Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Make Employee Performance Appraisals Valuable to the Employee and Employer

Performance appraisals can blow morale and productivity. Employees get fearful.  Managers are fearful to deliver bad reports.  To reduce these negative effects and make appraisals more valuable to both employee and employer, appraisal contents should never be a surprise.

A performance appraisal may simply record manager and peer feedback that employees are receiving on a regular basis, rather than just a list of accomplishments and “measures to improve”.   Consider a review that collects feedback from peers, supervisors, subordinates, and even customers for multiple perspectives on an employee’s overall performance. 
All employees will be joined in the evaluation process.  An employee evaluated in this environment is more likely to both accept and act on employer appraisals.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Preparing to Hire an Invention Promoter

Many companies are out there looking to take advantage of your eagerness to bring your invention market.  If you are planning to use an invention promoter, you need to understand how to tell the difference between a legitimate invention promoter from a swindle. 

Legally, the firm must disclose specific information to you regarding their past business practices in a mandatory disclosure form before an invention promotion contract may be established between you and the firm.  To quote the law, “an invention promoter shall have a duty to disclose the following information to a customer in writing, prior to entering into a contract for invention promotion services: 

(1)  the total number of inventions evaluated by the invention promoter for commercial potential in the past 5 years, as well as the number of those inventions that received positive evaluations, and the number of those inventions that received negative  evaluations;

(2)  the total number of customers who have contracted with the invention promoter in the past 5 years, not including customers who have purchased trade show services, research, advertising, or other nonmarketing services from the invention promoter, or who have defaulted in their payment to the invention promoter;

(3)  the total number of customers known by the invention promoter to have received a net financial profit as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promoter;

(4)  the total number of customers known by the invention promoter to have received license agreements for their inventions as a direct result of the invention promotion services provided by such invention promoter; and

(5)  the names and addresses of all previous invention promotion companies with which the invention promoter or its officers have collectively or individually been affiliated in the previous 10 years."  

Research the reputation of invention promoters before making any commitments.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Be wary of any firm that promises too much and/or costs too much.  Ask for references from their current clients and research the firm’s reputation.

Adapted from “Eye on IP” - Sheldon Mak & Anderson, Vol. No. 2013, October 25, 2013,


Thursday, July 24, 2014

California Supreme Court Clarifies “Commissioned Inside Salespersons Exemption"

The California Supreme Court just ruled that an employer satisfies the minimum earnings requirement for the "commissioned inside salespersons exemption" only if the employer actually pays the required minimum earnings of 1.5 times the minimum wage during each pay period.  An employer may not allocate wages paid in one pay period to a prior pay period to cure a shortfall.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Important Job Application Procedures To Reduce Risk

Job applications and your interview notes should only hold job performance related information and should document only the valid relevant job performance reasons for selecting or rejecting applicants.

Require signed applications from all candidates to avoid future claims for primarily discrimination and other potential grounds, such as privacy and defamation.

Include the following in your job applications and have job applicants initial each:
  • State that either employee or employer may terminate employment at any time and for any reason, other than an illegal reason.
  • State that applicant’s signature is an authorization to check references.
  • State that applicant’s signature means that a drug test, if your policy requires same, will be required to be taken as a condition to hiring.
  • State that applicant’s signature means that an arbitration agreement, if your policy requires same, will be required to be signed as a condition to hiring.
  • State that applicant’s signature means that all of his or her information is true, and that any omission or false information will be grounds for rejection of the application or grounds for later termination if applicant is hired.

Internet Copyright Infringement Is Now More Clear

In American Broadcasting Cos., Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., the US Supreme Court ruled that Aereo's transmission of over-the-air broadcasts to its network of paid subscribers constituted a public performance of copyrighted works owned by ABC within the meaning of the Copyright Act’s “Transmit Clause” (17 U.S.C. § 101), thereby infringing ABC’s exclusive right to perform its copyrighted works publicly. 

This ruling infers that the transmission of any other copyrighted materials (articles, images, songs…) over the Internet to paid subscribers would constitute infringement of the copyright owner's rights.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Be Careful Firing Employees For Screaming At You

MY CAVEAT: In view of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling of June 26, 2014 (National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning et al., the following may be suspect as precedent for future decisions.
Note to small-business owners: Be very careful firing employees for screaming at you.

The invaluable Overlawyered blog alerts us to two recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board. The first involved a staff meeting at a car dealership in Yuma, Ariz., where a worker lost his cool and called his supervisors -- well, let's just say several variations of the f-bomb. He stood up, shoved his chair aside and told them they'd regret it if they fired him.

He was duly fired... but the NLRB found his termination "an unlawful violation of the employee's rights to engage in the protected concerted activity."

Meanwhile, a man trying to unionize four Starbucks in Manhattan told a manager to go, umm, have self-induced carnal knowledge. In front of customers, he said this. For which he was duly fired.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports the NLRB ordered Starbucks to offer him his old job "or a substantially equivalent position, compensate him for any loss of earnings and other benefits and remove from its files any references to the unlawful firing."

We can only imagine how awkward that first day back might be...

Dave Gonigam, The 5 Min. Forecast, Agora Financial, June 25, 2014


Thursday, January 9, 2014

One Less (NLRB) Poster!

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has abandoned its rule which required private sector employers to post an “Employee Rights under the National Labor Relations Act” notice, which turned out to be an 11"x17" poster informing employees of their general rights under the National Labor Relations Act.  This results from the NLRB's decision not to seek US Supreme Court review of two US Court of Appeals decisions which invalidated this NLRB notice posting rule putting an end to the poster requirement.