On December 4, 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, more popularly known as the “gay wedding cake case.” At issue in this case are competing interests in First Amendment freedoms of expression and religion and the same-sex couples’ rights to equal, nondiscriminatory treatment.
This question today comes up in many contexts. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, an intermediate appellate court, in D&R Construction v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, had to determine whether the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act (CWMA) 43 p.s. § 933.1-17 was instructive in evaluating the employee or independent contractor question.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is the government agency tasked with the responsibility to enforce the federal laws prohibiting discrimination in all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits. Typically, the first steps for individuals seeking to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC are an initial inquiry and intake interview. These first steps are now made easier through the recently launched EEOC Public Portal. The EEOC Public Portal was piloted in five U.S. cities – Charlotte, Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix, and Seattle – for six months before it was made available nationwide on November 1, 2017.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently affirmed summary judgment in favor of the employer in a case involving an allegation of a racially hostile work environment, which was supported by shocking evidence, including racial slurs, a noose, and even a KKK-style hood. Read on to learn how this employer has – so far* – escaped liability in the face of such egregious evidence.
On October 30, 2017, the Department of Labor filed a new notice of appeal in the suit that challenged the Obama administration’s overtime regulations. These regulations, which were intended to become effective on December 1, 2016, more than doubled the minimum salary level required to qualify for a white-collar exemption to $913 per week ($47,476 annually).
Although the ACA Play or Pay mandate was effective in 2015, it has been unclear when or how the IRS would collect any penalties assessed under that mandate. Earlier this month, however, the IRS quietly provided its answer by updating an online ACA resource and stating that penalty notices for the 2015 year would be issued in “late 2017.” Under the new procedures, an employer who receives one of these notices will have only 30 days to respond. Employers should act now to maximize their ability to respond timely and minimize inadvertent penalty assessments.
Without a doubt sexual harassment has always been a serious issue for employers. Given the recent headlines relating to celebrities such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Bill O’Reilly, and others, sexual harassment is now front and center in the consciousness of the American public in ways that it was not just a short time ago. After the Harvey Weinstein scandal hit the news, Actress Alyssa Milano took to Twitter and posted the following tweet: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Her tweet caught fire and “#metoo” peppers all vehicles of social media. In fact, CBS News reported that more than 45% of U.S. Facebook users had friends who posted #metoo.
While autumn is generally a mirthful season of crisp weather, beautiful colors, and tasty s’mores, it also serves as the harbinger of one of the most dreaded yearly seasons – flu. With experts predicting that this flu season could be a severe one, employers are understandably worried about the safety of their employees and clientele. Over the past several years, many employers have implemented mandatory flu vaccination programs for their employees. If you have implemented, or are considering implementing, such a program, read on for tips you should consider.
Since the Steelworkers Trilogy of 1960, the Supreme Court has furthered the private justice system by liberally interpreting the scope of arbitration agreements. The Third Circuit, in a case applying New Jersey law, however, may have recently narrowed the scope of those decisions within its jurisdiction. In Moon v. Breathless, Inc., the Circuit had to determine whether a statutory claim was covered by an arbitration agreement or could be brought in court. The individual bringing the claim had signed an independent contractor agreement which contained a standard arbitration clause covering all disputes arising under the agreement. Nevertheless, the individual wanted to bring in court a statutory (FLSA) claim based on their asserted employee status. The Circuit was called upon to determine whether, under the breadth of the arbitration clause, the statutory claim, which on its face was inconsistent with the independent contractor agreement, could be brought in court or must be resolved in arbitration.
A pension plan participant’s challenge to his benefit amount was recently struck down by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The court acknowledged that retirement plans are complex documents comprised of hundreds of pages, appendices, and “peculiarities.” The issue on appeal before the court was examining whether the terms of the plan were merely complex or ambiguous.