West Virginia News & Analysis

  • Preschool teacher loses appeal on defamation claims

    In an opinion issued in May 2020, the Tennessee Court of Appeals provided guidance regarding the application of the common interest privilege and its impact on defamation and invasion of privacy claims within the employment setting. The practical impact of this guidance may provide some degree of protection for employers in their discussions and communications about their employees.

  • Employer's informal Google search didn't create race bias claim

    An employer's informal background check on a new hire via Google didn't support a race discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia employers) recently ruled. The case provides good insights on when such searches might create a viable legal claim.

  • 4th Circuit delivers blow to Title VII punitive damages

    In a recent case involving multiple issues— Title VII, constructive discharge, and state law claims among them— the 4th Circuit outlined standards it will use to determine a punitive damages award based on vicarious liability. Many issues were appealed. In the following article, we're focusing only on the Title VII punitive damages portion of the decision.

  • Previous accommodations fail to cancel obligation to engage in interactive process

    The 6th Circuit (which covers Kentucky and Tennessee) recently reversed the dismissal of a disability discrimination claim against an employer. The employee had requested a transfer to another position, but the appellate court said the employer failed to engage in the interactive process in good faith.

  • CBA preempts Muslim flight attendant's religious bias claim, 6th Circuit confirms

    An airline flight attendant said her Muslim beliefs prevented her from serving alcohol, but she can't sue the company for requiring her to sell booze on its planes because her claim fell under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the 6th Circuit recently ruled.

  • Pandemic sparks unexpected question: What if workers unwilling to return?

    Restrictions put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic are beginning to ease in many parts of the country, and employers are starting to call back the millions of workers who joined the ranks of the unemployed a few months ago. Many workers are champing at the bit to get back to work, but others are hesitant. And that can put already-struggling employers in a bind.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    HR pros respond to crisis by linking laid-off workers with employers. As unemployment soared past record highs during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, some HR professionals and their organizations launched efforts to bring together companies laying off or furloughing employees with companies in urgent need of workers. People + Work Connect was designed by chief HR officers from Accenture, Lincoln Financial Group, ServiceNow, and Verizon, according to an announcement from Accenture. The People + Work platform is designed to enable companies to share the experience and skills of their laid-off or furloughed workers with other companies on the platform that are seeking workers. Censia also announced its ReadyToHire initiative, which allows companies to add their displaced employees to a specialized website to help them find jobs with organizations that are hiring. In addition to allowing employers to put people on the ReadyToHire list, individuals can add their own names. The company's AI technology matches workers to open positions suitable for their skills. Both initiatives are free to use.

  • Federal Watch

    OSHA reminds employers against retaliation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is reminding employers that it is illegal to retaliate against workers because they report unsafe and unhealthful working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. Retaliation can include terminations, demotions, denials of overtime or promotions, or reductions in pay or hours. The agency stresses that workers have a right to file whistleblower complaints if they believe their employer has retaliated against them for exercising their rights under whistleblower protection laws.

  • HR Technology

    New platform offers help navigating government relief programs. A company providing HR software announced a new platform in April aimed at helping employers navigate various COVID-19 government relief programs. Justworks launched the tax deferral feature and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) reporting functionality as part of its COVID-19 relief center built into its software. The relief center enables customers to opt into deferring their employer-paid Social Security taxes and granting businesses access to more working capital to pay their people as early as their next payroll cycle. Organizations also can navigate to reporting, where they can generate a specialized PPP report for their PPP loan application as well as access other recently launched tools to schedule COVID-19-related paid leave for their employees and claim the applicable tax credits through the feature.

  • Potential costs of unsafe workplace in era of COVID-19

    As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continue to update and modify their recommendations for best practices and their mandates for safe workplaces related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may feel like a daunting task to keep up not only with the changes but to actually enforce the new safety procedures in the workplace. Failure to follow the rules, however, could lead to both a sick workforce and some expensive consequences for employers. In addition to state and federal enforcement of workplace safety requirements, employers may also open themselves up to private "enforcement" through workers' compensation actions and wrongful death and personal injury claims filed by individual employees or their survivors. At this point, the ball is already rolling for employment litigation related to COVID-19 and allegedly unsafe workplaces, and we can safely assume it will only pick up speed.