In Van Rossum v. Baltimore County, Maryland, a jury awarded a community health inspector $250,000 in compensatory damages and $530,000 in back pay after deciding that her employer, Baltimore County, violated the ADA by refusing to accommodate her and, after she exhausted FMLA leave, threatening her with discharge and pressuring her to retire if she did not return to work. In addition, the Court awarded Van Rossum $487,616.25 in reasonable attorneys’ fees plus $32,472.30 in litigation costs, which brought the total award to more than $1.3 million. (more…)

As most football fans know, the NFL suspended Dallas Cowboys’ star running back Ezekiel Elliott for the first six games of the 2017 – 2018 season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. His suspension was based on accusations of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend on five occasions in 2016. The NFL conducted an investigation into the allegations, and though Elliott was never criminally charged, the NFL found that there was “substantial and persuasive evidence” of the abuse. Based upon the investigative report, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued the six-game suspension. The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) took the matter to arbitration pursuant to their collective bargaining agreement with the NFL. (more…)

The Obama administration’s controversial overtime rule is now dead in the water. Today, a Texas federal court ruled in favor of the 55 state and business plaintiffs who challenged the rule and argued that the DOL had exceeded its authority when it doubled the salary threshold from $455/week to $913/week. This case is now over and the Obama overtime rule is invalidated. (more…)

As many employers know, OSHA published a Final Rule on May 12, 2016 that amended the Code of Federal Regulations to add additional provisions regarding proper reporting and retaliation for workplace reporting. OSHA took the position that certain workplace policies may deter or discourage proper workplace reporting, including disciplinary policies, incentive policies, and post-accident drug testing policies. In other words, OSHA asserted that a blanket policy that requires drug-testing of any employee after a workplace accident is likely to discourage employees from reporting workplace injuries. Therefore, if an employee is drug-tested after an accident under a blanket policy and disciplined for violation of the policy, OSHA may later determine that the discipline was unlawful retaliation because the employer had no reasonable basis to conclude that drug use may have contributed to the accident. (more…)

Since 2014 when President Barack Obama directed the DOL to “modernize” the overtime law, the new overtime rules were announced, published, revised, published again, finalized, legally challenged and then judicially blocked. Just when we thought the rules were dead in the water, the overtime ride forges ahead once again. Last week, the DOL published a Request for Information (RFI) asking interested parties 11 specific questions regarding the application and challenges of the overtime rules. The request for public comment signals that the DOL is going to take another stab at updating the overtime rules but leaves the question as to what those updates may be.
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TheCloud: Good Morning! TheCloud is a leading cloud-based provider, striving to secure your apps, email and confidential data in the cloud. How may we help you today?

Mr. Techie: My name is Mr. TechieTechie, I’m the CEO and founder of Tech to Tech. I have an account with TheCloud, but I’m having trouble accessing it all of the sudden. It keeps saying the password is incorrect.

TheCloud: I see, and what is your account number?

Mr. Techie: 7264388. I had access to the account just two days ago.  What changed?

TheCloud: It appears that the primary contact on the account, Mr. Disgruntled, logged in yesterday and made some changes to the account, including changing the network password.

Mr. Techie: Mr. Disgruntled hasn’t worked here in six months! How is he able to do that?

TheCloud: When the account was activated, it appears that you designated Mr. Disgruntled as the primary contact on the account, which enables him to make changes, including changes to login information. The primary contact also has access to company data, and is able to send and receive emails.

Mr. Techie: Well as I mentioned, Mr. Disgruntled was terminated more than six months ago, and he no longer is authorized on this account. Please delete Mr. Disgruntled as the primary contact and replace him with me.

TheCloud: Unfortunately, Mr. Techie, we are unable to do that. As primary contact, Mr. Disgruntled essentially owns the account and its content. Any changes that are made must be authorized by him.

Mr. Techie: I’m the CEO and founder of the company. Are you telling me that I’m locked out of my own account? And the only way I can get back in is with Mr. Disgruntled’s permission? That’s ridiculous. I own the account!

TheCloud: That’s right. And unfortunately, since you are not authorized on the account, that is all of the information I can provide you with today. Please have a pleasant weekend! Try not to think about Mr. Disgruntled destroying your data, contacting your customers and stealing your proprietary information! Buh-bye!

“Click.” Of course, a dutiful customer service representative would never let that last part slip. However, three days later, you realize that Mr. Disgruntled has indeed misrepresented to potential customers that he is still in charge of the company. He is taking orders and promising customers that their orders will arrive without delay. But they never get their orders, and a customer has now called you explaining that because her order never got there, she has lost $1,000,000 in revenue. Needless to say, she is upset, and using you as a supplier in her future business plans is the last thought on her mind. (more…)

As we previously reported, during the last year of President Obama’s Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an amendment to its illness/injury recording keeping rule, which would have significantly changed employers’ obligations regarding reporting. In brief, among other controversial provisions, the new rule would require employers, beginning July 1, to submit their employee injury/illness data to OSHA so that the data can be published for all to see.

In an expected move, OSHA has announced that it has suspended its electronic injury and illness data submission requirement, which was set take effect on July 1. OSHA’s website now states:

OSHA is not accepting electronic submissions of injury and illness logs at this time, and intends to propose extending the July 1, 2017 date by which certain employers are required to submit the information from their completed 2016 Form 300A electronically. Updates will be posted to this webpage when they are available.

Employers may rejoice that OSHA has not indicated when or if a new deadline would be set for electronic submissions, or whether it will reverse the rule that established this public reporting of injury/illness records. OSHA may indicate its stance on the rule after a new head of OSHA is appointed.

Delaware and Oregon have joined Massachusetts and other local jurisdictions (like New York City, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (currently in litigation)) by enacting laws that prohibit employers from inquiring about the salary histories of job applicants. Most of the provisions of Oregon’s Equal Pay Act of 2017 take effect on January 1, 2019, which gives employers time to focus on compliance. Delaware’s ban, however, takes effect on December 1, 2017, so those employers operating in Delaware need to act quickly to change their recruiting and related processes.
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While employers wait to see if the Trump Administration will produce a kinder, gentler National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the NLRB is still in the business of punishing employers for workplace policies that ostensibly violate employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
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