Baker Donelson

For more than 125 years, Baker Donelson has built a reputation for achieving results for our clients, both nationally and internationally, on a wide range of legal matters.

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…)

Former University of Southern California football player Lamar Dawson’s attempt to be declared an “employee” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was soundly defeated in federal court. Dawson brought the lawsuit on behalf of himself and a similarly situated class of Division I FBS football players in which he alleged that they should be entitled to minimum wage and overtime payments in return for their “work” generating “massive revenues” for their universities. (more…)

A National General Strike has been announced for February 17, 2017 as a “peaceful display of resistance and solidarity” to protest the Trump Administration’s policies. This “strike” poses thorny legal issues for nonunion employers that are unaccustomed to dealing with “striking employees.” Purely political protests, including walking off the job and calling out, can be protected if the purpose of the protest is to impact their interests as employees through the political process. However, it is not at all clear that the National General Strike has anything to do with employment policies, and it appears to be directed to protests of the Trump administration generally.
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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…)

On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) finalized its controversial workplace injury and illness reporting rules.  The new requirements are effective August 10, 2016, with phased-in data submissions beginning in 2017. So why all the fuss about a rule that’s been around since 1971?  Well, under the new rule, all employers who are covered by the recordkeeping regulation and who have 250 or more employees must electronically submit their recordkeeping forms to OSHA. But OSHA didn’t stop there . . . those electronic records of workplace injuries and illnesses will now be posted on OSHA’s website for all to see and review.
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Employers who pay attention might worry that they have missed something when they see that the current Form I-9 has an expiration date of March 31. But just like some items in your refrigerator or pantry, the Form I-9 for verification of identity and authorization of every new hire is actually OK to use past the printed expiration date, for now. USCIS planned to timely update the form, but their new complicated form has gotten tied up in a prolonged notice and comment process and is not ready for consumption. So U.S. employers should keep using the facially “expired” I-9 form from www.uscis.gov/I-9 until further notice from USCIS and us.

If persistence is what you want from the NLRB, then you are probably happy with the Board’s recent ruling on Murphy Oil USA’s class and collective action waivers.  In case you missed it, the NLRB held that employment arbitration provisions that contain class and collective waivers are unlawful.  The NLRB’s decision came in direct conflict with a recent decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Indeed, just two years ago the Fifth Circuit reversed a virtually identical NLRB decision, which seemed to decide the issue for good.  The NLRB, however, took another bite at the apple and reignited the controversy in Murphy Oil USA v. NLRB. (more…)

Eddie Employee is an hourly employee of Company, Inc. Eddie notifies Sally Supervisor that he will undergo surgery, and will need continuous medical leave to recover. While out on leave, Eddie’s co-workers, who are “friends” with him on social media, report to Sally that Eddie is posting photographs of him jet-skiing, dancing, and partying on a cruise to the Caribbean. To verify these reports, Sally logs onto her social media account, and sees these photographs. As a result, Sally terminates Eddie’s employment. Does the Company face liability under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”)? (more…)

Fall is upon us and the holiday season will soon follow. Along with the joy of this special season often comes requests from civic groups to partner with for-profit companies for fundraising or other charitable purposes. For example, the local Rotary Club might request that its members serve as your restaurant’s wait staff for a night with all tips and donations going to a charity of its choosing; or a charitable organization may offer to assemble your company’s mass mailings in exchange for a donation.  For-profit organizations must, however, carefully consider the Fair Labor Standards Act prior to using volunteers. Because, if a court or the Department of Labor (“DOL”) deems that a volunteer actually performed the services of an employee, that person must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime if applicable under the FLSA. (more…)