And happy St. Patrick’s Day weekend!
How much were you paying attention to employment law news this week? Take our quiz, and find out! As always, the answers appear at the end of each question, and if you cheat, I’ll never know.
For all who participate, there’s a pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow!
Ready? Here we go!
No. 1: One of the people caught up in the college admissions scam was a big partner in a big law firm. The firm announced Wednesday that the partner’s firm management duties have been taken away and that he has been placed on administrative leave. A number of “crisis management” professionals have criticized the law firm for its handling of the matter. Which of the following were actual criticisms made?
A. The firm took a day to make the announcement, which was too long.
B. The firm should have condemned the partner’s alleged behavior.
C. Placing the partner on administrative leave was too wimpy. The firm should have forced him to resign.
D. The firm should treat the partner as innocent unless or until he is found guilty by a jury of his peers in a court of law.
E. All of the above.
F. A, B, and C.
♣ANSWER: F. Apparently the crisis management people aren’t too worried about this partner’s due process rights! I will stick up for the firm. Although its press release appears to say as little as possible, I can understand why they wanted to take that approach at this early stage. (I can also understand why it may have taken a full day for the partners to process the news, make a decision about what to do with the partner, and come to an agreement about how much to say in the press release.)
No. 2: According to a news article this week, one in three Millennials don’t survive their employment probationary periods. Either they quit, or they are fired. According to the article, why?
A. Because everyone knows that Millennials are just a bunch of snowflakes.
B. Because most workplaces don’t have “safe rooms” full of teddy bears, soft pillows, and blankies.
C. Because the job isn’t what it was cracked up to be.
D. Because Millennials have “social media envy.”
E. Because HR doesn’t do enough to integrate Millennials into the workplace.
F. Because some of the Millennials are poor performers, have lousy attendance, or engage in gross misconduct.
G. C, D, E, and F.
H. All of the above.
I. A and B.
♣ANSWER: G. According to the article, Millennials think “the grass is greener” because they have access to social media and see their friends in fabulous jobs. And some of them (like some of the rest of us) are just bad hires. But in addition, the article said that Human Resources departments often don’t do enough to integrate Millennials into the workplace, which results in high turnover.
If you thought A and B were the correct answers, then shame on you!
No. 3: I’m cheating a bit, but late last week there was a very important development in wage and hour law. What was it?
A. The U.S. Department of Labor released its proposed regulations related to the executive, administrative, and professional exemptions to the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
B. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta resigned in disgrace over the plea deal involving Jeffrey Epstein.
C. President Trump’s nominee for Wage and Hour Administrator, Cheryl Stanton, was finally confirmed by the Senate.
D. Congress voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
♣ANSWER: A. You knew that!
No. 4: Speaking of the DOL, an opinion letter interpreting the Family and Medical Leave Act was issued this week. What did it say?
A. Cancer is a “serious health condition.”
B. To be eligible for FMLA leave, the employee must have worked for the employer 12 months (need not be consecutive) and 1,250 hours in the 12-month period before the leave would begin.
C. FMLA leave is available for the employee to care for his or her spouse, parent, or child with a serious health condition.
D. An employer must properly designate FMLA leave when it begins and give the employee his or her full rights under the FMLA, even if the employee uses paid time off to cover all or part of the leave. Although an employer may choose to provide more leave than required by the FMLA, it may not provide more than 12 weeks (or, in the case of military caregiver leave, 26 weeks) of FMLA leave.
♣ANSWER: D. (A, B, and C are true, of course — but they were not the subject of this week’s opinion letter.)
No. 5: Yury worked from 1988 through 2011 out of his employer’s New York City office. In 2012, he began telecommuting from his home in New Jersey three or four days a week, and going into the NYC office the remainder of the workweek. In 2014, he bought a house in Massachusetts, and in 2015, he asked to be allowed to report to the Boston office. His employer told him that he had to work in NYC or else, and then terminated him. He sued the employer for age discrimination (in federal court in Massachusetts), and a jury found that the employer was liable under the New York City Human Rights Law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuitissued a decision in connection with the employer’s appeal this week. Which law did the court say applied to Yury’s case?
A. New York City Human Rights Law
B. New Jersey Law Against Discrimination
C. Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act
D. Massachusetts anti-discrimination law
E. The Uniform Multistate Antidiscrimination Law
♣ANSWER: A. The court affirmed the jury verdict in favor of Yury. With respect to the applicable law, here’s what the court said: Yury literally worked in the NYC office for years and years, followed by the time that he “reported” to NYC from New Jersey and went into the New York office for one or two days a week. Yury had asked to report to the Boston office from his Massachusetts home, but was terminated because the company didn’t want to let him do it. So, he was always an “NYC” employee until his employment was terminated. If the “impact” of the termination would be “felt” in New York City, then the NYC law applies.
As remote workplaces become increasingly common, I would expect complex “choice of law” issues like this to increase, too.
No. 6: Robin is using “clubs” to represent four-leaf clovers because that’s the closest thing to a four-leaf clover that her blog platform offers.
♣ANSWER: TRUE. Sorry! If you don’t like it, take it up with management.
5-6 correct: Great job! In the spirit of the season, you get a free case of Jamison’s!
3-4 correct: Nice! Enjoy your corned beef and cabbage!
1-2 correct: You get a warm green beer.
0 correct: You have the luck of the Irish. I’m sorry.
JUST KIDDING! Everybody did great. And here is that pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow:
NOTE ABOUT LAST WEEK’S EQUAL PAY QUIZ: Several readers pointed out to me that I’d had the wrong answer to Question No. 6. The correct answer was of course C, Lilly Ledbetter. (I’d said it was B, which was “Lulu Luddbutter.”) I corrected the post about midday last Friday, but wanted to note it in case you took the quiz before the correction was made and were feeling very confused. Whether you answered B or C, you still get to keep your participation trophy.
Robin Shea is a Partner with the law firm of Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP and has more than 20 years’ experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act), the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act; and class and collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage-hour laws; defense of audits by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs; and labor relations. She conducts training for human resources professionals, management, and employees on a wide variety of topics.