Law and the Workplace

Category Archives: Litigation and Arbitration

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U.S. Supreme Court Announces New Standard for Pregnancy Discrimination Claims

On Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS), which involves a claim of pregnancy discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). Young, a UPS driver, claimed that UPS intentionally discriminated against her by refusing to accommodate her pregnancy-related lifting restriction by transferring her to a … Continue Reading

Hawaii Supreme Court Says Employer Failed to Establish “Rational Relationship” Between Applicant’s Drug Conviction and Position Sought

Hawaii, like some other states, only permits employers to consider convictions that bear a “rational relationship to the duties and responsibilities of the position.” Recently, the Hawaii Supreme Court had occasion to decide an issue that few other courts have addressed—the relationship of an applicant’s drug conviction to the job sought. In Shimose v. Hawaii … Continue Reading

Virginia District Court Rules that EEOC Cannot Issue Early Right-to-Sue Notice

On February 24, 2015, the District Court for the Western District of Virginia dismissed a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit because the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) prematurely issued a “right-to-sue” notice, giving the plaintiff permission to file a lawsuit in court before she was allowed to do so under the law. In Taylor v. Cardiology Clinic, … Continue Reading

EEOC Background Check Litigation Strategy Criticized

Readers who have been following the EEOC’s efforts to prosecute employers who conduct background checks will be interested in the Wall Street Journal’s editorial, “Hit Us Again, Harder.”  The paper praises Freeman Co. for standing up to the EEOC and defending its background check processes, pointing out the EEOC’s repeated failure to present credible evidence … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Nixes EEOC Retaliation Suit

Last week, in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 2-01-cv-07402 (3d Cir. Feb. 13, 2015), the Third Circuit affirmed that the defendant did not violate federal anti-retaliation laws by offering thousands of terminated at-will employees the opportunity to continue working as independent contractors in exchange for signing a release. By way … Continue Reading

Fourth Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment against EEOC in Background Check Suit

Last week, in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) v. Freeman, No. 13-2365 (4th Cir. Feb. 20, 2015), the Fourth Circuit affirmed the award of summary judgment against the EEOC in its suit alleging that the defendant’s use of credit and criminal background checks had a “disparate impact” on African-American job applicants in violation of Title … Continue Reading

N.J. High Court Adopts Faragher-Ellerth Defense for LAD Sexual Harassment Claims

Last week, in Aguas v. New Jersey, No. A-35-13 (Feb. 11, 2015), New Jersey’s high court for the first time embraced the federal Faragher-Ellerth defense for claims alleging vicarious liability for supervisory sexual harassment under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”). Under the Faragher-Ellerth analysis—which the U.S. Supreme Court crafted almost two decades ago—an employer may … Continue Reading

NJ Supreme Court Hears Argument on Whether Disgorgement of Employee’s Salary Requires Economic Damages

In Kaye v. Rosefielde, a case alleging fraud and malpractice against a former general counsel, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on whether the Appellate Division erred in affirming that economic damages are a necessary prerequisite for disgorgement of the general counsel’s salary.  The appellants have argued to the contrary that disgorgement … Continue Reading

NJ Supreme Court Considers Remittitur of Emotional Distress Award in Race Discrimination Case

The New Jersey Supreme Court has agreed to address whether a trial court erred in denying remittitur on a whopping $1.4 million award for emotional distress damages in a racial discrimination suit brought under the Law Against Discrimination.  The defendants had argued before the trial court and the appellate division that the award “shocks the … Continue Reading

Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Retaliation Policies Save Employer from $3.5 Million Punitive Damages Award

On January 7, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico issued an opinion overturning a jury’s $3.5 million punitive damages award for retaliation claims brought under Title VII and Puerto Rico law, finding that the defendant employer had demonstrated that it had made good faith efforts to implement anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation … Continue Reading

The Top 10 Trends in New Jersey Employment Law in 2014

2014 was another busy year for developments in New Jersey employment law, including in ten key areas—whistleblowing, pre-employment inquiries/background checks, amendments to the Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”), LAD litigation, wage and hour, the Family Medical Leave Act, sick leave, states of emergency, arbitration, and “unemployment discrimination.”  Read our Top 10 newsletter to learn more about … Continue Reading

Background Checks Headline in 2014

In 2014, background checks were a hot topic in state and local legislatures.  Before this year, only 8 jurisdictions in the country had passed laws preventing private employers from asking job candidates about their criminal histories on an employment application (i.e., “banning the box”).  This year alone, however, 9 jurisdictions enacted ban-the-box laws covering private … Continue Reading

In The Eleventh Circut, Employers Can Terminate “Protected” Employees For Poor Performance And Violation Of Company Policy

On December 4, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld summary judgment in favor of an employer against a pregnant employee who had requested FMLA, who was told by her direct supervisor “that [her] pregnancy was affecting [her] effectiveness” and who had complained about this to the employer’s Ethics Hotline. In … Continue Reading

Senate HELP Committee Issues Scathing Report on EEOC

EEOC sealToday the Republicans on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions issued a Minority Staff Report entitled, “EEOC: An Agency on the Wrong Track? Litigation Failures, Misfocused Priorities, and Lack of Transparency Raise Concerns about Important Anti-Discrimination Agency.”  The report details a host of criticisms of the EEOC, finding, among other things that: EEOC’s Office … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Refuses Application of Bright-Line Test in FLSA Seaman Exemption Dispute

On November 13, 2014, the Fifth Circuit handed down its opinion in Coffin v. Blessey Marine Services, Inc., No. 13-20144, 2014 WL 5904734 (5th Cir. Nov. 13, 2014).  The opinion addressed several key factors related to the FLSA’s seaman exemption: Finding that unloading and loading of vessels is not strictly “nonseaman” work; Limiting its prior … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Allows After-Acquired Evidence to Support Termination Decision

On October 9, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in a summary order, affirmed a district court’s admission of evidence at trial of a former employee’s misconduct, discovered after the employee’s termination, to support the employer’s reason for discharging the employee.  Weber v. Fujifilm Medical Systems USA, Inc., et al., … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Considers Whether Employees Must Be Paid for Time Spent In Security Screenings

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument today in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk.  The issue is whether employees must be paid for their time going through a security screening and waiting in line to be screened.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said employees should be paid for their time.  … Continue Reading

Judge Limits In-House Attorney Privilege in MasterCard Ruling

On August 25, 2014, Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn of the Southern District of New York issued an order compelling MasterCard to produce several documents that the company had previously identified as privileged. The plaintiff in the ongoing contract dispute, International Cards Company, Ltd., challenged MasterCard’s privilege log, which led Judge Netburn to instruct MasterCard to … Continue Reading

New Jersey Court Okays Provision in Job Application Reducing Statute of Limitations

In Rodriguez v. Raymours Furniture Co., Inc., No. A-4329-12T3, 2014 WL 2765273 (App. Div. June 19, 2014), New Jersey’s Appellate Division upheld a provision in a job application that limited the time in which an employee could sue the company to no more than six months after an alleged adverse employment action. This is the … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Embraces “Lower Bar” for Successor Liability under the FLSA

In Thompson v. Real Estate Mortgage Network, the Third Circuit adopted a standard of successor liability that will lower the bar for whether an employer can be held accountable under the Fair Labor Standards Act for the wage and hour violations of its predecessor. Read this alert to learn more about the decision.   Read … Continue Reading

EEOC Sues Over Common Release Language In Northern District of Illinois

The EEOC recently filed a lawsuit challenging CVS Pharmacy’s (the “Company’s”) separation agreement, which, it asserts, was distributed to more than 650 employees in 2012.  EEOC v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., Case No. 1:14-cv-00863 (N.D. Ill.).  The agency alleges that the separation agreement had the effect of interfering with Title VII rights by purportedly failing to … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment Against EEOC in Credit Check Suit

In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Kaplan Higher Education Corp., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the award of summary judgment against the EEOC in its suit alleging that Kaplan’s use of credit checks disparately impacted African-American applicants in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Read … Continue Reading

NY Court of Appeals Ruling Stresses the Need for Employers to Engage In and Document the Interactive Process

The New York Court of Appeals’ recent decision in Jacobsen v. N.Y.C. Health & Hosps. Corp., No. 34, 2014 N.Y. LEXIS 570 (Mar. 27, 2014), stresses the need for employers responding to requests for accommodation by employees with disabilities to engage in a thoughtful, individualized, interactive process that it also well documented.  Failure by the … Continue Reading

Employers To Face More Concurrent EEOC and Tort Suits after Second Circuit Decision

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has joined the Seventh and Ninth Circuits in holding that an EEOC charge will not toll the statute of limitations on a state-law tort claim. This decision likely will lead to an increase in concurrent filings of state-law tort claims and Title VII federal administrative proceedings … Continue Reading
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