5th Circuit Says Franchisor’s Advice Does Not Create An Employment Relationship

In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit provided franchisors with some ammunition in employment suits raised by a franchisee’s employees.  In a Fair Labor Standards Act claim raised by a franchisee’s employee in Texas, the Fifth Circuit reversed a jury verdict finding that the franchisor was liable for the franchisee’s FLSA violations.

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Obama Signs Executive Order Creating Protections for LGBT Employees of Federal Contractors

Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order barring the federal government and its contractors from discriminating against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees.

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EPA Seeks Power to Garnish Wages

On July 2, 2014, the EPA published a Federal Register notice titled “Administrative Wage Garnishment” claiming it has the authority to bypass the courts and unilaterally garnish wages of individuals with debts to the Agency.

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EEOC Provides Guidelines, Q&A and Fact Sheet Regarding Pregnancy Discrimination

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) decided not to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a decision regarding pregnancy discrimination and on July 4, 2014, it published the following three documents:

On course with recent trends in employment law, the EEOC’s position is no shock that it sides with providing reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees as an employer would provide to any other disabled employee.

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Supreme Court Will Consider Whether EEOC’s Mandate To Conciliate Is Really Mandatory

On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court granted cert in Mach Mining LLC v. EEOC, and will consider a dispute over the EEOC’s duty to conciliate charges of job discrimination before filing lawsuits against employers.  The Court will hear an appeal from Mach Mining, an Illinois mining company, that was sued by the EEOC for allegedly failing to hire qualified female job applicants.  The government alleges that Mach Mining has never hired any female miners since it began operations in 2006 despite getting applications from many qualified women.  Mach Mining asserts that the lawsuit is barred because the EEOC did not adequately enter into conciliation efforts before filing the suit.  The EEOC argues that it is up to the Commission —- not the courts —- to decide whether terms of a settlement are acceptable.

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DOL Proposes Rule to Extend FMLA Benefits to Same-Sex Marriages

Federal agencies continue to institute progressive social reforms while Congress remains divided.  On June 20, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a press release heralding a proposed rule that would extend FMLA rights to all federal employees in valid, same-sex marriages.  In United States v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down sections of the Defense of Marriage Act interpreting “marriage” as only between members of the opposite sex.  The Court did not change the portion of the act that permitted individual states to define marriage under their own laws.

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New Compensation-Related Requirements for Federal Contractors

On April 8, 2014, President Obama signed a new Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating or retaliating against employees for discussing compensation issues.   On the same date, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Labor to issue new rules to govern the collection of summary compensation data from federal contractors. These recent actions by the President came nearly a month after he signed Executive Order 13658, which raised the minimum rate of pay for employees of federal contractors.

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EEOC to Seek Punitive Damages for Discriminatory Failure to Promote

An Indiana District Court ruled on June 4 that the EEOC can seek punitive damages for an employee denied a promotion because, per one of his supervisors, he was not “the face for this store.”  When he asked for clarification, his manager clarified that his “skin color is not right for this store, this community.”  The EEOC filed suit under Title VII, and on June 4 the Court held that the EEOC could seek punitive damages for the employer’s “malice or reckless indifference” to the employee’s rights.

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June 2014 EEOC Verdicts and Settlements

A summary of recent EEOC verdicts and settlements.

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June 2014 Recent Jury Verdicts and Settlements

A summary of recent jury verdicts and settlements.

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Obama Administration, Individual States, and Local Legislatures Move Forward on Minimum Wage

With Congress deadlocked on the issue, the Obama administration and several states have gone ahead and are raising the minimum wage.  Earlier this year, President Obama signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10 per hour effective January 1, 2015.  The specifics of the rules, procedures, and enforcement processes of the order will not be released until October of this year.

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National Origin Discrimination Cited in EEOC Lawsuit Against Employer Who Terminated Employees for Lacking English Skills

In a recent press release, the EEOC announced that it has filed a lawsuit against Wisconsin Plastics, Inc., a metal and plastic manufacturer, for alleged national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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California Court of Appeal Finds That Pre-Litigation Demand Was Extortion

In Stenehjem v. Sareen, a California Court of Appeal recently held that a former employee’s pre‑litigation demand constituted extortion when the employee threatened to report his former employer to federal authorities due to alleged criminal activity that was “entirely unrelated to any alleged injury suffered by” the employee.

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Buyer Beware: Sandy Spring Bank’s Unexpected Liability

The Story Behind the $6 Million Verdict Against Sandy Spring Bank

Growing regional financial institution Sandy Spring Bank announced that it would set aside 2014 profits to cover a $6 million dollar Anne Arundel County jury verdict levied against it. Sandy Spring Bank purchased CommerceFirst Bank in May 2012 including their liabilities which included future litigation.

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DOL Publishes Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Revise Definition of “Spouse” Under FMLA

The Department of Labor announced Friday a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to extend the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to all eligible employees in same-sex legal marriages regardless of whether the state they live in recognizes the marriage.  The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.

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