One of the ways an employee can prove a serious health condition entitling him/her to the protections of the FMLA is to have an illness, injury, impairment, or physical condition which involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility. Inpatient care is defined in FMLA regulations as an overnight stay. While the meaning of “overnight stay” would appear to be straightforward, that is not necessarily the case. Recently, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals – which has jurisdiction over cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey – was called upon to interpret this term in a case of first impression in that Court.
On May 18, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court in Tibble, et al. v. Edison International et al, unanimously held that there is a continuing duty under ERISA for fiduciaries to monitor and remove imprudent investments. With this ruling, the Supreme Court vacated a 9th Circuit case which had held that, under ERISA’s 6-year statute of limitations, a claim alleging a breach of fiduciary duty concerning a plan investment initially selected outside the 6-year statutory period could only be brought if there was a change in circumstances which would trigger a fiduciary to re-examine the fund’s inclusion in the plan. The Supreme Court ruling also – in effect – reversed similar prior rulings in the 4th and 11th Circuits. Essentially, for all intents and purposes going forward, the Supreme Court ruling in Tibble provides for a rolling 6-year fiduciary liability window for a violation of the continuing duty to monitor investments.
With the arrival of summer, many companies are hiring college and high school students to work as interns during summer break. Often, employers do not pay interns at all, or only pay them a stipend or other amount which is lower than the minimum wage. From an employer’s perspective, it may make good business sense not to pay the intern since they usually are not providing the same experience, skill, and expertise which regular employees provide. In addition, usually the practical experience, relationship building, and resume-padding are more valuable to the intern than any compensation.
On Monday, June 15, the Colorado Supreme Court released its opinion in Coats v. Dish Network, affirming a lower court’s decision to uphold the firing of an employee for using medical marijuana even though the use occurred while the employee was off-duty. In a decision likely having national significance, the Court ruled that Dish did not improperly terminate Coats, who tested positive in 2010 for tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana) in a random, company-issued drug test.
In 1995, Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios teamed up to produce what many ’90s kids and their parents now consider a classic animated film – Toy Story. (*Spoiler Alert*). It recounts a rivalry between a young boy’s favorite toy, Woody, and new toy, Buzz Lightyear. In an ironic twist, Woody has to rescue Buzz from an evil neighbor boy, Sid, to save his reputation with Andy’s other toys. To draw Sid’s attention away from Buzz in the film’s climactic scene, Woody uses his built-in voice box to say, “Somebody’s Poisoned the Waterhole!” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsusakRf7T8).
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.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its long-awaited opinion in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., where it addressed questions surrounding the obligation of an employer to make a religious accommodation. The decision is an important one, so an understanding of what the Court exactly concluded and how its dictates should be adopted for employers on a day-to-day basis is essential. In order to truly gain that understanding, though, let’s briefly take a bit of a bigger-picture look at the issue of religious accommodation in general first.