Guide through social media outlets. Likewise, The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) is also adapting its methods to get its message to employees. Despite numerous legal challenges, the NLRB created an interactive webpage describing workers’ rights to engage in “protected concerted activity.”

    The NLRB and DOL both have Facebook pages with thousands of “likes.” The Commissioner of the EEOC, has a Twitter account with more than 1,600 followers; the NLRB has more than 3,700. The DOL has more than 43,400 followers. These numbers prove the agencies are succeeding in getting the attention of U.S. workers.

    Employers should not underestimate the savvy of the government in reaching their employees all in covert effort to initiate audits and investigations; and the end game, of course, is more financial penalties paid to Uncle Sam. Now is the time to look at your policies and practices, before your employees send the government in to do it for you!

  • EMPLOYERS BEWARE: More Government Scrutiny of Social Media Policies But With a Little Help on the Way.

    On May 30, 2012, Acting General Counsel to the NLRB, issued a report on social media. The report addresses seven recent cases. In 6 of the 7, it was determined that the employer’s social-media policy was, at least in part, in violation of the NLRA. But in one case, it was determined that the social-media policy complied with the NLRA. Employers who have worried about avoiding the scrutiny of the NLRB over social-media policies no longer need to worry. The NLRB provided a safe-harbor sample policy in its entirety. While substantially weaker than most employers’ policies the policy does nevertheless provide some useful guidelines to follow.

  • Rate-A-Judge Websites: Helpful or Not?

    Whether we like it or not, we are living in the age of technology. Many professionals turn to the Internet to conduct research on clients, co-workers, and even potential new hires. Internet research has become a way of life, and in this new age, you can go online and rate your doctor, plumber, roofer and now even your judge.

    Many of these “rate-a-judge” websites have comment boards where you can ask questions and people will respond with their thoughts and opinions. Many of the opinions posted are by lay people who have come face-to-face with the judge in a courtroom, and definitely have opinions to share. While these sites seem as if they may be helpful, the credibility of the comments is suspect. I’ve seen posts accusing a judge of “receiving money under the table” or favoring women in their rulings. It’s hard to know if the statements that are made are true, or the result of an emotional reaction.

    Some of these rating sites only allow ratings on a numerical scale without comment. Therefore, there is no way to know the types of cases the judge is receiving ratings on. It is also impossible to determine whether a judge is being rated by an attorney, a party, a juror, or a witness and whether the person performing the rating was on the side of the plaintiff or the defendant, or the winner or loser.

    If you’re truly interested in understanding a judge’s reputation or mindset, it’s probably best to do your research by looking for news coverage about his or her cases, reading the judge’s written opinions, most of which are available online, and discussing the judge with attorneys who regularly appear before the judge. On the other hand, if you want some entertaining reading, try the ratings websites (see examples below). It’s always interesting to see how people react to a court ruling.
    http://www.therobingroom.com/JudgeListing.aspx
    http://www.robeprobe.com/worst_judges.php

  • Jurors Selected in Michael Jackson Case Pass Facebook Scrutiny

    Facebook continues to play a role in the courtroom.  It’s a well-known fact that attorneys frequently cull social media sites for evidence that could strengthen a case, but now some are using these tools to screen potential jurors. 

    Attorneys on both sides of the trial of Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson’s doctor, Googled prospective jurors to see if they had blogged or posted any opinions on the case.  The lawyers checked jurors’ social media sites, hoping for access to posts that might give clues about their private thoughts, attitudes, and prejudices. 

    At what point does this type of research become overkill? How valuable is this information for attorneys?  As a litigator, obviously I’m happy to have as much background as possible on prospective jurors.  At the same time, obtaining this information during jury selection can be difficult logistically.  In the Michael Jackson case, attorneys spent several days on jury selection, not several hours.  However, depending on the jurisdiction, attorneys generally have only several hours total for the jury selection process and could have dozens of candidates to consider.  There’s simply not enough time to search for and review information from social media sites for every prospective juror. 

    Cost was apparently not an issue in a high-profile case such as Murray’s.  However, clients may not find the expense required for this extra research to be cost effective.  In addition, there’s no guarantee that doing the research is going to result in having the ideal slate of jurors.  Too many factors go into jury selection, and many of these are subtleties that cannot be viewed on a Facebook profile, but rather need to be observed in person, such as body language and tone of voice. 

    We suspect that social media will continue to be a factor in jury selection, but on a limited basis and most likely in high profile or high stakes cases.  In the meantime, we’ll continue to hone our skills of observation, drawing conclusions based on what can be seen in the real world, as well as the virtual one.

  • Social Networking – A friend or enemy for businesses?

    Social media is not a fad. It serves as a driver of the shift in our society to a life lived online. Companies are no longer questioning whether they should have a social media presence, but rather what type of presence would work best for their business.

    There’s an interesting dichotomy between the advantages of social media for driving a business, and the use of social media by employees and its detriment to a business and its reputation.

    So how can employers protect themselves and their business while utilizing social media for the myriad of advantages that it can offer?

    Having a written policy in place that realistically outlines the rules for social media in the workplace is critical. Because technology is evolving at an incredible rate, the policy must be consistent with changes in the marketplace and thus, reviewed regularly by a business’ legal counsel and updated on a frequent basis. As technology continues to race forward, the way in which people use technology will also change, compelling business to monitor their employees’ business use of social networks.

    It’s also worth noting that employees are only human, and in general, humans tend to do foolish things from time to time. For example, we’ve seen significant cases where school districts are facing difficulties with their staff members and inappropriate use of social media to interact with students. This is especially troubling for parents, as some instances have resulted in sexual impropriety verdicts. School districts have a difficult task on their hands as they determine how to write and manage school policies dealing with social networks.

    The benefits of social media for a business can be plenty, but employers should use caution and common sense to ensure that its purposes are clearly defined and focused.

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