Allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against business leaders, politicians and artists, have become a front page staple of newspapers across the country. Many are shocked by the allegations and claim to wonder how they could have stayed secret for so long. Despite the numerous cases of sexual harassment filed each year in courts throughout the country, rendering the allegations a matter of public record, a bipartisan group in Congress is blaming the increased use of nonpublic arbitrations for keeping allegations quiet. As a result, they seek passage of a bill intended to prohibit sexual harassment and gender discrimination cases from being resolved privately in arbitration. Continue Reading Mainstream Recognition of Sexual Harassment Prompts Bill Prohibiting Arbitration
Recently it seems that we are constantly learning about another high profile individual who has allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct/harassment in the workplace. These disclosures beg the question of how prevalent is sexual (or other forms of unlawful) harassment in our workplaces. It is easy to believe that for every high profile individual who has misbehaved, there are countless of other employees who have similarly misbehaved. Moreover, many of the recent disclosures suggest that the employer in question knew or had reason to know of the alleged misconduct, which had occurred over an extended period, but failed to take any prior action. So what should organizations do now? Continue Reading How Prevalent is Harassment in Organizations?
The holidays are a perfect time to celebrate everyone’s contributions over the past year and to prepare to start the new year. They reinforce the company culture and may increase employee engagement. But if an employer is not careful, holiday parties can also create legal liability. Continue Reading Webinar Recording: Tips for a Merrier Office Holiday Party
Welcome to Murtha Cullina’s Labor and Employment Blog! Labor and employment is one of the most dynamic areas of the law and business, with new laws constantly being enacted and existing laws being changed. As we endeavor to keep clients informed of the latest developments, in addition to our monthly webinars and periodic new blasts, we are starting a blog for real time communication. Continue Reading Welcome to Murtha Cullina’s Labor & Employment Blog
On October 17, 2017, the New York City Council passed a bill amending the New York City Earned Sick Time Act (which took effect on April 1, 2014) to require paid time off for victims of family offense matters, sexual offenses, stalking and human trafficking, and their family members. The amendment would take effect 180 days after Mayor Bill de Blasio signs it into law, which he is expected to do. Continue Reading New York City Council Amends Earned Sick Time Act to Permit Employees to Use Paid Time Off for “Safe Time”
To be exempt from state and federal overtime requirements, an employee must satisfy both a salary test and a duties test. In May 2016, we blogged about the Department of Labor’s issuance of a Final Rule modifying the so-called “white-collar” employee exemptions to overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The proposed Final Rule increased the minimum salary that must be paid to exempt employees from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to approximately $913 per week ($47,476 per year), and provided for subsequent annual revisions/increases. The Final Rule did not make changes to the duties test, which still must be satisfied for the exemptions to apply. The Final Rule was supposed to be effective on December 1, 2016, but on November 22, 2016, a federal court in Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the Final Rule from taking effect. On September 6, 2017, that injunction was made permanent, and the minimum salary threshold under federal law will remain at $455 per week at least until new regulations are issued by the Trump administration’s Department of Labor. Continue Reading Should New York Employers Care that the Obama Administration’s Final Rule is No More?
On September 5, 2017, the Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed the Superior Court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of the employer in a case involving the thorny issue of whether an extended leave of absence is a reasonable accommodation. Thomson v. Department of Social Services, 176 Conn. App. 122, AC 38851. Both the Superior Court and the Appellate Court rejected the employee’s claim that her employer had failed to accommodate her disability in terminating her employment while on extended leave after she had exhausted FMLA leave. This decision is an important victory for employers. It makes a strong statement that employers need not grant open-ended leaves of absence under state law. On the facts presented, the court concluded that the employee was not entitled to proceed to trial. Summary judgment decisions in the employer’s favor in state court are rare. Rarer still is the affirmation of the Appellate Court on an issue that vexes human resources departments around the state. Continue Reading Indefinite Leave Not A Reasonable Accommodation Under Connecticut Law
On August 22, 2017, a federal trial judge injected uncertainty into the ability of in-house counsel to communicate with company employees during an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigation. In EEOC v. Day & Zimmerman NPS, Inc. (D. Conn. Aug. 22, 2017), Judge Victor A. Bolden concluded that an employer could be liable for ADA retaliation by sending a letter to its employees informing them of the existence of an ADA claim by an employee and advising them about potential interviews by the EEOC.
By way of background, the employee involved had filed a charge with the EEOC, alleging that a company had violated the ADA by firing him from working at the Millstone nuclear power station after he provided a doctor’s note indicating that he could not work around radiation. The EEOC soon commenced an investigation into the charge, requesting a list of roughly 150 employees who worked at Millstone during the time period at issue, including those individuals’ names, job titles, dates of employment, home addresses, and telephone numbers. Continue Reading Company May Violate ADA by Informing Employees about Details of EEOC Investigation
In a case of first impression, a federal trial judge has found that, under Connecticut law, an employer can be sued for refusing to hire an applicant who tested positive for medical marijuana use. See Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Company LLC (D.Conn. Aug. 8, 2017).
In the case at issue, Katelin Noffsinger alleged that she applied for and was offered a position of Director of Recreational Therapy at a local nursing home. Ms. Noffsigner had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was prescribed medical marijuana for her disability. Each night, as prescribed, Ms. Noffsinger ingested a capsule of synthetic cannabis. Continue Reading Medical Marijuana Users Can Sue Their Employers
Earlier this year, we blogged about the United States Supreme Court’s decision to consider whether requiring employees to agree to arbitration and a waiver of their rights to assert claims through class actions violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). During the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Justice supported the position of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that requiring class action waivers as a condition of employment violated the NLRA. Now, the Justice Department has switched sides and is supporting business, acknowledging in an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court on June 16 that “[a]fter the change in administration, . . . [it] reconsidered the issue and has reached the opposite conclusion.” Continue Reading Justice Department Switches Sides on Class Action Waivers