Indiana News & Analysis

  • Opioid epidemic: maintaining a drug-free and ADA-compliant workforce

    The opioid epidemic is affecting workplaces across the country. Because opioids can be lawfully prescribed (but are increasingly abused), employers must tread carefully when taking adverse action against opioid users to avoid running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). "Recovery-friendly" workplaces may provide an alternative solution to help combat the crisis, but that approach should be considered with caution. (To determine how to assess the risks of opioid abuse in your workplace, see "Opioids in your workplace? Tips for prevention and response" on pg. 7 of our March newsletter.)

  • Employee's ADA and FMLA claims put to rest by 7th Circuit

    The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Indiana employers) recently affirmed a district court's grant of summary judgment (dismissal without a trial) in favor of an employer on claims filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The employee, who alleged she suffers from sleep apnea, failed to show that she was unlawfully terminated because of a disability or because she needed to take a medical leave of absence.

  • 7th Circuit affirms standard for retaliation claims under Title VII, ADEA

    Employers rarely have the luxury of having a completely happy and productive workforce. In fact, those descriptions are often at odds. Thus, it can be tricky to determine exactly how harsh an employer can be with its employees, particularly when responding to complaints. On one hand, giving too much voice to employee grievances can lead to a culture of "squeaky wheels" where no one puts forth their best effort while a complaint is outstanding, leaving supervisors and managers with virtually no capacity to enforce routine discipline. On the other hand, responding harshly (or not at all in some cases) to employee complaints can be interpreted as "retaliation" for complaining in the first place, which is discriminatory and illegal, depending on the nature of the complaint.

  • New DOL program offers self-reporting of wage and hour violations

    The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced in March 2018 that it is launching a program to allow employers a chance to self-audit their wage and hour practices—and report any violations they find—in exchange for limited protection from additional liabilities and claims. The program, dubbed the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (or PAID) program, will start as a six-month pilot, after which the DOL will decide whether to offer it on a permanent basis.

  • Congress pins down tip-pooling requirements

    When Congress passed another spending bill in March 2018, few people were expecting it to resolve a somewhat obscure and highly technical dispute over how employers allocate tips among their workers. Nevertheless, that's exactly what the law does, and the result is much-needed clarity on the topic. Let's take a closer look at tip pools, their history, and what the new law accomplishes.

  • Agency Action

    DOJ sues California over immigration. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in March 2018 that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had filed a lawsuit against California based on the state's enactment of laws seen as creating "sanctuary" jurisdictions. The DOJ says three different state laws "intentionally obstruct and discriminate against the enforcement of federal immigration law." The department contends that the laws are preempted by federal law and "impermissibly target the Federal Government, and therefore violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution."

  • 2nd Circuit concurs: Sexual orientation bias is sex discrimination

    Last spring, we reported on Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, in which the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to Indiana employers) became the first federal appellate court to hold that sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (see "Sex discrimination under Title VII includes sexual orientation bias" on pg. 1 of our May 2017 issue). Now, the 2nd Circuit (whose rulings apply to employers in Connecticut, New York, and Vermont) has agreed, finding that an employee who claimed he was fired because of his sexual orientation established a valid claim under Title VII. Let's take a closer look at Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc.

  • Handling sexual orientation discrimination in confusing legal landscape

    In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that sexual harassment could be perpetrated by a man against another man or a woman against another woman. When that decision was issued, many commentators pondered whether discriminating against or harassing someone because of her sexual orientation also violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Who would have thought that 20 years later, there still wouldn't be a clear answer to that question?

  • 'Art of the deal'? Lessons from the Indianapolis Colts' head coaching saga

    It's well known that no deal is done until the parties sign on the dotted line. But the Indianapolis Colts recently learned that the hard way. Shortly after the conclusion of Super Bowl LII, the Colts scheduled a press conference and issued a statement that New England Patriots assistant coach Josh McDaniels would be their new head coach. Colts.com even published an article titled "Getting to Know: Josh McDaniels," in which McDaniels is described as gaining "a golden opportunity to put it all together" with the Colts.

  • Back to basics: NLRB abandons 'microunit' organizing standard

    In a decision with particular importance for nonacute healthcare facilities but clear application for nearly any type of employer, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has changed its standard for evaluating which classifications of employees a union can organize.