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ten most recent federal employment law articles Ten Most Recent Federal Articles

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects the Yard-Man Inference Vesting Lifetime Benefits for Union Retirees

Littler Mendelson, P.C. • January 28, 2015
In M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, 1 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned three decades of precedent by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, unanimously ruling that, when no specific provision in a collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) addresses the duration of retiree benefits, reviewing courts may not infer that the parties intended those benefits to vest for life. All nine justices agreed that courts must apply “ordinary principles of contract law” to determine the parties’ intent.

Employer's Poorly Drafted FMLA Policy Allows Employee to Advance FMLA Claim (That Should Have Never Seen the Light of Day)

Franczek Radelet P.C • January 28, 2015
If this story won’t cause you bring your FMLA policy up to snuff, then I’ve lost all hope.

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Cert in PAGA Arbitration Waiver Case

Littler Mendelson, P.C. • January 28, 2015
The U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC leaves intact (for now) the California Supreme Court’s decision holding that neither Supreme Court precedent nor the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempt an employee’s right to bring a “representative” action under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), even where the right to do so is expressly waived by the employee and employer in an arbitration agreement governed by the FAA.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Expands "myE-Verify" to 16 States

Littler Mendelson, P.C. • January 28, 2015
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced the expansion of “myE-Verify” to 16 states: California, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

Jan. 27 at Faruqi trial: No “spoliation” of blood-stained carpet, judge says

Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP • January 28, 2015
January 27 at the Marchuk v. Faruqi sexual harassment trial: Judge Alvin Hellerstein has denied Alexandra Marchuk’s request for an adverse inference instruction based on Faruqi’s destruction of the alleged blood-stained carpet in Juan Monteverde’s office. Judge Hellerstein noted that Ms. Marchuk admitted in her trial testimony that she asked Mr. Monteverde to hide the stains. (The law firm denies that the stains were blood at all.)

Supreme Court Delineates Federal Whistleblower Protections in TSA Disclosure Case

Ogletree Deakins • January 28, 2015
On January 21, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States decided whether a federal air marshal, who publicly disclosed that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had decided to cut costs by removing air marshals from certain flights, was entitled to whistleblower protection. According to the Court’s ruling, the air marshal’s disclosure did not fall under an exception to the whistleblower law for disclosures that are “specifically prohibited by law.” In a majority opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court ruled, 7-to-2, that the air marshal’s disclosure was not “specifically prohibited by law,” but rather was specifically prohibited by a regulation. Department of Homeland Security v. MacLean, No. 13–894, Supreme Court of the United States (January 21, 2015).

Traditional Contract Rules Determine Whether Retirees Are Entitled to Lifetime Healthcare Benefits

Fisher & Phillips LLP • January 27, 2015
Today, in a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that courts must apply ordinary rules of contract interpretation when determining whether retiree healthcare benefits vest for life pursuant to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. Writing for the Court, Justice Thomas wrote a scathing opinion overruling the 6th Circuit’s underlying decision, which had relied on UAW v. Yard-Man and its progeny to try to establish a presumption of lifetime vesting. M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett.

Supreme Court Rejects Analysis of Duration of Retiree Benefits As Contrary to Contract Law

Ogletree Deakins • January 27, 2015
On January 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States resolved a long-standing dispute between the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the remainder of the federal judiciary in a case concerning the extent to which retiree health care benefits provided for in a collective bargaining agreement become vested where the agreement is silent on their duration. Justice Thomas, delivering the opinion of a unanimous Court, disagreed with the judgment of the Sixth Circuit, which had ruled in a number of prior instances that silence in a collective bargaining agreement regarding the duration of bargained-for retiree health care benefits should be construed as evidence of the parties’ intention that those benefits vest and continue indefinitely. Despite the Sixth Circuit’s claims to the contrary, the Court concluded that the “Sixth Circuit’s decision rested on principles that are incompatible with ordinary principles of contract law.” M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, No. 13-1010, Supreme Court of the United States (January 26, 2015).

Is Your Volunteer Really an Employee? The Answer Might Surprise You [Part 1]

Franczek Radelet P.C • January 27, 2015
Over the past year or so, we have discussed the Fair Labor Standards Act’s application to both paid interns and unpaid interns, as well as independent contractors. One area we have covered briefly in the past, but not explored in depth, is the issue of volunteers. If you have been reading along, you know by now that if an individual is an employee (as opposed to a properly classified unpaid intern or independent contractor, for example), he or she cannot waive the protections of the FLSA. In other words, unless the employee is subject to an exemption, an employer must pay the employee at least the minimum wage for all hours worked, plus an overtime premium for all hours worked over forty in a week. State laws, too, provide similar requirements. But what about volunteers? Many nonprofit organizations, public agencies, schools, churches, and other similar entities would cease to exist, or at least be severely crippled, if not for the contributions and involvement of volunteers. Can an individual volunteer their services? The answer might surprise you.

White Collar Exemption Changes May Increase Labor Costs

Fisher & Phillips LLP • January 27, 2015
Very soon, game-changing rules regarding who qualifies for the so-called white collar exemptions from the overtime pay requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act will be issued for public review and comment by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division. Once finalized, these changes will affect virtually every employer in the U.S.