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You’ve Been Warned: California’s WARN Act Is Broader Than the Federal Warn Act

As with so many other situations involving California’s employment laws, its protection for California-based employees experiencing a job loss is broader than the protections under federal law.  In The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, Local 998, et al. v. Nassco Holdings Inc., et al., the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate Division held, among other things, that California’s version of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (“WARN”) Act is broader than its federal counterpart.

The specific issue the court addressed was whether a furlough of several weeks constituted a “layoff” for purposes of a “mass layoff,” triggering the 60-day notice period when 50 or more employees at a covered establishment experience a “layoff” during any 30-day period.  The defendant argued unsuccessfully that no notice was required because its work stoppage was only for a brief period and therefore its action was not a “layoff” or

Biometric Privacy Targeted In Increased Class Action Litigation in Illinois

Even as technology advances and consumers become more accustomed to providing their fingerprints in routine, everyday transactions (such as unlocking their cellular phones), private entities, and employers in particular, are under attack in the courts for their use of finger-scan and biometric technology.

The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), effective since October 2008, regulates the collection, use, safeguarding, handling, storage, retention, destruction, and disclosure of biometric identifiers and information. The BIPA, however, was largely ignored until mid-2015 when the first wave of BIPA litigation was filed against social media and photo-storage/sharing services.

BIPA litigation has now turned its attention to employers. Since August 2017, in Cook County, Illinois alone, more than 30 class action lawsuits have been filed in state court alleging violations of the BIPA, mostly based on employers’ use of finger-scan technology for timekeeping tracking. The recent lawsuits generally allege that employers have collected, stored, and/or used

Following the Weinstein Allegations, Improving Workplace Culture

The wave of sexual harassment allegations against high profile media moguls such as Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, and Mark Halperin has put sexual harassment issues in the public spotlight.  All employers, even those not in the “biz,” should take this opportunity to review their sexual harassment training and policies and consider ways to improve their workplace culture.

In a recent exclusive interview with Law360, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) acting Chair Victoria Lipnic reiterated the EEOC’s focus on sexual harassment and retaliation across a wide range of industries. See Law360, “We See This Everywhere, EEOC Chair Says of Weinstein,” Braden Campbell (Oct. 24, 2017), available at https://www.law360.com/employment/articles/977719/-we-see-this-everywhere-eeoc-chair-says-of-weinstein?nl_pk=2905a360-50ef-439a-8c8c-a294a6bf3896&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=employment. Lipnic’s interview highlights the importance for employers to review their policies and take affirmative steps to create a positive work environment.

According to Lipnic, “We see this everywhere. This happens to women in workplaces all over the place.  You look at

Employee Representation in Germany – Part 1

November 7, 2017

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Part I of III: The Works Council in Germany

“Works Councils – not again!” Every four years there will be new elections for the most important employee representative body in Germany. This coming March 2018 works council (re)elections will (again) take place in Germany. This blog series deals with the institute of the works council in Germany and will consist of three parts. Part I will provide you with an overview regarding its establishment, its structure, its rights and responsibilities, the election procedure and the costs related to it.

Establishment

The works council is the main employee representative body at company level. In any operation (Betrieb) with more than five regular employees a works council (Betriebsrat) can be elected at the full discretion of the work force. In addition, a joint works council (Gesamtbetriebsrat) must be established if a company has more than one works council. For a corporate group,

NYC Employers Beware: Asking About Applicants’ Salary History Now Prohibited by Law

Beginning October 31, 2017, employers in New York City will be prohibited from asking job applicants about their previous salary. The legislation is aimed at breaking the cycle of wage inequality affecting women and people of color by requiring employers to base compensation on the applicant’s qualifications, not previous salary.

Which businesses are covered by the law?

Any employer which employs at least one employee in New York City is covered.

What type of job applicants are protected by the law?

All new hires, regardless of whether they are applying for full-time, part-time, or internship positions are covered.  The law does not apply to an employer’s current employees applying for an internal transfer or promotion in the same company.

What is the employer banned from doing?

No Inquiry: Employers may not ask candidates about their salary history (previous salary, benefits, and other types of compensation) at any time in

California Enacts New Law Expanding Parental Leave to Small Employers

On Thursday, October 12, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that extends twelve weeks of unpaid parental leave to California employees who work for small businesses.  The New Parent Leave Act applies generally to California employers with at least 20 and no more than 49 employees.  The practical effect of the Act is to expand the parental leave required under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to smaller employers.  The new law takes effect on January 1, 2018.

Under the New Parent Leave Act, an employee may take up to twelve weeks of unpaid parental leave within one year of a child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement, so long as the employee (1) works at a location where the employer has at least 20 employees within a 75 mile radius, (2) has at least twelve months of service with

New Flexible “Télétravail” Rules

September 26, 2017

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On September 25, 2017, the French government adopted orders to reform French employment law, designed to bring more flexibility to employers, in particular to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to facilitate their functioning. We will be presenting in the upcoming weeks various measures introduced by these reforms.

One of the reforms concerns provisions to encourage employers to work from home, commonly referred to in France as “telework” (télétravail).

Telework may be implemented via a company collective agreement or policy, after consultation with personnel representatives. The collective agreement or policy outlines the conditions for telework, including conditions for terminating telework. An amendment to the employee’s employment agreement is no longer required. Instead, the employer and employee can agree by a simple email exchange. This, however, should be specified in the collective agreement or policy. An email exchange is also sufficient for occasional telework.

Any employer who refuses to grant the employee

ADA Does Not Require Employers to Provide Multi-Month Leave Beyond Expiration of FMLA Leave – Seventh Circuit

This week the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision helpful to employers grappling with whether they must extend an employee’s time off following the expiration of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  See Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft, Inc., No. 15-3754, 2017 WL 4160849 (7th Cir., Sept. 20, 2017).

In Severson, the court found that “[a] multimonth leave of absence is beyond the scope of a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.”  Plaintiff, Severson, had a physically demanding job working for a fabricator of retail display fixtures.  Severson took twelve weeks of FMLA leave due to serious back pain.  During his leave, he scheduled back surgery (to occur on the last day of his FMLA leave), and requested an additional three months of leave.  Defendant, Heartland, denied Severson’s request to continue his medical leave beyond the FMLA entitlement,

Some States and Municipalities Begin the Ban on Salary History Inquiries

September 19, 2017

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Many employers base an employee’s pay on his or her past salary.  Applicants are typically asked, either on the application or during an interview, how much they made in their previous job(s).  Critics of this practice believe using salary history to set current salary is discriminatory and prohibits women and minorities, frequently paid less than their white male counterparts, from overcoming pay disparity.

In April 2017, in Rizo v. Yovino, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that salary history is a valid justification for paying a female employee less than her male counterpart, so long as the employer’s use of the salary history was reasonable and accomplished a business purpose.  Several states and municipalities, perhaps in response to Rizo, have enacted and/or proposed legislation prohibiting the practice of asking applicants about their salary history.  Other states and municipalities previously banned this practice.

In June 2017, both Delaware and Oregon

Starting Up – Set Up Part 3

September 11, 2017

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Starting Up – Set Up Part 3

September 11, 2017

Authored by: Bryan Cave At Work

Part One of this series focused on several of the federal and local filings and registrations that new employers will need to make in preparation for their first hires. In Part Two, we dove into drafting job descriptions and their use in determining whether a position should be classified as exempt or non-exempt under federal and local wage and hour laws. In Part Three, the final post in this three-part series, we’re examining the specifics involved in extending an employment offer. Whether it’s your first time or your twenty-first time, making a job offer is exciting−you’ve finally found your ideal candidate and are looking forward to a bright future together!  But the start of the employment relationship also starts the clock on a number of employer obligations and opportunities.

For example, certain states require employers to provide their employees with written notice of certain job-specific information at the

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