With the Georgia Senate race and control of the Senate hanging in the balance, a Biden Administration’s ability to enact new employment-related legislation is questionable. However, with the stroke of a pen, a Biden Administration can make significant changes through Executive Order. In this post, we attempt to identify several areas where rule by Executive Order may come.
Necia Hobbes is a member of the firm’s employment law group at Orrick’s Global Operations & Innovation Center in Wheeling, West Virginia. She has a broad range of experience litigating in federal, state and administrative courts.
Necia’s employment law practice focuses on federal court discrimination litigation, as well as complex litigation and class actions, including pay equity claims, wage and hour disputes, and OFCCP administrative claims. She handles cases from inception through to appellate briefing and strategy, and assists companies with a variety of compliance-related challenges including internal investigations, pay equity analyses, and government investigations and audits.
Prior to joining Orrick, Necia handled all aspects of general litigation cases at another global law firm including acting as lead counsel in approximately 50 cases in federal, state and administrative courts.
Additionally, Ms. Hobbes served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable D. Michael Fisher of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and obtained a graduate degree from Carnegie Mellon University’s H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy & Management. She previously consulted with the Office of High School Reform for the Pittsburgh Public Schools, served as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs with the Coro Center for Civil Leadership in Pittsburgh, PA, and worked as a project manager and writer at a market research firm.Ms. Hobbes is dedicated to pro bono and community service, and has volunteered advising non-profit organizations through employment law challenges related to COVID-19, developing resources on international anti-trafficking laws, and litigating immigration cases assisting refugee children fleeing violence in Central America, civil cases helping prisoners pursue their constitutional rights, and state court petitions for transgender legal name changes. She has volunteered in the past with women’s rights and immigration advocacy organizations, and teaching English in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Posts by: Necia Hobbes
On April 17, 2020, the Department of Labor’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Joe Wheeler responded by letter to Senator Ron Wyden and other Democratic lawmakers who had raised concerns about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’s (CARES Act) Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Notably, the letter clarifies several eligibility criteria, including that self-employed gig economy workers and workers who cannot work because they have coronavirus symptoms and are seeking a diagnosis may receive federal unemployment assistance under the PUA program. READ MORE
On March 31, 2020, the six Bay Area counties that previously issued the nation’s first Covid-19 shelter-in-place orders, amended and extended their prior orders to include stricter controls aimed to slow the spread of COVID-19. The new orders, which are now in effect in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties (as well as the City of Berkeley) have a new end date of May 3, 2020 – a change from the prior end date of April 7, 2020. They also revise and narrow the scope of businesses deemed essential, and expressly require any employer with employees who are working on-site to develop a “Social Distancing Protocol” that must be posted in the form required by the orders. The new orders also acknowledge Governor Newsom’s statewide March 19, 2020 Executive Order N-33-20, but explain they are, “in certain respects more stringent” than the statewide order in order to address “the particular facts and circumstances” in the county and in the Bay Area. Accordingly, they explicitly state, “Where a conflict exists between this Order and any state public health order related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the most restrictive provision controls.” READ MORE
OFCCP announced Wednesday that it will grant a limited, three-month exemption and waiver from some of its regular requirements for federal contractors responding to COVID-19. The exemption and waiver applies to new construction or supply and service contracts that are entered into from March 17, 2020 through June 17, 2020 specifically for the purpose of providing coronavirus relief. Director Craig Leen authorized such contracts to be exempted from: READ MORE
California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) has updated its Employer FAQ guidance addressing the new sexual harassment prevention training requirements that were initially set to go into effect on January 1, 2020. However, an amendment to the bill earlier this year moved the effective date to January 1, 2021. As we reported when the initial bill was passed last year, the law expands harassment training requirements from employers with fifty or more employees to those with five or more employees, and from requiring training for supervisory employees only to requiring training for non-supervisory employees as well. The training must be repeated once every two years. READ MORE
Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ruled that the EEOC may not discontinue its pay data collection efforts on November 11, 2019, but rather, must continue its collection efforts until it has collected from at least 98.3% of eligible reporters and must make all efforts to do so by January 31, 2020. The ruling is the latest in a lengthy saga regarding whether EEO-1 Component 2 pay data (data on employees’ W-2 earnings and hours worked across broad job categories, and broken down by ethnicity, race, and sex) would be collected—a saga that began with the Office of Management and Budget staying collection efforts, and culminated last Spring when Judge Chutkan ruled the decision to stay the collection lacked the reasoned explanation required by the Administrative Procedure Act (see overview here). After vacating the stay, Judge Chutkan initially set the deadline for data collection for May 31, 2019, but later extended it to September 30, 2019. READ MORE
Earlier this month, the country was again rocked by mass shootings—two in less than 24 hours left the cities of Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas reeling. Like so many tragedies before, both shootings occurred at a location that was also a workplace. Although neither was perpetrated by an employee (unlike yet another shooting earlier this summer), employees were affected. They had to think quickly and act fast in the moment, and to deal with the psychological and emotional toll afterwards.
The Department of Labor estimates that approximately two million people will be victims of workplace violence this year. With an employed population of approximately 157 million, this means that about 1 in 80 employees will experience workplace violence—and more will likely be aware of or witness it.
In these circumstances, employers should consider developing or updating their workplace violence prevention (1) strategies, (2) policies, and (3) practices. READ MORE
In the first-of-its-kind ruling last week, the Fifth Circuit held that the EEOC’s investigators and lawyers cannot rely on its “Enforcement Guidance on Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII” to bring enforcement actions. Finding that the guidance amounted to a substantive rule, the Fifth Circuit panel determined that the guidance overstepped EEOC’s authority to force the State of Texas to consider hiring convicted felons to state-wide positions. The decision on its face confirms the general principle that EEOC does not have the authority to engage in rulemaking on substantive discrimination laws and was limited to a specific injunction. However, the decision could have far-reaching consequences for the EEOC’s various substantive guidelines. READ MORE
In the age of smartphones, virtually everyone has a recording device at his or her fingertips—including employees. This can present challenges in the workplace. For example, smartphones and other technology enable employees to secretly (read: illegally) record business meetings, disciplinary discussions with HR, and interactions with other employees. Not only does this violate privacy rights and trust, it also risks disclosing confidential company or employee information. Fortunately, employers are not without a remedy. California’s privacy laws offer protection against illegal recordings by employees. READ MORE
Echoing an increasingly familiar refrain, another district court has declined to certify a class of women bringing pay equity claims on the basis that they did not present a common question capable of producing a common answer to “the crucial question why was I disfavored.” Relying largely upon Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, the court found certification inappropriate because the putative class members were subject to countless independent decisions involving the judgment and discretion of individual managers. The case also serves as another reminder that courts (including California state courts) will not accept an overly simplistic analysis comparing broad job categories or titles, but will continue to look at actual business practices and job responsibilities to ensure comparators are “similarly situated” so a meaningful pay comparison can be made. READ MORE