Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A wage/hour primer for employers with tipped employees

Employment Law 360 is reporting that a waitress is suing Walt Disney World for improperly taking a “tip credit” and paying her less than the minimum wage even though she spent significant time performing non-tipped work.

That story got me thinking that in the nine-plus years of this blog, I’ve never discussed how the FLSA impacts tipped employees. If you employ tipped workers, today is your lucky day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Did the 7th Circuit finally kill McDonnell Douglas?

If you are an employment lawyer, the words “McDonnell Douglas” will bring a sentimental tear to your eye.

For the unfamiliar, the McDonnell Douglas is an evidentiary framework used in discrimination cases, which lack direct evidence of discrimination, to determine whether an employee’s claim should survive summary judgment and proceed to trial. It first asks whether the plaintiff can establish a prima facie case of discrimination—(i) s/he belongs to a protected class; (ii) s/he was qualified for the position; (iii) though qualified, s/he suffered some adverse action; and (iv) the employer treated similarly situated people outside of his/her protected class differently. If the plaintiff satisfies this minimal showing, the burden shifts to the employer to articulate a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for the adverse action. Once the employer makes this articulation, the burden shifts again, back to the plaintiff to show that the employer’s reason is a pretext for discrimination.

It has existed for the past 43 years, until (maybe) last week.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Federal court's rejection of LGBT discrimination claim on religious grounds has scary implications

Last week, a Michigan federal judge rejected the EEOC’s claim that Title VII covers transgender status or gender identity as protected classes.

In EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes (E.D. Mich. 8/18/16) [pdf], the agency pursued a sex-discrimination claim on behalf of the Funeral Home’s former funeral director, Stephens, who is transgender and transitioning from male to female. The EEOC claimed that the Funeral Home “fired Stephens because Stephens is transgender, because of Stephens’s transition from male to female, and/or because Stephens did not conform to [the Funeral Home’s] sex- or gender-based preferences, expectations, or stereotypes.”

The court rejected that claim on several grounds, including the Funeral Homes’s religious beliefs as protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This basis for the holding greatly troubles me.

Friday, August 19, 2016

WIRTW #426 (the “back to school” edition)

Here’s what I read this week:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hard to believe that overt pregnancy discrimination still exists … yet it does

Pregnancy discrimination has been unlawful under federal law since 1978. You’d think by now employers would have learned their lesson—that women should not have to choose between being pregnant and being employed. Yet, this recent story from the Washington Business Journal suggests otherwise.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

DOL wage/hour agreement with Subway raises legitimate joint-employer concerns

The Department of Labor recently unveiled an agreement with Subway through which the fast-food giant has agreed to assist its franchisees in their wage-and-hour compliance.

the agreement builds upon the division’s ongoing work to provide technical assistance and training to Subway’s franchisees. It also provides an avenue for information-sharing where we will provide data about our concluded investigations with Subway, and they will share their own data with us, generating creative problem solving and sparking new ideas to promote compliance. When circumstances warrant, the franchisor will remind franchisees of the Wage and Hour Division’s authority to investigate their establishments and to examine records. It also specifies that Subway may exercise its business judgment in dealing with a franchisee’s status within the brand, based upon any history of Fair Labor Standards Act violations.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

When the Department of Labor can’t even figure out the FLSA…

According to Employment Law 360, the U.S. Department of Labor has agreed to pay $7 million to settle claims that it failed to pay overtime to thousands of its employees:
“This is the agency that goes around fining all the private employers for doing the same thing that it just ended up paying $7 million to make go away,” said the union’s attorney.…
AFGE’s collective action-type grievance had accused the DOL of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to compensate employees eligible under the statute for suffer or permit overtime. Amid the 10-year legal fight, workers who were classified as FLSA exempt were moved back to FLSA-eligible, the union said.

Monday, August 15, 2016

ABA amends model professional conduct rules to prohibit discrimination. What took it so long?

Last week, during its annual meeting, the American Bar Association amended its model rules of professional conduct to incorporate employment discrimination into attorneys’ ethical mandates.

Model Rule 8.4 now reads as follows:
(g) It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law. This paragraph does not limit the ability of a lawyer to accept, decline or withdraw from a representation in accordance with Rule 1.16. This paragraph does not preclude legitimate advice or advocacy consistent with these Rules.

Friday, August 12, 2016

WIRTW #425 (the “tschüss” edition)

The Hymans did not take a vacation this summer. Instead, our vacation came to us.

Three years ago we hosted a foreign exchange student from Germany. Zarah entered our house as a stranger, and 10 months later left as our German daughter. Three weeks ago she and her sister, Alexa (German daughter number two) came for a visit. Today, they leave.

“Tschüss” is the German equivalent of “bye.” It’s light and informal. And, so, today, I say “tschüss” to Zarah and Alexa, because we know we will see them again soon (and even sooner on Skype), and danke to their parents (and our good friends), Michael and Karen, for sharing them with us for a few wonderful weeks.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Being accident free is important for a truck driver, says Ohio court

I love common sense legal decisions. Hartman v. Ohio Department of Transportation is one such case. It's holding—four preventable accidents in nine months disqualifies a truck driver from further employment.

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