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September 2015 Newsletter

“An apple a day keeps the  lawyer away.” Here are five easy and inexpensive things that employers can do to minimize their risk of being sued and maximize their chances of victory if they do get sued. None of these involve major expense, or even the use of lawyers. 1. Err on the side of treating your workers as (a) non-exempt and (b) “employees.” Let this be your default position. Don’t forget that salaried workers...
In response to standard negative performance feedback from a supervisor, an employee takes a leave of absence due to stress and submits a medical note stating that the employee must be transferred to another department as an accommodation. Under California law, must a company grant such an accommodation? According to a recent California Court of Appeal decision, Higgins-Williams v. Sutter Medical Foundation, the answer is no. Background...
Well, this should be interesting. As I’ve reported before, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued a funeral home chain in the Detroit area for terminating Aimee Stephens, a transgendered woman, because she failed to conform to male sex stereotypes. The defendants moved to dismiss the lawsuit, but their motion was denied in April. After the court ruled that the case would go forward, the defendants filed an answer, alleging (among...
Earlier this month Sirius XM Radio Inc. settled a wage & hour class action with a class of 1,852 unpaid interns that claimed the company violated federal and state labor laws by failing to compensate them for the work they performed during their internships.  The reported settlement amount – $1.3 million –  demonstrates that the class action lawsuits brought by unpaid interns can prove costly for companies that do not properly...
Do you know what happens when you maintain a policy or practice that requires an employee to return to work without restrictions or “100% healed”?  You pay.  A lot. Just ask Brookdale Senior Living Communities. Brookdale employed Bernadine, who suffered from fibromyalgia. According to the EEOC, Brookdale refused Bernadine’s accommodation requests for a temporary modified work schedule, an ergonomic chair, and...
Riddle me this: Employee sues her boss for sexual harassment. Case settles for $127,500, and she has to agree to confidentiality and non-disparagement. About nine years later, boss becomes an internet pariah for allegedly poaching a beautiful and beloved lion in Zimbabwe. Somebody in the media finds out about the sexual harassment settlement (how’d they do that, if it was confidential?). Media rep contacts ex-employee, who says that her...
On August 27, 2015, the last day of Harry Johnson, III's term as a Board member, the National Labor Relations Board issued its long-awaited decision in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc. The Board voted 3-2 to change its joint employer standard with Chairman Pearce, Member Hirozawa and Member McFerran representing the majority and Member Miscimarra and Member Johnson dissenting.  The question before the Board was whether...
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