News & Analysis

Obesity discrimination claim raises questions of fact for jury trial

Whether obesity is a covered disability under California law or the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been an open question subject to varying interpretations. In the following case, the California Court of Appeal ruled that a case should proceed to a jury trial because the employer couldn't negate a potential showing by its former employee that her obesity has a physiological cause. Read on for more lessons on the type of conduct that should not be allowed in any workplace.

When is a discrimination complaint against a manager an act of harassment?

What if a manager accused of unlawful discrimination based on employees' religion asserts that the complaint itself is an act of harassment? You owe duties all around, and you may not be able to perform one duty without risking a violation of the other. See how one employer successfully avoided that minefield.

Claim for unpaid wage penalties not arbitrable

Unpaid wage claims under Labor Code Section 558 are part of the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) and are therefore not subject to arbitration.

When did CalSTRS 'discover' mistaken overpayments to retired teachers?

The California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) is the state agency responsible for managing contributions made by employees and member school districts to the State Teachers' Retirement Fund. In two recent appellate cases, CalSTRS attempted to recoup overpayments of retirement benefits made to teachers in two different school districts. At issue in both cases was when the statute of limitations begins to run for CalSTRS's actions to recover the overpayments.

Title VII permits award to be 'grossed up' for income tax consequences

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all California employers) recently ruled trial judges have the discretion to adjust damages awards under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to account for higher income taxes the plaintiff will pay on a lump-sum amount received in one year versus what the taxes would have been if the amount had been paid over several years. This is sometimes referred to as "grossing up" the award for tax consequences.

9th Circuit adopts workweek as proper measure for minimum wage compliance

Following the lead of several other courts of appeals and the long- held position of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the 9th Circuit recently concluded that minimum wage compliance under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is determined by dividing the total weekly earnings by the total hours worked that week. If the result of that calculation is equal to or higher than the required minimum wage, the employer is in compliance even though it may have paid less than minimum wage for some hours worked during the week.

Union Activity

Union praises Atlanta ordinance on airport job security. UNITE HERE issued a statement in December commending an Atlanta City Council vote approving a worker retention ordinance for contracted service workers at the citys Hartsfield- Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The unions statement said that until the ordinance was passed, the airports contracted service workers had little to no job security. A changeover in contractor could result in largescale displacement for that companys employees, even when their employer was replaced by another company that performed the exact same service. The ordinance ensures that qualified displaced workers get first opportunity to work the new job.

Bulletproof: recent changes to Arkansas's handgun laws

Last year, Arkansans saw some major changes to the state's handgun laws. Below is a discussion of the key provisions expanding where individuals with concealed-carry licenses can have handguns. The changes include a provision allowing employees to keep handguns in private employer parking lots and a significant increase in the venues and public facilities in which enhanced license holders may now carry concealed handguns.

Up in smoke: Lawmakers clarify Arkansas's medical marijuana law

In 2016, Arkansas legalized medical marijuana through a ballot initiative that amended the state constitution. The medical marijuana law includes a provision that prohibits employers from discriminating against someone based on his past or present status as a "qualifying patient" or a "designated caregiver" of a qualifying patient. A qualifying patient is someone who suffers from one or more specific medical conditions and has registered with the Arkansas Department of Health in accordance with the law so that he may buy marijuana from a state-licensed dispensary.

In the line of duty: Workers' comp is exclusive remedy after employee was killed during robbery

The Arkansas Court of Appeals recently affirmed a decision by the Workers' Compensation Commission (WCC) that the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Act (WCA) was the exclusive remedy for the estate of an employee who was killed during a robbery at his workplace.