Virginia News & Analysis

  • 'Sleeping to the top' suit will continue

    Our April 2019 issue featured an article on how you can get into trouble allowing the spread of unsubstantiated rumors about an employee having a workplace affair (see "Everybody talks about sex—but can employers be held liable?" on pg. 1 of that issue). The article discussed the case of Parker v. Reema Consulting, Inc., in which the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Virginia employers) held the employee who was the subject of the rumors should have her day in court. That's not the end of the story, however. Further court proceedings provide some additional teaching moments for all employers and HR professionals.

  • Be prepared for new paystub requirements

    This year, the Virginia General Assembly passed only a few employment-related bills, but there is one you particularly need to be aware of, now that 2019 is drawing to a close. Before the new law, you were required to provide a paystub only when an employee requested one, and it needed to contain only her gross wages and any deductions. As of January 1, 2020, however, you will need to provide each of your employees with a paystub on each regular payday, and it must contain more detailed information than before.

  • CBD in the workplace: What does it mean for you?

    With Virginia's new medical cannabis laws taking effect, there are a lot of questions about the impact the use of medical cannabis products may have in the workplace. At present, Virginia's cannabis laws are limited to CBD (cannabidiol) oils and other products with low amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana). But that doesn't mean issues won't arise from your employees who may be using such products.

  • Looking to add an innovative benefit? Student loan assistance an option

    On a quest to recruit top talent, many employers are getting creative with perks and benefits. Free food and ping-pong tables are nice. So is a generous employer match on a 401(k). But many employees may not get too excited about perks and retirement benefits when they're struggling with student loan debt. And it's that financial burden that is leading employers to explore ways to ease the pain for their debt-ridden workers.

  • Virginia State University prof's pay discrimination claim rejected by 4th Circuit

    The 4th Circuit recently rejected a female college professor's claim that she was paid less than two male university employees because of her gender. The court found the employee had not shown the other two employees she compared herself with performed work that was substantially equal to hers. The court's decision provides helpful guidance for employers reviewing their pay practices to ensure employees are being paid in a nondiscriminatory manner.

  • Agency Action

    NLRB switches standard relating to CBA changes. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in September adopted the "contract coverage" standard for determining whether a unionized employer's unilateral change in a term or condition of employment violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). In doing so, the NLRB abandoned the "clear and unmistakable waiver" standard. Under the contract coverage standard, the Board will examine the plain language of the parties' collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to determine whether the change made by the employer was within the compass or scope of contractual language granting the employer the right to act unilaterally. If it was, the employer will not have violated the NLRA. If the CBA doesn't cover the employer's disputed action, the employer will have violated the Act unless it demonstrates the union waived its right to bargain over the change or it was privileged to act unilaterally for some other reason. The decision is M.V. Transportation, Inc.

  • Workplace Trends

    Growing skills gap called serious drag on business. A new survey of HR leaders shows the skills gap grew by 12% since last year. According to the study "Closing the Skills Gap 2019" from Wiley Education Services and Future Workplace, 64% of the 600 HR leaders surveyed said there is a skills gap in their company, up from 52% in the 2018 report. This year, 44% of HR leaders reported it was more difficult to fill their skills gap than it was last year, and 42% said the skills gap was making their company less efficient. The report also found that 40% of employers estimate that a skill is usable for four years or less and that fast-paced obsolescence escalates the need to hire or train workers.

  • What's the meaning of 'sex'? Supreme Court will finally provide the answer

    The Employment Law Question of the Decade is: Does the prohibition against sex-based discrimination include discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation? After countless debates on the issue in courts throughout the land, including in Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court is finally primed to give its answer in three cases being argued this term. Whatever answer the Court gives will irrevocably change the landscape for employers across the country. And even as the Court is considering this blockbuster question, Gavin Grimm is continuing the fight to retain his court victory allowing him to use the school restroom that corresponds to his gender identity.

  • Rape allegations don't preclude that employee was acting within the scope of employment

    The Virginia Supreme Court recently reemphasized the jury's role in resolving fact issues, while reaffirming the standard for establishing an employer's vicarious liability for its employees' tortious (wrongful) acts.

  • Employer settles ADA employee testing suit

    In our November 2018 issue, we discussed a disability discrimination case filed by an employee with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who couldn't read and claimed he had been placed on indefinite unpaid leave after failing a written test even though he was able to perform his essential job functions. Although the case has now ended, the litigation provides some useful lessons for employers in dealing with employees who have intellectual disabilities.