Between the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the National Labor Relations Board, joint employment is quite the hot topic. Of course, we’re all over it here on our blog, which is why you need the details on the new Fact Sheet the DOL recently issued discussing joint employment in the context of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Like it or not, winter has finally arrived. During times of snowy and icy road conditions, employers will undoubtedly be faced with tardiness, absenteeism, and the possibility of implementing office and/or plant closures. One question that often arises during inclement weather is how to handle pay issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If you find yourself in that boat snowmobile, read on!
Recently, the EEOC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which would amend the regulations implementing Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) as they relate to employer wellness programs that are part of group health plans. This NPRM related to GINA is an encore, of sorts, to the regulations the Commission proposed earlier this year in the area of wellness programs as they related to the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act.
Traditionally, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Court – which encompasses the West Virginia – has been regarded as being an employer-friendly jurisdiction when it comes to deciding cases arising under federal employment laws. However, that gradually has been changing over the last handful of years, and there’s no greater example of that trend than the recent case of Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainebleau Corp., 786 F.3d 264 (4th Cir. 2015), when the Fourth Circuit ruled that a single, isolated instance of harassment may give rise to an actionable hostile work environment claim under Title VII. Because the opinion lowered the standard for when employers may be liable for sexual harassment, it’s very important for employers to be familiar with it.
Before suing an employer for employment discrimination under Title VII, the EEOC must first “endeavor to eliminate [the] alleged unlawful employment practice by informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion.” 42 U.S.C. §2000e–5(b). Only once the Commission determines that conciliation has failed may it file suit in federal court. On April 29, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its highly-anticipated decision in the case of Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC and ruled – in a unanimous opinion – that Title VII authorizes judicial review of the EEOC’s efforts to satisfy its duty to conciliate before filing suit against an employer.
Even after a record number of wage and hour cases over the last decade, new issues keep arising in this area. One of the most interesting of those questions in recent years hit the United States Supreme Court last year, when the Court tackled the question of whether or not time employees spend in anti-theft security screening at the end of their shift is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled in Riley v. St. Mary’s Medical Center that, while the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”) altered the federal standard for proving a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and as the Pennsylvania legislature has not enacted a similar amendment to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”), the higher, pre-ADAAA standard for proving “disability” will apply to a plaintiff’s PHRA disability claim.
Employers often are leery of retaliation claims, and rightfullly so, since they are among the most dangerous to defend in court. Typically, however, employers confront allegations of retaliation only from current or just-made-former employees. Now, in a recent decision issued by the Fourth Circuit, even applicants can go the retaliation route in the right circumstances.
As West Virginia employers are undoubtedly aware, there is a cause of action in the state commonly known as a “Harless claim” for wrongful discharge when an employee can show that his or her discharge contravenes some substantial public policy of the State of West Virginia. In Brown v. City of Montgomery, et al., the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals recently issued a decision holding that it is a violation of a substantial public policy for an employer to fire an employee for refusing to retaliate against another employee who has filed a discrimination claim against the employer.