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Joseph Palmarozzo signed a non-competition, non-solicitation and non-disclosure employment agreement when he became branch manager of ABM Industry Group. When he left that company to join a smaller company with similar services, ABM filed suit to prevent him from competing against ABM and from soliciting its customers. The Massachusetts Superior Court found ABM had no legitimate business interests at stake in enforcing the non-compete. The Court also found while Palmarozzo knew a lot about ABM’s company structure, that information was not confidential to the company.
When the sole owner of JackedUp, a start-up energy drink company, signed a licensing agreement with Sara Lee he expected a five to eight-year relationship. The agreement allowed Sara Lee to manufacture and sell the JackedUp products while providing royalties to JackedUp. Within a month of signing the agreement, Sara Lee announced the sale of its North American Beverage Division to Smucker. The licensing agreement with JackedUp would not be part of the sale.
For 22 years, Christine Oakes worked for Barnes & Noble’s store at West Valley College. The Barnes and Noble employee handbook clearly states all employees are “at-will” employees subject to termination at any time. When Oakes was fired because she was not a “good fit” for the position, she sued. Oakes testified the company required implementation of its progressive discipline policy before firing an employee, leading her to believe she must do something wrong to be fired.
Bonus or incentive plans that provide for accumulations, multi-year periods and mandatory deferrals may become subject to ERISA requirements. A recent federal decision Miller v. Olsen 62, EBC 1845 (D. Or. 2016) rules in favor of the company’s Equity Growth Plan because of the structure of future payouts. Payouts structured around termination of employment or retirement may be classified as ERISA plans.
In the second complaint accusing the Walt Disney Company of wrongdoing under ERISA, the U. S. District Court of California granted a motion from the company to dismiss. As part of its retirement benefits, Disney offers employees a number of options including a participant-directed individual account plan. One of the funds, the Sequoia Fund, offered to plan participants included investments in Valeant. In late 2015, Valeant stocks plummeted following questionable accounting practices and investment strategies.
Many employers use Google as an extra research tool for checking out potential employees. So what do you do when a prospective hire’s mugshot pops up in your search? Before you throw the application in the trash, learn more about whether or not the arrest ended in conviction, whether the crime actually disqualifies the applicant from your position and if the account on the internet is even true.
Hospice of Florida Keys faced one of the most challenging aspects of FMLA when it’s employee Jill Diamond applied for and used intermittent FMLA leave to care for her elderly parents. Following her leave, Hospice requested “proof of need” for the leave and told Diamond that her continued time away compromised their patients’ quality of care. When she was fired just a month later, she filed suit “alleging interference and retaliation claims under the FMLA”.
As March Madness heats up, your employees may be comparing brackets and betting on games through office bracket pools. These March Madness pools are likely illegal for a number of reasons, however, many employers won’t step in to stop the activities.
In 2008, a Tupelo, Mississippi apartment complex, Evergreen Square, experienced problems with sewage backups which led to complaints filed by its residents with the City of Tupelo. Following those complaints, City inspectors required Evergreen Square to repair or replace certain sewer lines to bring the apartment complex up to code. According to the City, this work solved the problems, however, residents continued to experience backups.
Cassandra Morrow and Savannah Barron both worked under Mickey Mancini in the meat department of Kroger’s Hernando, Mississippi store. Both Morrow and Barron filed internal complaints against Mancini with Kroger in 2012. Kroger issued an official write-up and suspended Mancini without pay for eleven days but did not fire him because they could not corroborate Morrow and Barron’s claims. In 2013, both Morrow and Barron filed suit against Kroger and Mancini under Title VII.
Over the course a decade, Panagiota Heath alleges she suffered continual harassment from her supervisor Mostafa Elaasar. Both Heath and Mostafa worked in the math department at Southern University’s New Orleans campus. When Heath filed a charge with the EEOC in 2013, the Magistrate Judge hearing the case ruled in favor of the University because most of the harassing conduct occurred outside the statute of limitations for her Title VII claim and her 1983 claim.
As more and more employers seek to promote a healthier workplace and technology allows for more tracking of biometric data, employers find themselves charting new territory with the wealth of information provided on their employees.
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a law firm’s professional liability insurer who refused to defend the firm against sanctions for using privileged information in violation of a protective order. The court found the policy did not cover claims seeking sanctions or the fees and costs associated with that defense.
The hottest story among lawyers recently involved a Florida attorney whose pants erupted into flames as he began his closing arguments in an arson case. Stephen Gutierrez claims a faulty battery in the e-cigarette in his pocket was to blame when his pants started to smoke and he rushed out of the Miami courtroom.
In March of 2009, William Fisher filed a complaint against his supervisor at Lufkin Industries, Inc. for racial harassment. In the following two months, Lufkin launched an investigation into claims Fisher was selling DVDs (some of them pornographic) out of his lunch box. He did not cooperate in the investigation and was eventually terminated on May 18, 2009.
A recent Mississippi case found the trustee of a family trust to have breached his fiduciary duty, even though he claimed the beneficiary authorized the withdrawals in question. In addition to the breach of fiduciary duty, the trustee was liable for loss or expense resulting from a lack of maintaining trust records. The Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed the $144,865 verdict in the case.
When an employee at Bemis Company requested an accommodation to an 8-hour shift instead of a 12-hour shift because he had diabetes, the employer denied his request based on the fact the employee “was not substantially limited in any life activities as a result of his health condition”. The employee filed a lawsuit claiming disability discrimination while he continued to work for the company. In the course of the lawsuit, the employer agreed to a modified scheduled that included 8-hour shifts and some weekend work.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 protects consumers against an onslaught of pre-recorded advertising messages delivered to their phone or facsimile machines via automatic dialing systems. In 2003, the TCPA was extended to include voice calls and text messages to wireless numbers. In the recent case Van Patten v. Vertical Fitness Group, LLC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held violation of the TCPA “established a concrete injury sufficient to confer Article III standing”.
As fiduciary responsibilities increase under ERISA, employers often hire vendors to manage their employee benefit plans. Some of those vendors take on all or nearly all of the fiduciary liability for the administrative services they provide, others do not. Hiring these vendors may falsely lead an employer to believe they are no longer responsible for those plans. Employers must continue to monitor the performance of all third-party vendors regardless of the amount of liability they assume.

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