As discussed in a previous blog post, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) expressly requires employers to provide applicants with a stand-alone disclosure and authorization form prior to obtaining a background check. This form must be separate from the employment application, and cannot include any type of language attempting to release the employer from liability associated with obtaining the background check. Unfortunately, many employers still fail to comply with this law by relying solely on a disclosure located on an employment application to inform applicants that they will be subject to a background check, or by attempting to include additional language on the disclosure. A recent proposed class action lawsuit against Whole Foods Market California provides a reminder to employers to review their disclosure and authorization forms for FCRA compliance.
On February 7, 2014, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, issued a significant decision regarding restrictive covenants. In Brown & Brown, Inc. v. Johnson, the plaintiffs terminated the defendant-employee and then sued her for violating non-competition and non-solicitation provisions in her employment agreement, which contained a provision stating that Florida law would govern. The Fourth Department considered several issues, including: (1) whether to enforce the Florida choice-of-law provision for the restrictive covenants; (2) whether employers can enforce restrictive covenants against employees who were involuntary terminated; and (3) whether the court must partially enforce an overbroad restrictive covenant where the agreement expressly provides for such partial enforcement.
On January 13, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) announced it had reached a settlement with Founders Pavilion, Inc. (“Founders”), a former nursing and rehabilitation center located in Corning, New York. In the lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that Founders violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”). The lawsuit represented only the third time since GINA was enacted that the EEOC had brought a lawsuit against an employer in which it alleged that an employer violated GINA, and the first lawsuit in which the EEOC alleged that the discrimination was systemic.
The following article was published in Employment Law 360 on February 14, 2014.
The Alex Rodriguez (“A-Rod”) saga is playing out like a classic Greek tragedy. With hubris-laced legal soliloquies and a sports media dutifully taking on its role as the Chorus, all that appears to be missing is the blind soothsayer. But if justice is truly blind, then perhaps seeing the legal future for A-Rod merely requires referencing some ancient legal doctrines that are right before our eyes.
With a mix of metaphor, the world watched as A-Rod took his swings at Major League Baseball, the Players Union, the Yankees, and just about anyone else he could blame other than himself. As A-Rod now contemplates his next proverbial at-bat, the Yankees, in particular, possess a little-known legal weapon that we have not heard anyone talking about. It is a legal doctrine that could dramatically shift the playing field and require A-Rod to not only forfeit all future contractual monies, but also provide restitution to the Yankees for all compensation and benefits earned during the years of his disloyal acts. Enter Faithless Servant Doctrine.
On February 12, 2014, President Obama signed an Executive Order requiring that all new federal contracts and subcontracts contain a clause specifying that the minimum wage to be paid to workers under those federal contracts and subcontracts must be at least $10.10 per hour beginning January 1, 2015. The federal contracts and subcontracts covered by this Executive Order include procurement contracts for services or construction and contracts for concessions. This new $10.10 minimum wage will also apply to disabled employees who are currently working under a special certificate issued by the Secretary of Labor permitting payment of less than the minimum wage.
The National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) reissued a proposed rule today that would significantly shorten the timetable for union representation elections. This same proposed rule (which has become known as the “quickie” or “ambush” election rule) was initially issued by the Board on June 22, 2011. After the proposed rule was met with strong opposition from employer organizations, the Board issued a final rule on December 22, 2011, that was a scaled-down version of the proposed rule. The final rule became effective on April 30, 2012. However, on May 14, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia declared the final rule to be invalid because the Board lacked a quorum when it voted on the final rule. The Board appealed the decision, but recently announced that it was withdrawing its appeal.
On January 27, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision clarifying the meaning of “changing clothes” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). In Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp., the Supreme Court adopted a fairly broad definition of the phrase “changing clothes,” which should provide employers with some comfort that provisions of a collective bargaining agreement excluding clothes-changing time from compensable hours worked will likely be applied to time spent by employees donning and doffing most forms of protective gear.
On December 30, 2013, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance issued a Technical Memorandum providing guidance on a new tax incentive for employers who employ students in New York and pay them the state minimum wage rate. This tax incentive coincides with the three-stage state minimum wage increase. The New York minimum wage rate increased to $8.00 per hour on December 31, 2013, and is scheduled to increase to $8.75 per hour on December 31, 2014, and $9.00 per hour on December 31, 2015.
Employers who have employees in New York are required to issue annual notices under the Wage Theft Prevention Act (“WTPA”) to all New York employees between January 1 and February 1, 2014. This is the third year that the WTPA annual notice requirement has been in effect.
In collective bargaining, a “final” proposal is often a term of art, used to signal the end of a party’s willingness to move. However, negotiators frequently will continue to move even after a purportedly final offer. In the view of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), “final” does not always really mean final. Recently, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the NLRB’s view. In Carey Salt Co. v. NLRB, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the NLRB’s holding that labor negotiations had not reached impasse, even though the union had asked for the company’s “final” proposal, the company had provided it, the union had rejected it, and the parties had thereafter confirmed that they were far apart.