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Showing 10 posts from June 2013.

U.S. Supreme Court Will Rule on Obama’s Recess Appointments

The fate of hundreds of mostly pro-union federal agency rulings now rests with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Court this week agreed to take up Noel v. Canning, the case involving President Obama’s controversial recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”). As we have reported, the D.C. Circuit in January ruled that the President violated the Constitution by appointing a board majority pursuant to his recess appointments power, even though the Senate was technically in session. More ›

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Decision Finding that Contract Provides for Class Arbitration

One U.S. Supreme Court decision has not received great attention from the media, but it may have considerable impact on how employers structure their relationships with employees. In this instance, the issue is what authority does an arbitrator have to interpret contractual terms so as to provide for class arbitration. Justice Kagan, without dissent, explained that the Court viewed arbitration clauses that provide for all civil actions to be arbitrated as giving arbitrators the authority to find a contractual basis to support class arbitration. More ›

Recently Issued Final Regulations Provide Clarification on Employee Wellness Programs

On May 29, 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury), and U.S. Department of Labor issued the final rule governing employee wellness programs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This rule is intended to provide comprehensive guidance as to the general requirements for wellness programs by restructuring the regulations proposed by the departments in November 2012. These regulations replace the wellness program provisions of paragraph (f) of the 2006 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) nondiscrimination and wellness provisions jointly published by HHS and the Treasury and implement Section 2705 of the Public Health Service Act (PHS). As amended by the ACA, the PHS’ nondiscrimination and wellness provisions largely reflect the 2006 regulations and extend the HIPAA nondiscrimination protections to the individual market. The rule applies to group health insurance coverage for plan years starting on or after January 1, 2014. More ›

In Significant Title VII Harassment Decision, U.S. Supreme Court Limits Definition of “Supervisor”

An African-American female who served in a University's dining services division filed a complaint against the University alleging racial harassment and discrimination due to the actions of a white catering specialist who worked at the same location. The catering specialist did not direct the employee's day-to-day activities or have authority to hire, fire, demote or discipline the employee, but sometimes handed the employee her list of tasks and directed the employee in the kitchen. The employee alleged that the catering specialist was her supervisor and that the University was liable for the creation of a racially hostile work environment. More ›

Supreme Court: Proving Title VII Retaliation Claim Requires “But-For” Causation

Adding to a recent string of victories for employers, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 24, 2013, that claims for retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must be proved "according to traditional principles of but-for causation." More ›

Supreme Court Approves Class-Action Arbitration Waiver, Rejects Argument that Individuals Will Not Have Financial Incentive and Capacity to Prove Claims

In a significant victory for businesses and employers, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 20, 2013, that a class-action waiver in an arbitration agreement is valid and enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) even if the costs of prosecuting the claim on an individual basis are financially impracticable. The majority based its ruling on two findings: first, that the federal statute at issue did not expressly override the FAA’s preference for enforcing private arbitration agreements as written and, second, that the financial burdens imposed on individual claimants did not require application of the “effective vindication” rule, which permits courts to invalidate arbitration agreements that prevent a party from effectively pursuing a remedy provided by federal law. More ›

Seventh Circuit: Employer’s Shifting Explanations for Termination Suggest Pregnancy Discrimination

Employers take heed: in a decision issued earlier this week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that an employer’s varying explanations for terminating a pregnant employee indicated possible discrimination, even though the multiple explanations given were only slightly different. The case serves as a reminder that, when terminating an employee, absolute consistency is critical. By providing multiple reasons for a disciplinary decision — even multiple reasons that are almost the same — an employer would needlessly expose itself to discrimination claims. More ›

NY Court: Unpaid Interns Entitled to Protections of Labor Laws

Production interns on the set of a blockbuster movie claimed that they should have been classified as employees, not unpaid interns, and filed suit against the production company. The interns did basic tasks such as answering phones, arranged travel, took lunch orders, and general office work. They claimed that the production company violated federal and New York state minimum wage laws by not paying them for their work. The interns ultimately moved for summary judgment on the issue of whether they were employees covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law, and also sought class certification. The company also filed a motion for summary judgment and opposed the request for class certification. More ›

California Court: Arbitration Agreement does not Override Statutory PAGA Rights

Non-exempt hourly auto workers filed a class action lawsuit alleging violations of various wage and hour laws, and sought penalties under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). The employees had, however, executed the employer’s Employee Dispute Resolution Plan, which provides that all employment-related disputes must be submitted to mediation and arbitration. Employees waived any right they had to pursue, file, participate in, or be represented in disputes filed on a class basis or as a collective or representative action, and the agreement prohibited mediation or arbitration of disputes on a class basis or as a collective or representative action. More ›

Court Incorrectly Denies Employee Opportunity to Present Comparator Evidence

A product engineer took an approved four-week leave of absence to visit family in Gaza, but upon return, security issues rendered it impossible for him to return to the United States prior to the end of his leave. His employer extended his leave for another 45 days. On the day he was scheduled to be terminated for failure to return to work, the employee sent an email to his supervisors advising that he was finally able to exit Israel and was trying to get a flight back to the United States.The employee returned to work roughly one week later and was informed that he had been terminated. More ›

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