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Employment Matters Blog

Jury Hits Employer With $2.2 Million Verdict For GINA Violations in Workplace Defecator Case

Posted in discrimination, EEOC, Employee Privacy, GINA, investigations, Privacy

In a previous post we discussed the Northern District of Georgia’s decision in Lowe v. Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services, LLC, (N.D.Ga. May 5, 2015), holding that an employer violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”) by obtaining DNA samples from two employees it suspected of repeatedly defecating in a company warehouse.  Last week, a jury awarded the plaintiffs in that case $2.23 million in damages, consisting of $475,000 in emotional distress damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages based on the employer’s reckless indifference to their federally protected rights.  The case’s facts certainly offer a bizarre combination of the ludicrous and the revolting, but they also demonstrate the significant costs to employers of failing to comply with GINA.

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Supreme Court to Decide Two Cases Addressing Important Class and Collective Action Issues

Posted in class action, Collective Action, employer liability, FLSA, Supreme Court, Wage and Hour

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases during its Fall 2015 term that could further transform the wage and hour class action landscape.  We briefly discuss those two cases below.

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Federal Guidance on Independent Contractors on Its Way This Summer

Posted in DOL, employer liability, independent contractor, Wage and Hour

Recently, Wage and Hour Division (WHD) Administrator David Weil announced that the DOL would issue an “administrator interpretation” letter early this summer on how an employer can best address whether an individual qualifies as an independent contractor.  While the Supreme Court held earlier this year that such government agency interpretive guidance is not subject to notice and public comment and therefore, does not carry the “force and effect of law,” the guidance is nevertheless welcome in providing clarification on a difficult and ambiguous area of law.

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Rocky Mountain High Part II: Colorado’s Highest Court Approves Employer’s Stance that Employee Toke is No Joke

Posted in termination

Written by David Cohen with David Katz

Last week the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that an employer can fire an employee for use of medical marijuana away from the workplace.  The case is Coats v. Dish Network, No. 13SC394 (June 15, 2015).

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Attorney General’s Office Issues Final Regulations on Massachusetts Sick Time Law

Posted in Massachusetts, sick leave

On June 19th, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) issued final regulations for the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law, which goes into effect next week on July 1, 2015.   The final regulations, available here, differ in material ways from the proposed regulations and address a number of compliance issues that employers have raised in public hearings and by public comment.  A brief summary of some key differences in the final regulations are addressed below.

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Third Circuit Issues Bright-line Interpretation of FMLA’s “Overnight Stay” Rule

Posted in DOL, FMLA, Leaves of absence

Early last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that a former employee’s hospital stay did not count as an “overnight stay” under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and thus did not trigger the FMLA’s protections, because the employee was not admitted to the hospital and discharged on two separate calendar days.  The decision provides helpful guidance for employers and employees alike regarding what, exactly, constitutes an “overnight stay” under the FMLA.  The case is Jeffrey Bonkowski v. Oberg Industries Inc., Case No. 14-1239 (3rd.Cir. May 22, 2015).

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Corporate Divorce: Treat Your Employment Contract Like a Prenup

Posted in Hiring, termination

Welcome to the latest installment in my corporate divorce series.  In my last article I gave some practical advice about how to handle an unexpected firing – a corporate break-up. Now I’m moving to the other end of the employment life cycle: hiring and negotiation of the employment contract.

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Add Connecticut to Your List of States with a Social Media Privacy Policy Law Favoring Employees

Posted in Applicant, background checks, discrimination, Employee Privacy, Hiring, Privacy, Social Media

Written by David Cohen with Michael Arnold

Since 2012, many states have enacted laws that restrict an employer’s capacity to access employees’ personal email and social media accounts.  Last month, Connecticut joined the party and became the 21st state to enact an employer-employee social media privacy law.

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Ban the Box (Plus) Comes to New York City; Jurisdiction Latest to Prohibit Employers From Inquiring About Criminal History

Posted in Applicant, background checks, discrimination, employer liability, Employment Legislation, Hiring, New York

Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony that was not dismissed, expunged, or sealed?  New York City employers, if you ask that question on your employment application or some version of that question, then remove it.  If you search the internet or other databases to learn about your applicants’ criminal history, then stop it.  Or at least do so by the fall when the Fair Chance Act, New York City’s “ban the box” law, which Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign, goes into effect.  New York City now joins a growing list of jurisdictions to ban criminal conviction inquiries during the screening process.  The key difference here is that unlike most jurisdictions, New York City extends its prohibitions to private employers.  We briefly summarize the law below.

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