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Silicon Valley sex discrimination case
shows the real win is not getting sued

(April 1, 2015)
For the past month, the most interesting show in San Francisco has been the trial of Ellen Pao’s sexual harassment and sex discrimination case against investment firm Kleiner Perkins. Pao, who engaged in a sexual relationship with a Kleiner Perkins partner early in her career, claims that the firm is a boys club in which women are excluded from investment meetings and trips because, among other things, they kill the buzz. Read on

New OFCCP rule on sexual orientation,
gender identity takes effect April 8

(March 30, 2015)
A new rule that adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of prohibited bases of discrimination under Executive Order 11246 goes into effect on April 8. Read on

Texas judge puts FMLA rule's
new definition of spouse on hold

(March 27, 2015)
For the time being, employers in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage don’t have to comply with a new rule changing the definition of spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The rule was to take effect on March 27, but a federal district judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction on March 26 in response to a challenge from the attorneys general in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska. Read on

Key tips to remember when counseling
and disciplining employees

(March 27, 2015)
There is nothing like a gentle reminder or a “cheat sheet” to look at when counseling or disciplining employees. The key thing to remember is that although nothing can absolutely insulate you from claims of discrimination or wrongdoing, there are steps you can take to get to the ultimate goal of improving an employee’s performance or, alternatively, terminating an at-will employee when counseling and discipline haven’t facilitated acceptable improvement.  Read on

Supreme Court clarifies employer obligations
related to pregnant employees

(March 25, 2015)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Young v. United Parcel Service means employers need to think twice before treating pregnant employees under job restrictions differently than they treat nonpregnant employees who are similarly unable to perform their jobs temporarily. Read on

New rule simplifies FMLA administration
(March 25, 2015)
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in United States v. Windsor created a lot of uncertainty in federal employment benefits. Because the federal government’s definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman was deemed unconstitutional, the decision left unanswered the question of when same-sex spouses were eligible for spousal benefits in a variety of contexts. In a move that is sure to simplify things for multistate employers, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is taking steps to clarify that issue under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) with a new rule that goes into effect Friday. Read on

Dealing with 'smart slackers'? Coaching can be solution
(March 20, 2015)
It’s March, a time when employers find themselves dealing with office pools, college rivalries, and a tendency for sports fans to shift their attention from work to the college basketball national championship tournament. The distraction of the “big dance” can cause even the best employees to slack off as they follow games during the workday and compare notes with coworkers also preoccupied with tournament brackets.  Read on

EEOC quietly moves forward with plans to collect compensation data
(March 18, 2015)
In his 2015 State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama pressed Congress to “pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work.” Although the president’s plea for the passage of stronger pay discrimination laws is unlikely to sway the Republican-controlled House and Senate, the federal enforcement agencies have been working behind the scenes to bolster existing laws. Read on

Utah passes historic legislation against
sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination

(March 13, 2015)
On March 12, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed into law newly enacted legislation aimed at preventing employment and housing discrimination against gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals. The monumental legislation amends the state’s antidiscrimination law to prohibit employers statewide from making employment decisions based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Under the law, a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be the basis for refusing to hire, refusing to promote, demoting, or terminating him or her.  Read on

Juries to decide if Uber, Lyft drivers are employees
(March 12, 2015)
One of my earliest cases involved a client who ran a livery service—with a fleet of luxury cars to drive passengers all over town. But neither his cars nor his drivers were properly licensed, and his vehicles were impounded and the drivers were arrested every time they hit the streets—such was the power of the medallioned taxi companies that controlled the streets of San Francisco. The police department made arrests, and the district attorney prosecuted with a fervor, pointing to the dangers to passengers of unregulated chauffeurs. Read on

Leading change in a challenging environment
(March 11, 2015)
Leaders of organizations must navigate constantly changing times, whether it’s in the form of unpredictable events or the competitive marketplace in which they operate. Read on

Supreme Court decisions gives agencies
more leeway on rule interpretations

(March 9, 2015)
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling handing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) a victory on how it can issue interpretations of its rules has major implications for employers, according to Judith E. Kramer, an attorney with Fortney & Scott, LLC, in Washington, D.C., and an editor of Federal Employment Law Insider. Read on

Wisconsin becomes latest right-to-work state
(March 9, 2015)
On March 9, a signature by Governor Scott Walker made Wisconsin the 25th state to pass right-to-work legislation. The new law means private-sector workers who don’t join a union won’t have to pay what is known as “fair share” payments assessed on workers who are deemed to benefit from union contracts despite their nonunion status.  Read on

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