Suppose you have an employee who claims he is too large for a regular airline seat, so when you send him to travel on company business, he wants first-class tickets to accommodate his larger size. Can you tell the employee that he must fly on company business in standard seating?
Personnel policies are designed to inform employees of the types of conduct that are acceptable or unacceptable. They, obviously, can only give a general overview and are subject to interpretation and application by the employer on a case-by-case basis. A recent decision arising out of a Tweet by a Vice President of Human Resources shows that such policies will be strictly construed against employers in Pennsylvania.
In a win for employers in the State of West Virginia, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia overturned a lower court’s decision that an employment arbitration agreement was unenforceable in Hamden Coal, LLC v. Varney. The lower court agreed with the employee on every relevant issue, finding that arbitration claims are viewed differently in an employment context, that the agreement was a contract of adhesion, that the agreement lacked consideration, that the agreement was unconscionable, and that the employee’s claims fell outside the agreement. The Supreme Court, however, overturned each finding and took the additional step of directing the court to enter an order dismissing the civil action and compelling arbitration.
West Virginia Code § 23-4-10 provides that when a personal injury suffered by an employee in the course of and resulting from his or her employment causes death, and the disability is continuous from the date of injury until the date of death, the decedent’s dependents may receive benefits. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals recently affirmed an award of these death benefits, even though the claimant’s disability was not obviously continuous from the time of his work-related injury as he was not in active treatment for any disability at the time of his death.
California’s intermediate appellate state court recently ruled in Terris v. County of Santa Barbara that a county employee failed to demonstrate that alleged vulgar, derogatory remarks about homosexuals made by her former employer’s CEO were connected to her termination of employment. As a result, the court upheld summary judgment in favor of the employer and against the former employee in her wrongful termination action.
The area of LGBT rights in the workplace has garnered a great deal of attention in recent years as a split has grown among the courts and among federal agencies as to whether Title VII prohibits sexual orientation discrimination. Under the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice argued that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination also included sexual orientation and gender identity. Recently, however, the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice filed an appellate brief in the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in which it argued that Title VII does not apply to sexual orientation.
Recently, the Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) of the federal Department of Labor announced a new pilot program called the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (“PAID”) program. The program is intended to facilitate quick resolution of potential overtime and minimum wage violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The WHD hopes that the program will be used by employers to resolve claims without litigation and that the program will improve employer compliance with the FLSA. The WHD intends to implement this pilot program for a period of six months. After six months, the WHD will evaluate the effectiveness of the program and determine whether any modifications may be necessary.
It is a normal Friday morning. The workplace is slowing down for the weekend, and most of management is off work for a long weekend. About 9:00 a.m. you are notified that a visitor has arrived in HR – you aren’t expecting a visitor – is it a vendor trying to sell you something? NO – it is an OSHA inspector?!?!?!?! What do you do if an OSHA inspector shows up to your workplace? This article will provide you with some tips to be prepared when this occurs.
On February 26, 2018, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) issued an Order vacating its decision in Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors, Ltd. and Brandt Construction Co., 365 NLRB No. 156 (2017) (“Hy-Brand”). The decision to vacate the Hy-Brand ruling came on the heels of the determination by the NLRB’s Designated Agency Ethics Official with the Office of the Inspector General that NLRB Member William Emanuel is, and should have been, disqualified from participating in the Hy-Brand proceeding.
Wellness programs in the workplace are generally based on the belief that as employees lose weight, stop smoking, eat more healthfully, and lower their cholesterol, their employer will reap a drop in absenteeism and health care costs. With that hope in mind, employers are often willing to offer a financial reward to encourage employees’ participation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has long been concerned about whether the financial reward offered makes such wellness programs “involuntary” such that the wellness programs fail to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and/or the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”). Previous S&J blog posts have reported the EEOC’s actions with respect to wellness programs over the years, including the EEOC’s issuance of final ADA and GINA regulations addressing wellness programs. Those regulations have been challenged in court by the AARP, and you can expect changes in the regulations as a result. This post will bring you up to speed on the litigation and what you should watch for going forward.