Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court Revises Case Law on Fixed-Term Contracts

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht – BVerfG) has overturned the controversial case law of the Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht – BAG) on fixed-term contracts. The controversial judgment handed down by the BAG in 2011 with regard to what is known as the “prohibition of subsequent contracts” exceeds the limits of what is permitted under the German constitution in terms of judge-made law.

Back in 2011 the BAG had decided that a previous employment with the same employer did not preclude a fixed-term contract without objective justification as per section 14(2) of the German Act on Part-Time Work and Fixed-Term Employment (Teilzeit- und Befristungsgesetz – TzBfG), provided that such previous employment dates back more than three years. The Federal Constitutional Court has now quashed this case-law. This is expected to have substantial repercussions in practice.

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Let Them Eat Cake: Religious Accommodations, LGBTQ Rights and Other Workplace Implications of SCOTUS’ Masterpiece Cakeshop Decision

In a highly anticipated ruling, in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of a cake shop owner who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs.  The case highlights the potentially conflicting intersection of religious freedoms and anti-discrimination laws; i.e. the right to hold sincere religious beliefs and the right to be treated equally and without discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation. READ MORE

Baker Takes the Cake in U.S. Supreme Court’s Narrow Holding on Refusal to Make Wedding Cake for Same-Sex Couple.

On June 4, 2018, a 7-2 United States Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. et al. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission et al. reversed discrimination penalties against a baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. This long-anticipated decision turns narrowly on an administrative agency’s past treatment of the case and largely avoids the core constitutional issues involving free speech, religious freedom of the First Amendment, and asserted LGBTQ rights. READ MORE

California Court Rejects “ABC” Test For Joint Employers

As has been widely reported, last month the California Supreme Court issued a decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles that rejected the long-standing, multi-factor test to determine whether a worker is an employee. The Dynamex decision established a three-factor “ABC” test that, on its face, places the entire burden of showing that a worker is not an employee squarely upon the hiring party. The ABC test asks whether:

  1. The worker is free from the direction and control of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of such work and in fact;
  2. The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and
  3. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity.

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EU Plans on Whistleblower Protection

According to a survey by a national German newspaper, a large proportion of German whistleblowers are facing labor law and even health problems in connection with whistleblowing. 13 out of 20 whistleblowers subsequently lost their jobs. READ MORE

Maryland Says “Me Too” with Arbitration Limits and New Reporting Requirements

On May 15, 2018, Maryland Governor Lawrence J. Hogan signed into law H.B. 1596, the Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018 (the “Act”), expanding employee rights and remedies under state sexual harassment law and impacting Maryland employers in two ways. READ MORE

Epic News for Employers: Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements are Enforceable

Employers across the country started the work week with some positive and long-awaited news.  On Monday, May 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a landmark case that employment arbitration agreements with class action waivers do not violate federal labor law.  The Court’s 5-4 decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, No. 160285 (U.S. May 21, 2018), consolidated with Ernst & Young LLP et al v. Morris et al., No. 16-300, and National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., et al. , No. 16-307, was authored by Justice Gorsuch, and settles the longstanding dispute over whether arbitration agreements containing class waivers are enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) despite the provisions of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).   READ MORE

Don’t Stand So Close to Me: Ten California Sexual Harassment Bills to Watch

In tandem with the growing #MeToo movement, sexual harassment appears to be top of mind for California legislators in 2018. In the wake of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and the like, California has been flooded with an unprecedented number of bills aimed at combatting sexual harassment.  The 20+ pending bills take on topics ranging from confidentiality provisions to increased mandatory harassment training.  Now more than ever, employers must pay heed to how sexual harassment issues are handled at their companies. Here are the highlights from the top 10 bills that – if passed – will most likely impact employers:

Senate Bill 820 would prohibit settlement agreement provisions that prevent the disclosure of facts related to claims of sexual assault, sexual harassment or sex discrimination cases. Otherwise known as the STAND (Stand Together Against Non-Disclosures) Act, the bill would apply to agreements entered into after January 1, 2019 and would create an exception where a complainant requests a nondisclosure provision (unless the defendant is a government agency or public official, in which case the exception would not be available). The STAND Act passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1, 2018 with a vote of 5-1, and is now headed to a full vote in the Senate. Assembly Bill 3057 contains similar prohibitions, and is currently in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. READ MORE

Easy—Or Challenging—as ABC? California Supreme Court Rewrites Independent Contractor Test for Wage Order Claims

On April 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles.  The Court announced a significant departure from the S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations, 48 Cal. 3d 341 (1989) test, previously used by California courts and state agencies for nearly three decades for determining whether a worker is an independent contractor under the Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) wage orders.  In its place, the Court adopted the so-called “ABC” test for determining whether an individual is considered an employee under the wage orders, which govern many aspects of wages and working conditions in covered industries.  READ MORE

While Veteran-Friendly, USERRA’s Anti-Discrimination Provision Still Requires Adverse Employment Action For Employer Liability

With Memorial Day around the corner, it is an appropriate time for employers to review their management of employees who are members of the military.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”), 38 U.S.C. §§ 4301–4335, prohibits discrimination against employees and potential employees based on their military service and imposes certain obligations on employers with respect to employees returning to work after a period of service in the U.S. military.  USERRA differs from other employment laws in ways that make it quite veteran/employee-friendly, including:

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