Paula Lopez, May 28, 2014. On April 22, 2014, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., rejected Ford’s position that its employee’s presence at the workplace is necessary to perform her essential job functions and found that Ford failed to establish that telecommuting, in this instance, would impose an undue hardship on an employer obligated to provide a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  In doing so, the Sixth Circuit upended the typical deference given to an employer’s…

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Megan J. Muoio, May 21, 2014. Recent Supreme Court decisions and federal legislation have addressed the issue of when it is appropriate for employees to discuss pay and salary issues amongst themselves and what options, if any, do employers have to prevent disclosures made among employees. Many employers discourage or outright prohibit employees from disclosing or discussing pay and salary information. These prohibitions are often contained within employment handbooks or simply conveyed verbally to employees. However, despite their frequent use, pay and salary confidentiality rules have been prohibited…

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Megan J. Muoio, April 23, 2014. On June 11, 2013, Judge William H. Pauley of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a decision in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures that struck fear into the hearts of employers with unpaid internship programs in New York. The Court ruled that an employer had violated federal and state labor laws by classifying the plaintiffs as unpaid interns rather than employees and that the plaintiffs should have been paid for their work. The Glatt case…

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Diana Uhimov, April 17, 2014. Employee misclassification occurs when employers treat workers who should be considered employees as independent contractors or simply do not report them and pay them “off the books”.  The consequences for misclassification may include civil penalties, liability for employment taxes, class action lawsuits for unpaid wages, and even criminal prosecution.  Although engaging an independent contractor may appear to streamline the hiring process for companies upfront, it is critical to ensure that workers are properly classified to prevent audits, investigations and potential lawsuits.  The crackdown…

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Paula Lopez, April 2, 2014. Employers are not blind to employees’ use of social media in and out of the workplace and they have a business interest in protecting confidential information, brand/image, employee morale and productivity, and insulating themselves from legal liability. As a result, employers should establish a social media policy regarding their employees’ use of employer-issued devices and their social media activities. Creating a comprehensive social media policy is important. Such a policy should specifically identify permitted and prohibited conduct, without being overly restrictive, and should…

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Diana Uhimov, March 11, 2014. Early this month, a divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the whistleblower provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) protects employees of private contractors conducting work for publicly-traded companies in the same way as it protects the public company’s employees.  The relevant part of the statute at issue states that “no public company … or any … contractor … of such company may [retaliate] against an employee … because of [SOX – protected activity].”  The Court found that a plain reading of…

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Paula Lopez, March 6, 2014. On February 26, 2014, in an effort spearheaded by Mayor Bill DiBlasio, the New York City Council passed significant amendments to the Earned Sick Time Act (ESTA), recently enacted in June 2013 and set to go into effect on April 1, 2014.  Consequently, in a little over a month before ESTA was slotted to go into effect, several key provisions affecting the size of employer covered under the law, the implementation of the law, the permitted use of sick leave, and the law’s…

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Megan J. Muoio, February 26, 2014. On February 21, 2014, the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) filed objections with the National Labor Relations Board regarding the union representation election at the Volkswagen facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The effort to unionize the VW plant was supported by both the UAW and Volkswagen, which wanted to set up a works council at the facility. Ultimately, however, the UAW lost the election by a vote of 712 to 626. In its complaint to the NLRB, the…

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Megan Muoio, July 2, 2013. The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued an important decision regarding Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employers and their agents from discriminating against workers on account of their race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  The case, Vance v. Ball State University, involved the question of who qualifies as an agent of the employer in an action for workplace harassment.  The Supreme Court in Vance, issued in June 2013, severely limited employers’ liability for the discriminatory acts of supervisory employees whose…

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