Category Archives: Employment Litigation

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Avoiding Age Discrimination Claims During Succession Planning

As “baby boomers” come of retirement age, employers may find themselves between a rock and a hard place: they can either ask employees about their retirement plans and risk being accused of age discrimination, or they can avoid those conversations and risk being woefully underprepared for the retirements of key employees.

When done right, succession planning affords employers an opportunity … Continue Reading

English-Only Workplace Rules: Risky in a Diversifying Workplace

A manufacturer has “subjected its employees to an ugly mix of sexism, racism, and xenophobia and violated federal law prohibiting harassment and retaliation” the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in a lawsuit recently filed in New York. What led to such an inflammatory charge from the EEOC? Among other things, the employer’s implementation of an English-only rule in the workplace.… Continue Reading

DOJ Contradicts EEOC over Title VII’s Applicability to Transgender Employees

The Department of Justice is now squarely at odds with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission over whether Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination also applies to discrimination against transgender employees.  Specifically, in EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., the EEOC had filed suit against a funeral home for terminating a transgender funeral director (who was born … Continue Reading

Reducing Risks Associated With Temporary Staffing Agencies

Staffing agencies may provide the solution to a company’s short-term staffing needs. However, clients should not assume they can avoid liability for workplace issues by using a staffing agency; indeed, in some cases, a client is exposed to liability as a result of using a staffing agency. Engaging a staffing agency provides no protection against employment liability and, in some … Continue Reading

Court Says Employer Cannot Refuse to Hire Based on Medical Marijuana Use

A Connecticut federal district court has found an employer liable for discrimination for failing to hire a medical marijuana user based on a drug test.

Prior to the September 5 decision in Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co., d/b/a Bride Brook Nursing & Rehab. Ctr., No. 3:16-cv-01938, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150453 (D. Conn. Sept. 5, 2018), https://www.leagle.com/decision/infdco20180906954, it … Continue Reading

If You Thought Website Accessibility Was Only for Your Customers—Think Again

Just how inclusive is your workplace? Do you use online applications? If visually impaired applicants cannot access your online application, chances are that your workplace fails to include these individuals. That means you could be both missing out on qualified applicants and making your business a target for claims.

Over the years, in an effort to simplify the processing of … Continue Reading

Covert Employees: Recording Conversations at Work

Can an employee secretly record conversations with a co-worker, supervisor, human resources manager or executive and use that recording in a claim or lawsuit against his/her employer?  It depends.

First, where you live is important. While the federal Wiretap Act, as amended by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, permits recording as long as one party consents, state lawsContinue Reading

Restaurant Industry Takes On Tip Credit “80/20 Rule”

A restaurant advocacy group has sued the Department of Labor challenging its “80/20 Rule,” which limits the use of a tip credit wage where workers spend more than 20% of their time doing work not directly related to tip-generating activities.

The Restaurant Law Center, a public policy affiliate of the National Restaurant Association and the Texas Restaurant Association, has filed … Continue Reading

Can Employers Refuse to Hire Smokers?

Are smokers in a protected class? Can a company refuse to hire them? After all, studies have repeatedly shown that smokers have higher absenteeism, are less productive and carry higher healthcare costs than non-smokers.

Not so fast. While smokers are not a protected class under federal anti-discrimination laws, statutes in more than half the states and the District of Columbia … Continue Reading

Job References in the #MeToo Era: Employers In Some States Now Have Privilege to Say #HimToo

Employers seeking to avoid liability often stick to dates of employment and position held when responding to reference requests. But there is a new trend in legislation offering protection to employers who disclose to prospective employers that the candidate was the subject of a sexual harassment investigation.

For example, effective January 1, 2019, California employers will be protected by an … Continue Reading

Employing Anyone in New York? New Anti-Harassment Laws Taking Effect

All employers with even a single employee working in New York City or New York State will be required to meet requirements designed to address sexual harassment under new city and state laws.  Employers with an employee working in New York City must post a formal notice regarding harassment in a conspicuous location on their premises and distribute a harassment … Continue Reading

One Visit and Vague Plans to Return Not Sufficient to Allow ADA Access Claim

Businesses might see a ray of hope in a recent federal appellate court decision that rejected the ability of a wheelchair-bound patron and “tester” to pursue her claim against a property owner and shop in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

There is a veritable cottage industry of plaintiffs who bring claims against businesses, even those they have never visited. In an effort … Continue Reading

A Shield or a Sword? The Role of Performance Evaluations in Employment Litigation

Performance reviews are intended to provide feedback and identify opportunities for growth. They can also help an employee understand how well the employee is meeting the employer’s expectations. But make no mistake – the significance of performance reviews does not always cease at the time of termination. If the employment relationship goes south, performance reviews can develop a second life … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Slams Public Sector Union Rights

The Supreme Court has declared that mandatory union dues for public employees are unlawful, overturning 40 years of precedent. In Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the Court ruled that requiring public sector employees who are not union members to pay “fair share” or “agency fees” to unions that represent them in collective bargaining violates the … Continue Reading

Conditioning Severance on Post Employment Obligations: Tricky Business

Employers often want to be sure that departing employees won’t disclose confidential business information or make disparaging remarks about the company, and therefore include such obligations in severance agreements. But there are risks, unless the provisions are carefully tailored to account for recent legal developments.

For example, in Baylor Univ. Med. Ctr., an Administrative Law Judge found that Baylor … Continue Reading

#EqualPayMeToo

The #MeToo movement not only has highlighted harassment in the workplace; it also has prompted courts and lawmakers to take a closer look at pay equity.

The EEOC warned employers about “[e]nsuring equal pay protections for all workers” when it identified this area as one of its priorities in its Strategic Enforcement Plan for Fiscal Years 2017-2021, and it is … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Rules That Class Action Waivers Are Enforceable

Employers may require employees to enter into arbitration agreements that waive such employees’ ability to participate in a class or collective action lawsuit, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week. In a long-awaited decision that represents a significant victory for employers, the Court in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis held that such agreements do not violate the National Labor Relations … Continue Reading

Say Goodbye to Independent Contractors: The New “ABC” Test of Employee Status

The circumstances under which California businesses may classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees under California wage laws have been greatly narrowed by a decision the California Supreme Court issued April 30, 2018. The landmark decision in the case known as Dynamex presumes that all workers are employees, sets out a new three-part “ABC” test businesses must satisfy in … Continue Reading

The Nation’s Employers Just Got PAID

Employers who would like to work with the Department of Labor to correct potential wage and hour violations before they get sued may get their wish: the DOL has launched a Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program. The agency has invited all employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act to consider participating in this six-month pilot program. However, … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Expands Interpretation of Overtime Exemption

Employers may have a bit more flexibility in determining which employees are exempt from overtime following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued this week that specifically rejected the decades-old principle that exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) should be “narrowly construed.” In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in Encino Motor Cars, LLC v. Navarro that an … Continue Reading

Department of Health and Human Services Proposes New Rule For Healthcare Workers In The Name of Religious Freedom

Healthcare employers take note:  the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has issued a proposed rule that, if passed, will allow healthcare workers who object to performing certain medical procedures like abortions and gender reassignment surgeries to refuse to perform such procedures on the grounds of religious freedom. If passed, the proposed rule would apply to over 700,000 healthcare … Continue Reading

Transgender Rights Trump Religious Rights in Sixth Circuit Case

Title VII’s protections against sex discrimination extend to transgender workers, even in the face of a challenge based on the employer’s religious rights, a federal appellate court has held. A funeral home violated Title VII when it terminated its funeral home director after she disclosed that she planned to transition from male to female and thus wanted to dress in … Continue Reading

Is The EEOC’s Background Check Guidance In Jeopardy?

Employers that have been frustrated with the EEOC’s position on how they can use arrest and conviction records, take note: earlier this month, a federal court in Texas enjoined the EEOC and the Attorney General of the United States from enforcing the EEOC’s “Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII” (the … Continue Reading

Technical Violations of Statutes May No Longer Be Enough

“Have you been injured?”  No longer just a query for auto accident victims, plaintiffs must increasingly be able to answer “yes” to that question before bringing suits for violations of statutory rights.

Once upon a time, a technical violation was enough. However, following the Supreme Court’s decision in Spokeo v. Robbins (2016), courts have been increasingly reluctant to permit … Continue Reading

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