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When Taking a Mexican Vacation During Your FMLA Leave is Not Grounds for Termination

A recent decision issued by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court offers up a good reminder that what employers may consider FMLA abuse may not in fact be FMLA abuse under the law. That's exactly the scenario that played out in Richard A. DaPrato vs. Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. More ›

Employer Alert: SCOTUS Holds That EEOC Charge Processing Rules can be Waived by a Defendant Since they are not Jurisdictional

On June 3, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States made a ruling that employers and their legal counsel need to be aware of. In Fort Bend County v. Davis, the Supreme Court ruled that the charge-filing requirements for EEOC discrimination claims filed under Title VII, including that Act's scope of charge and filing rules, are not jurisdictional and instead are claims processing rules which can be waived by a defendant if not timely raised in federal court proceedings. This decision resolves a split among multiple federal Circuit Courts which have confronted the issue. More ›

EEOC Announces Due Date for Collection of 2017 and 2018 EEO-1 Race, Gender, and Ethnicity Pay Data, DOL Files Appeal

The EEOC is immediately reinstating the revised EEO-1 pay data survey previously put on hold by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), even as the U.S. Department of Labor seeks to challenge the court ruling that mandated the data collection. The deadline for filing Component 2 data for calendar years 2017 and 2018 will be September 30, 2019. The EEOC will begin collecting Component 2 data sometime in mid-July, but the precise date is still unknown. The EEOC will notify filers of the opening date "as soon as it is available." More ›

SCOTUS Reverses Ninth Circuit, Finds Class Arbitration Must be Explicitly Authorized in Agreements

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) handed employers a major win in Epic Systems v. Lewis, when it ruled that employees must submit claims to arbitration on an individualized basis when their employment agreements require it, even when those claims could be brought as class or collective action under federal legislation. More recently, in Lamps Plus Inc. et al. v. Frank Varela, SCOTUS addressed the issue of whether a worker can pursue class arbitration when an arbitration agreement does not explicitly address class arbitration. By a 5-4 vote, the court said class arbitration is also barred in such circumstances, holding that "[u]nder the Federal Arbitration Act, an ambiguous agreement cannot provide the necessary contractual basis for concluding that the parties agreed to submit to class arbitration[.]" More ›

Hair today...discrimination case tomorrow?

California is well on its way to unanimously becoming the first state to ban discrimination in schools and workplaces based on hair/hairstyles, hair textures, and protective hairstyles such as twists, braids, updos, and wigs. The CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act would prohibit employers and schools from enforcing discriminatory grooming, hair keeping policies, or dress codes that could disproportionately affect people of color. Going forward, California employers should look at their related polices to ensure they are non-discriminatory and do not specifically target hairstyles or hair textures of people of color. More ›

SCOTUS Will Decide Whether Title VII Protects LGBTQ Workers

After considerable anticipation, the U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear three cases involving questions of whether Title VII's prohibition against sex discrimination encompasses discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The first two cases, Altitude Express v. Zarda and Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, were brought by employees who alleged their employers terminated their employment after learning they were gay. The Court's decision will resolve a widening circuit split over whether Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In Altitude Express, the Second Circuit joined the Seventh Circuit in holding it does cover sexual orientation, overturning longstanding precedent in the process. The court reasoned "the most natural reading of the statute's prohibition on discrimination 'because of . . . sex' is that it extends to sexual orientation discrimination because sex is necessarily a factor in sexual orientation." In Bostock, the Eleventh Circuit held it does not, explaining it remained bound by a 1979 case holding "[d]ischarge for homosexuality is not prohibited by Title VII." More ›

In a Win for Labor Unions, Illinois Governor Pritzker Signs Bill Prohibiting Municipalities from Establishing Right-to-Work Zones

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker recently signed into law the Collective Bargaining Freedom Act, formally ending an initiative of former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. Effective as of April 12, 2019, the new law limits the ability of municipalities, counties, villages, and taxing districts to enact "right-to-work zones" which prevent employers and unions who work within the zones from executing, implementing, and enforcing union security provisions. More ›

DOL Proposes Tweaks to FLSA Regular Rate Regulations, Changes Won't Impose New Regulatory Requirements

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced proposed changes to the regular rate regulations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). According to the DOL, the proposed changes are focused on updating and clarifying the regular rate regulations, and intended to encourage employers to provide additional benefits to workers without inviting litigation. More ›

Eleventh Circuit Clarifies Legal Standard in Evaluating Similarly Situated Individuals

For years, advocates in the Eleventh Circuit have expressed confusion over the term "similarly situated" when addressing claims of discrimination under the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting analysis. In a rare move, the Eleventh Circuit sought to clear up "the mess" it had created through prior circuit court decisions. As a result of the Court's findings, employers—particularly those in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida—will have more clarity when evaluating possible discrimination claims. More ›

Employee Participation in an Employer-Sponsored Volunteer Program is Not Compensable, DOL Says

The Department of Labor (DOL), Wage and Hour Division, recently issued its first set of opinion letters for 2019. One of the letters, FLSA2019-02, addresses whether employee time spent participating in an employer's optional volunteer program is compensable work time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). As many employers today offer optional volunteer programs to their employees, this opinion letter is helpful for employers to determine whether employee time spent volunteering with such a program is compensable. More ›

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