As bars, restaurants, theatres, sporting and entertainment events, gyms, casinos, movie theatres, and other establishments shutter globally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic many employers have been forced to consider immediate layoffs of their employees around the world in response to their businesses having been essentially shut down. Other employers, faced with the possibility of a looming global recession, are preparing for potential future international layoffs. Significant pitfalls await employers conducting layoffs (temporary or permanent) outside of the U.S., which are heavily regulated by law, including mandatory severance payments, notice periods and cumbersome processes. We discuss some of these pitfalls for selected countries outside the U.S. including Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Spain and the UK below and discuss some of the early responses by countries like Spain and Germany to create exceptions to the normal requirements. READ MORE
Mark Thompson is a senior associate in the New York office and a member of the employment law and litigation group. Mark's practice focuses on employment litigation and counseling. He has significant experience litigating wage and hour, discrimination, harassment and trade secret issues in high-profile cases for clients in the venture capital, technology, financial services and media industries.
Orrick’s Employment Law and Litigation group was recently named Labor & Employment Department of the Year in California by The Recorder, the premier source for legal news, in recognition of their significant wins on behalf of leading multinational companies on today’s most complex and challenging employment law matters.
In addition to his litigation practice, Mark advises clients regarding a broad range of employment issues, including human resource policies and procedures, severance agreements and employee terminations.
Prior to joining Orrick, Mark was a judicial law clerk and gained experience litigating a wide range of civil and criminal cases.
Posts by: Mark Thompson
Maryland Says “Me Too” with Arbitration Limits and New Reporting Requirements
#MeToo—New York Poised to Ban Non-Disclosure and Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Claims
On March 30, 2018, the New York State Assembly completed passage of the 2018-19 state budget. Undoubtedly spurred by the #MeToo movement, the final budget measure, which is expected to be signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, includes a bill (S. 7507–C/ A. 9507–C), containing several measures aimed at creating safer workplaces free of sexual harassment and abuse. READ MORE
New Lawsuit Alleges Rush to Judgment in #MeToo Climate
Newton’s Third Law of Physics states that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” A recent Complaint filed in the Southern District of New York suggests that this principle may also hold true for the recent “Me Too” movement. READ MORE
“#MeToo”: Fostering A Harassment-Free Workplace
In the last several weeks, allegations of rampant sexual harassment have shocked the collective conscience. With the assistance of social media, what started as an allegation against a Hollywood mogul snowballed into a nation-wide conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace and elsewhere. According to the Washington Post, hundreds of thousands of men and women took to Twitter and Facebook to express they had been victims of sexual harassment, many of them using the hashtag “MeToo” to show solidarity with other victims. READ MORE
Fool’s Gold: Second Circuit Vacates Order Affirming Arbitrator’s Certification of Class of Jewelry Store Workers Including Absent Class Members
On July 24, 2017, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a federal district court’s approval for a class of roughly 69,000 women claiming that Sterling Jewelers, Inc. (“Sterling”) discriminated against them based on sex. The decision overturned a district court ruling that affirmed an arbitrator’s decision to let the women proceed to trial as a class in an arbitration.
Plaintiffs initially filed a class action lawsuit in March 2008, alleging that Sterling’s practices and policies led to women being deliberately passed over for promotions and paid them less than their male cohorts. The case was sent to arbitration several months later under Sterling’s arbitration clause.
In 2009, an arbitrator ruled that Sterling’s dispute resolution program did not specifically bar class actions and allowed claimants to seek class status. From there, the case took a number of twists and turns, which we reported on more fully at the time here.
In June 2013, the employees moved for class certification. In February 2015, the arbitrator ruled that that the employees could proceed as a class in the arbitration. In November 2015, the district court affirmed the arbitrator’s decision concluding that the arbitrator did not exceed her authority by certifying a class that included absent class members i.e., employees other than the named plaintiffs and those who have opted into the class. Sterling appealed. READ MORE
I’ll Defer To You: Supreme Court Rules Appellate Courts Should Apply Abuse Of Discretion Standard When Reviewing EEOC Subpoena Efforts
Recently, in McLane Co., Inc. v. EEOC, case number 15-1248 , the United States Supreme Court clarified the standard for when an appellate court reviews a trial court’s order to enforce or quash a subpoena from the EEOC. Vacating a Ninth Circuit decision applying a de novo standard of review, the Court ruled that appellate courts should review based on the abuse of discretion standard. READ MORE
Game Over for NCAA Student Athletes Seeking Employee Status? 7th Circuit Affirms Dismissal of U. Penn Athletes’ FLSA Complaint
On December 5, 2016, the Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of a complaint filed by two University of Pennsylvania track and field athletes against the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the university, and more than 120 other NCAA Division I universities and colleges alleging that student athletes are entitled to minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). In Berger v. NCAA, the court held that student athletes are not “employees” within the meaning of the FLSA and thus, are not entitled to a minimum wage for their athletic activities. READ MORE
Veterans Returning to Work After Military Service May Not Be Discharged Except “For Cause”
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”), 38 U.S.C. §§ 4301–4335, imposes various obligations on employers with respect to members of the U.S. military returning to their civilian workplace. USERRA differs from other employment laws (e.g., Title VII) in multiple respects. For example, USERRA applies to all public and private employers, irrespective of size. Therefore, “an employer with only one employee is covered….” 20 C.F.R. § 1002.34(a). In addition, USERRA contains an “escalator” requirement that returning service-members are reemployed in the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service with the same seniority, status, and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority. See 20 C.F.R. § 1002.191. Also, USERRA has no statute of limitations of any kind for claims that accrued after October 10, 2008 (and claims that accrued after October 10, 2004 probably are timely as well). See 38 U.S.C. § 4327(b); 20 C.F.R. § 1002.311.
Another distinction is that USERRA modifies at-will employment by creating a “for cause” standard of discharge for veterans who return to work after a month or more of military service. If a veteran’s service was between thirty (30) and one-hundred and eighty (180) days, he or she may not be discharged except for cause for six (6) months following their return to work. Veterans returning from more than one-hundred and eighty (180) days of service are afforded the same protection from discharge for one year. See 38 U.S.C. § 4316(c)(1) and (2); 20 C.F.R. § 1002.247(a) and (b). To meet the burden—which is the employer’s—of showing “cause,” an employer must produce evidence demonstrating, not only that it was reasonable to discharge the employee for the conduct at issue, but that the employee had notice that the conduct would constitute cause for discharge. See 20 C.F.R. § 1002.248(a). READ MORE
Court-Sanctioned Employee Theft? Self-Help Discovery May Be Protected Activity In Discrimination Cases
Recently in Verdrager v. Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, P.C., No. SJC-11901, 2015 WL 10937776 (Mass. May 31, 2016), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held, as a matter of first impression, that self-help discovery “may in certain circumstances constitute protected activity” under the state anti-retaliation statute, provided that, “the employee’s actions are reasonable in the totality of the circumstances.”