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Legal Alerts Archive

  • 1.17.12

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently announced three new focus areas targeting hazards in certain specified work environments. These include: winter storm months, chemical facilities, and formaldehyde exposure in the hair product/salon industry.

  • 1.11.12

    Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued a rare unanimous decision for religious employers. The decision both clarifies that the ministerial exception is an absolute bar to employment discrimination suits brought on behalf of a minister based on employment decisions made by the employer, and illustrates that the ministerial exception may apply to a range of employees of religious institutions.

  • 1.10.12

    Following the lead of 46 other states and the District of Columbia, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed into law a trade secret statute modeled after the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. 

  • 1.5.12

    A class action lawsuit is currently pending in the Court of Common Pleas for Cuyahoga County, Ohio, on behalf of certain employers doing business in Ohio. The case alleges that the Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) charged excessive workers' compensation premium rates to employers who were not able to participate in Ohio's group rating program (referred to as "non-group-rated").

  • 12.28.11

    Ohio's minimum wage is scheduled to increase on January 1, 2012 to $7.70 per hour for non-tipped employees and to $3.85 per hour for tipped employees. Ohio's current minimum wage is $7.40 per hour for non-tipped employees and $3.70 for tipped employees. The increased minimum wage will only apply to employers who gross more than $283,000 per year.

  • 12.27.11

    As we notified our clients several months ago, the NLRB recently issued a new notice-posting requirement, mandating that employers post an oversized (11" x 17") Notice of Employee Rights. See our August 25 Legal Alert. Because of the pressure of legal actions challenging the new rule, the implementation date was first pushed back from November 9 to January 31, which we noted in an updated Legal Alert on October 6.

  • 12.23.11

    A California appellate court has just handed down a major decision on reporting-time pay in California, limiting situations where such pay would be due, and rejecting an enforcement guideline used by the California Labor Commissioner. The court also clarified the law regarding split-shift premiums. Michael Aleman, et al v. AirTouch Cellular.

  • 12.23.11

    On December 22, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board published a final rule implementing sweeping changes to its long-standing representation election procedures. As forecast in Fisher Phillips' December 6, 2011 Legal Alert, the final rule was hastily published just before the Board is expected to lose its quorum (and its legal authority to act) upon the expiration of Member Craig Becker's recess appointment. Absent judicial or legislative intervention, the final rule will take effect on April 30, 2012.

  • 12.19.11

    On January 1, 2012 Colorado employers in a variety of industries will face an increase in the minimum wage. The 2012 minimum will be $7.64 (up from the 2011 rate of $7.36) and will affect employers in the retail and service, food and beverage, commercial support service, and health and medical industries.

  • 12.16.11

    A new rule restricts the use of hand-held mobile telephones and devices by drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMV). This rule, which goes into effect on January 3, 2012, was adopted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which are part of the Department of Transportation. It amends both Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations and Hazardous Materials regulations. The rule restricts CMV drivers from reaching for or holding mobile telephones while operating their vehicles, or pushing more than one button to operate the device.

  • 12.9.11

    Following the lead of 46 other states and the District of Columbia, New Jersey has passed a trade secret statute modeled after the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. The statute provides owners of trade secrets with a civil claim for trade secret misappropriation, and several important remedies.

  • 12.6.11

    A union organizer's dream would consist of a "quickie" election in a gerrymandered unit comprised mostly of card signers. Having established such a beachhead, the union could then engage in an ongoing game of dominos, with one company department after another falling in line. In a recent decision (Specialty Healthcare) and a proposed rule change, the Democratic majority of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)  has signaled its intention to fulfill the organizers' dream.

  • 11.17.11

    The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) recently issued a new six-page notice that employers must post in their locations and provide to all employees. All New Jersey employers must immediately begin providing a copy of the notice to any new hires, and provide it to all current employees by December 7, 2011.

  • 10.27.11

    During Arnold Schwarzenegger's tenure as governor of California few new employment laws were enacted. This has changed under Gov. Jerry Brown. As the first year of his term concludes he has signed into law several bills that will affect California employers on January 1, 2012. From consumer credit reports to health care benefits, leaves of absence, and new wage and hour requirements, every California employer has something to prepare for in 2012.

  • 10.24.11

    The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced that the Florida minimum wage will increase to $7.67 per hour effective January 1, 2012. This is an increase from Florida's current minimum wage of $7.31 per hour, which became effective June 1, 2011, in response to a Florida Circuit Court decision issued earlier this year. Florida's minimum wage is generally recalculated yearly on September 30, based on the Consumer Price Index.

  • 10.17.11

    On October 14, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit temporarily blocked two sections of the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, while it considers the merits of the U.S. government's lawsuit seeking to permanently enjoin enforcement of the law. The law went into effect on September 29, 2011 after a temporary injunction imposed by federal District Court Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn for some sections of the law had expired.

  • 10.12.11

    Effective January 1, 2012, California employers will have to avoid yet another potential legal hazard that haunts businesses with the threat of costly penalties: the unauthorized use of consumer credit reports regarding job applicants and current employees.

  • 10.6.11

    The National Labor Relations Board announced yesterday that it will delay the requirement that most private employers in the U.S. post a controversial new notice until January 31, 2012. The Board had issued a Final Rule in August, requiring all employers covered by the National Labor Relations Act to post an 11" x 17" "Notification of Employee Rights under the National Labor Relations Act." At the time, the posting requirement was to become effective 75 days after publication of the Final Rule in the Federal Register, which would have been November 14, 2011.

  • 9.30.11

    On September 28, 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn upheld the key provisions of Alabama's immigration law, the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act. Alabama's immigration law is still considered the toughest immigration law in the country.

  • 9.30.11

    Nevada has now joined the ranks of several other states that limit cell phone usage while driving. The new law, effective October 1, 2011, but not to be enforced until January 1, 2012, generally makes it unlawful to talk or text on a cell phone while driving without the use of a hands-free device. Here are the details.

  • 9.19.11

    Over the years, Georgia employers have become accustomed to processing and responding to garnishments on their own. While legal counsel might be called upon to handle the more unique issues that inevitably arise in a garnishment proceeding, employers more commonly resort to their human resources or payroll departments to handle routine garnishments.

  • 9.14.11

    On August 25, 2011, over the dissent of Member Brian Hayes, the National Labor Relations Board issued a final rule addressing "Notification of Employee Rights under the National Labor Relations Act." Effective 75 days following the August 26, 2011 scheduled publication in the Federal Register, which would be November 9, or November 14 (per the NLRB's inconsistent press release), every employer covered by the National Labor Relations Act will be required to post the prescribed 11x17 inch notice.

  • 9.8.11

    No, the National Weather Service has not reached the "w's" on its list of hurricane names for the year (and hopefully will not). But Chairman Wilma Liebman left the National Labor Relations Board on August 27, and employers will be dealing with the aftermath of "Hurricane Wilma" for many years to come. She will not soon be forgotten because of the three precedent-setting cases decided on the last business day of her term.

  • 9.8.11

    On September 7, 2011, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law an act prohibiting discrimination based upon "genetic information." The new law becomes effective on January 1, 2012 and, in the context of employment discrimination, covers California employers who regularly employ five or more workers.

  • 8.25.11

    On August 25, 2011, over the dissent of Member Brian Hayes, the National Labor Relations Board issued a final rule addressing "Notification of Employee Rights under the National Labor Relations Act." Effective 75 days following the August 26, 2011 scheduled publication in the Federal Register, which would be November 9, or November 14 (per the NLRB's inconsistent press release), every employer covered by the National Labor Relations Act will be required to post the prescribed 11x17 inch notice.

  • 8.2.11

    Employers in Oregon – you have cause to celebrate, or at least breathe a sigh of relief. The Oregon state legislature recently wrapped up its 2011 session without passing any major pieces of legislation that could be considered harmful to employers. Although there are a few new statutes that will soon go into effect that may slightly alter the way you do business, the impact of these new laws are minimal. In fact, a few new laws were passed that are actually beneficial to employers.

  • 7.26.11

    Two more states – Connecticut and Maryland – have joined Illinois, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii, and several cities, in severely limiting employers' ability to use a job applicant's or current employee's credit history or credit-related information. This affects decisions in hiring or promotions, as well as in determining compensation or other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Gov. Dannel Malloy signed the Connecticut law on July 13, 2011. Gov. Martin O'Malley had signed that state's Job Applicant Fairness Act (JAFA) on April 12, 2011. Both laws take effect on October 1, 2011.

  • 7.21.11

    By now you're aware of the NLRB's proposed rule changes aimed at speeding up elections to make it easier for unions to organize.

  • 7.7.11

    Gov. Bobby Jindal recently signed into law a new bill requiring Louisiana employers to take additional steps to ensure that employees are legally authorized to work in the United States. The new law allows employers to verify citizenship or work authorization through the E-Verify system maintained by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or retain copies of certain identity and legal status documents. The law creates a presumption of good faith for employers who check the citizenship status of their employees through E-Verify. The law provides for increased civil penalties and adds license revocation as consequences for those who do not comply with the new requirements. The law will be effective August 15, 2011.

  • 7.5.11

    On June 30, 2011, the California Supreme Court ruled that work performed in California by nonresident employees for California-based employers is covered by the California Labor Code and its unfair competition laws. That means that employees residing in states outside California but working (even occasionally) in California may bring lawsuits against their California employers for unfair competition based on violations of California's generous overtime requirements. This is not good news for employers.

  • 6.30.11

    In its latest foray into non-compete jurisprudence, the Texas Supreme Court this week made it easier for employers seeking to restrict key employees from competing post-employment. In Marsh USA Inc. v. Cook, the Court held that a non-compete covenant contained in a stock option purchase plan was enforceable.

  • 6.30.11

    The failure of the Employee Free Choice Act to become law does not mean that unions are giving up, or that their elected and appointed officials are throwing in the towel on their efforts to increase unions' ever-shrinking share of the American work force. Last week the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) took a giant step in that direction.

  • 6.29.11

    On June 23, 2011, Governor Beverly Perdue signed a bill into law requiring all cities, all counties, and private employers of a certain size in North Carolina to use the federal government's E-Verify program to verify the work authorization of newly-hired employees. The law is titled, "An Act To Require Counties, Cities, And Employers To Use The Federal E-Verify Program To Verify The Work Authorization Of Newly Hired Employees." North Carolina is one of 17 states, including neighboring Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia, that have some form of E-Verify requirements for employers.

  • 6.28.11

    On June 27, 2011, Gov. Nikki Haley signed into law amendments to South Carolina's immigration laws, including the South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act. The legislation strengthens what was already considered to be one of the toughest immigration reform acts in the country. The new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2012, brings with it new requirements for employers in South Carolina.

  • 6.28.11

    As predicted in our prior Legal Alert on this topic on May 13, 2011, Indiana's recently enacted immigration law has been challenged in court. On June 24, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted a preliminary injunction, preventing certain provisions of the new law from going into effect as planned on July 1, 2011. This means provisions allowing Indiana police officers to make warrantless arrests in certain situations and prohibiting most persons from offering or accepting a consular identification card as a valid form of identification for any purpose are null unless the court renders a final decision to the contrary. The court found it likely that these provisions violate the U.S. Constitution or are preempted by federal law. The remaining provisions of the new law, including those affecting employers, will take effect as scheduled. Regardless of the final outcome, an appeal is likely.

  • 6.27.11

    Today, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash granted a temporary injunction on key parts of the Georgia Immigration law due to go into effect on July 1, 2011. The Judge ruled that the criminal provisions of the law, specifically those empowering police to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects and those prohibiting the transport, harboring, and enticing of illegal aliens, ran afoul of federal law. The parts of the law that were not blocked will go into effect as scheduled, including those requiring state contractors and private employers to participate in E-Verify. You can read our original Legal Alert about the Georgia Law.

  • 6.24.11

    On June 16, 2011 the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new regional inspection program focused on reducing fatalities and serious injuries related to powered industrial trucks and forklifts. This program will examine employers' compliance with OSHA's powered industrial trucks standard and related hazards in Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi.

  • 6.23.11

    The healthcare reform laws enacted a provision that restricts healthcare flexible spending arrangements (Health FSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) from reimbursing amounts expended by participants and their dependents in various ways. Effective January 1, 2011, there can be no reimbursement for over-the-counter medicines or drugs (except insulin) purchased without a prescription. The IRS has also provided special rules regarding the types of transactions and substantiation requirements for which prescribed over-the-counter drugs may be purchased using a Health FSA or HRA debit card, effective January 16, 2011. Plan sponsors need to amend their Health FSA (cafeteria plans) and/or HRA plan documents to reflect this change no later than June 30, 2011.

  • 6.13.11

    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut has signed the first state law in the U.S. requiring private employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave.

  • 6.13.11

    On June 9, 2011, Gov. Robert Bentley signed into law the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act described as the toughest immigration law in the country. The new law 1) requires Alabama businesses to participate in E-Verify no later than April 1, 2012 to confirm the work authorization of new hires; 2) prohibits employers from terminating or refusing to hire a U.S. citizen or work-authorized individual while retaining or hiring an individual that the employer knows or reasonably should have known was unauthorized; 3) disallows as a business deduction any wage or compensation paid to an unauthorized alien; and, 4) makes it a crime to knowingly transport or harbor an individual who is not lawfully present in the U.S.

  • 6.13.11

    On June 9, 2011, the Washington Supreme Court handed employers a comprehensive victory in the long-running medical marijuana battle, deciding that employers need not accommodate an employee's use of medical marijuana, and that employees terminated for medical marijuana use – even offsite use – have no basis to sue their employers. Roe v. TeleTech Customer Care Mgmt.

  • 6.10.11

    Tennessee employers soon will be required to take several actions under a new immigration law. The Tennessee Lawful Employment Act requires employers to use E-Verify, or to maintain documentation of legal residency or valid U.S. work authorization for all employees hired after the effective date. The law takes effect for governmental entities and private employers with 500 or more employees on January 1, 2012. On July 1, 2012, the law will apply to private employers with 200-499 employees and all employers with more than six employees will be covered as of January 1, 2013. Employers will also be required to maintain documentation of legal residence or valid U.S. work authorization for non-employees providing labor or services.

  • 5.31.11

    The owner and the foreman of a roofing company have each been sentenced to one year jail terms because they did not put fall protection measures in place that would have prevented a 39 year old employee from falling to his death from a four-story apartment building in San Francisco.

  • 5.31.11

    On May 24, 2011, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed into law Assembly Bill 211, which amends Nevada law and provides for protection from discrimination in employment based upon the gender identity or expression of a person. The bill defines "gender identity or expression" as "a gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior of a person, regardless of the person's assigned sex at birth." Specifically, the bill states, in part, that it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer "[t]o fail or refuse to hire, or to discharge any person, or otherwise discriminate against any person with respect to the person's compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of his or her…gender identity or expression…."

  • 5.26.11

    On May 26, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Arizona's 2007 immigration law that requires all employers to use E-Verify for all new hires and permits the revocation of a company's business license as a penalty for employing unauthorized workers. This decision resulted from a challenge to the Legal Arizona Workers Act of 2007, not to be confused with the 2010 controversial Arizona "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act."

  • 5.16.11

    On May 16, 2011, the Supreme Court clarified the showing of harm that a participant must demonstrate in order to recover on a claim involving a Summary Plan Description (SPD) that conflicts with the terms of its underlying plan document. The Supreme Court explained that the requisite level of harm for a particular case will be dependent upon the applicable equitable theory of relief. If a plaintiff can satisfy one of the standards, it may then be rebutted by the defendant – if the defendant can demonstrate that the inconsistency was a harmless error.

  • 5.13.11

    On May 10, 2011, Governor Daniels signed a new law imposing significant consequences on Indiana employers who employ unauthorized workers. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2011.

  • 5.12.11

    More often than not when a management law firm informs its clients of recent case developments, the news is not good. This is an exception.

  • 5.12.11

    On May 11, 2011, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 30, Georgia's new restrictive covenants statute. The signing by Governor Deal brings to a close a process that is accurately summarized by the words of the Grateful Dead – "what a long strange trip it's been!"

  • 5.5.11

    On April 18, 2011, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed a new law clarifying and bolstering employees' and applicants' right to lawfully possess firearms and ammunition. The law takes effect July 1, 2011.

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