In a decision perhaps overshadowed by the Second Circuit’s subsequent decision in Berman v. Neo@Ogilvy LLC, 14-4626 (2d Cir. Sept. 10, 2015) two days later, a district court in California has added to the growing split among federal courts on the scope of the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation provision. In Davies v. Broadcom Corporation, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122812 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 8, 2015), the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed the plaintiff’s DFA whistleblower claim, finding she was not a “whistleblower” under the Act as she had not contacted the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Articles Discussing Human Resources And Other Workplace Topics.
This month, two New York federal judges reviewing a claim of misclassification rejected a claim for overtime compensation, agreeing that a business properly classified two translators as independent contractors rather than as “employees” under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law. See Mateo v. Universal Language Corp., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128638 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 4, 2015), aff’d by 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128377 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 23, 2015).
After several high-profile setbacks in disparate impact discrimination lawsuits challenging criminal record screening policies,1 the EEOC has entered into a settlement (consent decree) in one of its few remaining cases, a settlement that includes payouts to individual employees in an amount up to $1,600,000. Beyond this not insubstantial settlement amount, the consent decree also reflects the EEOC’s view of a model criminal record screening policy, and is useful in that respect.2 While the EEOC has been trumpeting the settlement on its Web site, the EEOC’s bluster may have been tempered by a further and strongly worded opinion in the Freeman case in Maryland, one of the EEOC’s spectacularly unsuccessful disparate impact lawsuits challenging criminal record screening policies (affirmed by the Fourth Circuit).3 The opinion awards Freeman just under $1,000,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs from the EEOC.
A bill in the U.S. Senate would require employers to consider their employees’ requests for changes to their work schedules and to provide more predictable and stable schedules for employees in certain occupations with evidence of unpredictable and unstable scheduling practices.
Courts continue to wrestle with preemption issues, the tension between sweeping federal laws purporting to regulate an industry or industries and laws enacted at the local level, such as labor laws impacting labor costs. In the most recent example, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rejected a cargo airline’s argument that the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978’s mandate that states make no law impacting the “price, route or service of an air carrier,” preempts Miami-Date County’s living wage ordinance as applied to such carriers. Amerijet Int’l v. Miami-Dade County, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 16700 (11th Cir. 2015).
Executive Summary: On September 21, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA) does not preempt Miami-Dade County’s Living Wage Ordinance (LWO). Amerijet Int’l, Inc. v. Miami-Dade Cnty., No. 14-11401 (11th Cir. Sept. 21, 2015). This means that airlines that use the facilities of the Miami International Airport will have to comply with the LWO with regard to those employees who perform “covered services” for other airlines. The LWO remains inapplicable to airlines providing such services on their own behalf, however. The Eleventh Circuit joins the Ninth Circuit in interpreting the ADA’s definition of “services” narrowly, perhaps setting the stage for Supreme Court review.
Reasonable suspicion alcohol testing of a safety-sensitive employee who was injured in a bar fight and who took medical leave for “acute alcoholic pancreatitis” was upheld by a federal court in Indiana, even though the testing did not take place until the employee returned to work after his medical leave ended. Foos v. Taghleef Industries, Inc., 2:13-CV-00438 (S.D. Ind. Sept. 22, 2015).
Bloomberg BNA (subscription) recently reported that this fall the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) will be issuing a report on Fitbit Inc.’s privacy practices. Avid runners, walkers or those up on the latest gadgets likely know about Fitbit, and its line of wearable fitness devices.
Non-Canadian workers are increasingly suing their employers in Canadian courts for human rights violations allegedly committed outside Canada by the companies themselves or by other entities in their supply chains. This development seems to be spurred by recent U.S. cases limiting the rights of workers and their representatives from bringing these claims in the United States.
Violence is a leading cause of workplace deaths in the last 15 years and causes 48 percent of worker deaths in the retail industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A federal appeals court ruling on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“DFA”) may prompt U.S. Supreme Court review as to when an employee whistleblower is entitled to the benefits of the anti-retaliation provisions of the DFA.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit created a federal appellate split today when it revived a Dodd-Frank Act retaliation claim by an ex-finance director, who was responsible for the company’s financial reporting and compliance with accounting standards. The court held that he was protected even though he only raised claims of accounting fraud internally with his employer, but did not report them to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or the Commission) before he was terminated.
Sensitive employer information may be the subject of secret Government prying. With the pervasive use of smart phones in business today, and with those phones containing confidential personal and business information, law enforcement has the ability to take information from those smart phones without an employer’s knowledge.
With the race for the White House heating up, the “politics of marijuana” is looming as a possibly significant factor.
It has long been recognized that federal regulations mandating drug testing for certain employees in safety-sensitive industries preempt contrary provisions in Minnesota’s state drug testing law known as “DATWA” (Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act). But some Minnesota practitioners have argued for years that employee protections in DATWA should not be preempted if they are not explicitly in conflict with federal law. A recent order from the District of Minnesota has likely put an end to this line of reasoning. MN Airlines, Inc., d/b/a Sun Country Airlines v. Levander, No 15-CV-2454 (PAM/BRT) (D. Minn. Aug. 28, 2015).