Department of Labor: Married Same-Sex Couples Have FMLA Rights Regardless of State of Residence

The U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") recently announced its Final Rule changing the definition of "spouse" in the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") to include most same-sex married couples.  The Final Rule becomes effective March 27, 2015.   More ›

Healthy Workplace, Healthy Families Act of 2014, California's Paid Sick Leave Law, To Take Effect

Starting July 1, 2015, California will join numerous other states in requiring employers provide employees with paid sick leave pursuant to the Health Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. More ›

Spiritual Director Doesn't Have a Prayer When it Comes to Her Discrimination and Termination Claims

Religious employers can rejoice once again, as yet another court upholds the ministerial exception and dismisses an employee's discrimination and termination claims.

For those who are not familiar with this defense, the ministerial exception basically says that the government cannot step in and second-guess a religious entity's decision to hire and fire its ministerial employees. Doing so would potentially violate the First Amendment and would run afoul of the separation of church and state. This means that ministerial employees of religious employers cannot sue for things like discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or termination, because that would be asking the court, in essence, to decide whether the religious employer was right in doing what it did. More ›

Supervisor Not "Qualified Individual" Under ADA after Failing DOT Medical Certification

Determining the essential functions of a job can be tricky, especially if there is no information or documentation with which to compare and consider. In this case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit considered job qualifications in the context of essential functions, and ultimately found that the employee failed to demonstrate that he was qualified or could perform the essential functions of his position after failing a required DOT medical certification. As a result, he could not maintain his ADA claim against his former employer.  More ›

Supreme Court: Ordinary Contract Principles Do Not Allow Inference of Vesting Rights Absent Clear and Express Language

In 2000, M&G Polymers purchased the Point Pleasant Polyester Plant in Apple Grove, WV. At that time, M&G entered into a collective-bargaining agreement and a related Pension, Insurance, and Service Award Agreement (P & I Agreement) with the union. The P & I Agreement provided for medical coverage with a full employer contribution to be provided for the duration of the agreement, subject to future negotiations. When those agreements expired, M&G announced that it would require retirees to contribute to the cost of their health care benefits. Several retirees sued M&G in federal district court, alleging that the P & I Agreement created a vested right to a lifetime contribution of free healthcare benefits. More ›

Nurse's Poor Work Performance Outweighs Claims of Whistleblower Retaliation

Lisa Pedersen was a dialysis clinic nurse who was responsible for assessing patients, working with physicians, and administering medication to patients. Pedersen was counseled about aggression in the workplace and other performance issues, which led her to become upset and yell at her manager. During a discussion later that day, Pederson articulated, for the first time, that she had previously noticed that a box of blood samples were incorrectly packaged and that she believed them to be compromised. Pedersen then notified another manager, a customer service representative, a vice president, and an employee relations manager of the suspected compromised samples.  She also advised all parties that she felt she would be retaliated against as a result of exposing the potential contamination. More ›

Supreme Court Backs Whistleblowing Air Marshall

On January 21st, the Supreme Court affirmed a former air marshal's right to whistleblower protection relating to his leaking of air security plans to the media.  The 7-2 decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts in the case, Department of Homeland Security v. MacLean, No. 13-894 (U.S. January 21, 2015),  represents a rare victory for government whistleblowers who expose dangers to public health or safety. More ›

11th Circuit: Employer Aware of Employee's Underreported Hours Cannot Rely on "Unclean Hands" Defense in FLSA Case

Santonias Bailey, a TitleMax employee, underreported his hours worked.  His supervisor instructed him to do so, and the supervisor would also himself routinely revise Baily’s time records to reflect even less hours worked.  Bailey’s self-underreporting of hours violated TitleMax’s policy, however, which requires employees to verify time worked; further, his failure to report his supervisor for the supervisor’s instructions and revisions violated a second TitleMax policy relating to reporting of problems with supervisors.  More ›

7th Circuit Finds That Naming EEOC Claimant in SEC Filing May Have Been Retaliatory

Celia Greengrass worked as an account executive for International Monetary Systems, Ltd. ("IMS"). In September 2007, Greengrass made an internal complaint about alleged harassment by a manager; two months later, she quit her job. In January 2008, Greengrass filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging sex discrimination, national origin discrimination, and retaliation.

In March 2008, IMS was due to make its annual SEC filings, which required it to disclose any material legal proceedings, including the principal parties, facts, and relief sought. Upon consultation with an outside accountant, IMS elected to not include Greengrass's EEOC complaint in the SEC filing information. IMC did, however, without naming the complainant, refer to a different EEOC complaint brought against the company. More ›

California Court Expands Going and Coming Rule

Craig Schultz was a drafter for a civilian company that had several buildings located on a large U.S. Air Force base. He drove his personal vehicle onto the base, and was permitted to travel around the base and use military vehicles in light of his employment with the civilian company. While driving to work one morning, and while on base, he suffered symptoms of his diabetes which led to him flipping his car and sustaining severe injuries. Schultz filed a workers' compensation claim seeking benefits because his injury occurred on his employer's premises, and thus, he claimed he was injured in the course of his employment.California Court Expands Going and Coming Rule  More ›