So after a hiatus of many years, the Department of Labor has once again begun issuing opinion letters, which are responses to a particular employer’s situation that offer guidance to all employers on specific issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This is quite exciting for employment law nerds like me – and one of these letters highlighted an interesting interaction between the FLSA and disability laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and analogous state laws. (OK, I know that you’re on the edge of your seat now…) Continue Reading When the FLSA and the ADA Meet…

On April 9, 2018, the Department of Labor announced the issuance of a Field Assistance Bulletin clarifying the recent amendments to the tip pooling provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which were incorporated in the omnibus budget bill that was passed by Congress on March 21, 2018. Additionally (but without fanfare), the DOL revised its Fact Sheet #15: “Tipped Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).” The Bulletin clarifies that employers who pay the full minimum wage to tipped employees may require their participation in tip pools that include workers who are not “customarily and regularly” tipped – an issue that had been subject to significant controversy. Continue Reading DOL Provides Clarification on FLSA Tip Pooling Amendments

As a minority female, I have had my share of being harassed, and I have felt rage at the unfairness. I completely understand the desire to lash out at the harasser. But actually burning them with a cigarette? Well, that crosses the line (unless, of course, the harasser is threatening physical harm. Then, all bets – and gloves – are off!) But that’s what one employee did, and yet she was surprised when the employer fired her for it. Continue Reading Burning a Customer Is Not the Appropriate Response to Harassment

As an avid practitioner of yoga (much to my surprise – I always assumed I was too type A for inner focus and meditation), I was highly entertained by a recent case in which an employee requested to attend a yoga class as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Now, in my 25 years of practice as an employment attorney, I have seen many interesting requests for accommodation, but this was a new one for me. Continue Reading Yoga Is Not a Reasonable Accommodation

In a previous post about pet bereavement leave, I noted that the Family and Medical Leave Act does not provide leave to care for an ill or dying pet. (Because a pet is not technically a family member. Really. Despite how we pet-owners feel about our fur babies. That’s mine in the picture.) But I also said that, “if an employee becomes depressed because of the death of a pet, it is possible that this could rise to the level of a disability that would require a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or a serious health condition for which leave must be granted under the [Family and Medical Leave Act].” I further noted, however, that most people may experience grief but not become clinically depressed as the result of a pet’s death. So my interest was piqued by a recent case in which the employee claimed that his insomnia following his dog’s death was a serious health condition under the FMLA. Continue Reading No FMLA for Pet’s Death

My world shifted slightly last week, when a federal court in Texas ruled that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could not enforce its Enforcement Guidance on “Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” After all, for years now I had looked to this Guidance as the EEOC’s definitive position on the use of criminal background records, particularly in hiring. I had referred clients to it, provided legal advice based on it, cited it in articles and presentations…. But now? Continue Reading No Enforcement of the EEOC’s Criminal Background Check Guidance?

Today, January 23, 2018, Senator “Mac” Middleton filed a bill to postpone for 60 days the enforcement of Maryland’s new sick and safe leave (SSL) law by the state Commissioner of Labor and Industry. Given the law’s effective date of February 11, 2018, this means that enforcement would begin on April 12, 2018. We strongly note, however, that compliance – including the commencement of SSL accrual – is still required as of the February 11 effective date. Continue Reading More On Maryland Earned Sick and Safe Leave – Enforcement Delay and Collective Bargaining Agreements

Here we are again on the brink of another possible federal government shutdown, and employers may be wondering how it may impact them. The last time, during the 2013 federal government shutdown, we provided a summary of the shutdown contingency plans for the major employment-related agencies – the Department of Labor (DOL) (which includes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Wage-Hour Division (WHD)), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  So we thought we’d provide you with an updated summary of these plans, which set forth what the agencies will and will not do if there is an actual shutdown. Continue Reading EEOC, NLRB and DOL Shutdown Contingency Plans – The 2018 Edition

I am a luddite (meaning that I fear technological change) and am wholly inept when it comes to my smartphone. I know it can do many marvelous things of which I am unaware – but apparently it has a darker side as well, as illustrated by a recent case, Lee v. Trees, Inc. In that case, the court threw out an employee’s Title VII lawsuit because she had submitted fabricated texts, supposedly from her supervisor, to support her claims of sexual harassment and retaliation. Continue Reading Fabricated Texts? Something Else for Employers to Be Aware Of…

On January 12, 2018, the Maryland General Assembly overrode Governor Hogan’s veto of the “Maryland Healthy Working Families Act.” Therefore, Maryland employers are now required to provide paid “earned sick and safe” (ESS) leave to employees to use for themselves and to care for their family members. This law is currently scheduled to take effect on February 11, 2018, but Senator Middleton stated that they may be seeking an extension to make the law effective after 90 days instead. We will be holding a complimentary webinar to further discuss compliance with this new law, but we summarize its detailed requirements and obligations, as follows: Continue Reading Maryland Paid Sick And Safe Leave Is Now Law