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Employment Law Blog

Are The Age Discrimination Different Rules For Federal Workers?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination against employees who are 40 and over. It applies to both the private and public sectors, including the federal government. However, the language in the Act is slightly different when talking about federal employees than when discussing private sector employees. 

Now, the U.S. Supreme Court is deciding whether Congress meant to make the standards different for federal employees. What do federal employees have to prove to show they were affected by age discrimination?

Court: FMLA Leave Must Be For Care, Not Evaluation Of Illness

When an employee refused to travel for work based on his wife's ongoing heart troubles, he did not have a valid claim for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a federal court has found. In this instance, the man did not actually provide any care and his company could not have known he was attempting to make an FMLA claim.

The relevant part of the FMLA guarantees covered workers up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid, job-protected leave for the purpose of caring for their own serious health condition or that of a family member.

DOL Issues Final Rule On Franchisors' Wage And Hour Liability

On Sunday, Jan. 12, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule on liability for franchisors and companies that outsource services to staffing agencies. The new rule, which replaces a policy put in place by the Obama administration, makes it harder for employees to prove that these companies are legally responsible when a franchisee or staffing firm fails to pay the minimum wage or overtime.

The rule involves what are called "alternative work arrangements," meaning those that differ from the traditional employer-employee relationship. According to the Associated Press, an estimated 14 million American workers are in non-traditional work relationships, at least to some extent.

Does A Mandatory Arbitration Clause Mean You Can't Go To The EEOC?

Since 1997, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has had a policy against employers using mandatory arbitration clauses and agreements in employment contracts. It was the position of the EEOC that requiring employees to arbitrate any disputes with their employers would not be in the public interest if it bypassed the agency's enforcement of discrimination and harassment claims.

The agency said that requiring mandatory arbitration as a condition of employment could "harm both the individual civil rights claimant and the public interest in eradicating discrimination."

Looking Back: A Few Of 2019's Top Employment Law Stories

2019 brought forward a lot of important questions in employment law, for both employees and employers. Here are some stories that stuck out:

Over 50? Chances are you will face age discrimination. Despite the passage of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act in 1967, discrimination against workers 40 and over is still widespread, according to the Urban Institute and ProPublica. Of those over 50, 56% will experience a layoff or termination.

New Salary Threshold For Overtime Exemption In Effect On Jan. 1

The Department of Labor has issued a new rule on who qualifies as exempt from overtime. Classifying a worker as exempt requires identifying a specific exemption, such as the executive, administrative, learned professional, computer employee or outside sales exemptions. Then, the job must both meet the definition of the exemption and exceed the salary threshold.

For example, to qualify for the executive exemption, all of the following tests have to be met:

  • The employee's primary job duty must be managing the enterprise or a customarily recognized subdivision of the enterprise
  • The employee must regularly and customarily direct the work of at least two full-time employees or their equivalent
  • The employee must be authorized to hire and fire other employees, or their recommendations must be given particular weight as to hiring, firing, promotion or any other change of status
  • The employee is compensated on a salary basis at a rate of not less than $684 per week

EEOC, Uber Settle Sexual Harassment Claims In $4.4-Million Deal

In 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found reasonable cause to believe that Uber Technologies allowed a culture of sexual harassment, along with retaliation against people who complained.

The EEOC began the investigation after a viral blog post exposed rampant sexual harassment at Uber. The author, a former engineer for the company, complained specifically about sexual propositions by her boss and said that her complaints were ignored.

Yes, You Can Negotiate Your Severance Package

Although the economy is strong now, layoffs are still a reality in many industries. When you are hit with a layoff, your employer will probably offer you some kind of severance package to make things easier.

They are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. In exchange for the money and benefits on offer, they are going to ask you to sign away certain rights. For example, it is common for employers to ask you to agree not to bring any discrimination or harassment claims against them, or to add a more extensive non-compete agreement.

NLRB Rules McDonald's Is Not Responsible For Franchisee Actions

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the agency that enforces some aspects of U.S. labor law, has told a federal administrative law judge to move forward with the approval of a settlement in a longstanding case against McDonald's. Union workers had sued McDonald's after numerous franchises were accused of labor law violations.

In 2015, the Service Employees International Union sued the McDonald's Corporation and the franchisees, alleging that the franchisees had retaliated against workers who sought to take collective action. Specifically, these workers supported the Fight For $15 movement, which advocates for a $15 per hour federal minimum wage. The suit accused the franchisees of cutting workers' hours and assigning them less favorable work after they attended protests.

House, Senate Agree To Offer Federal Workers Paid Parental Leave

The annual National Defense Authorization Act will contain a provision giving federal employees up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave to care for a new or sick child. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced an agreement between the House and Senate to include the paid parental leave provision in the bill, which is considered a must-pass bill. Schumer called the agreement a "real breakthrough for families."

Currently, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides most employees, including federal civilian workers, with the right to take up to 12 weeks per year in unpaid leave for specified family and medical reasons, including:

  • The birth, adoption or fostering of a new child
  • To care for a spouse, parent or child with a serious health condition
  • To care for one's own serious health condition that prevents the worker from performing their essential job functions
  • To deal with a qualifying exigency involving a military spouse, child or parent on covered active duty
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