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Legal Alerts Archive

  • 6.3.16

    Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed new antidiscrimination protections for pregnant applicants and employees into law on June 1. This addition to Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) will soon require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant applicants and employees upon request, or face discrimination claims if they fail to do so or otherwise discriminate against those making such a request. 

  • 6.2.16

    The world of labor and employment law is always rapidly evolving. In order to make sure that you stay on top of the latest developments, we typically bring you a review of the five biggest stories from previous month. May 2016 was so momentous, however, that we had double the size of this article in order to accommodate all of the important changes.

  • Three Things You Need To Know About Arbitration Agreement Ruling
    5.31.16

    For the first time, a federal appeals court has dealt a serious blow to class and collective action waivers in arbitration agreements. In Jacob Lewis v. Epic Systems Corporation, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a mandatory arbitration agreement prohibiting employees from bringing claims against their employer on a class or collective basis violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). While the decision itself only directly impacts employers in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, the court’s reasoning could be adopted by other circuits, or perhaps by the U.S. Supreme Court, causing even more headaches for employers around the country.

  • 5.23.16

    In a 7-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that the statute of limitations for Title VII constructive discharge claim begins on the date of the employee’s notice of resignation, not on the date of the last alleged discriminatory act by the employer. This is a bad decision for employers and will likely lead to an uptick in legal claims filed by disgruntled former workers. It opens the door for former employees to file constructive discharge claims long after the alleged discriminatory conduct occurred by simply delaying their resignation indefinitely. Green v. Brennan

  • 5.20.16

    Earlier this week, by a 6-2 vote, the Supreme Court issued a “no decision” decision on an issue important to employers facing class action litigation. The Court decided that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals needed to review again a question of whether plaintiffs have standing to pursue class action claims on behalf of themselves, and others similarly situated, if they cannot show that they have suffered actual harm. By failing to decide the question one way or the other, the Court effectively delayed a determination of whether employers will have another tool to help curtail costly class action claims, or whether they will face a substantial increase in the number of such claims (Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins).

  • New Federal Regulations Include A Higher Minimum Salary Requirement
    5.19.16

    As of December 1, 2016, the minimum salary for salaried exempt employees under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will increase from $455 to $913 per week. Because the federal salary standard will be higher than California’s (currently $800 per week), all California employers paying exempt workers under $913 per week (or $47,476 per year) will be required to either increase minimum salaries for such exempt employees or pay them overtime wages. The salary increase was among the limited, but no less significant, changes to the FLSA regulations announced yesterday by the U.S Department of Labor (USDOL).  

  • But Decision Could Still Be Helpful For Employers
    5.19.16

    Today, in a unanimous 8-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to issue a definitive ruling on whether an employer is entitled to recover nearly $5 million dollars in attorney’s fees and costs from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after the employer prevailed in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the agency. The Court remanded the case back to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to determine, among other things, whether the EEOC’s conduct in the litigation was “frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless” such to support the fee award. However, the Court did rule that employers could be considered prevailing parties and entitled to fees even if they do not win “on the merits,” which could prove to be a useful ruling.

  • 5.18.16

    The U.S Labor Department (USDOL) has finally released the anxiously awaited revised regulations affecting certain kinds of employees who may be treated as exempt from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA) overtime and minimum-wage requirements. These will be published officially on May 23, 2016.

  • 5.17.16

    On May 13, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice published a guidance document for elementary and secondary schools that summarizes emerging practices for supporting transgender students. While intended for K-12 schools, the document provides excellent insight for every employer confronting the transgender issue.

  • 5.17.16

    Because public body meetings are required to be open to the public in Ohio, just exactly what constitutes a “meeting” of a public body has long been a matter of some debate, especially as means of communication have expanded dramatically in recent years. Can Board members send and receive private email communications to each other on school matters? Can a Board President conduct straw polls of individual members in one-on-one telephone conferences? Can Board members tweet about public matters when she is followed by a majority of other Board members? Can an email be sent by the Superintendent to other Board of Education members seeking input from each?

  • 5.16.16

    The Supreme Court declined to rule on whether religiously affiliated nonprofits can be required to affirmatively “opt out” of providing contraceptive coverage to their employees, which would have triggered separate contraceptive coverage directly from their issuers. Instead of publishing a decision, the Court took the unusual approach of suggesting the parties work out a compromise. To resolve the issues around such a compromise, the lower court decisions were vacated, and the consolidated cases were remanded for further rulings by their respective courts of appeal for the 3rd, 5th, 10th, and D. C. Circuits. (Zubik v. Burwell).

  • 5.16.16

    Today, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published the final versions of two new rules regulating employer-sponsored wellness programs. The rules, which will go into effect in 2017, allow employers to offer incentives for programs that ask questions about their employees’ health or include medical exams and also permit employers to provide incentives in exchange for information about their employees’ spouses’ current or past medical conditions, so long as the information is not used to discriminate.

  • 5.12.16

    The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule on May 11, 2016 that greatly enhances injury and illness data collection from employers.

  • 5.5.16

    Tennessee’s state immigration law just received an important update by the state legislature and Governor, and many employers in the state will soon be impacted. Beginning January 1, 2017, all Tennessee businesses with 50 or more employees will be required to use the E-verify system in order to determine workers’ eligibility for employment. If you currently do not use E-Verify, the time to begin preparing is now.

  • 5.2.16

    The world of labor and employment law is always rapidly evolving. In order to make sure that you stay on top of the latest developments, here is a quick review of the five biggest stories from last month that all employers need to know about.

  • 4.28.16

    The ride-sharing company Uber recently announced a preliminary $100 million agreement to settle claims alleging that it improperly classifies its workforce as independent contractors. Because the settlement involves the foremost business entity in the new gig economy, this is a groundbreaking agreement that could provide guidance to many other emerging businesses that take advantage of the sharing environment. For all other businesses, it serves as a stark reminder of the pitfalls that can result from categorizing your workers as contractors.

  • 4.26.16

    In a 6-2 decision, the Supreme Court today held that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects both actual and perceived political speech and expression by public employees. The unsurprising decision squares with decisions from several lower appellate circuit courts, and should serve as a warning sign for public sector employers. Heffernan v. City of Paterson.

  • 4.19.16

    Employers are generally aware of their duty to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs. Whether that means rearranging work schedules, permitting modifications to dress codes, permitting prayer breaks, or any number of other alterations, you know that the law requires you to be flexible when it comes to religion.

  • 4.13.16

    On April 12, 2016, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory issued an Executive Order to clarify and somewhat lessen the impact of what has widely been referred to as the state’s new “bathroom law.” The new law, passed a few weeks ago, makes clear that the state government, located in Raleigh, will set uniform antidiscrimination laws for the entire state.

  • 4.8.16

    A recent controversy over the hit Broadway show “Hamilton” can teach employers a valuable lesson about hiring and making other employment decisions. The producers of the show were accused of discriminatory hiring practices when a casting call sought “nonwhite” performers to appear for auditions.

  • What Mississippi Employers Need To Know About New Religious Freedom Law
    4.7.16

    On April 5, 2016, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law HB 1523, also known as the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act.” While proponents of the new law state that it simply protects individuals and organizations from legal consequences that would otherwise result from religiously motivated actions, opponents contend that the new law legalizes discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. Regardless of one’s personal opinion, one thing is for sure: the new law provides little protection to employers who base employment decisions on their religious beliefs.

  • 4.7.16

    The City of San Francisco just became the first city in the country to pass legislation requiring many employers to provide workers with paid parental leave, entitled the “Paid Parental Leave Ordinance.” Starting in 2017, many businesses in San Francisco will be required to provide up to six weeks of fully paid parental leave to most workers after certain conditions are met. This groundbreaking law will force employers to revamp their administrative policies and practices, while adjusting their budgets to foot this new bill.

  • 4.6.16

    On April 4, 2016, the California Supreme Court ruled that employers must provide an employee with seating if the employee’s tasks at a discrete location make seated work feasible, even if the employee’s job duties include other standing tasks. This ruling is likely to have a dramatic effect on many California employers, particularly those in the retail industry. As a result, you will now have to consider whether the nature of your employees’ work permits work to be performed seated and whether you will have to provide seating (Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc.).

  • 4.6.16

    Fisher Phillips recently submitted comments to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding the agency’s proposed regulations that would require any business with 100 or more workers to provide detailed information about their pay practices to the federal government through the annual EEO-1 Report (read more here). The goal of these proposed regulations is to better track pay disparities between genders so as to increase enforcement of equal pay standards.

  • 4.5.16

    The world of labor and employment law is always rapidly evolving. In order to make sure that you stay on top of the latest developments, here is a quick review of the five biggest stories from last month that all employers need to know about.

  • 4.4.16

    Today California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a sweeping plan that will eventually increase the statewide minimum wage from $10.00 to $15.00 per hour. While the state of New York announced a deal last week that will also increase the state minimum wage to $15.00 in most areas (while preserving the possibility of a suspension in the rate growth depending on economic factors), California becomes the first state to implement a statewide rate at that level.

  • 4.1.16

    An unfortunate number of employers have recently fallen victim to a phishing scam that tricks them into disclosing highly sensitive employee information to unknown third parties. Make sure to warn your Human Resources and Payroll Departments to be on the alert so that your company doesn’t get added to the ranks of the swindled.

  • 3.31.16

    On Monday, March 28, 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown, flanked by union and state government officials, announced an agreement with state legislators to increase the statewide minimum wage from $10.00 to $15.00 per hour.

  • 3.30.16

    On March 24, 2016, the Mississippi Supreme Court issued an opinion that allowed an employee to proceed with a wrongful discharge lawsuit after being terminated for possessing a gun on company premises, significantly altering employers’ ability to forbid the presence of firearms at the workplace (Swindol v. Aurora Flight Services Corporation). In doing so, the court created another exception to Mississippi’s venerable employment at-will doctrine, a doctrine that has existed in our state for 150 years. All employers, both public and private, should take note.

  • 3.29.16

    In a deadlocked 4-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court could not reach a majority consensus in determining whether it is unconstitutional for states to force public sector employees to pay agency shop fees to their unions. For approximately 10 million public sector employees in states mandating agency shop fees, this means they must continue to pay a fair share fee to their unions in order to remain employed.

  • 3.23.16

    The federal government has finalized a significant new regulation that seeks to interfere with businesses seeking legal counsel to help in opposing or dealing with unions. The U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL) new “persuader” rule would force attorneys and their clients to report in public records their confidential attorney-client and financial relationships, providing an unfair boost to unions in their organizing efforts.

  • 3.23.16

    The Supreme Court today lowered the bar for plaintiffs seeking to bring a class or collective action, handing employers a stinging loss. In a 6 to 2 decision, the Court held that lower courts can use representative evidence or statistical data that ignores differences among employees to prove damages in a class or collective action. The Court also held that a class may be certified even if some members of the class did not actually suffer any damages. Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo.

  • 3.16.16

    By this point in the 21st century, most working professionals know that there are certain things that are absolutely unacceptable in today’s workplace. What might have been tolerable at an office setting in the 1970s can get you fired today. Sexually suggestive remarks, pornography on your computer, knocking back a few stiff drinks in your office, and racial epithets hurled at coworkers are actions that are no longer tolerated.

  • 3.10.16

    California employers will need to comply with a new set of regulations from California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council that go into effect April 1, 2016. Among other things, these regulations require employers with five or more employees to have a written policy against unlawful harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in the workplace, and the regulations require the policies to meet certain requirements.

  • 3.3.16

    California employers recently received additional direction regarding their responsibilities with respect to transgender employees. California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) issued guidance clarifying transgender employees’ rights in the workplace, and although the document is not legally binding, you would be well-served to consider its message.

  • 3.1.16

    In a surprising decision that may require many restaurants and other hospitality businesses in the Western U.S. to alter their labor practices, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2011 U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) rule that prohibits businesses from requiring employees to share their tips even if the tipped employees are paid minimum wage. The February 23, 2016 decision applies to all businesses operating in the 9th Circuit, which includes the states of California, Nevada, Washington, Arizona, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, and Alaska (Oregon Rest. & Lodging Association v. Perez).

  • 3.1.16

    The world of labor and employment law is always rapidly evolving. In order to make sure that you stay on top of the latest developments, here is a quick review of the five biggest stories from last month that all employers need to know about.

  • 2.29.16

    It’s an expression you hear often among police officers and other sworn employees: “You Lie, You Die.” That is, if you are caught being deceptive about any work-related subject, you will be terminated and your career will be over. This concept was endorsed in a recent appeals court case that can teach lessons to all employers about the importance of honesty in the workplace.

  • 2.25.16

    Fisher Phillips recently submitted comments to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding the agency’s proposed Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation. The comments reflect an effort by the firm to ensure that a balanced approach to retaliation claims be taken by the agency and any courts that choose to follow its direction, emphasizing the rights of employers just as much as their responsibilities under the law. A copy of the comments can be found here or at the attached PDF file.

  • Demand For FY17 H-1Bs May Exceed 300k
    2.23.16

    As it does each year, the office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will accept H-1B petitions from U.S. employers during the first five business days in April. If the USCIS receives more than the allotment of new 85,000 H-1Bs for the 2017 fiscal year (which begins October 1, 2016), it will use a random lottery to select petitions. If your business will participate in the H-1B process this year, the time to prepare is now.

  • State Will Employ Three Different Regional Minimum Wages
    2.19.16

    In a first-of-its-kind development, the Oregon legislature passed and the Governor will sign into law a minimum wage hike law that will go into effect July 1, 2016. Under the new law, the rates will steadily increase through 2023, eventually giving Oregon the highest minimum wage rates in the nation.

  • 2.15.16

    The tragic passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia throws employers into a world of uncertainty. While Supreme Court jurisprudence is often unpredictable – see the 2012 decision upholding the Affordable Care Act to the surprise of many – Justice Scalia’s death will no doubt lead to an unusual amount of turmoil for the foreseeable future. Employers are one of many interested groups who will be impacted by his demise.

  • 2.10.16

    Of all the heartfelt gestures you can make this Valentine’s Day – sending roses, a box of chocolates, or even just a greeting card – perhaps nothing means more than simply saying “I love you.” But an employer who did just that, and encouraged its workforce to share the same sentiments with coworkers on a regular basis, learned the hard way that such comments are not necessarily appropriate for the workplace and could lead to an employment lawsuit. Read on to get a glimpse into a peculiar workplace practice, and to avoid falling into the same trap this Valentine’s Day.

  • 2.4.16

    On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika a global public health emergency. This is only the fourth time that the WHO has declared the spread of a disease to be a “public health emergency of international concern,” following the H1N1 pandemic (2009), the spread of Polio (2014), and the Ebola outbreak (2014).

  • 2.1.16

    Like death and taxes, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can always be counted on to ratchet up enforcement efforts against employers each year 2016 appears to be no different. The year begins with the agency continuing to sharpen its emphasis on inspecting and citing employers who violate its recordkeeping standard. This takes on greater importance because the reporting requirement changes that went into effect last year had a significant impact on the businesses that OSHA will be inspecting.

  • 2.1.16

    The world of labor and employment law is always rapidly evolving. In order to make sure that you stay on top of the latest developments, here is a quick review of the five biggest stories from last month that all employers need to know about.

  • Businesses With 100 Or More Workers Would Be Subject To Proposed New Law Aimed At Combating Gender Discrimination
    1.29.16

    The federal government announced today its intent to gather additional pay information from larger employers, forcing all businesses with over 100 workers to provide detailed information about their pay practices in an effort to address gender discrimination. If the President’s plan moves forward as expected, employers will be subject to a heightened pay transparency standard by the end of this calendar year.

  • 1.26.16

    The Supreme Court both limited and expanded the legal standards that relate to federal contractor immunity from lawsuits in a decision released last week. According to the January 20, 2016 decision in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, a contractor’s immunity from liability for work performed under contract with the federal government is qualified, rather than absolute; however, such immunity is not limited to the context of property damage resulting from public works projects.

  • 1.26.16

    With every new year, millions of people resolve to make positive changes in their personal and professional lives. For owners, managers and supervisors, the fresh-start aura associated with the beginning of each year is the perfect backdrop for making positive changes that may help them become better, more effective, and respected leaders and make their businesses more successful.

  • 1.25.16

    The stage is officially set. The Denver Broncos will be playing the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, February 7, 2016, and no doubt your employees are very much aware of the upcoming game. A good many of them will be among the estimated 115 million television viewers who will be watching, whether they are passionate fans, more interested in the halftime show, or just there for the commercials.

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