Posts from March 2011.
Time 3 Minute Read

The Bright v. 99 Cents Only Stores decision, issued by the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District last November, illustrates a recent wage and hour class action litigation trend against retail employers in California over lack of “suitable seating” for their employees. The California Supreme Court denied review of this case in February 2011.

Time 3 Minute Read

An employer who allegedly posted to an employee’s Facebook and Twitter accounts without her consent may face liability for its actions, according to a federal judge in Illinois. The case is Maremont v. Susan Fredman Design Group, Ltd., in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26441, March 15, 2011).

Time 3 Minute Read

In a pro-business decision, the Los Angeles Superior Court Appellate Division recently established state standards for damages and standing for California public accessibility cases in Mundy v. Pro-Thro Enterprises, 2011 WL 600619 (Cal. App. Dep't Super. Ct. Jan. 7, 2011).

Time 4 Minute Read

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the “cat’s paw” theory of employment discrimination -- that an employer can be liable for the discriminatory animus of an employee who influences, but does not make, an ultimate employment decision -- applies to claims brought under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), the law that protects individuals called to military service during their private employment.  In a unanimous decision, the Court held that

“if a supervisor performs an act motivated by anti-military animus that is intended by the supervisor to cause an adverse employment action, and if that act is a proximate cause of the ultimate employment action, then the employer is liable under USERRA.”

Staub v. Proctor Hospital, 131 S. Ct. 1186 (2011).

Time 4 Minute Read

Unemployment compensation is a federal-state program that provides benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own. Under the system, the IRS collects from employers an annual payroll tax pursuant to the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA). The states also collect a payroll tax on a quarterly basis, which they use to pay benefits. The states are permitted to determine their own benefit eligibility requirements, the amount and duration of benefits and set the tax structure for employers so long as their standards do not conflict with federal law.

Time 7 Minute Read

During the past 50 years, the American workforce has changed drastically. One of the most noticeable changes has been the absorption of immigrants into the workforce who do not speak English as their first language.

In response to the increased linguistic diversity of the workforce, many employers have implemented policies that limit or completely prohibit their employees from speaking languages other than English while at work. These so called “English-only” polices may violate the national origin protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers that implement these policies are at risk of being sued not only by employees who feel wronged by the policy, but also by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Time 4 Minute Read

The 2010 fiscal year was a busy one for the EEOC as employees filed a record number of charges.  See A Year In Review: EEOC Charges & Trends.  This wave of charges is historic -- not just because of the number of charges filed, but also because of the evolving trends in the types of claims made. Unfortunately for employers, these trends will likely continue in 2011 and beyond.

Historically, the most common types of claims filed were those of race and sex discrimination. Although these particular types of claims remain prevalent (the number of both race and sex discrimination claims increased in 2010), other types of claims are emerging at an alarming rate due to recent changes in the legal landscape.

Time 3 Minute Read

A commonly used pre-employment screening method--conducting credit checks--has drawn increased scrutiny in recent months. Legislatures at the state and federal levels are considering bills that would limit employer use of credit checks. Moreover, two recently-filed lawsuits, one of which was filed by the EEOC, seek to challenge the use of pre-employment credit checks in hiring decisions. 

Only four states--Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon, and Washington--currently have laws regulating employer use of credit history data. Sparked by the downturn in the economy, fourteen additional states--California, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont--are considering similar measures.


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