We’re at the halfway point of the year, and it’s been a pretty active one in the field of employment law. Here are some of the actions, cases and rulings that popped up last month.
The Department of Labor recently concluded a major investigation of restaurants in the Tampa, FL, area. How major? 152 restaurants were busted for FLSA violations that affected 1,518 employees. The offenders were ordered to pay back wages totaling $861,820, plus damages and penalties that brought the whole price tag to $1,026,410. Remember: it’s cheaper to pay your workers their proper wages than it is to pay them those wages plus other fines later on.
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals added a sort of time limit to ADA accommodations, ruling that a leave of absence longer than six months is pretty much never a “reasonable accommodation.” It’ll be interesting to see how this ruling is applied in future cases.
The rights of some GLBT employees expanded a bit last month: in mid-June, President Obama issued an Executive Order banning certain federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Then later in the month, the Department of Labor proposed a rule that FMLA leave would apply to same-sex married couples. Interestingly, the DOL rule uses the “state of celebration” guideline, which means that eligibility isn’t determined by the gay-marriage laws of the state where the couple live, but by the state where they got married. And since, obviously, gay couples can only get married in states that don’t ban gay marriage, this rule would allow the FMLA to apply to gay couples regardless of their home state’s recognition of their marriage.
A district court in Minnesota ruled in favor of an employee who was fired after her doctor required her to drop her working hours from 30 a week to 20 because of her pregnancy. The employee was literally several days shy of her one-year employment anniversary, after which she would’ve been eligible for FMLA leave, and the court argued that vacation or sick leave that the employee had could have been used to get her to that one-year anniversary. Be nice to moms, y’all.
Also, don’t delete evidence, y’all. A Washington court recently fined an employer $25K for allowing 3 terminated employees’ email accounts to delete automatically, although the company had received notice of an EEOC charge being filed by those employees. Once you hear about an EEOC charge, save everything that could possibly be related to it. Hopefully, it’ll prove your innocence!
Oh, and the Supreme Court made some decision about contraception and hobby supplies or something. We probably won’t hear much more about that one…