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Showing 8 posts from June 2012.

NLRB: Retailer Violated NLRA by Forcing Non-Union Workers to Distribute Flyers Apologizing for Bothersome Union Organizing Efforts

The National Labor Relations Board ruled earlier this week that an employer violated federal law when it required non-union employees to distribute fliers apologizing for union protests in front of its store. More ›

D.C. Circuit Upholds Large Jury Verdict in Favor of Male Sexual Harassment Victim

A prominent female lobbyist employed her former personal trainer, a Serbian immigrant, at her lobbying firm and agreed to sponsor his H-1B visa so that he could stay in the United States. Over the course of his three-year employment with the firm, the employee claimed that he was consistently harassed with sexual propositions and innuendo by his female supervisor. Although the employee rebuffed his supervisor's advances, he claimed that the supervisor attempted to control the employee’s personal life, including forbidding him from dating other women, by reminding him that his immigration status depended on her. The employee was terminated and filed a lawsuit for sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and retaliation pursuant to the DC Human Rights Act. The jury awarded the employee $800,000 in damages for his sexual harassment and hostile work environment claims, and $12,000 for retaliation. On the employee's fee motion, the trial judge awarded an additional $455, 730. The employer appealed, arguing various instructional and evidentiary errors at the trial court level.  The District of Columbia Court of Appeals found those errors to be "harmless," and  firmly affirmed the judgment and award. This case serves as a reminder to employers that though the majority of sexual harassment cases involve female plaintiffs, the law applies equally to both genders. It is important to have clear anti-harassment policies in place and to ensure that employees, particularly supervisors and decision-makers, are timely trained on these policies. More ›

Illinois Court: Participation in Employer’s own Discrimination Investigation After EEOC Complaint is Protected Activity Under Title VII

It is generally a rule that an employer may discipline its employee for his behavior during an internal investigation of alleged discrimination. A federal district court in Northern Illinois recently joined the Sixth and Eleventh Circuits, however, in recognizing an exception to that rule: where the investigation occurs after a complaint has been filed, employees who participate are protected from discipline by Title VII. More ›

Breaking News: U.S. Supreme Court Finds Pharmaceutical Sales Reps Exempt as Outside Salespersons Under FLSA

This morning the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Christopher et al. v. SmithKline Beecham, finding that SmithKline properly classified its pharmaceutical sales representatives as "outside salespersons" and thus exempt under the wage and hour requirements set forth in the Fair Labor Standards Act.  More ›

Wal-Mart Follows Properly-Drafted Accommodation Policy, Still ends up Potentially Liable for Retaliation

The Seventh Circuit issued a decision earlier this week which reminds employers that following a properly-drafted policy does not necessarily guarantee freedom from legal complications in all cases. More ›

Eighth Circuit: Business – Judgment Jury Instruction Is Inappropriate For Claim Under Equal Pay Act

The Eighth Circuit has issued a decision which serves as a clear reminder to employees that the federal Equal Pay Act is a strict liability statute. Basically, this means that an employer may not be able to avoid liability by simply articulating a non-discriminatory reason for its actions, as it could in a Title VII discrimination claim. Rather, when a female employee shows that she was paid less than a male employee for the same work, the employer can avoid liability under the Act only by affirmatively proving that it had a justification for the disparity in pay.  More ›

California Court Compels Arbitration and Dismissal of Class Claims, Invalidating Gentry Based on AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion

For many years, pursuant to Gentry v. Superior Court (2007) 42 Cal.4th 443, California courts have held that class waiver provisions in arbitration agreements should not be enforced if class arbitration would be a significantly more effective way of redressing the rights of affected employees. But that was before the U.S. Supreme Court issued its April 2011 ruling in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, holding that the principal purpose of the Federal Arbitration Act is to ensure that arbitration agreements are enforced pursuant to their terms. Further, the Supreme Court held that “requiring the availability of classwide arbitration interferes with fundamental attributes of arbitration and thus creates a scheme consistent with the FAA.” More ›

New Report Issued on Employee use of Social Media and the National Labor Relations Act

On May 30, 2012, the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel issued a Report Concerning Social Media Cases. In it, the General Counsel’s Office reviewed seven cases concerning employers’ social media policies regarding. In its review, the General Counsel found several aspects of these policies to be overbroad while affirming others. More ›

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