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Your First Offer Letter: How Do You Respond?

Congratulations! You have received an offer letter. Usually, this is a document that formally extends employment to a job applicant and outlines the main terms and conditions (including salary and other benefits). The offer letter also frequently gives a candidate a more in-depth description of the position's role within the organization and responsibilities. Although the offer letter may seem like it presents a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, most of the time there is some room for negotiation. Even if you think you have no ability to negotiate, it is still important to make sure you understand the terms you are agreeing to before signing the offer letter. Review the offer carefully and think outside of the box if there are issues you want to discuss.

California Court of Appeals Suggests All Employee Non-Solicitation Agreements Are Unenforceable

California has a strong public policy, codified in Section 16600 of the Business & Professions Code and repeatedly recognized by courts, that prohibits restrictions on employee mobility and competition, except in certain defined situations, as set forth in Sections 16601 and 16602 of the Business and Professions Code. Restrictions prohibiting competition that involves disclosure of trade secrets is also allowed.

In the past, some California courts have recognized certain other non-statutory exceptions to that policy, notably non-solicitation employees and "non-interference" provisions in employee contracts. In recent rulings, however, the courts seem determined to close this judicial loophole and prohibit these provisions as improper restrictions on trade.

Garrison v. Dolgencorp, LLC, No. 18-1066 (8th Cir. Oct. 3, 2019)

The Eighth Circuit reminds employers that even where a disabled employee requests an accommodation that is deemed unreasonable, they are still obliged to engage in an interactive process to see if any other accommodation might work.

Do Employment Discrimination Plaintiffs in the District of Columbia Have 180 or 300 Days to File their Charges with the EEOC? The Epps Court, Briefly an Outlier, Now Says D.C. Plaintiffs have 300 Days.

By Mikael Rojas and Maria Malaver

Both plaintiff and defense-side employment counsel have long understood that Title VII claimants in the District of Columbia had up to 300 days from an adverse action to file a charge with the D.C. Field Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). A recent ruling in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia gave practitioners reason to question that understanding, holding that the 300-day charge-filing period only applied where a claimant first filed his or her charge with the D.C. Office of Human Rights (DCOHR). Now, however, that court has changed course, formally reconsidering its opinion and confirming that claimants have 300 days to file with either the DCOHR or the EEOC.

Kelleher v. Fred A. Cook, Inc., No. 18-2385 (2d Cir. Sept. 24, 2019)

The Second Circuit holds that even though the plaintiff (in an ADA associational discrimination case) also plead the employer's supposedly "legitimate, non-discriminatory" reasons for termination in his complaint, the district court erred in weighing them while deciding a motion to dismiss.

Sexual Innuendos and Gossip Can Create a Hostile Work Environment

Being the subject of malicious gossip or innuendo in the workplace can sabotage your relationships with coworkers and impede your career prospects. But can this behavior actually rise to the level of a hostile work environment under the law and provide the basis for a sexual harassment claim? According to several cases from around the country, the answer is yes - if adequately supported, evidence of rumors, innuendo, and gossip can demonstrate actionable gender-based discrimination.

Menaker v. Hofstra Univ., No. 18-3089 (2d Cir. Aug. 15, 2019)

Although it is a commonplace that employers do not violate Title VII simply by shortcutting their own internal disciplinary systems, that is not necessarily the case if the disciplinary proceeding itself is motivated in part by gender or racial stereotypes. Today, the Second Circuit holds that a coach stated a plausible claim that his employer relied on "invidious stereotypes and credit[ed] malicious accusations" while investigating a Title IX harassment complaint filed against him by a student.

Post-World Cup Victory, U.S. Women's National Soccer Team Continues to Drive Toward the Goal in Its Campaign for Equal Pay

"U.S.A.! Equal Pay! Equal Pay!" These chants from the crowd after the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT) won the World Cup became the rallying cry behind its ongoing efforts to obtain pay equity for female athletes. Following the team's second straight international championship, and fourth overall, the players returned home to increased national recognition of both their sport and their struggle. Now that the women's team and the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) failed to resolve their pay dispute in mediation, they are now preparing their cases for the courtroom while making their respective cases in the court of public opinion.

Cruz v. McAleenan, No. 17-5113 (D.C. Cir. July 30, 2019)

The D.C. Circuit remands a summary judgment in a Title VII case, holding that the district court erred in not allowing the plaintiff to get discovery on whether "white . . . or male employees, were disciplined less severely for the sort of behavior for which Cruz was disciplined."

Stepp v. Covance, Inc., No. 18-3292 (7th Cir. July 26, 2019)

Here's a terse reminder that when an employer's supposedly "legitimate, non-discriminatory" reason for an adverse action is utterly contradicted by the undisputed timeline, then summary judgment most likely ought to be denied.

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