The U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, has ruled that adverse employment actions need not be “significant” in order to constitute a violation of Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination. This ruling undercuts decades of court decisions that applied a heightened standard of harm, although recent federal appellate court rulings already showed a trend away from that standard.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Lowers the Bar for Title VII Discrimination Claims

On April 15, 2024, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a Final Rule and Interpretive Guidance to implement the relatively new Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which was enacted by Congress in December of 2022 and which already took effect on June 27, 2023. The Final Rule and Interpretive Guidance provide guidance, with many illustrative examples, on how the EEOC plans to interpret employers’ obligations under the PWFA – and in some cases, expands the obligations beyond even the heightened standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Continue Reading The EEOC Releases Onerous Final Rule Implementing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Maryland General Assembly’s 2024 session ended at midnight on Monday, April 8. A number of employment bills that were passed will have a significant impact on employers, including another delay to the forthcoming paid family and medical leave insurance (FAMLI) program, a new wage range posting mandate, expanded pay stub notice requirements, and additional discrimination protections, including an expansion of the equal pay law. Employers will also face increased penalties for occupational safety and health violations. Additionally, there was a revision to the law restricting the use of non-compete agreements to make it applicable to certain health care providers and veterinarians.

Continue Reading New Employment Laws in Maryland – Changes to Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance, Wage Range Posting Requirements, New Discrimination Protections and More (and a Webinar!)

According to some courts, no. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other courts, yes. And the EEOC is being the squeaky wheel regarding its position, as evidenced by a recent settlement announcement.

Continue Reading Are Reasonable Accommodations Required for an Employee’s Commute?

Last year, in our October 2023 E-Update, we wrote about an employer who destroyed evidence that could have proved his new employee stole source code from his former employer that was used to create a “functionally equivalent” product by the new employer. Because of this bad behavior, a federal trial court entered a default judgment against the new employer (meaning that the employer lost the case without any consideration of the merits). But our admonition against destroying (bad) evidence goes both ways – as shown in a recent case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Continue Reading You Know That Destroying Evidence Can Get You in Trouble, Right?

As our associate Evan Conder reported in a blog post last month, a Regional Director for the National Labor Relations Board issued a game-changing decision that players on Dartmouth’s men’s basketball team are “employees” within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). The players then voted (13-2) to unionize. But now, Dartmouth is refusing to negotiate with the players’ chosen representative, the Service Employees International Union, Local 560.

Continue Reading So, Dartmouth Won’t Play Ball with the Union…

In a victory for employers, a federal district court judge in Texas vacated (or blocked) the National Labor Relations Board’s 2023 Final Rule that sought to rescind and replace the Trump Administration’s 2020 Rule establishing the current test for determining whether two entities (for example, a staffing agency and its host company) are joint employers. The NLRB’s new Rule would have resulted 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 Federal Court Tosses NLRB’s Expanded Joint Employer Rule

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision rejecting affirmative action in college admissions, there have been well-publicized attacks on corporate diversity initiatives. And now the conservative advocacy group, America First Legal Foundation, is tackling the NFL and its Rooney Rule – a development of concern to employers who use diverse candidate slates in their hiring process.

Continue Reading Wiping the (Diverse Candidate) Slate Clean?

Recently I was updating an employee handbook and beefed up the work from home policy. I made sure the policy specified that the employee must have a dedicated work location, free from distraction, and must use only company-issued laptops. A reliable internet connection with appropriate security was a must-add, as was the requirement to only use the secure company portal for work (no emailing yourself documents). All the usual things.

Continue Reading Could Headphones Have Averted a Work-From-Home Tragedy?

This is true in the context of existing race discrimination concerns and complaints in this particular (non-union) workplace, according to the National Labor Relations Board in a case involving Home Depot. Notably, the Board asserted that, “Insofar as BLM has become a well-known abbreviation, and the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter,’ when displayed in the workplace, could reasonably be understood as referring to issues of racial equity and equality at work, it is arguable that displaying the phrase in the workplace, standing alone, would support a mutual aid or protection finding.” However, the Board stated that it was not deciding that issue here (and we add, “yet.”).

Continue Reading Display of BLM Insignia = Protected Concerted Activity