Category Archives: Employment Practices Liability

Life for the Employer After a Discrimination Claim

The workplace is often incredibly uncomfortable following an employee’s claim of work-related discrimination. The employer must balance its goal of productivity and profit while maintaining employee morale and equality on the job. At times, an employer facing a charge of discrimination may feel hamstrung by the looming charge and may permit employee conduct that was otherwise sanctionable out of fear of what may be perceived as retaliation against the employee for filing a charge. But, as the recent decision out of the Seventh Circuit proves, a charge of discrimination does not provide the employee with free rein to violate work-place protocol.

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The Floodgates have Opened: Unpaid Internship Suits on the Rise

Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Last month we discussed the first suit filed by unpaid interns against their “employers” under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Channeling our inner Miss Cleo, we suggested at the time that the decision in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., would have far-ranging implications on the EPL community. Sure enough, the floodgates have opened for unpaid interns seeking repayment under the FLSA.

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Supreme Court Changes the Standard for Retaliation Claims

Often, it’s not the crime but the cover-up that will do you in. In some ways, that sentiment is applicable to retaliation claims for alleged discrimination in the workplace. Or at least it was, until the Supreme Court's recent decision in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar. Previously, an employer facing a discrimination suit was susceptible to a retaliation theory despite establishing legitimate reasons for the alleged discriminatory conduct (usually terminating or demoting the employee). Specifically, so long as the plaintiff could show that the desire to retaliate for the employee's pursuit of a charge of discrimination was at least a “motivating factor” behind any adverse employment action, the employer could be held liable. Thus, the potential existed for an entirely well-intentioned employer to be held liable under this standard. Nassar addressed this potential and changed the rules.

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Professionals Beware: Unpaid Internships May Prove Costly for Employers

With summer break in effect, many students are utilizing the time off from school to participate in internships. Internships provide students with an opportunity to gain work experience in a particular field and, arguably, make them more marketable upon graduation. However, these intangible benefits may not excuse an employer from failing to pay interns under state and federal labor laws.

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Hell’s Kitchen: Star Chef Sued for Wage & Hour Violations

On Thursday, June 13, 2013, a proposed class action was filed on behalf of all former and current employees of Chef Gordon Ramsey’s Los Angeles restaurant “The Fat Cow.” The class action is led by a former server, barista, and two hostesses who are taking their beef to California state court against the celebrity chef’s restaurant. The class action alleges that the restaurant’s management took tips from former employees, and violated a series of other wage-and-hour labor codes. The Fat Cow opened its doors on October 1st, 2012, and is already catching steam over improper managerial practices.

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Firing Problem Employees: A How-To Guide

“They come into work disheveled and drunk. They swear while talking to customers. They have sex with a co-worker in the stockroom. Or worse yet, they steal money from the company or threaten to hurt the boss. Some employees turn out to be bad news for a company and need to be fired, but how can a company show misbehaving workers the door while protecting itself from wrongful termination or discrimination suits?” Our friends at Law360 provide great insight on the difficult and risky task of terminating an employee, here.

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A Case Study for Employers on Whistleblower Laws

Whistleblower laws are generally designed to prohibit employers from taking retaliatory action against an employee because the employee engages in protected conduct. For example, an employer may not retaliate against an employee for disclosing the employer’s violation of laws or ethics, providing testimony about the employer, or refusing to engage in inappropriate conduct. In a recent decision, the New Jersey Superior Court considered whether an employee’s reliance upon a professional code of ethics not applicable to his employer is sufficient to support a claim under…

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March Madness and You: Implications

Brace yourselves, employers: March Madness is upon us. The 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will start with play-in games March 19 and conclude with the Championship Game on April 8 in Atlanta. During the tournament’s three weeks, the US economy will lose an estimated $1.8 billion in productivity as employees watch early round games, participate in office pools, and discuss the outcomes with co-workers. Make no mistake, March Madness and participation in other work-place “gambling” such as fantasy sports has real world implications on the workplace.

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What Does Daylight Saving Time Mean to Employers?

At 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 10, 2013, people all across the United States set their clocks forward one hour to start Daylight Saving Time. Daylight Saving Time (DST) is intended to place more sunlight into “daytime” hours in order to seemingly stretch the day longer and conserve energy. 2013 marks the seventh year DST was expanded by four weeks pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 2005. For many, the change simply means one less hour of sleep, but for employers, the time change has unique and important implications.

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The Yahoo! Decision: Telecommuting Issues Facing All Employers

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer recently made headlines for doing away with the company’s telecommuting policy and requiring all employees to report for work at their respective offices. Reportedly, Yahoo! was suffering from “productivity” issues with many of its employees who were working from home. While employee productivity is always of paramount importance to employers, telecommuting also poses a variety of legal risks that can similarly affect an employer’s bottom line. Some of the most common legal issues facing employers will be addressed here.

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