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May 2015 Newsletter

We recently blogged about the Department of Labor’s new rule that extended FMLA rights to same-sex married couples. The DOL’s rule was set to take effect nationwide on March 27, 2015. A day before the rule was set to take effect, however, a federal judge in Texas granted a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the DOL’s enforcement of the new rule. The judge’s decision came after attorneys general in Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, and...
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a judgment against a City of Houston employee who claimed that he was demoted for reporting another employee’s racially offensive comment made during a workplace meeting. According to the federal appellate court, the worker had not engaged in a protected activity by reporting the single, isolated remark. Satterwhite v. City of Houston, No. 14-20240, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal (March 3, 2015...
As more details emerge about the troubled past of First Officer Andreas Lubitz – the co-pilot at the controls of the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps in March – employers worldwide are faced with pressing questions that should bring renewed focus toward their policies regarding identifying and managing mental illness in the workplace. How can employers be supportive of employees with mental health issues? The Germanwings co-...
Is that all it takes to get you to click on my blog entry — make a reference to “sperm” in the blog title and post a silly photo of this little guy?  That was like taking candy from a baby! Now that we have that behind us, I was posed an interesting question a few weeks back: Can a woman take FMLA leave for in vitro fertilization treatments? What Does the FMLA Say on the Issue? Given that the FMLA regulations do not...
Inquiring minds want to know! In the context of a lawsuit brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a recent court decision says that “regular attendance” is an essential function of the job. But what is “regular attendance”? I was tickled to death to see that Ford Motor Company was vindicated last Friday in the telecommuting/accommodation lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. I’ve posted about the case,...
On March 23, 2015, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a new law, H.B. 2081, that restricts the ability of employers in Virginia to access the social media accounts of current and prospective employees—making Virginia the nineteenth state to enact such legislation. The other 18 states include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island...
We’ve reached almost the end of April, and the long delayed, new FLSA regulations are still percolating somewhere in deep inside the DOL. So what has the agency been up to instead? Last month, as part of the annual “Sunshine Week” spotlighting the importance of open government, freedom of information, and the public’s right to know, the DOL took a rather odd view of government transparency: spotlighting enforcement against businesses. In a blog...
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