Maryland News & Analysis

  • Cybercriminals find chances to pry, pounce in your COVID-19 planning efforts

    As COVID-19 spreads around the globe, cybersecurity and data privacy risks are expanding for employers. Read on to learn some simple steps you can take to address and mitigate the dangers.

  • Supreme Court upholds electronic arbitration agreements

    In a landmark decision for employers, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently released its long-awaited opinion in Skuse v. Pfizer, holding an employee must arbitrate her employment discrimination claims agreed to in an electronic employee arbitration agreement. The decision reverses the Appellate Division's January 2019 decision, which had imposed heightened requirements on employers obtaining employees' assent to arbitration agreements.

  • Coronavirus-related legal claims employers can expect to face

    Employers in Delaware and elsewhere are grappling with the many new laws enacted because of the coronavirus pandemic: federal statutes on COVID-related leave, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state guidance on proper safety precautions in the workplace, and 20 new Executive Orders (and counting) signed by Governor John Carney, including the recent phased reopening of businesses. Many have had to make difficult decisions in response to the economic fallout, including layoffs, furloughs, and reductions in employee hours or compensation. On top of everything else, you can expect a new wave of litigation to follow the decisions: wrongful termination lawsuits based on age, disability, or whistleblowing, along with health and safety allegations including wrongful death. Below are just a few of the claims you can anticipate and key considerations to limit exposure.

  • Virginia enacts standards to protect workers from COVID-19 exposure

    Virginia has become the first state in the nation to enact mandatory workplace safety rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The emergency temporary standard (ETS) for infectious disease prevention took effect July 27, 2020. The new standard covers most private employers in Virginia as well as all state and local employees and will be enforced by Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH). Employers that fail to comply with the new rules face fines of up to $13,494 for a "serious" violation and up to $134,937 for a "repeat" or "willful" violation.

  • Crossing state lines and possibly eluding arbitration

    On July 28, Chief District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey denied Amazon's request to dismiss a delivery driver's employee misclassification lawsuit. The judge ordered the parties to engage in discovery (pretrial fact-finding) to determine whether the driver was engaged in interstate commerce, which would make him exempt from arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).

  • 4th Circuit rules for transgender student

    Transgender student Gavin Grimm has just chalked up another victory in his years-long challenge to the Gloucester County School Board's policy requiring students to use the restrooms matching their biological sex. Grimm's win, which follows on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court decision extending Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964's protections to LGBTQ employees, marks yet another step in the movement to accord full equality to the community and has significant ramifications for all employers.

  • NJ federal court says workers can't disclose trade secrets, even to themselves

    The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey recently considered a request to dismiss a complaint against an employee who allegedly misappropriated her employer's trade secrets. The court denied the request in part, finding the employer sufficiently pleaded claims for violations of the Defense of Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) and the New Jersey Trade Secrets Act (NJTSA) as well as breach of contract and breach of the duty of loyalty.

  • Despite recent court decisions, questions remain for religious employers

    The U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions recently that were welcome news for religious organizations and other employers that rely on religious convictions as they conduct their business. One decision bolstered the "ministerial exception," a doctrine stemming from the First Amendment that prevents government interference in religious organizations' ability to hire and fire employees. The other decision says certain private employers with religious or moral objections to birth control can exclude contraception coverage in their employer-sponsored health plans even though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates such coverage for most employers.

  • Incivility and harassment at work? Employer policies can help

    Employers concerned about racist, sexist, and other unacceptable outbursts in the workplace cheered a decision from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in July that makes it easier to discipline or fire employees for offensive speech. Under the previous standard, employees disciplined for profane outbursts often could look to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) for protection since Section 7 of the Act prohibits employer policies that may impede employee efforts to join a union or otherwise band together to improve the terms and conditions of employment. The previous standard was tolerant of some degree of heated speech uttered in the exercise of Section 7 rights as long as it wasn't violent or otherwise too extreme.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Next Chapter aims to help formerly incarcerated people. Workplace communication company Slack announced in July that Dropbox and Zoom have joined its Next Chapter apprenticeship program, which is designed to bring formerly incarcerated individuals into engineering roles. In making the announcement, Slack said criminal justice reform has never been more vital to the country's health, and formerly incarcerated individuals account for unemployment rates nearly five times as high as those faced by other jobseekers. "This partnership is a small but meaningful step toward addressing the long-term, systemic changes that are needed to make our companies and our country more just and inclusive places to work and live," the Slack announcement said. Slack began its pilot program last year, and all three of its first apprentices have joined the company as full-time engineers.