Are you looking for something new to end the year with?

Then I have two quick links to share with you this morning.

First, on December 7 from noon to 1 pm (ET, of course), I, along with Eric Meyer (The Employer Handbook Blog), Jeff Nowak (FMLA Insights), Jon Hyman (Ohio Employer’s Law Blog), Robin Shea (Employment & Labor Insider), and our fearless moderator, Suzanne Lucas (Evil HR Lady) will present The 2017 Employment Law Year in Review.

The event is free, but space is limited. Register now for our one-hour recap of all the big employment-law and HR-compliance news of 2017, along with some practical tips to help you prepare your workplace for 2018.

Click here to register:

Second, I’ve gotten an early listen to a brand-new podcast, entitled “Hostile Work Environment.” Set up by two employment lawyers who have a great sense of humor and a terrific ability to tell a story, the podcast shares various cases with facts that are too fantastic to make up.

You can download it at all the usual podcast locations. Worth a listen if you’re an HR type or employment lawyer.

Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Over the weekend, I was doing a lot of driving.  Having a kid at camp near the New Hampshire border to pick him up will do that.

So, it was time for me to catch up on some podcasts I had downloaded but hadn’t yet listened to.

I had already finished S-Town (worthy of a listen) but one of the others that I had been meaning to catch up on was Malcolm Gladwell’s “Revisionist History”.

In these episodes, he revisits an item from history that is often overlooked.

The first two episodes I picked were the most recent ones (State v. Johnson, and Mr. Holloway Didn’t Like That) and were based, in part, on interviews with legendary attorney Vernon Jordan and concerned legal cases from the Civil Rights Era.  Start there.

But the other one I listened too was from earlier in the season, called “Miss Buchanan’s Period of Adjustment”.

It too is riveting.

It tackles the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education (the legendary school desegregation case) but from the perspective of the teachers who worked at the “colored-only” schools and who were subsequently laid off — allegedly for “performance” related reasons.

Even as a history major in college, I don’t remember hearing about this — how thousands upon thousands of black teachers lost their jobs when the schools that they taught at were closed. Different reasons were given — sometimes it was deemed to be too “difficult” for white students to be taught by black teachers.

But the effect was the same — a generation of teachers were lost to history.

That could be the end of a discrimination story, but Gladwell notes that the impact of this decision isn’t just that these teachers lost their jobs.

But rather, black students lost the opportunity to be taught by black teachers. And empirical research has shown that for black students, having a black teacher can be pivotal in reducing drop-out rates and ensuring students’ success.

The impact of these decisions still resonates today.

Gladwell highlights a study from just last year that looked for explanations about the under-representation of students of color in gifted programs.  Their conclusion?

Even after conditioning on test scores and other factors, Black students indeed are referred to gifted programs, particularly in reading, at significantly lower rates when taught by non-Black teachers, a concerning result given the relatively low incidence of assignment to own-race teachers among Black students.

For schools that employ teachers (including many of our clients), the podcast is a good reminder that the employment decisions that are made have a big impact beyond just the teachers themselves. Students lives and their successes and failures depend, in part, on the teachers that they have in life.

For other employers, listening to this podcast is a reminder that our laws governing the workplace are not all that old. Our current laws are a reflection on what occurred in the recent past. Indeed, the major federal law — Title VII — wasn’t passed until 1964 — nearly a decade removed from the Brown decision.

We’ve made a lot of progress, thankfully, since then. But ensuring fairness and eliminating race discrimination are still items that should remain high up in a company’s “must-do” list.

If you’re looking for something different to listen to, give the podcast a listen.  Gladwell may have his own agenda, but it’s thoughtful and entertaining.  And it’s a good reminder that compliance with employment laws is about more than just doing the right thing.

Got lunch plans?

If so, break them. Because today, I’ll be appearing on the popular (and some would argue best) HR podcast/radio show, “Drive Thru HR.”

One of my favorite other employment law bloggers, Jon Hyman, was on the show a few weeks ago and talked about how social media password laws were being debated (and were totally unnecessary) — a fact I had also talked about in a post back in February

He also talked about sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws and employee handbooks, for example. 

What are we going to talk about today? We’ll see.  The show always asks its guests what is keeping them up at night and let’s the conversation flow from there. 

So, listen in and follow the conversation on Twitter at #dthr. 

And if you miss it, you can just listen the recorded conversation here.

With summer fast approaching, summer internships will start picking up their pace as well.

Fortunately, there are a lot of great resources for employers to learn about how to do internships without violate the law.  I’ll be discussing the legal side of internships on The Proactive Employer podcast that will be broadcast live this Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.

Tweet your questions using the hashtag #TPE or call in at 1-866-472-5790 to talk. The show will be available for on-demand listening at The Proactive Employer website, on the VoiceAmerica Business Channel and via iTunes following the broadcast.   For more information, check out Stephanie Thomas’ blog post here. 

I’ve written about the subject in a prior post last month here.

A few odds and ends to start the day:

  • Last Friday, I appeared on the 100th installment of The Proactive Employer podcast— a podcast devoted to covering various employment law developments.  The podcast is hosted by Stephanie Thomas, who covers statistical and economic consulting for employers in he
    It's "Hot" in Hartford

    r “real life”.  Along with fellow interviewees Jon Hyman and Philip Miles, I talked about the hot topics in employment law and laid out some predictions for employers to think about over the next year.  Be sure to take a listen to this informative podcast here.

  • I know there are numerous paralegals that are loyal readers to this blog.  To that end, I’ll be speaking to the Central Connecticut Paralegal Association on February 16th at The Hartford Club.  I’ll be covering new employment laws for 2012.  Be sure to sign up and attend.
  • I’ll also be speaking to the Staffing Management Association on March 14th at Dakota’s in Rocky Hill.  SMA is a special interest chapter of SHRM.  (You can learn more on their website.)  I’ll be discussing the impact of social media in the hiring process and in the workplace.  Be sure to sign up on their website soon and save the date.
  • And for something completely different: last week, the respected Sad City Hartford blog released its “Hot in Hartford 2012” nominations list.   The list features such luminaries as Mayor Pedro Segarra, WNPR Host Colin McEnroe and even The Russian Lady.  Oh, and me.   The blog, in nominating me, states: “Mr. Schwartz is not only a very successful Hartford lawyer, but also a popular blogger as well. Hard to believe anyone could do both of those things.”  I would’ve added, “hard to believe anyone would get excited about an employment law blogger” too, but my sincere thanks for the inclusion.


Been a busy week so there’s time only for a few things to some recent and upcoming publications, podcasts and radio shows that I’m involved with.  My thanks to the respective producers or reporters for the opportunity.

As I mentioned on Monday, I was fortunate to be invited back to appear on the "Where We Live", a Connecticut Public Radio staple that talks about local issues in ways you never thought you’d hear on the radio.  (Echoes of Sally Field’s speech of "You Like Me" keep running through my head.) 

For nearly a full hour, we talked about all things employment law related. Given the phone calls coming in, we probably could’ve done a few more hours too.  You can listen to the broadcast here, or download it to listen later.  My thanks to host John Dankosky and his producer, Libby Conn for the invitation and their hospitality.

Several people yesterday asked me about the experience and I thought I’d share some random observations about it and about some of the issues we discussed on air.

  • First, you should know if you ever visit the Connecticut Public Radio studios, there are free copies of "Barney" on VHS that they give away in the holding room downstairs. Not exactly, the same — I suspect — as the green rooms for say, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart".
  • The studio where it is broadcast is actually quite small. A few microphones around a table and a computer for the host are all that the room can fit.
  • The room itself is an exercise in sensory deprivation; the walls are soundproofed. So without an echo, something seems off when you sit in the room. (Colin McEnroe’s new show is also broadcast from that studio.) 
  • On a more serious note, we had several callers talk about how to deal with illnesses in the workplace.  As I pointed out, there may be laws to protect the employee (such as FMLA or the ADA) but there’s still the other side to this — how to discuss (if at all) the illness in the workplace.  Each situation unfortunately will be different; some workplaces may be more understanding and sympathetic than others. Ultimately, consulting with a capable attorney to understand workplace rights (and, for employers, workplace obligations) may be the best approach.
  • Unfortunately, we couldn’t address some of the specific questions raised because of ethical rules but as I said, there are a number of free resources available for employers and employees to learn more about the topics. These can be found, for instance, at the Department of Labor website.  
  • Because of the numbers of calls, we didn’t have a chance to talk more about social networking’s implications in the workplace.  Ultimately, the question for employers to consider is what level of trust can you and should you place in your employees.  The answer to that question will vary from employer to employer.
  • One of the other topics that we had planned if time permitted was the fact that there are strict time period for employees to file claims against employers (and that employers can take advantage of if they are not followed).  However, I think we were enjoying getting the calls.
  • And lastly, John Dankosky really is as nice as he seems over the air. We had a pleasant chat afterwards about various employment law topics and felt as though we could’ve spent an hour more.  Certainly, our local airwaves are fortunate to have someone who has a natural curiosity about the way things work and loves to share it with his listeners.

Be sure to check out the show if you get a chance. You may end up learning a few things as well.