Over the past week, I have had the opportunity to read several very interesting articles. The first two deal with social media, and the third deals with social media, perfume and the ADA.
Last week, Roy Williams with the Birmingham News published a story about wasted time in the workplace entitled "Chit-chat Wastes More Time Than Social Media". A workplace study performed by TrackVia found that "computer glitches and water cooler chit-chat are the biggest causes of distraction in the office." 14% of the workers surveyed said chatting with co-workers was the biggest waste of time, followed by 11% who said dealing with computer software problems was the biggest waste of time. Less than 5% claimed social media was their biggest waste of time. The TrackVia study found that 15% of employees spent 2-3 hours a week addressing miscommunications with co-workers, while 7% said they spend 3 or more hours doing this. 17% reported spending 1-2 hours a week dealing with office politics, while 7% said they spent 3-5 hours a week on office politics. Another 7% said they spent 6 or more hours a week on office politics. Among those who attend meetings, 37% felt half their time in meetings was wasted. Mr. Williams talked to Samford Professor Cynthia Lohrke, who noted that TrackVia's study "wasn't an unbiased survey" since TrackVia makes cloud based application platforms for businesses and would promote the use of social networking.
Sarah Wenger with Open-Site.org recently published an infographic on her web site concerning the power of social media. Entitled "Power to the Online People", she gives some interesting statistics and observations about the size, power and timeliness of social media in today's world.
Practice pointer. Social media continues to play a large role in the workplace. The proper use of SM can be a great benefit to any employer. Likewise, the improper use of SM can cause a great many problems.
Excessive Perfume Leads to ADA Lawsuit. Pamela Core suffers from severe asthma and a severe chemical sensitivity to certain perfumes and scented products. In 2008, while employed by the Illinois' Champaign County Department of Job and Family Services, a co-worker came to work wearing Japanese Cherry Blossom perfume, which caused a severe allergic reaction. She complained to her bosses to no avail, and she had to have emergency medical treatment as a result of her exposure to Japanese Cherry Blossom perfume. Upon her return from medical leave, a number of her co-workers made fun of her chemical sensitivity on Facebook. Two of the co-workers specifically wore Japanese Cherry Blossom perfume to work. After her bosses receivied information from her medical provider, an email was sent to her co-workers requesting that they only communicate with Core via phone or email. Her condition got worse, and she was forced to take medical leave. Pursuant to the ADA, Core asked to work from home as a reasonable accommodation. This request was refused, but they did ask employees not to wear the Japanese Cherry Blossom perfume. Core asked that there be a ban on all scented products in the workplace, but this request was also denied. Core sued under the ADA alleging that the Department of Job and Family Services failed to accommodate her disability. The Court refused to dismiss the case, finding that the request for a fragrance-free workplace was not unreasonable. Part of the Court's logic was the failure to reprimand the employees who intentionally wore the perfume.
Practice Pointer. This is a good case showing how SM, Facebook, can be a part of, or even result in a lawsuit being filed. All employers who are subject to the ADA have an obligation to reasonably accommodate a person's disability: this may include working from home or even providing a fragrance-free workplace.