Showing 10 posts from August 2014.

New Pregnancy Accommodation Requirements Coming to Illinois in January 2015

On August 26, 2014, Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois signed the so-called “Pregnancy Fairness bill” into law, creating broad new protections for pregnant workers in Illinois. The legislation, which comes on the heels of the EEOC’s recent federal pregnancy discrimination guidance, amends the Illinois Human Rights Act and creates substantial new rules for employers interacting with pregnant employees and job applicants. Notably, small employers are not exempt from the Illinois law — all employers operating in Illinois will be subject to the new rules. More ›

Strong Medicine: Clinic Owner Found Personally Liable for $1.1 Million in Back Wages after Failing to Pay H-1B Non-Immigrant Physicians' Required Salary

Between 1998 and 2001, Dr. Mohan Kutty owned and operated a group of five rural medical clinics in rural Florida and Tennessee. Kutty created a formal corporate structure for the clinics, but in practice treated the business as an extension of himself: he and his wife were the sole owners and corporate officers, he personally made all decisions regarding operations, and he maintained no corporate or financial reports. To staff his clinics, Kutty hired seventeen newly-graduated foreign medical students. The students were in the U.S. in J-1 student status; J-1 status allows foreign medical graduates to study medicine in the U.S. but generally requires them to return abroad for at least two years before seeking work in the U.S. An exception to the two-year foreign residency requirement exists, however, allowing foreign medical graduates who have a qualifying job offer for employment in a medically-underserved area to waive the requirement and immediately enter H-1B nonimmigrant status. Kutty's clinics were in such underserved areas, and so he was able to obtain waiver of the graduates' two-year J-1 foreign residency requirement and petition for their H-1B status. More ›

Third Circuit Opinion Highlights Importance of Properly Designating FMLA Leave

Lisa Lupyan was an instructor at the defendant college. After showing signs of depression, her employer encouraged her to take a leave to deal with it. Lupyan met with an administrative supervisor, Sherri Hixson, on December 19, 2007, who told her to submit paperwork indicating that she was requesting “Family Medical Leave.” Hixson set Lupyan’s projected return to work date to April 1, 2008, based on Lupyan’s Certification of Health Provider. Lupyan’s FMLA rights were not discussed during this meeting although the college contends that it mailed a letter to her later that day advising her that she was on FMLA leave. Lupyan denies that she received this letter and denies that she had any knowledge that she was on FMLA leave.  More ›

Sixth Circuit Discusses ADA and Work Related Medical Exams Involving Psychological Issues

At some point in time, most employers or managers face a situation where an employee exhibits odd or off-putting behaviors, or behaviors that suggest the possibility that an employee could harm herself or other persons at the workplace. Navigating the maze of potential proactive and reactive measures to take has never been easy, and not much case law on the topic exists, especially outside the sphere of public safety positions in fire and police departments. Moreover, the EEOC has not specifically updated its March 25, 1997 Guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and Psychiatric Disabilities, other than noting that the 2008 amendments to the ADA change how the Act defines "disability." This state of affairs provides little direction or comfort to employers. Those who review the cited EEOC Guidance can also fairly say that the discussions contained in the Guidance can at times raise more questions than they answer. More ›

Hold the cellphone! Who pays if it’s work?

In an August 19, 2014, Daily Journal article, Hold the cellphone! Who pays if it’s work?, Michael Newman writes about a recent California appellate opinion providing employers insight into how they should reimburse employees for work calls make on private cell phone lines.  Newman notes, however, that while on the surface Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service Inc. provides a definitive rule, in reality it provides little guidance as to how employers should comply with it. More ›

Second Circuit: Dodd-Frank Act's Whistleblower Protections do not Extend to Foreign Tipsters

The Second Circuit ruled Thursday that the Dodd-Frank Act's whistleblower protections do not cover whistleblowers overseas, siding with a foreign employer in a case brought by a former employee alleging that he was fired after reporting alleged fraud relating to events that occurred abroad. More ›

NLRB Expands Definition of "Protected Activity"

Margaret Elias, a cashier at the grocery store chain, sought to file an internal sexual harassment complaint after a note she wrote on a whiteboard in the employee breakroom was altered with some offensive comments and illustrations. In preparing her complaint, Elias drew a copy of the whiteboard alterations and asked her manager and two of her coworkers to sign the illustration. Elias told each of the individuals she asked to sign the drawing that she was planning on filing a complaint with management. After obtaining the signatures, Elias added comments to the paper stating that she considered the whiteboard alterations to constitute sexual harassment. Elias admitted that she never intended to file a joint complaint on behalf of any other employees, but that she believed that other female employees would also be offended by the conduct and wanted to stop it from happening again. More ›

Must Employers Reimburse Employees for work Calls on Private Cell Phones?

In Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc., the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District dealt with the question of whether employers are required to reimburse employees for work-related calls made on their personal cell phones. More ›

Employer's "Honest Belief" Concerning Employee's Alleged Misuse of Leave Supported Termination

A benefits administrator for the county who was regularly charged with administering employment policies and procedures was involved in a vehicle accident. Thereafter, she obtained medical treatment which required additional time off and modifications to her duties upon return. Approximately seven weeks after the accident, the county asked her to submit a formal request for leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in light of the time requested off. The employee did not respond, and the county accordingly notified her that her FMLA leave would commence on the date the forms had been mailed, but that final, official approval for her requested leave had not yet been given. 
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Court Holds that Franchisor is Not Employer Pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act

Benjamin Orozco worked as a cook in a Craig O's Pizza and Pasteria franchise which was owned by Sandra and Arnold Entjer. Craig and Roxana Plackis owned Roxs Enterprises, Inc. ("Roxs"), which was the franchisor of Craig O's. Initially, the Entjers paid Orozco a salary of $1,200 bi-weekly. In 2007, his wages were reduced to $1,050 per week, and later, in 2011, they changed his pay to $11 per hour. Orozco quit and filed suit against the Entjers, claiming he was entitled to overtime pay and that he was not properly paid minimum wages pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Orozco ultimately settled with the Entjers but then added as a party Craig Plackis, the franchisor. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of Orozco finding, in part, that Plackis was Orozco's employer. Plackis moved for judgment as a matter of law, which was denied, and as a result, appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. More ›