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Maryland Employment Blog

Federal Judge Rules Uber Limo Drivers Are Independent Contractors

Thatcher logo.jpgIn the first ruling under federal law involving Uber, a U.S. District Court Judge in Pennsylvania has just ruled that limousine drivers for UberBLACK are independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA sets the minimum wage and overtime rules for covered employees -- but independent contractors are not covered by the law. Therefore, much FLSA litigation centers around who is legally an employee and who is a contractor.

Courts consider the totality of the situation when determining whether a worker is legal an employee or a contractor, taking into account a variety of factors, such as:

When Can Employees Be Fired For Abusing Intermittent FMLA Leave?

Thatcher logo.jpgThe federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take up to 12 workweeks' worth of unpaid leave within a 12-month period for specific reasons. The leave can be taken as a single block or intermittently for shorter periods. It's illegal for employers to interfere with, restrain or deny employees' lawful FMLA leave -- or to retaliate against employees who take it.

Yet sometimes employees abuse FMLA leave, especially intermittent leave. If an employer sincerely suspects that a worker's FMLA leave is illegitimate, can it take action? Or would disciplining or firing that employee be considered retaliation?

Parental Leave Under Both Federal And Maryland Law: The Basics

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thatcher logo.jpgExpecting a new child should be a time for joy and excitement -- and not a time wasted worrying about losing your job simply because you want to spend more time with your child.

Fortunately, both the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Maryland Parental Leave Act (MPLA) protect parents' jobs when they choose to take time off to care for a newly born or adopted child -- although each law has its own limitations and requirements.

50 Years After King, Blacks Left Out In Most High-Paying Fields

Thatcher logo.jpgThe Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King., Jr., described the "Other America" in one of his final speeches. He talked about the "fatigue of despair" for African-Americans who continue to be left out despite making significant economic and educational progress. Fifty years later, according to the Associated Press, a huge number of African-Americans find themselves underemployed and largely locked out of the highest-paying fields.

The AP analyzed data from the American Community Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find out how well African-Americans are represented in the 11 job categories with the highest median annual salaries. The top five highest-paying fields pay an average of $65,000 to $100,000 nationwide. Some of the top fields are management, math/computers, architecture/engineering, law, healthcare, business and the sciences.

'Chosen Family' Sick Leave Policies Becoming Increasingly Common

Thatcher logo.jpgWhen a New York man was diagnosed with cancer, his biological family couldn't care for him. They were in Malaysia, a world away. However, he did have people to help--his "chosen family." And, because of a recent change to New York law, many of those "chosen family" members were able to take paid sick days in order to provide his care.

Over the past few years, both Rhode Island and Arizona passed laws allowing workers to use their sick days to provide care for chosen family members. So have New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, Texas and St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1994, the Federal Employees Family Friendly Leave Act gave federal workers the same right, and a 2015 executive order extended it to many federal contractors.

New 'PAID' Wage And Hour Audit Program Reduces Penalty For Errors

Thatcher logo.jpgThe Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) pilot program is like "a get-out-of-jail-free card for employers" with wage-and-hour compliance issues, according to a federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project.

If your company were audited by the Department of Labor, would the agency find any workers misclassified as exempt who are actually entitled to overtime? Are there any independent contractors who may be statutory employees? Have you compensated overtime with comp time? Have people ever worked off the clock?

Does Your Company Offer Less Parental Leave To Men Than Women?

Thatcher logo.jpgThe EEOC recently settled a case against Estée Lauder, which had provided six weeks of child-bonding parental leave to "primary caregivers" but only two weeks to "secondary caregivers." The agency said that the policy -- as administered -- discriminated against men. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act both prohibit gender-based discrimination in pay or benefits.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but the settlement itself may cause companies to think twice about their existing parental leave policies. Hopefully, more employers will offer the same child-bonding leave to all parents.

It Didn't Happen At Work -- Can My Boss Fire Me Anyway?

Thatcher logo.jpgIf you think your employer can't fire you for saying or doing something outside the workplace, you may be wrong. In fact, it is quite possible that you can be fired for things you do even when you are off the clock -- although there are some very important exceptions to this rule.

At-will employment: The basics

What Are The Qualifying Reasons For FMLA Leave in Maryland?

Thatcher logo.jpgIn Maryland, most full-time employees who have worked at a company for a year are entitled to unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and Maryland law. These laws typically apply to companies with at least 50 employees, although there are some that apply to organizations with only 15 employees.

What does the federal Family and Medical Leave Act require?

Under the FMLA, eligible employees can take up to 12 workweeks of leave per 12-month periods without losing their job or health insurance. The guaranteed leave can be unpaid, and any paid leave can run concurrent to the FMLA leave at the employer's discretion. The employee should continue to receive any benefits they would receive during a paid leave.

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