On May 11, 2016, President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (the “DTSA” or the “Act”) into law.  Prior to enactment of the DTSA, the law governing trade secrets was left to the states, most of which have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.  The DTSA creates a federal cause of action for misappropriation of trade secrets, which is available in conjunction with claims under state law.  Among other forms of relief, the DTSA provides for attorneys’ fees and exemplary damages, a form of punitive damages, under certain circumstances.  An additional means of protecting trade secrets is great for employers, but the DTSA sets forth specific steps that employers must take to enjoy all of its protections.
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It’s the most common employment law claim . . . retaliation.  In 2015, 44.5% of the total EEOC charges were based on retaliation, which exceeded even race-based charges of discrimination.  So it is not surprising that the EEOC decided to weigh in.  On August 29, 2016, the EEOC issued its final 76-page Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues, the first retaliation guidance provided by the EEOC since 1998.
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This year, there are several notable revisions to TN law regarding workers’ compensation. First, reasonable attorney fees and costs can be awarded to the employee and his/her counsel when the employer fails to initiate appropriate medical treatment pursuant to a settlement, expedited order, or judgment and when the employer wrongfully denies a claim and fails to promptly initiate temporary benefits. Therefore, this may greatly limit our ability to deny claims that we had previously denied. As you are aware, very few attorneys wanted to take on cases for employees and this is meant to encourage more attorneys to take claims for employees. (more…)

It took them more than 46 years but the OFCCP finally released updated guidelines for federal contractors regarding sex discrimination (the last update was in 1970).  The new guidelines are consistent with Title VII and the EEOC’s current interpretation of the statute and provide federal contractors with direction regarding OFCCP’s position on compensation, pregnancy, and harassment, as well as a listing of Best Practices to prevent sex discrimination in the workplace. (more…)

The prevalence of employees identifying themselves as “whistleblowers” has expanded in recent years due to expansion of federal and state whistleblower rights.  Recently, a recently enacted federal law, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (“DTSA”), created a new class of whistleblower protection rights. The DTSA creates a federal private civil action for the misappropriation of trade secrets.  Included in this Act, however, is a provision for immunity from both civil and criminal allegations, under state and federal law, for employees and independent contractors who are whistleblowers. (more…)

May 16th may be a significant day for employers across the country. After more than two years of debate, analysis and overall panic from employers across the country, this is the deadline that was widely reported when the final overtime rule would be published by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Don’t panic. As of the time of this posting the final overtime regulations HAVE NOT been published but if it is not today, it is definitely soon. The regulation change will impact the exempt status of employees in virtually every industry and has created one of the most significant challenges to face employers in the last decade. It is high alert time.
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