A recent Fourth Circuit ruling in a case handled by Mintz Levin provides some comfort to employers concerned about terminating an employee who they believe has made a false complaint of discrimination. In Villa v. CaveMezze Grill, the Court ruled that an employer who fires an employee based on a good faith belief she engaged in misconduct is not liable for retaliation even if it later turns out that she had not, in fact, engaged in the misconduct. Affirming the lower court’s entry of summary judgment in a unanimous published opinion, the court opined that the employer could not be liable for retaliation because it lacked a retaliatory motive when it terminated a former employee. That is because the employer did not terminate the employee in retaliation for reporting the alleged harassment, but rather because it genuinely – albeit mistakenly – believed she had fabricated the report.

Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Holds Complaining Employee is not Protected From Termination if the Employer Terminates Her Because It Believed Her Complaint was Fabricated

The Fourth Circuit recently ruled that a general contractor was the joint employer of employees of its subcontractor for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Salinas v. Commercial Interiors, Inc. has broad implications for the wage and overtime responsibilities of employers located within the Fourth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over appeals from federal courts located in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Offers New Test for Joint Employment under FLSA

If your company operates in a territory covered by the 4th circuit (Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) and requires employees to sign a noncompete agreement with language similar to the following, it may be time to consider revising the agreement:

Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Decision Reminds Employers That Overbroad Noncompete Agreements May Not Be Enforceable

While we were in the midst of office holiday parties and end of the year celebrations, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals came down with two precedential decisions for employers to ponder in the New Year.  In Williams v. Genex Services, LLC, the Court analyzed the FLSA’s learned professional exemption, while in Calderon v. GEICO General Insurance Co., the Court analyzed the FLSA’s administrative function exemption.

Continue Reading The Fourth Circuit’s Countdown to 2016 Includes Two FLSA Classification Decisions

The so-called “manager rule” addresses a concern that employers may face a “litigation minefield” if a manager whose very job duties required them to report discrimination complaints could later sue for retaliation if they were adversely affected by the making of that report.  Employers argue that the manager is not really “opposing” a discriminatory practice sufficient to invoke Title VII’s anti-retaliation protections, when they are in essence just doing the job the employer assigned them.  Last month, the Second Circuit (in Littlejohn v. City of New York) and Fourth Circuit (in DeMasters v. Carilion Clinic) addressed the “manager rule,” and while both courts rejected its application, the Second Circuit did adopt a somewhat employer-friendly variation.  A brief discussion of these cases and their implications for the manager rule follows below.

Continue Reading The Second Circuit (Sort of) and the Fourth Circuit (Completely) Refuse to Apply “Manager Rule” to Title VII Retaliation Claims