Archives: Employment Litigation

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And the Oscar Goes to. . .the Stored Communications Act?

Film reels abound with examples of employees-turned-detectives using documents taken from their employer’s files to bring wrongdoing to light. You may have your own favorites but here are mine (with titles hidden in footnotes so as not to spoil your fun): An up-and-coming agent uses a flash drive hidden in her coffee mug to smuggle … Continue Reading

“Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”: But a Good Separation Agreement Can Ease the Pain

Neil Sedaka’s 1962 hit song still rings true not only for ex-lovers but also for ex-employees.  But, the Employment Relationship Doctor has advice for half of that equation in time for Valentine’s Day.  Well thought out separation agreements allow employers to survive failed relationships. Let me repeat the operative phrase: “well thought out.”  Despite prior … Continue Reading

Employee Turnover: Can Employers Recoup Investments In Their Employees?

New employees need to be trained. Some need to be moved. And, in many business sectors, employers continue to invest in their employees via continued education and training courses. All of these are investments. Their pay off, however, depends on whether the employee stays with the company. Millennials job-hop like it’s their… well, job. Over … Continue Reading

Forum Selection Clauses For U.S. Citizens Working In Another Country?

Choice of law and choice of forum clauses are routine. But, are those clauses enforceable in employment agreements covering U.S. citizens on foreign assignments?  Let’s compare cases involving (1) U.S. employees on long-term assignments in the UK; (2) who each had choice of law and choice of forum clauses; and (3) who each filed suit … Continue Reading

Walk-Backs: Learning to manage employees by watching America’s political leaders?

Managers often confront workplaces rife with a history of unenforced policies and mistakenly believe that the solution is merely to enforce those long-ignored rules.  Legally, the results of such efforts can be disastrous. In Curry v. Menard, Inc., 270 F.3d 473 (7th Cir. 2001), a new manager tried to more strictly enforce the company’s cash … Continue Reading

Wellness Program Wars

This should be easy.  Like motherhood and apple pie, everybody should be in favor of encouraging more wellness.  But, in 21st century America, nothing is ever easy; mothers baking apple pies beware. There are two fronts in the wellness program wars. The first has been playing in court for several years.  The second arises from … Continue Reading

Kvetching Toward Living With EEO-1 Compensation Data Demands

Nobody remembers I.F. “Izzy” Stone (1907-1989) but everybody should; he was a reporter who did deep-dive readings of the handouts, the press releases, and the public documents.  Izzy would love the EEOC as a target.  While the EEOC did not include its proposed EEO-1 form in its updated Final Comment Request, you can find it … Continue Reading

Space, Time, and Taxes: How The Theory Of Special Relativity Applies To Settling An Employment Claim

Special thanks to Taylor Carico for contributing to this post. Tax implications of employment settlements bedevil everyone. Even Albert Einstein famously stated that “the hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.” There are lots of reasons for confusion but the complication between what is taxable income and what is taxable wages … Continue Reading

How to use the new trade secrets act: tips for employers

US businesses lose $300 billion annually in stolen trade secrets; employees can steal thousands of documents with the push of a button; and the FBI acknowledges it cannot stop this hemorrhage on its own. In response, Congress just enacted the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) to give private litigants powerful new tools to combat this … Continue Reading

Dealing with the new FLSA salary tests in ruby slippers

This article first appeared as an Employment Alert on our firm’s website. News releases echoing the famous mantra from The Wizard of Oz – “lions, and tigers, and bears … Oh my!” – suggested that the Department of Labor (DOL) has issued an army of flying monkeys. Not so. The DOL merely finalized new dollar … Continue Reading

FAQs on the ADA’s Application to Addicts

23.5 million Americans aged 12 or older—approximately 10% of the U.S. population—consider themselves in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse problems. In light of these staggering numbers, as well as the ADA’s explicit protections for addicts, litigation related to employee addiction is increasingly common. The following FAQs address legal responsibilities with respect to addicted employees. … Continue Reading

The Elephant in the Corner … Do You Have to Pay Employees for Checking Work Email?

Connectivity is addictive. Managers text and email staff 24/7; workers check their phones incessantly 24/7. How often? Okay, here are the actual numbers from a recent Gallup poll: 11% check it every few minutes; 41% a few times an hour; and 20% of Americans claim once an hour. If you haven’t checked in last 60 … Continue Reading

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk: Best Practices for Handling Nursing Employees

“First comes love, then comes marriage [or not – no judgment], then comes the baby in the baby carriage” and then – for nursing working mothers – comes expressing milk at the workplace. Nursing employees are currently afforded workplace protections under several major federal laws; plus, many state and local governments have expanded these federal … Continue Reading

Retaliation Claims Under The False Claims Act: A Pop Quiz

President Lincoln signed the False Claims Act (FCA) in response to scoundrels who sold the Union Army “gunpowder” kegs full of sawdust, uniforms sewn with used rags that disintegrated when wet, and boots made of cardboard that fell apart when worn. To incentivize citizens to protect the government, the FCA provided a bounty to individuals … Continue Reading

Is a Severance Policy More Like an ERISA Plan, a Writing Desk, or a Raven?

… The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he said was, “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?” …“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.  “No, I give it up,” Alice replied. “What’s the answer?”  “I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.  “Nor … Continue Reading

Is There Really An Obligation To Provide Miranda Warnings In Employee Interviews?

Investigations of employment-related claims routinely require employee interviews. Reports of sexual harassment, picket line misconduct, or whistleblowing all trigger such investigative interviews. Conventional wisdom suggests that employers and their counsel should ask the interviewees to maintain what is covered in confidence and even to document that confidentiality commitment in writing. But, developments on multiple fronts … Continue Reading

Defining ADA Disabilities in a DSM-V World

Charles Dickens and his characters lived in a pre-ADA world. Yet, those struggling with the definition of “disability” under the ADA share the same frustration as Mr. Bumble in Oliver Twist: “‘If the law supposes that,’ said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, ‘the law is a ass — a idiot.’” Under … Continue Reading

Brave New World: Evolving Protections For Transgender Employees

Aldous Huxley wrote in his novel Brave New World that “If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely.” With increased visibility (Orange is the New Black’s Laverne Cox; Caitlyn Jenner), transgender people are both less different and less lonely. State anti-sex discrimination laws are expanding to include explicit protections for transgender employees. Currently, nineteen states … Continue Reading

Innovations In Settling Wage Hour Class/Collective Actions

Settling Rule 23 opt-out class actions is straightforward: the agreed-upon settlement is presented to the court for preliminary approval of a Rule 23(e) settlement class and — if the settlement is not approved — the parties return to their pre-settlement status: i.e., there is no class. But, following the conventional wisdom on FLSA opt-in rules … Continue Reading

Accommodating Religion: Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Title VII imposes an obligation to accommodate religion, including “all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief.”  42 U.S.C. § 2000e, subd. (j).  This obligation has drawn renewed attention following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., 575 U.S. ___ (June 1, 2015). … Continue Reading

Tattoo-ism: Where Body Art Meets Employment Discrimination

Tattoos and body piercings have become increasingly prevalent in the U.S. — over 20% of adults are now tattooed. This number only will be increasing because 38% of millennials (born from 1981-1992) have tattoos, approximately half of whom have two or more, while 23% of millennials have body piercings. More of a concern for employers, … Continue Reading

Allergic At Work Is Not Allergic To Work

Food allergies are widespread. Anyone who has a child, works at or with a school, or reads extensively knows that the increasing prevalence of food allergies among children is one of today’s biggest medical mysteries, not to mention a huge problem. The number of children with nut allergies has more than quadrupled since 1997, which … Continue Reading
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