Monthly Archives: May 2011

“POOR” PENNSYLVANIA: U.S. CHAMBER CASTS A CRITICAL EYE AT THE COMMONWEALTH’S EMPLOYMENT POLICIES

Most interested observers know that the United States Chamber of Commerce consistently ranks the West Virginia legal system, generally speaking, quite poorly for employers.  In fact, West Virginia is usually ranked well below its neighboring states in these studies.  Well, West Virginia may finally have some company in the Chamber’s eyes.

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WHEN IS CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME WORK RELATED? IT DEPENDS…

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (“CTS”) injuries – and other repetitive-motion conditions are common for employers to see in the workers’ compensation arena, and they can be considered occupational diseases under the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, as well.   But since these types of conditions can often be the result of activities outside of the workplace, how does an employer know when one is actually related to the job?

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A WINNING DEFENSE AGAINST HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT CLAIMS

Harassment cases always have been challenging for employers to defend, largely because of the he-said/she-said nature of those claims.  Still, as a new decision from the Fourth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals – the jurisdiction in which West Virginia sits – reminds us, the importance of strong anti-harassment policies, training for employees, and a prompt response to hostile environment complaints before a lawsuit is ever filed go a long way towards positioning the employer well to defend one when it is, regardless of which person has the more credible account of what happened.

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THE SUPREME COURT RELAXES THE STANDARD FOR AWARDS OF ATTORNEYS’ FEES IN ERISA CASES. BUT DOES IT REALLY MATTER?

As a general rule, under what is called “the American Rule” each party to a lawsuit pays his own attorney’s fees, win or lose, unless a statute or a contract provides otherwise.  The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) authorizes courts to award attorneys’ fees and costs to either party.  Such “fee-shifting” is not automatic in ERISA cases.  It’s up to the trial judge to determine whether an award of fees is appropriate on a case-by-case basis.

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REVAMPING THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

If you are a regular reader of this blog site, you are most likely aware that there have been significant changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act. On September 25, 2008, President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), which went into effect on January 1, 2009, and is not retroactive. Although the effective date was over two years ago, revised implementing rules were not finalized until March 24, 2011, when the EEOC published its ADAAA final rule (72 Federal Register 16978). The regulations apply to all private, state and local government employers with 15 or more employees, employment agencies, labor organizations (unions), and joint-labor-management committees.

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