Attention NYC Retail Employers! On-Call Scheduling to End

Effective November 26, 2017, retail employees in New York City will be entitled to advance notice of their scheduled shifts, and the practice of “on-call shifts”–where an employee is required to be available to work but not necessarily called to work–will be prohibited.  These provisions are part of new “Fair Workweek” legislation aimed at providing “predictable schedules and predictable paychecks” for retail and fast food workers in New York City.

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No Similarly Situated Employees, No Claim: Vanderbilt Prevails on Summary Judgment in Professor’s Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

Last week the Sixth Circuit upheld a grant of summary judgment in the employer’s favor on a former employee’s sex discrimination claim, finding plaintiff failed to meet her burden to establish a prima facie case of discrimination.

The Case

Dr. Jean Simpson was a professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. While teaching at the University, Dr. Simpson started her own private consulting practice doing breast-pathology.  Upon learning of Dr. Simpson’s consulting practice, the University instructed her the external employment violated the Conflict of Interest Policy, the Vanderbilt Medical Group (“VMG”) By-Laws and the VMG Participation Agreement and asked her to cease the consulting work.  She refused.  The University later terminated Dr. Simpson because of these violations. READ MORE

In Nationwide Conditional Certification, Evidence Still Matters

As employers well know, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) permits employees to file suits on behalf of themselves and others who are “similarly situated.” 29 U.S.C. 216(b).  In practice, this often means large employers find themselves defending against a single or handful of employees attempting to certify a collective action that includes hundreds or thousands of employees nationwide.  Many times, the collective group includes employees in states where the plaintiffs have never worked.  However, as a NY federal court recently reminded us, while plaintiffs’ evidentiary burden is not onerous at this stage, lack of knowledge about the employees in other states continues to be an obstacle for plaintiffs in obtaining conditional certification.  On the opposite side of the coin, this failure of evidence can be utilized by defendant employers to narrow the proposed collective group or altogether prevent the conditional certification of a collective action.  READ MORE

Rules of the Road: New CFTC Regulations Expand Whistleblower Bounty Program

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), published updated regulations Monday to bring its whistleblower bounty efforts more in line with the SEC’s.  The rules were proposed last August and generally provide more robust protections to would-be whistleblowers.  According to an agency press release, “In addition to strengthening anti-retaliation protections, the new amendments will add efficiency and transparency to the process of deciding whistleblower award claims and will, in many respects, harmonize the CFTC’s rules with those of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s whistleblower program.”  READ MORE

California’s Tightened Regulations on Considering Criminal History in Employment Decisions Take Effect July 1, 2017

Last year, the California Fair Employment and Housing Council proposed new regulations on an employer’s consideration of criminal history in making employment decisions. Those regulations were approved this year by the Office of Administrative Law after a period of public comment and are due to become effective on July 1.

New Clarification on Adverse Impact Claims READ MORE

Trump’s Religious Freedom EO May Set Stage for Future Expansion of Religious Exercise in the Workplace

On May 4, 2017, the President signed the Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Liberty (the “EO”). The EO’s stated policy is to “vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.” An early version of the Executive Order contained provisions that directed the Department of Labor to begin rulemaking which could have expanded the religions exemptions to federal civil rights laws for federal contractors.  While this and other expansive provisions were not included in the current EO, further accommodations of religious exercise in the workplace are not off the table.   READ MORE

Time for a Check-Up: 5 More Sick Leave Laws Await Employers on July 1, 2017

There’s been no shortage of paid sick leave laws at the state and local level over the last few years. We have covered this growing patchwork of laws and the challenges they present for employers since this trend emerged a couple years back.

The latest round of sick leave laws to take effect did not go unchallenged. In fact, the new laws discussed in this post have already faced opposition in three forms: (1) a legal challenge in court; (2) a spate of defecting municipalities opting out of a county ordinance; and (3) a state-level preemption bill aimed at blocking local sick leave laws.

For now, it appears that each of these efforts has failed, and on July 1, 2017, five paid sick leave laws take effect. Out West, Arizona will become the sixth state to enact a paid sick leave law.  And in the Midwest, Chicago and Cook County, IL (where Chicago is located) and Minneapolis and Saint Paul, MN will each see their paid sick leave laws take effect.  Below is an overview of these soon-to-be laws.

While these five laws will certainly provide plenty for employers to think about between now and July, the wave of sick leave laws shows no signs of receding; currently, there’s talk of legislation in Michigan, Maine, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Maryland. READ MORE

Part II: Will the GOP’s AHCA Repeal and Replace the ACA?

We promised to keep you up to date on the GOP majority’s promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”). After reaching agreement on several amendments to the original House bill (described in our previous alert), the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, (the “AHCA”) a budget reconciliation bill to repeal and replace the ACA. The first draft of the AHCA, released by House Republicans on March 6th was withdrawn by Speaker Ryan on March 24th due to opposition from the Freedom Caucus, among others. Several significant changes were made to the original bill and it was passed by a narrow margin on May 4th; 217-213. READ MORE

School’s Out! Ninth Circuit Holds Prior Salary of Teachers Can Justify Pay Differentials

As schools across the country prepare for summer break, the Ninth Circuit overturned a lower court decision against the Fresno County public school district which had found that its pay practices were unlawful. Notably, the Ninth Circuit held that an employer may rely on prior salary as an affirmative defense to claims under the federal Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) if “it show[s] that the factor ‘effectuate[s] some business policy’ and that the employer ‘use[s] the factor reasonably in light of the employer’s stated purpose as well as other practices.’” READ MORE

Oh F**k: Employee’s Profane Facebook Post is Protected Activity

On April 21, 2017, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) ruling that an employer violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA or Act) when it discharged a catering employee for posting a vulgar comment on social media directed at his supervisor. In NLRB v. Pier Sixty, LLC (2d Cir. 2017), the court determined that the employee’s post, under the particular circumstances of the case, was not so “opprobrious” as to lose protection under the NLRA. READ MORE