Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Federal Judge Rules that Grubhub Drivers are Independent Contractors, Not Employees

With many laws protecting workers classified as employees and not offering protection for those classified as independent contractors, a worker’s classification has broad implications for the worker and for the company using the worker’s services. In the rise of the “sharing economy,” companies like Uber Technologies, Inc. and Grubhub, Inc. have classified their drivers as independent contractors; and workers have turned to the courts to challenge that classification. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Trade Secrets Lawsuits Keep Trending Up: Are You Minding the Store?

Lawsuits involving claims for misappropriation of trade secrets are continuing to trend upward, even in an era when litigation as a whole is believed to have decreased. At a time when companies’ most sensitive confidential and proprietary business information is becoming ever more digitalized – and thus easily transportable – all employers should maintain vigilance in protecting their crucial business information. Not surprisingly, a significant amount of trade secret litigation involves situations where former employees accessed company information before their departures, copied it and later used that information to compete against the former employer.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

First Sick Leave Settlement Reached in Minneapolis

The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights has settled its first case of retaliation under the paid sick-leave ordinance that went into effect on July 1, 2017. The paid sick-leave ordinance requires that employers with six or more employees provide Minneapolis employees with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked within Minneapolis. The ordinance applies to full and part time employees, temporary employees, and paid interns. Under the ordinance, retaliation against employees for exercising their sick leave rights is strictly prohibited.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Employer Beware: Your Current Bonus Program May Be Irrevocable

Last week, in Boswell v. Panera Bread Co., the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Panera Bread illegally imposed caps on amounts paid to managers under its bonus program. In order to recruit and retain managers, Panera had created a program under which managers were eligible to receive a one-time bonus to be paid five years after the managers signed at-will employment agreements containing the bonus program. In order to receive the bonus, the manager had to be employed as a manager at the time of payment.

However, after a downturn in profits, Panera decided to place a $100,000 cap on the manager retention bonus. Managers were notified of the cap in 2011 and informed that the cap would become effective in 2012. Plaintiff, Mark Boswell, sued Panera in 2014 on behalf of himself and a class of similarly situated managers. Boswell argued that Panera’s unilateral bonus cap was a breach of contract. Panera disagreed, maintaining that its 2011 notice of the cap constituted a new oral contract with the managers that they accepted by continuing employment. Panera also argued that the managers waived any potential contract claim by continuing to work for Panera with notice of the program change and that the managers were estopped from raising any claims due to the passage of time since 2011.

Friday, January 5, 2018

New Tax Law Eliminates Employer Deductions for Certain Types of Sexual Harassment Settlements

In the midst of the growing “Me Too” movement, employers may find it more expensive to settle employment claims of sexual harassment or sexual abuse. A provision in the new tax law signed by President Trump on Dec. 22, 2017 (the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) provides that, effective as of the signing of the law, a business can no longer deduct the costs incurred to settle employment sexual harassment or abuse claims if a nondisclosure agreement is included in the settlement.  This provision was added to the tax law in response to the “Me Too” movement and growing criticism of the historic practice of conditioning settlements on confidentiality. In addition, the new tax law contains limits on the ability to deduct attorney’s fees related to a sexual harassment or abuse settlement.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Are Your Online Hiring Practices Setting You Up for a Class Action Lawsuit?

On the 20th of this month several well-known companies, including T-Mobile, Amazon, and Cox Media Group, were named parties in a class action lawsuit filed in California related to their online hiring practices. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking class-action status to represent Facebook users age 40 or older who may have been denied the chance to learn about job openings. The action alleges that advertisements were placed on Facebook that restricted who could see the advertisements by age. This new area of attack by the plaintiff’s bar targets advertisements on all social media sites used in the recruitment of employees and will impact a broad range of industries.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In Welcome News for Employers, New NLRB General Counsel Signals Significant Changes Are On The Way

Last week we blogged about which decisions of the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) might be most ripe for reversal under the NLRB’s new membership and General Counsel.  This week, on December 1, 2017, we got further insight into those expectations when Peter Robb, the new General Counsel issued a memorandum containing insights into his initial agenda as General Counsel.  The memorandum’s identification of subjects for special consideration, along with its general tone, provide further strong indications about the likelihood of coming significant policy shifts at the NLRB in favor of employers.