By Melissa Provost
On September 8, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) proposed regulations to implement Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. Section 1557 prohibits certain entities that administer health programs and activities from excluding an individual from participation, denying program benefits, or discriminating against an individual based on his or her race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. On May 13, 2016, the HHS Office of Civil Rights issued the final rule implementing Section 1557. The final rule also prohibits discriminatory practices by health care providers, such as hospitals, that accept Medicare or doctors who participate in the Medicaid program. The final rule became effective on July 18, 2016.
Section 1557 builds on long-standing federal civil rights laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, … Read More »
By Pascal Benyamini
Earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in Morris v. Ernst & Young and aligned itself with the Seventh Circuit in holding that an employer cannot compel individual arbitration of an employee’s class and collective action claims.
In Morris, Plaintiffs Stephen Morris and Kelly McDaniel (“Plaintiffs”) worked for the accounting firm Ernst & Young. As a condition of their employment, Plaintiffs were required to sign an agreement that the Ninth Circuit determined Plaintiffs could only “(1) pursue legal claims against Ernst & Young exclusively through arbitration and (2) arbitrate only as individuals and in ‘separate proceedings.’” In a relatively surprising move and 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit found that the employer violated Sections 7 and 8 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by “requiring employees to sign an agreement precluding them from bringing, … Read More »
By Lynne Anne Anderson
As the summer comes to a close, employees are preparing for their children’s return to school, and will need to attend various school events and activities during the workday. An increasing number of states now mandate that public and private employers provide unpaid leave for this purpose, including the following states that have laws covering private employers:California – 40 hours (but no more than 8 per month)
District of Columbia – 24 hours
Illinois – 8 hours (no more than 4 on any day, and only when no other type of employee leave is available)
Louisiana – 16 hours
Massachusetts – 24 hours
Minnesota – 16 hours
Nevada – 4 hours
North Carolina – 4 hours
Rhode Island – 10 hours
Vermont – 24 hours (no more than 4 in any 30-day period)
Many of these state laws provide for leave beyond the standard school concert or … Read More »
By Lawrence J. Del Rossi
For more than 400 years, private businesses have used non-compete agreements in one form or another to protect their legitimate business interests, such as long-standing customer relationships, investment in specialized training, or development of trade secrets. They are commonplace in many employment contracts in a variety of industries ranging from retail, insurance, healthcare, financial services, technology, engineering, and life sciences. Some state legislatures and courts have curtailed their use in certain industries or professions. California, for example, prohibits them unless limited exceptions apply. Cal. Bus. Code §16600. Most states prohibit them for legal professionals. Many courts can modify or “blue pencil” them if the restrictions are found to be broader than necessary to protect an employer’s legitimate business interests.
Historically, federal and state agencies have generally stayed out of the mix in terms of regulating or challenging private … Read More »
By Mary Hansen and Rachel Share
The SEC announced on Wednesday that BlueLinx Holdings Inc. has agreed to pay a $265,000 penalty for including a provision in its severance agreements that required outgoing employees to waive their rights to monetary recovery if they filed a charge or complaint with the SEC or other federal agencies. Press Rel. No. 2016-157. According to the SEC’s order, approximately 160 BlueLinx employees have signed severance agreements that contained the provision since it was added to all of BlueLinx’s severance agreements in or about June 2013.
The provision violates Rule 21F-17 of the Exchange Act, which became effective on August 12, 2011, and prohibits any action to impede an individual from communicating with the SEC about a possible securities law violation. The purpose of the adoption of Rule 21F-17 was “to encourage whistleblowers to report possible violations … Read More »
By Lynne A. Anderson
On August 1, Massachusetts added significant teeth to the state’s current equal pay law. The new law, “An Act to Establish Pay Equity,” not only targets compensation decisions, it also affects hiring practices. As of July 1, 2018, when the new law takes effect, employers cannot ask an applicant to provide his or her prior salary history until after the candidate has successfully negotiated a job offer and compensation package. This measure is intended to stop the perpetuation of gender pay disparities from one employer to the next. In addition, employers cannot use an employee’s prior salary history as a legitimate basis to pay a man more than a woman for comparable work.
The definition of comparable work is broad: “work that is substantially similar in that it requires substantially similar skill, effort and responsibility and is performed … Read More »
By Kate S. Gold
Traci Ribeiro’s class action lawsuit against her employer Sedgwick LLP is the latest in a string of lawsuits in the pay equity battle, which has been highlighted in this year’s Presidential election and through the recent EEOC claim filed by the U.S. womens’ soccer team. Ribeiro is a non equity partner who claims that, as one of the firm’s three highest revenue generating partners, she has been denied equity partnership and was subjected to retaliation for filing an EEOC complaint claiming gender discrimination. She seeks to represent a class of past and present female attorneys in partnership track positions at the firm; her complaint alleges violations of the California Fair Pay Act, Illinois Fair Pay Act, and Federal Equal Pay, as well as gender discrimination and retaliation under the California FEHA, Illinois Human Rights Act, and Title … Read More »