Labor & Employment Insights

Perspectives in labor and employment law affecting employers and businesses

In Wittmer v. Phillips 66, Judge James Ho of the Fifth Circuit wasted no time stating the Fifth Circuit’s position on whether sexual orientation or transgender status are protected classes under Title VII – they are not. Interestingly, however, the defendant did not even raise that as a defense. In fact, the lower court and the Fifth Circuit both found in favor of Phillips 66 on other grounds. But it is pretty obvious from the majority opinion,…
Minimum wage laws invite controversy, and Alabama’s latest tug-of-war between the state and its largest city is going to get another wider review. You may recall that back in 2015, Birmingham, Alabama, passed a local minimum wage law. On the heels of that move, the Alabama Legislature then passed a state-wide minimum wage law, preempting local city laws. In response to the state’s new law, some Birmingham citizens, along with the NAACP, contended that…
Although marijuana is classified as an illegal drug under federal law, a majority of states have now legalized its use in one form or another. This rapidly evolving legal landscape presents new challenges for employers, particularly those with offices and employees in several states. Employers must balance complying with often divergent federal and state laws, maintaining a safe work environment, and protecting employees’ rights. Although difficult at times, there are steps employers can take to…
We all know how much HR professionals LOVE to fill out government-mandated forms. One of the forms at the top of the list is the EEO-1 compliance form that must be filled out by companies that have 100 or more employees or that are a federal contractor with 50 or more employees and a contract of $50,000 or more. The form asks for basic information on the company’s full-time and part-time employees, including gender and…
We routinely receive calls from employers who want to terminate an employee (or have been sued for doing so) but do not have a good paper trail to support their decision. Usually, we hear that the supervisor has talked to the employee repeatedly about performance or tardiness or other problems and is “done” with the employee. Of course, the supervisor has little or no documentation of these repeated discussions. To fire or not to fire? That…
You might have seen all the buzz about the Seventh Circuit’s recent decision in Kleber v. CareFusion Corporation holding that job applicants were not covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Does that mean you can refuse to hire someone because of their age? Not surprisingly, no, it does not mean that. Let’s take a minute to look at what happened. What’s the Difference between Impact and Treatment Claims? The difference between disparate…
The U.S. federal government shutdown has continued for more than a month, with no probable end in sight. While many government employees are furloughed, an estimated 420,000 others are deemed “essential employees” and are required to continue working without pay during the shutdown. Several essential employees have recently filed putative collective action lawsuits, claiming that the shutdown violates their wage-and-hour rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act because they are working without pay. Several…
Companies that work with the federal government (think Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, government contracts, grant funding) need to stay up to date on the False Claims Act (FCA). The FCA is one of the primary tools used by employee whistleblowers to bring actions against their employers. In 2018, whistleblowers filed 645 new FCA actions and recovered $2.88 billion for the government in settlements and judgments—of which the whistleblowers kept $301 million as their share. This…
When considering a position’s requirements and responsibilities, most people would assume that attendance is a given. Before any other job duties can be fulfilled, an employee must actually come to work. However, since individuals increasingly perform their job duties away from their employer (think technology, work-at-home policies, virtual positions, etc.), attendance has slowly but surely become a regularly contested issue in disability discrimination cases. In Lipp v. Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation, the Eighth Circuit…
Not all requests for accommodation or FMLA leave will fit into neat boxes like “pregnancy” or “knee surgery.” Because the ADA definition of a disability includes any impairment that affects a major life function, employers are starting to see some more creative requests around the margins. In Trautman v. Time Warner Cable Texas, LLC, the Fifth Circuit recently dealt with an employee’s requests under both the ADA and FMLA to address her “anxiety/panic attacks”…