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Employment Law Blog

Coutard v. Municipal Credit Union, No. 15-1113 (2d Cir. Feb. 9, 2017)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides that eligible employees may be entitled to leave to care for relatives with whom they had an in loco parentis relationship as a child. The Second Circuit holds that where the plaintiff requested leave to care for a sick grandparent, who raised him has a child, the employer had a duty to inquire further about the relationship before denying leave.

A Puzder-Led Labor Department Would Make Life Much Harder for U.S. Workers

President Trump's pick for Labor Secretary, Hardee's and Carl's Jr. CEO, Andrew Puzder, has come under attack by workers and their advocates since his nomination was first announced in December. Rightly so. Puzder's approach to doing business and his previous statements regarding key workplace issues paint a very worrisome picture regarding how workers will fare under his watch. Just ask the workers at his own company, who, in a report issued this week, describe a pattern of workplace violations, including being required to work sick and without pay, resulting from business decisions that appear to give low priority to workers' health and well-being.

Mayes v. WinCo Holdings, No. 14-35396 (9th Cir. Feb. 3, 2017)

This takes the cake: an employee on the night shift at an Idaho supermarket is accused of (and fired for) taking a cake from the bakery's "stales cart" without permission to serve to co-workers. The Ninth Circuit thinks that a jury could find management's story unpalatable, though, and remands it for a trial.

Flag on the Play: Injured Professional Athletes Fighting for Compensation

Professional athletes are often likened to warriors and lionized for pushing their bodies to the breaking point, ignoring pain, and remaining stoic. Most accept that some injuries - sprains, pulled muscles, etc. - are part of the job. More and more, however, professional athletes are drawing a line when it comes to preventable injuries that can be attributed to the often willful negligence of the teams and leagues that employ them.

Bridgewater Settlement Spotlights Employers' Heavy Handed Use of Employment Contract Provisions

For many workers, signing an employment contract with a confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-competition, or non-solicitation clause is a necessary part of accepting and keeping a job. What they don't anticipate, however, is that those provisions can be leveraged against them to restrict employees' rights to challenge unlawful practices and find other work, placing their livelihoods and future employment in jeopardy.

A recent settlement between the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and hedge fund giant Bridgewater Associates sheds light on the heavy hand employers wield to quash employee workplace claims, prevent them from disclosing employment details, and force them away from the courtroom and into mandatory arbitration.

Reynaga v. Roseburg Forest Products, No. 14-35028 (9th Cir. Jan. 26, 2017)

A Ninth Circuit panel holds, in a Title VII and Oregon state law case, that an employer's breaking into a work locker constitutes a materially adverse employment action. The panel also splits - 2-1 - over whether the employer failed to take appropriate steps to stop alleged racial harassment, and whether it disproportionately punished the plaintiff by firing him (for leaving the workplace) while taking no action against the harasser.

Stalled Overtime Rules Will Hurt All U.S. Workers, Including Trump Voters

President-elect Trump rode a wave of American worker discontent all the way to the White House. A frequent refrain during his boisterous campaign rallies was that a Trump presidency would "make America great again" by bringing back well-paying jobs.

If the incoming president is serious about his pledge to workers, he should support the Department of Labor's ("DOL's") effort to preserve its new overtime rules. The rules, which were supposed to take effect on December 1, 2016, would have significantly increased the number of workers eligible for overtime - an estimated 4.2 million American workers would have benefited. The rules were blocked by a federal judge in Texas in connection with a lawsuit brought by 21 states to stop the changes.

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Bankruptcy Court Can Skip Over Wage & Employee Benefits Claims in Favor of Lower-Ranked Unsecured Creditors

State and federal labor laws ensure that employees are fairly compensated for their work. When companies become insolvent, similar protections give wages and benefits a higher priority in bankruptcy over other creditors' claims. But does a bankruptcy judge have the power to switch that order?

This question is now before the U.S. Supreme Court as it decides whether 1,800 truck drivers who were laid off without warning when Jevic Transportation filed for bankruptcy were unlawfully denied priority for payment of unpaid WARN Act wages and employee benefits. Outten & Golden represents the drivers, and how the Court rules could have a dramatic impact on workers' rights.

How an Employee's Military Service or Status Can Be the Basis for Discrimination

We often hear media reports about workplace discrimination involving gender, race, national origin, age, and disability that is all too common. But most Americans would be surprised to learn that each year thousands of employees are subjected to blatant and harmful discrimination simply because they are veterans or are currently serving in the Armed Forces - and this discrimination harms our national security by discouraging participation in the National Guard and Reserve.

Despite the well-publicized job skills that veterans and servicemembers offer - including leadership skills, education, training, values, and teamwork experience - many civilian employers believe that their employees' military duties are inconvenient to their businesses and some believe their employees shouldn't be allowed to take military leave and return to their civilian jobs without interruption. Fortunately, for more than 70 years, federal laws have protected the rights of American workers to serve in the military without losing their civilian jobs and to enforce their rights when they are subjected to discrimination or retaliation.

Karlo v. Pittsburgh Glass Works, LLC, No. 15-3435 (3d Cir. Jan. 10, 2017)

The Third Circuit, declaring a split with several other courts, holds that an ADEA disparate-impact case may allege discrimination against a subset of the protected group, here employees 50 and over. Prior decisions had held that such claims could be based only on the entire protected group - age 40 and over - but the Third Circuit panel holds that "their reasoning relies primarily on policy arguments that we do not find persuasive."

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