With hurricane season upon us, employers are justifiably concerned about the potential impact of a natural disaster on their business. A hurricane, natural disaster, or any other crisis in the workplace can bring a business to a screeching halt and devastate the lives of a business’s most valuable asset, its employees.

To minimize the impact of a natural disaster, employers should have plans in place before disaster strikes, including, for example, a crisis management plan, a communication plan, and a disaster response and recovery plan. These plans must take into account the effect a catastrophe may have on workers and include ways to help impacted employees return to work as soon as practical to ensure continued productivity at the workplace following a natural disaster. Any enacted plan should consider the application of relevant federal and state laws to ensure compliance and avoid any employment-related lawsuits or any agency enforcement action following a natural disaster. Continue Reading Planning for a Catastrophe

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (“LABI“) sent a formal request to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez to request a delay in implementing the new federal overtime rule in the 22 Louisiana parishes that received a disaster declaration during last month’s historic flood.

The new regulation is scheduled to go into effect nationwide
on December 1.

We will continue to monitor the status of the request and post any updates as they occur.

Like you, many of our colleagues, families, and friends have been hit hard by the recent, historic flooding in Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes. Our hearts go out to all.

At such times, we can and must tap into two of our greatest strengths: our strong sense of community and our unmatched resilience. Together, we are in the initial stages of a massive recovery effort that will take time, but will yield positive results—this we believe.

As you begin to rebuild your homes, businesses, and lives, we know that you will have many questions, a number of which will involve legal concerns. For decades, Jones Walker has been at the forefront of regional and national disaster recovery efforts, helping clients prepare for, respond to, and recover from crises of all types and magnitudes. We can offer effective legal advice as you address your most immediate challenges, including issues involving FEMA programs, insurance coverage, real estate, employee relations, and more.

Please contact us with any questions or to learn more about how we can help. As we move forward in this process, we will continue to publish useful updates on our website and through client alerts and social media.

We wish you strength and peace during this difficult time.

This article was published in the Louisiana Employment Law Letter a month after Hurricane Katrina. In the wake of the recent catastrophic flooding in Louisiana, we believe its advice is as cogent as ever.

A crisis in the workplace, whether the result of a natural disaster, terrorism, workplace violence, or other conflicts, can bring your business to a screeching halt and devastate the lives of the employees who are essential to your business’ existence. It’s only natural for business owners and managers to think immediately of the economic loss such a disaster can cause, particularly because the loss of a business usually translates into the loss of a livelihood for owners, managers, and employees. Your plan for responding to and recovering from a crisis must take into account the effect it will have on your workers and the ways you can help them become productive again, even in the face of personal loss.

Follow these guidelines to help your employees cope with the catastrophe and return to productive employment:

  • Communicate with employees as soon as possible after a disaster. When disaster strikes, your employees may suffer the loss of their personal possessions, homes, friends, and family. Even a temporary inability to return to work can compound any sense of loss or emotional trauma your employees may experience. Locate and contact your employees immediately after a disaster, and tell them the company’s status and plans. If employees know what’s expected of them and what they can expect from the company, they can take the company’s plans for them into consideration when rebuilding their personal lives. For example, if a leave of absence, relocation, or layoff is inevitable, employees should be told as soon as possible so they can plan accordingly. Don’t leave them in the dark about their employment.

Continue Reading Crisis Management: Weathering the Storm