Being “on the spectrum” is a pretty common way of referring to individuals with autism (although my husband, a doctor, had never heard of that. Where has he been? Granted, he’s a pathologist, so doesn’t deal directly with live patients, but nonetheless…). Of course, there are varying degrees of severity of symptoms, and some people with social communication or interaction challenges do not actually have autism spectrum disorder. But these symptoms can pose challenges for those individuals in the workplace – and for their employers as well.

Continue Reading Employers, Are You Regarding Those Socially Awkward Employees as Disabled?

As many employers sadly know, those retaliation claims can be more problematic than a discrimination or harassment claim. Federal and state discrimination laws protect employees not only from discrimination or harassment, but also from retaliation for opposing discrimination/harassment, or making a charge/complaint, testifying, assisting, or participating in any way in a discrimination proceeding, such as an investigation or lawsuit. Often an employer successfully defends against an underlying claim of discrimination, only to lose on the retaliation claim.

Continue Reading Retaliation Claims Can Drive You Nuts!

So awhile back, I wrote a blog post about DC laws that were passed but not implemented. But we just ran into the opposite issue – apparently DC has implemented a law that doesn’t – technically – exist! Let me explain.

Continue Reading Wait – But the Disability Law Doesn’t Actually Say That!

One day after Labor Day, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) issued a proposed rule that would rescind and replace the Trump Administration’s 2020 rule that established the current test for determining whether two entities are joint employers. Predictably, the proposed rule, if adopted by the Board, will result in more findings that two entities are joint employers. Under federal labor law, a joint employer is required to bargain with a union selected by its jointly-employed workers and may be held liable for the unfair labor practices committed by the other employer.

Continue Reading NLRB Proposes Return to a More Expansive Joint Employer Standard

On Monday, August 29, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board issued its first precedent-shifting decision under the Biden administration, which will have the effect of permitting more apparel with union insignia in the workplace.

The Law on the Display of Union Insignia. An employer’s interference with an employee’s display of union insignia on their apparel is presumed to be unlawful, unless the employer can demonstrate “special circumstances” to justify the interference. Special circumstances are found when the display jeopardizes employee safety, equipment or product safety, or unreasonably interferes with a public image which the employer has established as part of its business plan. The Board had previously held in its 2019 Wal-Mart Stores decision that the “special circumstances” test applied only when an employer completely prohibited union insignia, and that certain size-and-appearance restrictions on union insignia could be lawful based on less compelling employer interests. However, the Board has now reversed itself in Tesla, Inc. to assert that the special circumstances test will apply to any restriction, and not just total bans.

Continue Reading Employers – Be Prepared for More Union Apparel in the Workplace

Does an employer violate discrimination laws when it acts on information that it honestly believes about an employee that disqualifies him from the job? Even if the employer might be mistaken and the employee has a legally protected disability? An appellate court recently provided the answer. No!!

Continue Reading Are Rumor Based Beliefs a Defense to Discrimination Claims?

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has once again issued new guidance on August 11, 2022.

The CDC has revised its guidance several times since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.  However, this time, some commentators see the latest revisions to the CDC’s updated guidance as signaling a strategic shift in the pandemic.  Many also see it as reaching the new normal given the existence of vaccines, immunity, and treatments. As Greta Massetti, PhD, MPH, MMWR author stated, “[t]his guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.”

Continue Reading Have we reached the new normal? The CDC’s Revised COVID-19 Rules

Should an employee who, while at a convention, knocks on a coworker’s hotel room door, enters, then heads to the coworker’s bed wearing nothing but a robe be fired, even if the employee claims to have been sleepwalking at the time? Or, as George Costanza of Seinfeld fame asked, “was that wrong?”

Continue Reading Extraordinary Workplace Misconduct: The Case of the Somnambulant Sales Rep

As attorneys, of course we are delighted to answer questions from our clients – even basic ones. But the U.S. Department of Labor has provided many free resources for employers to educate them about and help them comply with their obligations under a multitude of workplace laws. A particularly useful tool that many employers may not know about is the elaws Advisors. Although the elaws Advisors are directed at workers and small employers, they provide an excellent overview of numerous federal employment laws for employers of all sizes.

Continue Reading Employers, You Don’t Always Have to Call Your Attorney First… Take a Look at the US DOL’s elaws Advisors

Maryland’s highest court has ruled that the federal Portal-to-Portal Act has not been adopted or incorporated into Maryland’s Wage and Hour Law, Wage Payment and Collection Law, or the corresponding state regulations – meaning that employers may be responsible for more wages for their Maryland employees under state law than under federal law.

Continue Reading Maryland Employers Beware – State Wage Laws Do Not Incorporate Federal Portal-to-Portal Act and Its Exclusions from Compensation