With the increasing prominence of social media, employers have been rightfully concerned about the impact of employees’ out-of-work statements on the work place—particularly when it comes to the reputation of the employer. In the last few years, the National Labor Relations Board has held that even offensive language can be protected concerted activity [See previous Orrick blog postings on this topic from September 25, 2012 and May 16, 2013]. However, apparently there is a limit: an administrative law judge held last week that the expletive-laden Facebook posts of two youth center employees crossed a line. Read More
Mark R. Thompson
Mark Thompson is a career associate in the New York office and a member of the employment law and litigation groups. His practice focuses on employment litigation and counseling. Mr. Thompson has significant experience litigating wage and hour issues in cases venued throughout the country. Mr. Thompson has helped employers defeat class and collective certification in off-the-clock, meal and rest break and exemption cases. Mr. Thompson has also litigated cases involving discrimination, harassment and trade secret issues.
In addition to his litigation practice, Mr. Thompson advises clients regarding a broad range of employment issues, including human resource policies and procedures, severance agreements, employee terminations.
Prior to joining Orrick, Mr. Thompson was a judicial law clerk and gained experience litigating a wide range of civil and criminal cases.
Earlier this month in Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk, 133 S. Ct. 1523 (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court held that it is permissible for defendants to “pick off” plaintiffs in FLSA collective actions. In jurisdictions that hold that an unaccepted offer of judgment fully satisfies and renders moot a plaintiff’s individual claim, a defendant can moot a collective action brought under the FLSA by simply tendering the named plaintiff a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 offer of judgment. Read More
Orrick, on behalf of its client, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (“SIFMA”), recently filed an amicus brief in support of a petition for writ of mandamus filed by Wells Fargo in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Wells Fargo requests vacatur of a federal district court’s order granting conditional certification of FLSA claims filed by home mortgage consultant plaintiffs seeking unpaid overtime. In its amicus brief, SIFMA argues that the court should reject the two-step certification standard applied by most district courts in FLSA actions and instead adopt a procedure that calls for meaningful certification review at the earliest feasible opportunity. Read More
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court began a new term that is anticipated to include decisions on hot-button issues such as affirmative action, same-sex marriage and national security. The Court will also hear several significant cases in the employment context Read More
The New York State Legislature recently passed a bill amending New York Labor Law Section 193 and establishing new categories of permissible wage deductions that employers may take with the consent of employees. In addition to allowing employers (with employee consent) to recoup advances on wages or accidental overpayments, the new amendments also permit employee-approved deductions for things such as discounted mass transit tickets; gym membership dues; cafeteria or pharmacy purchases made at the employer’s place of business; and education and child care expenses. Both employers and employees are expected to benefit from the flexibility permitted by the bill, although implementing regulations from the New York Department of Labor have yet to be enacted.
With respect to deductions related to recovering accidental overpayments of wages or wage advancements, the bill instructs the New York Department of Labor to issue regulations governing the periodic amount of recovery or repayment; the timing, frequency, duration and method of recovery or repayment; a requirement that notice to be provided to employees before commencing the recovery or repayment; and a requirement that employers implement procedures for disputing the amount of overpayment or repayment or seeking to delay commencement of repayment or recovery. Employers are advised to wait until these regulations are enacted before acting on the bill, and should also take care to ensure compliance with the bill’s new record keeping requirements.
The amendment is expected to be signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo and will become effective 60 days after enactment. The bill contains a sunset provision, which provides that the law shall expire and be deemed repealed three years after the effective date. The text of the bill is available here.
In a highly anticipated decision largely hailed as a victory for employers, the California Supreme Court, in Brinker v. Superior Court, No. S166350 (Cal. April 12, 2012), clarified employers’ obligations to provide meal and rest periods under California law and provided guidance regarding class certification issues in wage-and-hour litigation. On the most contentious of the issues raised in Brinker—the nature of an employer’s duty to provide meal periods under California law—the court held that an employer’s obligation is simply to relieve the employee of all duty for the designated period, with the employee free to use the time for whatever purpose he or she desires, but the employer need not ensure that no work is done. Thus, if an employer relieves an employee of all duty, but the employee continues to work, the court held that the employer will not be liable for premium pay. The court cautioned, however, that an employer may not undermine a formal policy of providing meal periods by coercing employees to skip breaks, creating incentives for employees to forego breaks, or otherwise encouraging employees not to take legally protected breaks. Read More
Faced with the current uncertain economic climate and concerns regarding the plight of the unemployed, several state legislatures have recently passed or introduced bills restricting employers and prospective employers from using credit checks in hiring and personnel decisions. For example, on October 12, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 22 into law, creating California Labor Code section 1024.5, which prohibits California employers from using a consumer credit report for employment purposes except in limited circumstances. In passing this law, California joined six other states (Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington) in recently enacting laws restricting the use of credit checks in employment decisions. And the trend is expected to continue. As of February 13, 2012, 36 bills in 19 states and the District of Columbia have been introduced or are pending concerning the use of credit information in employment decisions. Click here for a list of the bills. Read More