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- Bah, Humbug! How To Throw The Company's Holiday Party Without Being Haunted By The Ghost of Future Lawsuits
- The “n”-Word: (N)Ever Contextually Appropriate, In The Workplace?
- Braced For Federal Government Shutdown: Agency Contingency Plans
- Application of Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service – Final Department of Labor Rule
- If You Conduct Criminal Background Checks on Your Employees and Job Applicants, Now is the Perfect Time to Review Your Criminal Conviction Policies
- California Appellate Court Provides Clarification On Criteria For Proper Classification As An Independent Contractor
- Illinois Appellate Court Ruling Imposes New Requirements on Employers Wishing To Issue Noncompetition Agreements.
- IRS Provides Formal Guidance Regarding Delay of Employer Mandate and Employer Reporting Requirements under ACA
- The Statute Apparently Means What It Says -- Supreme Court Grants Victory To Employers Facing Title VII Retaliation Suits
- Homeland Security Secretary Implies USCIS Will Grant Immigration Benefits To Same Sex Couples
Bah, Humbug! How To Throw The Company's Holiday Party Without Being Haunted By The Ghost of Future Lawsuits
No one questions the value of having a holiday party for employees. Parties break down barriers between managers and staff and provide the company with an opportunity to express its appreciation for a year of hard work and dedication. Unfortunately, holiday parties also provide opportunities for some individuals to engage in unacceptable behavior such as:
- Having a few too many drinks;
- Telling the boss what they think of his management style;
- Telling the subordinate what the boss thinks about the way she looks, or the sexy way she dresses;
- Taking the opportunity to dance too close, to hug, to kiss or to fondle that very special employee; or
- Providing the CEO with the opportunity to include his latest and greatest off-color joke in his after-dinner toast to the employees.
While such behavior may not, in and of itself, be sufficient to sustain a claim for sexual harassment, it is certain that if there is a sexual harassment claim in the company’s future, each and every one of the embarrassing things said or done at the holiday party will be resurrected. Short of appointing Ebenezer Scrooge to host the annual holiday party, there are a number of ways a company can discourage inappropriate behavior at the company party. Read More ›
Even if, as some have argued, the “n” word is culturally acceptable to some people in some contexts, does its intra-racial use in the workplace rise to the level of legal discrimination and/or harassment? This is a topic of concern to employers grappling with workplace environments involving communications between people of the same race. Read More ›
Federal government agencies have identified the agencies and/or functions that will be active or inactive during the shutdown period. Notably, the EEOC, DOL, and NLRB plans are identified below.
The EEOC Shutdown Contingency Plan In The Event Of Lapsed Appropriations identifies activities that will continue during the shutdown. According to the EEOC’s Plan, select activities will continue while others will not. Read More ›
On September 17, 2013, the Department of labor (DOL) issued a final rule concerning application of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to domestic service workers.
The Final Rule, effective January 1, 2015, contains several significant changes from the prior regulations, including: (1) the tasks that comprise “companionship services” are more clearly defined; (2) the exemptions for companionship services and live-in domestic service employees are limited to the individual, family, or household using the services; and (3) the recordkeeping requirements for employers of live-in domestic service employees are revised. Read More ›
If You Conduct Criminal Background Checks on Your Employees and Job Applicants, Now is the Perfect Time to Review Your Criminal Conviction Policies
As part of its Strategic Enforcement Plan, the EEOC aims to eliminate barriers in hiring, including employment policies and practices that discriminate against racial and ethnic groups. In particular, the EEOC has increased its focus on the use of criminal convictions in employment, implementing new enforcement guidance on the issue in April 2012. It did not take long for the Commission to take an even stronger position, filing suit in June 2013 against two employers alleging Title VII violations for utilizing criminal background check policies that resulted in employees being terminated or job applicants being screened out for employment. The EEOC also settled a race discrimination charge regarding criminal conviction records. These cases, as well as the EEOC guidance, provide significant insight into how the EEOC analyzes criminal conviction policies and practices. Read More ›
California Appellate Court Provides Clarification On Criteria For Proper Classification As An Independent Contractor
On July 11, 2013, a California appellate court, in Beaumont-Jacques v. Farmers Group Ins., affirmed summary judgment in favor of an insurance company on the question whether a District Manager was properly classified as an independent contractor and not an employee. In so holding, the court provided clarification on the proper analysis for determining this important issue.
Why is this important?
California employers that misclassify workers as independent contractors face potential liability, which can include compensatory damages, stiff penalties and attorney’s fees. Read More ›
Illinois Appellate Court Ruling Imposes New Requirements on Employers Wishing To Issue Noncompetition Agreements.
The Illinois Appellate Court recently held that the promise of new employment alone provides insufficient consideration for post-employment restrictive covenants, such as non-compete and non-solicitation agreements, unless the new employee continues his or her employment for at least two years.
The new hire in Fifield v. Premier Dealer Services, Inc., 2013 IL App (1st) 120327, signed an “Employee Confidentiality and Inventions Agreement” that included two-year non-compete and non-solicitation provisions. The Agreement stated that the restrictive covenants would not apply if the employee were terminated without cause during the first year of employment. The employee quit three months later, went to work for a competitor, and filed suit with his new employer seeking a declaration that the Agreement’s restrictive covenants were invalid and unenforceable. Read More ›
IRS Provides Formal Guidance Regarding Delay of Employer Mandate and Employer Reporting Requirements under ACA
On July 9th, the IRS provided formal guidance in IRS Notice 2013-45 that confirms the one-year delay of the Employer Mandate (Code Section 4980H) and the employer reporting requirements (Code Sections 6055 and 6056) under the Affordable Care Act. These delays were first announced in a blog post on the Treasury and White House websites. You can find Dykema’s alert on the delay here. Notice 2013-45 confirms the delay in the Employer Mandate requirements and reporting requirements but encourages employers to voluntarily comply with the reporting requirements (once regulations are issued) during 2014 so that employers are in a better position when this is fully-implemented in 2015. The Notice confirms that this delay on the Employer Mandate and reporting requirements has no effect on any of the other provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including employees’ access to a premium tax credit or the Individual Mandate.
Please contact Amy Christen or Gabe Marinaro for additional detail or questions regarding Notice 2013-45 or any other questions regarding the Affordable Care Act.
The Statute Apparently Means What It Says -- Supreme Court Grants Victory To Employers Facing Title VII Retaliation Suits
Last week, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in University of Texas v. Nassar, a highly anticipated decision that resolved the burden of proof faced by employees who are attempting to recover for retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Court rejected a more lenient “motivating factor” test, holding instead that the plain text of the statute required a plaintiff to show that their participation in protected activity, was the “but-for” cause for a subsequent adverse employment action. This ruling will increase the likelihood that employers in such cases will prevail on summary judgment, or ultimately at trial, and hopefully will assist in reducing the deluge of retaliation cases that are being filed with the EEOC and the federal courts. Read More ›
Following the US Supreme Court ruling the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples on June 26, 2013, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued the following statement:
I applaud today’s Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor holding that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This discriminatory law denied thousands of legally married same-sex couples many important federal benefits, including immigration benefits. I am pleased the Court agreed with the Administration’s position that DOMA’s restrictions violate the Constitution. Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement today's decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.
Since this does not specifically state same-sex married couples can now obtain immigration benefits, a more formal policy statement is expected on this subject in the future.