Law and the Workplace

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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

No End In Sight For Wave of Paid Family and Sick Leave Laws

Employers have been scrambling to keep up with the multitude of paid sick leave laws that were passed in the last several years.  These laws vary by jurisdiction and often can’t be easily reconciled into a uniform policy — an issue for multi-state employers.  As reported in today’s New York Times, President Obama is asking … 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

Miami-Dade County Expands its Human Rights Law to Ban Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Gender Expression

On December 2, 2014, Miami-Dade County Commission amended the County’s Human Rights Ordinance (Chapter 11A of the Code of Ordinances of Miami Dade County, Florida) to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression. The new law defines “gender identity” as “a person’s innate, deeply felt psychological identification as a man, woman or some other … Continue Reading

EEOC Wellness Program Suits Highlight Need for Agency Guidance

The EEOC has been pursuing litigation against wellness programs of late, arguing that certain health plan penalties render participation in wellness program health screens “involuntary” and thus violate Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits medical exams unless they are  voluntary or  are job-related and consistent with business necessity.  (See recent blog post about this.)  Senate Republicans rightly criticized the EEOC general counsel … 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

Gender Pay Gap – What Are Companies Doing?

It is no secret to our readers that the EEOC and the OFCCP have prioritized compensation discrimination issues as an enforcement priority.  The general public, and hence employees, are also keenly aware of pay discrimination issues.  From Sheryl Sandberg’s and Nell Scovell’s “Lean In” book and “Lean In Circles” to the John Oliver skit on the … Continue Reading

Four States and Two Cities Hike Their Minimum Wage Rates

Four States and Two Cities Hike Their Minimum Wage Rates Somewhat overlooked in this week’s election were the minimum wage referenda on the ballots in a number of states.  Continuing a growing national trend, voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota approved proposals to increase their states’ minimum wage rates on Tuesday.  In addition, … Continue Reading

D.C. Prepares a Holiday “Gift” for Employers – the Wage Theft Prevention Amendment Act of 2014

Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray quietly signed an amendment to the Wage Theft Prevention Act which will likely take effect in mid-December 2014 – just in time for the holidays.  The amended Act will significantly expand D.C. employers’ obligations to employees, including comprehensive new pay notice requirements for all existing employees and new hires going … Continue Reading
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