Maine News & Analysis

  • Damages award gives Maine employer nightmares

    A Maine employer recently faced three different claims for damages relating to the company's failure to pay employees for their sleep time. If that wasn't bad enough, a claim was filed on behalf of 32 similarly situated individuals who alleged the same underpayment. After the Maine federal district court judge ruled in the employees' favor, the parties disputed the correct way to calculate the damages. While the employees weren't awarded the full amount they sought, the case nevertheless proved to be quite costly for the employer.

  • Employee claims she didn't know what she was signing up for

    When two employees have difficulty getting along or one brings a complaint to HR against the other, an option you may consider is offering to transfer one of the employees to a different department. As long as the transfer is voluntary and both parties feel it resolves the conflict, it should be a perfectly legitimate and legal way to address the issue. In a recent case from the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Maine employers), an employee consented to a transfer but later filed a retaliation claim against her employer anyway. Read on to learn more about this important case. (The following facts are summarized from the employee's point of view, meaning they hadn't yet been proven to be true at the time the decision was rendered.)

  • 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.

  • 1st Circuit limits coverage of Title IX, maybe

    The 1st Circuit recently provided guidance to educational institutions about when Title IX of the Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 will apply. In the following case, the court refused to let a nonstudent sue a university for failing to investigate her sexual assault claims. But even though liability was limited under Title IX in this situation, the decision doesn't immunize educational institutions from all nonstudent claims.

  • 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 industry.

  • 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.

  • Jobseekers do not 'Like' allegedly biased Facebook advertisements

    Recruiting top talent to your organization can be a difficult task. Between the historically low unemployment rate and the cottage industry of jobs websites out there, it can be challenging to locate strong candidates and persuade them to join your business. In an effort to spread their message as widely as possible, an increasing number of employers are using social media to advertise job openings. However, a recent claim filed against Facebook provides employers with an important lesson about how antidiscrimination laws can be applied to our modern, social-media-filled world.

  • Don't forget to properly classify independent contractors

    You likely recall a time not so long ago when the improper classification of employees as independent contractors was the hot topic for the IRS and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In 2011, the agencies entered into a "Memorandum of Understanding" in which they agreed to share information about potential misclassifications in an effort to crack down on the common practice. The DOL also entered into similar agreements with roughly 30 state departments of labor.

  • DOL issues FMLA opinion letters after a long break

    For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has issued opinion letters interpreting the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This may be a sign that the Trump administration intends to rely heavily on opinion letters as a form of guidance for employers, a practice that had been discarded by the Obama administration.