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Total Articles: 34

What Louisiana Employers Need for an Effective Harassment Policy

Workplace harassment is one of the many problems that Louisiana employers may encounter. The national media has recently published several stories concerning high-profile cases of sexual predation and harassment. In addition, stories have surfaced in Southeast Louisiana of allegedly rampant sexual harassment at a New Orleans-based restaurant group. While recent media accounts have focused on sexual harassment, harassment may also be based on disability, religion, age, race, gender, and a variety of other traits. While employers can entirely erase the risk of unlawful harassment in a particular workplace, there are well-established methods of preventing harassment and addressing harassment claims if they do arise.

Louisiana Court Treats Inevitable Disclosure Provision as Non-Compete Clause Subject to Geographic Restrictions

May an employer enforce a contract provision that forbids an employee to leave and take another job that would require him to use or reveal the employer’s confidential information? In Louisiana, maybe not, unless the agreement complies with Louisiana’s non-compete statute, La. Rev. Stat. § 23:921.

Increased Focus on Misclassification of Workers as Independent Contractors Will Continue in Louisiana

On October 25, 2017, the Louisiana Workforce Commission (“LWC”) issued a press release acknowledging the efforts of a task force which combats the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. The task force, known as “Government Against Misclassified Employees Operational Network” (“GAME ON”), is made up of members of the LWC’s Unemployment Insurance and Office of Workers’ Compensation divisions and the Louisiana Department of Revenue, with cooperative agreements with the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Wage & Hour Division.

Louisiana Court Finds Executive Order Extending Protections to LGBT Employees of State Contractors Unconstitutional

In April of 2016, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed Executive Order JBE 2016 – 11, which sought to protect lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender individuals, among other protected classes, from discrimination practiced by state contractors. Months later, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and others challenged the order in a lawsuit filed in East Baton Rouge Parish that sought a permanent injunction, as well as a declaratory judgment that the executive order violated state law.

Louisiana Supreme Court Defines “Good Faith” for LEQA Whistleblower Actions

Answering a question certified by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that the term “good faith,” as used in the whistleblower section of the Louisiana Environmental Quality Act (LEQA), refers to “an employee … acting with an honest belief that a violation of an environmental law, rule, or regulation occurred.” The case is particularly instructive because the phrase “good faith” is used in Louisiana’s general anti-reprisal statute.

Louisiana Court Rejects Landman’s Whistleblower Claim Based on Finding That He Was an Independent Contractor

A recent Louisiana Court of Appeal decision held that an oil and gas landman did not have a claim under the Louisiana environmental whistleblower statute, which protects employees from retaliation for reporting environmental law violations, since he was properly classified as an independent contractor by the defendant. Finding that Dan S. Collins, a certified professional landman (CPL), and his company, Dan S. Collins, CPL and Associates, Inc., were independent contractors and not entitled to whistleblower status, the Court of Appeal, First Circuit reversed a jury verdict and the trial court’s damages judgment awarding $750,000. Collins v. State of Louisiana, Through Dep't of Nat. Res., No. 2016 CA 1195 ( April 28, 2017).

Louisiana Court Holds Employer Responsible for Failing to Protect Employee From Off-Duty Threat of Violence by Coworker

A Louisiana appellate court has ruled an employee may sue her employer for negligence for injuries sustained on the job when the injuries resulted from a dispute that began outside of work. The case is particularly instructive for disputes that originate outside of work where one or both of the participants is a Louisiana employee.

New Orleans Mayor Signs Executive Order Prohibiting Wage History Inquires

On January 25, 2017, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed Executive Order MJL17-01, which prohibits questions about salary history during the application process for persons seeking employment with the City of New Orleans. The order further requires the Civil Service Commission to conduct a pay disparity study among city employees and submit the study to the mayor and chief administrative officer.

Louisiana Executive Order Extending Protections to LGBT Employees of State Contractors Enjoined

In June, we reported that in April 2016, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) signed Executive Order JBE 2016 – 11, which sought to protect lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender individuals, among other protected classes, from discrimination practiced by state contractors.

Louisiana Supreme Court Bounces Out on Arbitration Clause

A recent Louisiana Supreme Court decision over the enforceability of an arbitration clause has the justices battling it out. Against well-established precedent favoring arbitration clauses, the court recently found that a provision in an indoor trampoline park’s participant agreement was unenforceable because it was adhesionary and lacked mutuality of consent. Duhon v. ACTIVELAF, LCC, d/b/a Sky Zone Lafayette et al., No. 2016-0810 (October 19, 2016). The case is important for Louisiana employers with arbitration agreements.

How Can Employees Help Victims of Louisiana’s August 2016 Storms. . .Through an Employer Leave Donation Program or Leave Sharing Program?

In mid-September, the IRS announced income tax relief for individuals who donate through their employers to aid victims of the Louisiana storms that began on August 11, 2016. See IRS Notice 2016-55 (Sept. 16, 2016). To get this special relief — similar to that provided for leave donation aid given after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Sandy, and the Ebola outbreak in Africa — an employer must establish a leave-based donation program (a “Leave Donation Program”). Under that program, employees forego their vacation, sick, or personal leave and ask the employer instead to make a cash-equivalent donation to charitable organizations aiding those victims from the Louisiana storms.

IRS Provides Benefit Plan Relief to Louisiana Flood Victims

On August 14, 2016, President Obama declared a major disaster in the State of Louisiana due to the severe storms and flooding that took place in several State parishes ("Louisiana Storms"). Following the declaration, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued guidance postponing certain tax filings and payment deadlines for taxpayers who reside or work in the disaster area. The relief also provides qualifying individuals with expanded access to their retirement plan assets to alleviate hardships caused by the Louisiana Storms. Below is a summary of the filing extension for the Form 5500 series and administrative changes that employers can make to expedite plan loans and hardship distributions to Louisiana Storm victims.

New Poster for Hospitality Employers in Louisiana

Louisiana hotels will soon be required to display a new poster publicizing the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline. The new poster obligation becomes effective on August 1. 2016.

New Orleans Adopts Legislation Prohibiting City Contractors From Conducting Employment-Related Credit Checks

The New Orleans City Council recently approved legislation making it unlawful for city contractors to seek or use the consumer credit history of a current or prospective employee for any decision regarding the hiring or compensation of an employee or the terms, conditions, or privileges of his or her employment. The ordinance, entitled the “Equal Access to Employment Act,” was adopted by the New Orleans City Council on June 23, 2016, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu approved it on July 1, 2016. The ordinance will become effective on December 23, 2016—six months after its adoption by the city council.

New Louisiana Laws Will Impact Employers

In recent months, the Louisiana Legislature has passed several bills that have been signed into law, which will affect Louisiana employers. These new laws are effective August 1. In addition, the governor signed an executive order, effective July 1, 2016, extending new protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees who work for contractors that perform work for the State of Louisiana.

LGBT Antidiscrimination Provisions to Apply to Louisiana Contractors on July 1

Government contractors in Louisiana should take note of the upcoming effective date of the state’s recently-signed antidiscrimination law. In April of 2016, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) signed Executive Order JBE 2016 – 11, which protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, among individuals in other protected classes, from discrimination. As of July 1, 2016, the order will apply to businesses that provide contractual services to the state of Louisiana and its agencies (while most of the order’s other protections became effective when the governor signed the order).

New Orleans ‘Living Wage’ Law Goes Into Effect

In August we reported that the City of New Orleans had passed a “Living Wage” ordinance requiring city contractors and grant recipients to pay their employees a minimum wage of $10.55 per hour. The new law also requires covered employers to provide employees with a minimum of seven paid sick days per year. The New Orleans “Living Wage” law went into effect on January 1, 2016.

Liquidated Damages: A Viable Alternative to Noncompetition Agreements in Louisiana?

The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal recently issued an opinion that might pave the way for employers to use liquidated damages as a means of discouraging competition by former employees in certain circumstances.

New Orleans WHD to Aggressively Investigate Oilfield, Maritime Employers

The United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, administers the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). That authority includes the power to investigate employers, their customers and payroll practices.

Louisiana Workforce Commission Finds Employers Misclassify Workers as Independent Contractors

The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) is on track for a second consecutive record-setting year in identifying workers misclassified by employers as independent contractors, according to a recent announcement by the LWC. In 2014, Louisiana led the nation with the LWC finding an average of 11 misclassified workers per audit and identifying a grand total of 12,782 misclassified workers. The LWC is on pace to exceed that number by the end of 2015. The current yearly tally stands at 9,400 misclassified workers.

Louisiana Legislature Ensures Franchisees Are the Sole Employers of Their Workers

The Louisiana legislature recently passed Act 404 of the 2015 legislative session, clarifying that in most circumstances franchisees are the sole employers of their employees. The bill was signed by Governor Bobby Jindal on July 1, 2015, and went into effect on August 1, 2015.

Federal Court Upholds Louisiana Ban on Project Labor Agreements

A federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana recently ruled that Louisiana’s ban on project labor agreements on public works projects was neither unconstitutional nor preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

Louisiana Supreme Court Reaffirms At-Will Employment Doctrine

In Read v. Willwoods Community, 2014-C-1475 (La. 2015), the Supreme Court of Louisiana overturned a jury verdict awarding damages to a plaintiff who claimed that his employer breached a verbal contract to employ him for a term of five years.

eLABORate: Louisiana Enacts Legislation Restricting Employers' Access To Personal Social Media Accounts

Louisiana recently joined a growing list of states that have adopted legislation restricting employer efforts to access the personal social media accounts of job applicants and employees. On May 22, 2014, Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill No. 340, known as the Personal Online Account Privacy Protection Act (the “Act”). The Act takes effect on August 1, 2014, and generally prohibits employers from requesting or requiring employees and job applicants to disclose the username and password for their social media accounts and other personal online accounts. The Act further prohibits employers from penalizing or threatening to penalize employees and job applicants for refusing to disclose their username and password associated with their personal online accounts, including discharging, disciplining or refusing to hire the employee/job applicant.

Louisiana Bans Access To Employees' Social Media

On May 22, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed the Personal Online Account Privacy Protection Act into law. The Act, effective immediately, prohibits employers from requesting or requiring access to the personal online accounts of applicants or employees. Louisiana joins 11 other states that have already passed similar legislation. The Act also applies to educational institutions, which are prohibited from requesting or requiring the same information from students or prospective students.

Louisiana Supreme Court: Workers' Compensation Medical Treatment Guidelines Apply Retroactively, Regardless of When Accident Occurred

On May 7, 2014, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that the medical treatment guidelines that were put in place in June 2011 apply to all requests for medical treatment under the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act regardless of when the underlying accident occurred. The Supreme Court's decision in Church Mutual Ins. Co. v. Dardar overrules contrary decisions reached by each of the Louisiana Courts of Appeal and provides consistency (and a degree of objectivity) to requests for medical treatment in Louisiana workers' compensation claims.

Louisiana eAuthority (July 2013)

The Louisiana 2013 Regular Legislative Session closed on June 6, 2013. In the subsequent weeks, Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law three bills that will affect employers.

Louisiana eAuthority (December 2012)

Employee Classification: Employers Must Get It Right or Face Costly Penalties Whistleblower Protection for Reports of Child Sexual Abuse Louisiana First Hiring Act Employee Access to Wage and Certain Employment Records for Limited Purposes Is a Convicted Felon Absolutely Barred from Practicing or Engaging in Any Trade, Occupation, or Profession for Which a License, Permit, or Certificate is Required to be Issued by the state of Louisiana? Not Anymore . . . Definition of “Unemployment” in the Context of Eligibility for Unemployment Insurance Benefits Is Amended State Law as to Unemployment Insurance Collections Relative to Child Support Overpayments Now Aligned with Federal Law Failure by Temporary Employee to Contact Staffing Firm upon Conclusion of Assignment Renders Him Ineligible for Receiving Unemployment Compensation Benefits The Gender Pay Gap in Louisiana—The Second-Largest Nationwide, According to Advocacy Group Louisiana Ranks Among Lowest in Union Participation DOL Wage and Hour Division coordinates with New Orleans Mexican Consul

Louisiana eAuthority (March 2012)

Immigration Status Verification Laws; Criminal Background Checks for Individuals Seeking Employment; Employment of Minors; Tax Credit Still Available to Businesses Sponsoring Apprenticeship Programs; Extension of the Deadline for Application to Receive Tax Credits or Rebates Relative to the Louisiana Quality Jobs Program; Unemployment Compensation Experience Rating Records; Louisiana Ends 2011 with More Jobs; Weak Job Growth Expected in 2012-2013; Workplace Fatalities Decreasing; Louisiana Leads Nation in Improper Unemployment Payments; Professor’s Whistleblower Claim May Proceed to Trial; Fifth Circuit Issues a Ruling on Louisiana’s Wage Payment Law; Fifth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Commute-Time Collective Action; State Supreme Court Applies Dukes.

Louisiana Workforce Commission Developments

The Louisiana Workforce Commission has updated the Earned Income Credit (EIC) poster to reflect the 2012 income eligibility increases and notice of the elimination of the advance payments of the Earned Income Tax Credit to workers after December 31, 2010. The new poster can be downloaded from the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s website. A Spanish version is also available.

Louisiana Legislature Kicks Immigration Compliance Up a Notch or Two

The Louisiana legislature recently passed two laws aimed at immigration compliance which have the effect of: (1) requiring employers and subcontractors that do business with the State to use E-Verify; and (2) giving employers that are not required to use E-Verify a “safe harbor” from immigration penalties if they choose to use E-Verify. Both bills were signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal on July 6th, 2011, and will take effect on August 15th, 2011. So Louisiana employers have a little less than a month to prepare for compliance.

Louisiana Immigration Law Creates New Protections, Penalties For Employers

Gov. Bobby Jindal recently signed into law a new bill requiring Louisiana employers to take additional steps to ensure that employees are legally authorized to work in the United States. The new law allows employers to verify citizenship or work authorization through the E-Verify system maintained by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or retain copies of certain identity and legal status documents. The law creates a presumption of good faith for employers who check the citizenship status of their employees through E-Verify. The law provides for increased civil penalties and adds license revocation as consequences for those who do not comply with the new requirements.

What Louisiana Election Results Mean for Employers

Labor & Employment attorney H. Mark Adams has authored an article on the impact the recent general elections will have on Louisiana employers.

Legal Changes for Employers (pdf)

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