Posts from January 2011.
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When an employer faces litigation following an unfavorable cause determination by the EEOC, it may seek to depose the EEOC investigator who made the finding. However, the scope of discovery obtainable from the EEOC is somewhat different from that available from a non-governmental third party. The EEOC may seek to quash a subpoena by asserting that the information sought is protected by the deliberative process privilege, which is available to the agency in addition to the more common protections of attorney-client privilege and work product protection.

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In Byron Chapman v. Pier 1 Imports (U.S.), Inc., --- F.3d --- (9th Cir. Jan. 7, 2011), a unanimous Ninth Circuit en banc panel reversed the trial court finding that the plaintiff had standing to pursue claims for alleged barriers against Pier 1, instead holding that plaintiff’s complaint was "jurisdictionally defective" and that plaintiff "lacked standing at the outset of this litigation to assert the ADA claims."  "This Case is important because the decision helps to rein in ‘drive by ADA litigants’ who file multiple lawsuits for profit, but have no real stake in the matters presented,” said lead appellate lawyer Laura Franze, who is Co-Chair of Hunton & Williams' national employment group. “The Court adopted Pier 1’s position that -- in order to comply with Article III standing requirements --- an ADA plaintiff must not only clearly identify the alleged accessibility violations, but also connect the dots to show how he personally suffered discrimination under the ADA on account of his disability. ADA complainants cannot depend on formulaic recitation of the elements of a claim.”

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On January 19, 2011, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in National Aeronautics and Space Administration v. Nelson, finding that questions contained in background checks NASA conducted on independent contractors are reasonable, employment-related inquiries that further the government’s interests in managing its internal operations.  Stating that “[t]he challenged portions of the forms consist of reasonable inquiries in an employment background check,” the Court reversed a Ninth Circuit decision that the questions NASA asked of the ...

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On January 5, 2011, the White House announced President Obama’s intent to nominate Lafe E. Solomon to be General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board and Terence F. Flynn to be a Board Member.

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On December 13, 2010, New York passed the Wage Theft Prevention Act (“WTPA”).  The WTPA, which amends the state’s labor law regarding wage payments, and becomes effective on April 12, 2011.  It  heightens the requirements of employers as relating to notice and the payment of wages while also stiffening the penalties for notice and payment failures.

Notice Requirements:

The law currently in effect requires employers to inform new hires in writing of their designated pay date, rate of pay, and overtime rate, if applicable.  The WTPA revises this portion of the law, placing further obligations on employers by requiring this notice to be issued not only upon hire but also by February 1 of every subsequent year.  The WTPA also expands the information to be provided to include: the employee’s rate of pay and how it is paid (hourly, weekly, commission, etc.); allowances claimed against minimum wage (e.g., tip, meal or lodging credits); the employer’s regular pay day; the employer’s name and any “doing business as” names; the address of the employer’s main office or principal place of business and mailing address if different; the employer’s telephone number, plus any other information the Commissioner of Labor deems “material and necessary.”  The notice must be provided in English, or in the employee’s primary language if his/her primary language is not English, and must be signed and acknowledged by the employee each time it is received.

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The Obama Administration has addressed labor and employment issues aggressively over the past two years.  The Department of Labor, under President Obama’s direction, has articulated its “Plan/Prevent/Protect” agenda and its focus on openness and transparency in labor practices.  As a result of the steps taken by the Obama Administration in 2010, the new Republican-dominated Congress may have to decide a number of regulatory and legislative measures that will directly affect labor and employment law in 2011. The following is a list of proposed regulations and legislation that employers and their attorneys should watch this year:

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Expanding on our December 21 post, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on January 11, 2011, announced that private sector workplace discrimination charge filings reached the “unprecedented level” of 99,922 during fiscal year 2010, which ended on September 30, 2010.  According to the data, all major categories of charge filings in the private sector, including charges against state and local governments, increased significantly.

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Federal law requires employers to only employ individuals who are eligible to work in the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in partnership with the U.S. Social Security Administration, has implemented an “E-Verify” system that allows participating employers to verify eligibility in a quick and cost-efficient manner. E-Verify is a free, federal database that compares information submitted by employees to Social Security and Homeland Security records. Employers who use E-Verify can quickly identify and reject persons who are ineligible to work in the United States.  Once employers hire workers, they process their information through the E-Verify database. If the submitted records match, the new employees are eligible to work. If the records do not match, the database notifies the employers, who must then give the worker eight days to provide sufficient proof of eligibility.


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