Topic: United States

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Expanding definition of “sex discrimination” under Title VII

The Judiciary continues to act where Congress will not All employment attorneys—and most employers—know that Title VII bars discrimination based on certain enumerated personal characteristics: race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. It has long been the case that “sex” meant biological sex only, i.e., discriminating against a woman because she is a woman, or … Continue reading

DOL to appeal injunction against new overtime regulations

Despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Labor’s new overtime regulations were set to go into effect on December 1st, the validity of the regulations remains unsettled. We previously reported that on November 22nd, Judge Amos Mazzant of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas granted a nationwide injunction precluding … Continue reading

OSHA workplace injury and illness tracking will go forward

Last week, a Texas federal judge handed the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) a victory by refusing to grant an injunction that sought to delay the implementation of the Agency’s rule regarding workplace injuries and illnesses. The new rule, entitled “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illness,” requires most employers to submit workplace injury … Continue reading

Texas federal judge puts the brakes on the DOL’s new overtime regulations

Employers who had been searching for a way to best  implement the Department of Labor’s new overtime regulations (the “Final Rule”), which are set to go into effect on December 1, 2016, received an early holiday gift on Tuesday, and from one of President Obama’s appointed jurists, no less.  On November 22nd, Judge Amos Mazzant … Continue reading

US DOL Persuader Rule permanently benched

Hailed by the US Department of Labor as a regulatory change to promote transparency and to help employees make well-informed decisions about union representation, the Department of Labor’s final rule on reporting union persuader activities has been permanently blocked by Texas US District Court Judge Sam R. Cummings. The new rule attempted to narrow the … Continue reading

Time to update your employee handbook

For many employers, the arduous task of reviewing and revising an employee handbook may occur as infrequently as every leap year, or worse, only after a law suit has been filed. However, recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board (Board) should cause employers to take a much closer look at their employee policies and … Continue reading

Ninth Circuit adds to circuit split regarding enforceability of class action waivers

On August 22, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit joined the Seventh Circuit in finding that an employer violates the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) by requiring employees to sign an agreement including a class arbitration waiver. In Morris v. Ernst & Young, plaintiffs were required to sign “concerted action waivers” as a … Continue reading

“Promising practices” encouraged by EEOC to prevent retaliation

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued its final “Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues” following a six-month public comment period. The guidance replaces the EEOC’s 1988 Compliance Manual section on retaliation. Workplace retaliation claims have been on the rise in recent years and have been the focus of several opinions of the … Continue reading

Fair pay, safe workplaces, and federal contractors telling it like it is

On August 24, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Counsel issued a final rule to implement President Obama’s Executive Order 13673, entitled “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces,” first announced by the President over two years ago on July 31, 2014. According to the Federal Acquisition Institute, the purpose of E.O. … Continue reading

NLRB allows student assistants to form union

In the much anticipated Columbia University decision, the National Labor Relations Board reversed its most recent precedent and held that student teaching assistants at private colleges and universities are statutory employees under the National Labor Relations Act and may therefore vote to form a union.  This decision is a return to an earlier decision by … Continue reading

Does Title VII cover sexual orientation claims? It depends.

In July 2015, the EEOC officially took the position that sexual orientation claims may be brought under the non-discrimination provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, in the recent case of Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, the Seventh Circuit refused to accept the EEOC’s position and affirmed the dismissal … Continue reading

DOL issues sex discrimination final rule

On June 14, 2016, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued a Final Rule to revise its sex discrimination policies, updating its guidelines to provide additional guidance on what constitutes discrimination based on sex. The updated guidelines define “sex” to include gender identity, transgender status, pregnancy, and … Continue reading

Minnesota addresses architectural barriers to public places: 2016 amendments to its Human Rights Act

Introduction Minnesota businesses may soon see differences in disability access claims. On May 22, 2016, Minnesota’s Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a new amendment to the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”). The amendment governs what must occur before attorneys can bring suit under the MHRA challenging architectural barriers that limit accessibility to public spaces. … Continue reading

DOL’s new salary rule is a mixed bag for employers

Adding to the recent flurry of federal regulatory activity, on May 18, 2016, the United States Department of Labor‘s Wage and Hour Division issued a final rule on overtime that raises the salary threshold for exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Defining and delimiting the exemptions for executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer employees … Continue reading

Retaliation and whistleblower claims in healthcare expected to remain high

The number of retaliation and whistleblower claims in the US continue to rise. According to data released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), retaliation claims made up 44.5 percent of all charges filed in 2015.  Also, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported a 6 percent increase in the number of whistleblower cases … Continue reading

EEOC continues its efforts to incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity into Title VII protections

On March 1, 2016, the EEOC filed two cases with one clear goal: to expand the meaning of “sex” under Title VII. In EEOC v. Scott Medical Health Center, P.C., Case No. 2:16-cv-00225-CB (W.D. Pa.),  the agency alleges that the defendant harassed an openly gay male employee because of his sexual orientation, thereby committing unlawful … Continue reading

2016 Defend Trade Secrets Act creates federal cause of action for theft of trade secrets

(and don’t forget to update your handbooks or employment agreements) Congress passes Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 Yesterday, Congress broke new ground in federal law, passing the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016. Once it receives the expected signature from the President, the DTSA will create a federal private cause of action for misappropriation … Continue reading

Texas’ new open carry law

Effective January 1, 2016, licensed Texas residents are permitted to openly carry a handgun. Specifically, the new law authorizes individuals to obtain a license to openly carry a handgun in a shoulder or hip holster, but it continues to prohibit any weapons in 9 specific locations including schools, polling places, courts and court offices, secured … Continue reading
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