Indiana News & Analysis

  • Employer not liable for employee's sexual assault of volunteer

    On October 3, 2018, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (the federal appellate court covering Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin) found an employer wasn't liable for its employee's sexual misconduct toward a volunteer. The court concluded that the employer wasn't vicariously liable for its employee's alleged misconduct under the doctrine of respondeat superior (Latin for "Let the master answer"), nor was it liable for negligent supervision or retention of the employee. Let's take a look at the case and what you can learn from it.

  • Timing is important in sex bias case involving severance benefits

    The 7th Circuit recently affirmed a district court's dismissal of an employee's claim that her former employer discriminated against her on the basis of sex with regard to severance pay, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The employee alleged that she didn't get the same chance to resign with severance pay that three male employees were given. On appeal, the 7th Circuit determined that she failed to show she was similarly situated to the male employees who were allegedly treated better than she was. The case came down to a matter of timing: The male employees resigned with severance pay before their circumstances materially changed, while the female employee sought to resign with severance pay after the situation changed.

  • How to claim paid family and medical leave tax credit

    The tax reform law passed late last year contained a little-noticed tax credit for employers that provide employees paid "family and medical" leave and meet certain other requirements. While the IRS hasn't finalized regulations pinning down the specifics of the new credit, it recently issued some helpful guidance. Let's take a look.

  • Can you keep a secret? How to handle 'confidential' employee complaints

    The #MeToo movement just turned one. And while its long-term effects on the workplace remain to be seen, it's commonly expected that increasing numbers of women (and some men) will be informing their employers about problems with sexual harassment.

  • Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

    Everyone fudges the truth on occasion. But lies in the workplace should not be tolerated. A failure to address affirmative falsifications and lies of omission can lead to a culture where secrets, misrepresentations, and self-preservation are regularly placed above the company's best interests.

  • Agency Action

    DOL launches initiative to strengthen H-2B compliance. The U.S. Department of Labors (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) in September announced a nationwide initiative to strengthen compliance with the labor provisions of the H-2B temporary visa program in the landscaping industry. The initiative includes providing compliance assistance tools and information to employers and stakeholders as well as conducting investigations of employers using the program. The WHD announced that last year, its investigations led to more than $105 million in back wages for more than 97,000 workers in industries with a high prevalence of H-2B workers, including the landscaping industry. A key component of the investigations is ensuring that employers recruit U.S. workers before applying for permission to employ temporary nonimmigrant workers. The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrant workers from outside the United States to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the country. The landscaping industry employs more H-2B workers than any other indus

  • Workplace Trends

    Survey shows attitudes about talking politics at work. Job search platform Indeed in September reported results of a survey of 2,000 U.S. employees showing that 20% of those workers felt the workplace wasn't politically censored enough. The research also showed that 54% were comfortable with the current amount of sharing of political beliefs at work. Just 10% of respondents said they believed the workplace needed more political talk. The survey found that 23% of the respondents felt certain groups were being silenced at work. Of those, 60% reported that the source of silencing was statements or actions of peers, and 40% said it came from statements or actions from leadership.

  • Cleared to work under ADA doesn't mean employers are in the clear

    A recent case from the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to employers in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin) provides a cautionary tale for employers applying the Americans with Disabilities Act's (ADA) requirements when an employee with what appears to be a minor or transitory impairment is cleared to work with no restrictions.

  • Retail employers, beware: Customer isn't always right

    The 7th Circuit recently upheld a jury verdict awarding $250,000 in damages to a Costco female employee who was repeatedly stalked and harassed by a male customer for more than a year. Calling Costco's response to its employee's complaints about the customer's behavior and comments "unreasonably weak," the court concluded that while other plaintiffs had endured "far worse" treatment—indeed, Costco characterized its employee's experience with the customer as "tepid"—the female employee experienced demeaning, ostracizing, and terrorizing behavior because of her sex, sufficiently severe and pervasive to support a harassment claim. Let's take a closer look.

  • OFCCP has active end to summer 2018

    During August, the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) was uncharacteristically active in issuing five new policy directives covering topics ranging from religious exemptions to affirmative action program verification. Although directives don't change the applicable laws or regulations or establish legally enforceable rights or obligations, they are instructive about the OFCCP's enforcement and compliance policies and procedures. Federal contractors and subcontractors in Indiana should familiarize themselves with the latest releases, which are summarized below, and be on the lookout for related guidance in the coming months.