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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Former Employee to Receive $72,500 in Settlement of EEOC Disability Lawsuit

Lifecare Medical Services has agreed to pay $72,500 to a former employee and take other remedial actions to settle an EEOC lawsuit alleging it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation to the employee, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

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San Francisco Bay Area Employers with 50+ Employees Required to Provide Commuter Benefits

The Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program requires that employers with 50 or more full-time employees in the San Francisco Bay Area offer commuter benefits to their employees. The program is a partnership led by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

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May 2014 EEOC Verdicts and Settlements

A summary of recent EEOC verdicts and settlements.

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May 2014 Recent Jury Verdicts and Settlements

A summary of recent jury verdicts and settlements.

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Supervisor’s Conduct Was Sufficient To Find Same-Sex Harassment

A California Court of Appeal recently held, in Lewis v. City of Benicia, that conduct such as frequent gifts, lunch purchases, several sexual jokes, and the sharing of pornographic computer images, by a same-sex supervisor was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find same-sex sexual harassment.

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Tenth Circuit Rejects Employer’s “Team Player” Defense

While there’s no “I” in team, Synerlink Corporation learns that there is a rather expensive “I” in gender discrimination.  The Tenth Circuit recently overturned a summary judgment ruling in favor of Synerlink Corporation regarding the termination of Stacey Potter, one of its female regional representatives, or “Territory Managers.”  Conflict began when Ms. Potter objected to management’s decision to reassign some of her sales clients in Oklahoma to the Territory Manager for the newly created region in Northern Texas.  Management responded that reassigning customers was a normal practice, and no one sales representative “owns” its regional clients.  The arguments continued until Synerlink terminated Ms. Potter for her continued disruption and objections to Synerlink policy.  The proffered reason was that Ms. Potter was “not a team player.”

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Ninth Circuit Revives FLSA Exempt Classification Class Action

The Ninth Circuit issued an opinion Monday reviving a class action brought by store managers of the auto-parts store, AutoZone, alleging that they were misclassified as exempt employees and denied overtime pay when the majority of their duties were identical to those of non‑exempt employees.

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USC Hospital Finally Pays Employees Monetary Losses From Unlawful Policy Change

Keck Hospital of USC recently agreed to fully comply with an earlier National Labor Relations Board decision that required the Hospital to pay the employees affected by the Hospital’s unilateral changes to the terms and conditions of employment.

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Telecommuting No Longer “Unusual” ADA Accommodation Due to Advances in Technology

In EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that allowing an employee to telecommute up to four days a week was a reasonable accommodation for an employee with irritable bowel syndrome under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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Florida Supreme Court Rules That Pregnancy Is Protected By Florida Civil Rights Act

The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that pregnancy discrimination is prohibited under the Florida Civil Rights Act, the State law barring discrimination in employment.

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Don’t Simply Rely on Medical History When Assessing Someone’s Ability to Perform the Job

On April 21, 2014, a federal judge in Florida ruled against American Tool & Mold, Inc. (“ATM”) for terminating an employee based on his failure to provide medical certification of his ability to perform the job.  The problem was that the employer never conducted an individualized assessment of the individual’s ability to complete the tasks; they merely relied on his medical history report showing a successful back surgery six years prior.  When ATM’s post-offer medical examination provider refused to conduct a back screening and complete his certification, ATM marked him as disabled and terminated his employment.

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Court Dismisses EEOC Suit Claiming Race Discrimination Based on Hairstyle Restriction

A recent decision demonstrates employers are permitted to enforce dress and grooming policies as long as they are not based on immutable characteristics.  In EEOC v. Catastrophe Management Solutions (CMS), the EEOC filed suit against Catastrophe Management Solutions in the US District Court for the Southern District of Alabama alleging that Catastrophe Management Solutions (CMS) “engaged in unlawful employment practices…by implementing a policy that prohibited employees from wearing dreadlocks and enforcing that policy against”  the plaintiff.

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New Bill Seeks to Expand Scope of the Definition of “Supervisor” Under Title VII

Last year in Vance v. Ball State University, the United States Supreme Court defined the term “supervisor” for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as someone who is “empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions.”  Accordingly, under Vance, an individual is only a “supervisor” if he or she can hire, fire, or discipline the employee.

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New OFCCP Requirements Now in Effect

The OFFCP’s final rules took effect on March 24, 2014.  The previously issued Final Rules expanding Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 503) and the Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) are aimed to improve hiring and employment opportunities for disabled and veteran workers.  The Final Rules also impose numerous new affirmative action obligations on federal contractors or subcontractors covered by Executive Order 11246.

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