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Legal Alerts

  • 9.30.19

    A federal appeals court just ruled an employee for a cannabis business could bring a claim for federal wage and hour violations against his employer despite the fact that another federal law continues to criminalize the drug. The September 20, 2019 ruling from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals washes away a defense that other businesses have tried to use to their benefit. The ruling only directly applies to cannabis-related employers in Colorado, Kansas, and other nearby states. However, all employers in this field should pay attention to this decision as it may soon apply to you.

  • 9.24.19

    The suspense is over – the Department of Labor just this morning announced the revised Overtime Rule, which will set the minimum salary threshold for the Fair Labor Standard Act’s white-collar exemptions at $684 per week, or $35,568 per year. The rule, which will expand overtime pay obligations to an estimated 1.3 million additional workers, will take effect on January 1, 2020. What do you need to know about this breaking news?

  • 9.23.19

    The National Labor Relations Board took the latest step in the long-simmering debate over whether college teaching and research assistants could unionize when it released a proposed rule on Friday that would once again block such efforts. Declaring that university students should not qualify as employees under federal labor law, the Board took the first step to reverse a 2016 ruling by the Obama-era NLRB that opened the door for certain graduate and undergraduate students to form unions. The proposed rule still has a way to go before it is finalized and adopted, but you will want to familiarize yourself with this development to the extent it may soon upend the current state of the law and your campus practices.

  • 9.20.19

    With his signature on AB 5 on September 18, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom has completed the year-long overhaul of the state’s independent contractor test. What was once governed by a balancing test that provided breathing room for businesses to deploy contractors with relative ease has now been transformed into a bright-line standard that will challenge businesses across the state when it comes to compliance. Companies will soon face an increased risk of misclassification claims from workers unless they take immediate steps to get in line with the new law.

  • 9.20.19

    The California Supreme Court recently handed down an intriguing decision which casts doubt on – and in some cases even condemns – some of the most common practices used by employers in both drafting and presenting arbitration agreements to their employees. In doing so, the court highlighted circumstances under which similar agreements with “an unusually high degree” of procedural unconscionability may be blocked from being enforced. Accordingly, it’s important that you understand which of the employer’s terms and practices were criticized by the court so you can avoid those same pitfalls in your own arbitration programs moving forward.

  • 9.11.19

    In a blow to national union organization efforts, the National Labor Relations Board just clarified the test for determining whether “micro-units” of employees within a larger workforce can organize on their own. In its September 9 Boeing Company decision, the NLRB addressed a union’s efforts to utilize a “micro-unit” strategy to target a petitioned-for unit that made up of only two job classifications from a significantly larger, integrated workforce. In reversing a Regional Director’s decision to allow a representation election with this smaller subset of employees, the NLRB clarified its traditional community-of-interest standard for evaluating the appropriateness of petition for bargaining units. 

  • 9.11.19

    The California legislature today approved a controversial new law that will reshape the way businesses across the state classify workers. While supporters of the bill have emphasized its impact on independent contractors, the bill also severely impacts legal obligations governing businesses that hire other businesses. In short, the law will make it much more difficult for many companies to treat workers in California as independent contractors, and more difficult for businesses to hire smaller, entrepreneurial businesses. The governor has already promised to sign the law into effect; once he does, hundreds of thousands of workers across the state will be entitled to increased pay, benefits, and employment law protections – not to mention the opportunity to organize into labor unions. Many businesses, especially those in the gig economy, will need to radically restructure their operations or transform these workers into employees in order to comply with the law. What do you need to know about today’s developments?

  • 9.11.19

    Citing the high burden on employers and the unproven usefulness of the program, the EEOC announced today that it will halt further collection of pay data during future EEO-1 reporting cycles. While you still need to turn over compensation information from both 2017 and 2018 when you submit your Component 2 pay data as part of your EEO-1 submission by September 30, today’s announcement may mean this will be a one-time effort that may not need to be repeated in 2020. What do you need to know about today’s news?

  • 9.9.19

    In yet another ruling that levels the labor relations playing field, the National Labor Relations Board ruled on Friday that employers could rightfully eject outside union representatives soliciting petition signatures from a shared shopping center parking area. When read in conjunction with a June decision conferring greater rights to limit on-premises union activity by abolishing the “public space” exception, and a more recent ruling extending greater latitude when it comes to excluding contractor employees, the Board has significantly restricted union access to private employer property. These rulings have supplied employers with powerful tools to combat prohibited solicitation on their premises. What do you need to know about this latest decision?

  • 9.3.19

    At the height of the #MeToo movement, California lawmakers enacted a requirement that all employers with five or more employees would need to provide sexual harassment prevention training to all employees by January 1, 2020. However, in response to outcry from the business community, Governor Newsom signed into effect a law this past Friday extending the deadline for employers to provide the newly required sexual harassment prevention training to January 1, 2021. What do California employers need to know about this one-year reprieve?

  • 8.30.19

    Illinois recently enacted sweeping legislation in an effort to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Illinois Senate Bill 75 created the Workplace Transparency Act, amended the Illinois Human Rights Act and the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act, and introduced the Sexual Harassment Victim Representation Act and the Hotel and Casino Employee Safety Act. Additionally, Illinois House Bill 252 amended the Illinois Human Rights Act, further changing the legal landscape for Illinois employers. Both new measures will significantly impact how employers do business in Illinois. The implications are vast, ranging from what constitutes an “employer” in Illinois to the validity of certain employment agreements (and almost everything in between). 

  • 8.30.19

    Employers found to have misclassified employees as independent contractors will no longer face the prospect unfair labor practice charges for such actions alone, according to a new ruling handed down yesterday by the National Labor Relations Board. Although the NLRB’s previous General Counsel and several administrative law judges had previously concluded that hiring entities could face the one-two punch of misclassification litigation followed by a federal labor law violation, the current Board wiped this concern off the table with its August 29 ruling in Velox Express, Inc. What do businesses need to know about this positive development?

  • 8.29.19

    This article addresses many employment-related issues facing employers in the wake of hurricane-related disasters; consequently, in addition to federal laws, we also focus on certain state laws, especially those in the areas most impacted by the storms. Nevertheless, the information here is of more widespread applicability than just the current hurricane season, and may be helpful following any unexpected natural catastrophe. 

  • 8.26.19

    Governor Andrew Cuomo just signed into effect an amendment to New York law expanding the protections employers must provide to employees who are victims of domestic violence. In addition to expanded protections against discrimination, the amendment obligates employers to provide reasonable accommodations to domestic violence victims who must be absent from work for certain specified reasons. The amendment, signed on August 20, becomes effective November 18, 2019. What do you need to know in order to be in compliance come November?

  • 8.23.19

    The EEOC recently released guidance to assist those employers filling out their EEO-1 reports who have non-binary employees – those who choose not to identify as male or female – in their workforces. This question has become more pressing given the increase in the number of states permitting individuals to classify themselves as non-binary on government-issued identification forms, especially as employers begin the task of completing their EEO-1 reports before next month’s deadline. What do employers need to know about this latest development?

  • 8.14.19

    As predicted, Washington’s legislature has been busy over the past few months passing new laws that directly impact how employers conduct business. There have also been several key court decisions impacting workplace law of which all employers should be aware. What happened? We’ve put together summaries of the more significant recent developments for you below.

  • 8.14.19

    New York Governor Cuomo just signed into effect an amendment to state law which expressly prohibits discrimination against employees based on clothing or facial hair worn in accordance with the employee’s religion. The amendment is set to take effect October 8, 2019. What do New York employers need to know about this development?

  • 8.13.19

    The State of Alabama passed an Equal Pay Act in the 2019 legislative session that is set to take effect on September 1, 2019. Employers must begin their preparations to comply with the law now because there are new timekeeping and wage records that will be required of all employers in Alabama as a result.

  • 8.9.19

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed legislation amending state law to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on hair texture or protective hairstyles as race-based discrimination. The new law took effect immediately upon signing in July 2019. What do New York employers need to know about this new law?

  • 8.9.19

    The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced today its intent to publish a proposed “Election Protection Rule” that would amend regulations governing the filing and processing of petitions for secret ballot union elections. A Board majority explained that the proposed amendments would “better protect employees’ statutory right of free choice on questions concerning representation by removing unnecessary barriers to the fair and expeditious resolution of such questions through the preferred means of a Board-conducted secret ballot election.” To that aim, the Board proposed amendments to its: (1) blocking charge policy; (2) voluntary recognition bar rule; and (3) recognition rules in the construction industry. It should be noted that this represents the first of what may ultimately be several forays into rulemaking to amend the current representation process.

  • 8.8.19

    In an eye-opening opinion letter issued earlier today, the U.S. Department of Labor confirmed that parents attending certain school meetings for the benefit of their children are entitled to FMLA leave for their absences. The agency concluded that the need to attend school meetings to discuss individualized education programs for children with serious health conditions triggers intermittent FMLA leave protection. Employers should make note of this opinion and revise their family leave policies and practices as necessary in response.

  • 3 Things For Employers To Know
    8.7.19

    A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the 2012 guidance document from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that cautioned employers not to apply blanket bans against hiring those with criminal records could not be enforced against the state of Texas, handing the agency a stinging loss. The sweeping decision from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals calls into question not only the future of the guidance as applied to other employers across the country, but also the EEOC’s power to issue such guidance in the first place. Here are three things all employers should know about yesterday’s ruling.

  • 8.1.19

    The South Carolina Supreme Court just ruled that the state will no longer recognize common law marriages. This decision will have a direct impact on South Carolina workplace law, requiring many employers to adjust their employment policies and practices.

  • 8.1.19

    Westchester County employers will soon need to provide paid safe time leave to employees who are the victims of domestic violence or human trafficking. Earlier this year, county lawmakers passed the Safe Time Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence and Trafficking Law, which takes effect October 30, 2019.

  • 8.1.19

    An agreement to arbitrate sexual harassment claims is enforceable, according to a recent decision handed down by a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, despite a state law purporting to ban mandatory arbitration of such claims (Latif v. Morgan Stanley & Co., LLC.). The decision clears up confusion that had existed for much of the past year, as employers were caught between a broad new state law and a well-established federal policy permitting arbitration of such claims. What do New York employers need to know about this recent decision?

  • 8.1.19

    Joining the ranks of several other states and local jurisdictions that have taken similar steps in the fight against pay disparity, Illinois will soon prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their salary history as part of the hiring process. The new law – signed into law yesterday and set to take effect on September 29, 2019 – also includes other pay equity provisions that will require you to immediately adjust your hiring practices. What do Illinois employers need to know about this significant new development?

  • 7.25.19

    The Chicago City Council just approved what is likely the most expansive predictive scheduling law in the country. Business and labor groups came together with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s staff and the city council to negotiate, draft, and approve the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance. The new law, approved yesterday and set to go into effect on July 1, 2020, will soon mandate certain employers to give many lower-income employees advance notice of their schedules and face financial penalties for unexpectedly changing an employee’s shift. What do Chicago employers need to know about this significant new law?

  • 7.24.19

    The Oregon Supreme Court just revived a whistleblower retaliation claim filed against sportswear giant Nike by adopting for the first time a novel legal concept known as the “cat’s paw” theory. The July 18 opinion opens new avenues for employees to pursue retaliation and discrimination remedies against employers. By reading a summary of the case and gaining a better understanding of this theory, you can avoid running into similar legal trouble with your employees.

  • 3 Things You Need To Know About Opinion Letter
    7.23.19

    Trucking companies will no longer need to pay their drivers for certain off-duty time, potentially including time spent sleeping in their sleeper berth units, after the Labor Department issued an opinion letter yesterday confirming that such time is generally not compensable. The letter is a welcome one for trucking industry, clearing up confusion caused by recent conflicting court decisions that held that off-duty time may be limited to eight hours a day when a driver is on a trip and spending off-duty time in their sleeper. However, you should make sure you understand the full ramifications of the opinion letter before changing your pay practices. Here are three things you need to know about yesterday’s significant news.

  • 7.22.19

    The news that President Trump selected Eugene Scalia to take over as Labor Secretary late last week caught some employers by surprise; after all, it was just a week ago that we were analyzing the track record of the soon-to-be-acting Secretary who many expected to helm the Department of Labor for an extended period of time. But now that it appears we have a likely successor in place to take over for Alexander Acosta, all employers are turning their attention to the same issue: what does this transition mean for the business community? We’ve once again assembled the opinions of some of our firm’s foremost thought leaders – including one of our partners who recently worked side-by-side with Scalia on a significant workplace law matter – to help provide a glimpse into what you should expect from the U.S. Department of Labor. The consensus opinion? Scalia will aggressively battle against intrusive and overreaching regulations that hamstring the country’s employers, and will quickly endear himself to the business community.

  • 7.16.19

    Thanks to recent negotiations among state lawmakers, it appears that California employers may get a temporary reprieve on some of the more sweeping data privacy requirements that were set to take effect in just a few short months. However, the pending legislation that would provide the delay would not exempt employers from significant disclosure requirements that also comprise the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) – meaning you should still be in the process of preparing for the new law at your workplace.

Media Inquiries

Media Inquiries
Meghan Warin
Director of Public Relations
Tel: (404) 240-4282
mwarin@fisherphillips.com 

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