Triplett Woolf Garretson, LLC recently secured a 1.3 million dollar judgment to recover squandered investment funds. Three sisters had invested more than $400,000 in a Nebraska ethanol plant pursuant to four separate promissory notes issued by the plant’s promoters. Their funds, however, were not invested in the ethanol venture but were commingled with personal funds in a corporate account used by the plant’s promoters. When the promoters told the sisters that their money was gone, they hired Triplett Woolf Garretson, LLC to investigate. Attorney Derek Casey sued the promoters and took the case to trial to secure the 1.3 million dollar verdict to recover the investment, interest, and attorney’s fees from the plant’s promoters.
Handbook Relief: NLRB Issues Helpful Guidance On Work Rules
Unless you are an HR professional, you may not have known how hard federal regulators had been making the drafting of legally compliant but reasonable employee handbooks. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is, according to its own web site, the “federal agency vested with the power to safeguard employees' rights to organize and to determine whether to have unions as their bargaining representative” and “acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions.” What many don’t know is that the NLRB has authority over essentially all private employers, not just those who have union employees.
In the recent past, the NLRB has taken very strong positions against employment policies that had long before been accepted as legal. Recently, following the change of administrations, the NLRB has backed off many of these positions. Earlier this summer, the NLRB’s General Counsel issued a memorandum in which he addressed a number of work rules that the Board had previously indicated were improper in some way. So, although you may not have even known there were problems with the following rules, the NLRB has now stated they are presumed lawful:
- Civility rules. Rules that prohibit rude behavior, disparaging the organization, or other such behavior are permissible.
- No-photography rules and no-recording rules. You can have rules prohibiting employees from taking videos or photos and recording conversations at work.
- Rules against insubordination, non-cooperation, or on-the-job conduct that adversely affects operations. On-the-job conduct that negatively affects business operations can be prohibited.
- Disruptive behavior rules. You can ban disorderly conduct or other bad work behavior.
- Rules protecting confidential, proprietary, and customer information or documents. Be aware that you still can’t prohibit employees from discussing employee organizing, work conditions, or wages.
- Rules against defamation or misrepresentation. This seems obvious.
- Rules against using employer logos or intellectual property. It’s important to protect the company’s intellectual property.
- Rules requiring authorization to speak for the company. It is appropriate to have a policy that only certain persons can speak for the company or that authorization must be obtained to speak for the company.
- Rules banning disloyalty, nepotism, or self-enrichment. Once again, seems obvious.
While you may think it self-evident that these work rules are appropriate, before the Counsel memo was issued, the NLRB had indicated they presented problems. The Counsel memo also identified polices that remain generally unlawful because they would prohibit or limit NLRA-protected conduct, and the adverse impact on the rights guaranteed by the NLRA outweighs any justifications associated with the rule. These rules include:
- Confidentiality rules specifically regarding wages, benefits, or working condition, such as "Employees are prohibited from discussing wages, salaries, commissions, or bonuses."
- Rules against joining outside organizations or voting on matters concerning the employer.
With regulations and interpretations constantly changing, it is always a good time to review your employee handbook for compliance and improvement. If you need help in drafting or finalizing an updated handbook, or if you have any employment related questions, contact your TWG attorney or Eric Metz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 316-630-8100.
This email is intended as an information source for the clients and friends of Triplett Woolf Garretson, LLC. Its content should not be construed as legal advice, and readers should not act upon information in its contents without professional counsel.
TWG Attorney Eric Metz was recently invited to speak at the annual meeting of the Kansas Chapter of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR Kansas) on the topic of “Harassment After #MeToo: Today’s Landscape”.
The meeting took place April 6th in Andover, Kansas and was hosted by the Kansas Chapter President Elect, Jennifer McCausland, Assistant City Administrator of Andover. The IPMA-HR Kansas chapter members are a group of HR professionals working in the public sector, primarily for cities and counties.
TWG Attorney and Member Amy Cline braced the cold again this year to raise money for the Salvation Army. Amy has served on the Wichita Salvation Army Homeless Services Advisory Council as a Board Member since 2008. Attorney Cline, pictured with her children Ethan and Olivia on a particularly cold day last December, also personally collected donations for the Salvation Army in front of the Cabela’s store this last year. For more information about how Amy came by her passion to help the homeless as a young lawyer in Wichita, see her feature story in the Wichita Bar Association January 2017 Bar-o-meter.
TWG Attorney/Member Jeff Dahlgren recently presented the proceeds from the Charity Golf Tournament held on September 26, 2016 for the benefit of the Carmelite Nuns Monastery. This year’s tournament, with over 70 participants, was held at the Willowbend Golf Club in Wichita and raised $12,660 for the benefit of the local monastery. Jeff has chaired this fundraising effort for four years. The monastery is located at 7445 North Woodlawn. Attorney Dahlgren, pictured with Jerry Cornejo, presented the proceeds to Mary DeGraffenreid, who accepted the check on behalf of the Friends of the Carmelite Nuns.
TWG attorney J.T. Klaus again donned his lederhosen to preside over Newman University’s Party on the Plaza-Oktoberfest as the emcee for a fourth year. More than 460 people attended Newman’s premier fundraiser for student scholarships. Newman University holds its annual fundraiser on Founders Plaza and raises more than $125,000 each year for student scholarships, with a new record for donations expected for this year. Since 2011, “Oktoberfest” has been the theme, and it continues to grow in popularity.
J.T. Klaus serves on the Newman University Board of Trustees and serves as Chair of the Trustee & Bylaws Committee.
Read more about the event and watch the video recap at http://news.newmanu.edu/party-plaza-2016-rewind
This year Triplett Woolf Garretson (TWG) is celebrating our 30th year as a Law Firm. In reflecting on our law practice, we felt our brand could be improved to reflect all TWG had become. We have grown both in size and practice areas and have embraced technology to make our firm more efficient. More significantly, we wanted our brand to represent our combined knowledge and the team effort that continually innovates solutions for our clients.
In developing the new look we explored many options, but kept coming back to the simple idea that it is the TWG people and experience coming together that really benefit our clients with forward thinking solutions. We hope you agree that our new, stronger identity is a proper reflection of our evolution.
As part of our new branding, TWG has launched a new website to make it easier for clients and potential clients to find an appropriate attorney for their specific needs, as well as gain a better understanding of TWG as a law firm.
Our site focuses on how clients want to engage online with TWG, either by attorney or practice area. In some cases, clients want additional information regarding a specific attorney. The new site makes it easier to find the information you need about an attorney faster and then make direct contact with that attorney. In other cases, our clients search practice areas looking for an attorney who has experience in their area of need. The new site has expanded the list of practice descriptions and incorporates more common search terms making it easier for clients to find exactly who and what they are looking for at TWG. Finally, we then “linked” it all together to make it easy to use, whether on your tablet, at your desk or on your smart phone.
The new TWG site also serves as a resource for clients, as TWG attorneys have a platform to communicate firm news and changing legislation that may impact you, your business or your community.twgfirm.com