News

A Texas-based company recently agreed to a $2.6 million settlement with the EEOC on a failure-to-accommodate claim. The company employed food demonstrators and supplied those employees to its customers’ stores. Company rules dictated food demonstrators were only allowed to sit for 10 minutes every two hours, and the company made no exceptions for medical conditions that required more time to sit. The EEOC determined the actual duties of the position did not support its strict requirements.
Last year the Department of Labor (DOL) further defined how employees may take Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave to care for children with a serious health condition. A mother requested FMLA leave to attend her children's
Following a shooting at Cole’s Place, a bar in Kentucky, several injured bar patrons sued in state court, alleging tort claims.
A jury returned a $150,000 verdict for a plaintiff who broke a tooth on a small bone fragment in a Wendy’s hamburger. Following the verdict, the trial judge granted the defendant’s motion for a mistrial due to the plaintiff’s lawyer’s improper “reptile theory” closing and ordered a new trial. In the closing, the lawyer appealed to the jury to protect the community from harm to be caused by the hamburger chain’s potential future actions.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s most recent litigation over an employer’s use of applicants’ criminal history ended last month with a $6 million settlement. The national employer must also hire a criminologist to develop a new criminal background check procedure.
Since 2015, Cheeks v Freeport Pancake House, Inc., a case from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, required settlements of federal wage and hour claims under the FLSA to be submitted for review and approval by the district court in order to obtain dismissal of the case with prejudice.
Sketchers finds itself in the hotseat again as Nike filed a lawsuit alleging infringement of Nike’s design patents. Specifically, Nike claims Sketchers’ Skech-Air Atlas, Skech-Air 92, Skech-Air Stratus and Skech-Air Blast designs are replicas of Nike’s VaporMax and Air Max 270 shoes. This isn’t the first time Sketchers has run into trouble with its competitors over copycat designs. Nike and its subsidiary Converse filed similar lawsuits in 2014 and 2016.
ZP No. 314, LLC first advertised it’s off-campus housing facility, One Ten Student Living, on its website in February 2016. Three months later it posted ads on social media. A competitor, ILM Capital, operated Campus Quarters, another off-campus housing facility. In the month of May 2016, ILM registered seven “One Ten” domain names and redirected web traffic to the domains to its own website. ZP sent multiple cease and desist letters, and ILM eventually complied.
Woody Allen claims when Amazon canceled his contract it canceled the release of his next four films, which cost the writer-director between $68 million and $73 million. Allen and Amazon settled the suit out of court and the settlement has not been disclosed.
Content is king in digital marketing, but creating content takes time and resources. Many non profits find themselves short on both. An effective way to create engaging content is to work with members, supporters and third parties to create and upload content directly to a non profit’s website. The SEO benefits prove this tactic to be worthwhile, but it may open a non profit to liability for copyright infringement if their content providers upload or posts copyrighted material to their site.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals further limited application of the Americans with Disabilities Act this month. Earlier this year the court held that obesity alone is not a protected disability. Its recent decision in Shell v.
If you’re saving for retirement or planning to start in the new year, the IRS announced increases in contribution limits to qualified retirement plans for 2020. Employees participating in 401 (k) plans may contribute $19,500 in 2020, an increase of $500 over this year. The IRS applies this increase to 403(b) plans, most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan. Catch up contributions for employees aged 50 or older and the limit on annual benefits for participants under a defined benefit plan also increased.
Courts across the country have long held that certificates of insurance cannot create coverage due to the disclaimers on most certificates, until now. The Washington Supreme Court answered a certified question from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that certificates of insurance can create coverage despite these disclaimers. The certificate of insurance in question listed “T-Mobile USA Inc., its Subsidiaries and Affiliates” as an additional insured under a policy held by a service contractor working for T-Mobile NE.
Copano Energy’s representative exchanged emails with the attorney of several landowners to discuss the sale of a second easement. When Copano refused to honor the terms agreed to via email, the landowners sued for breach of contract. Copano argued the emails did not satisfy the statute of frauds, while the Texas Court of Appeals disagreed. Two questions remained from the case: whether the Copano representative meant to sign the emails and whether the two parties agreed to conduct the transactions electronically. The Texas Supreme Court has entertained oral arguments in the case.
Over an eight-year period, a City of Mongomery employee was denied a promotion to the position of Revenue Examiner three times. The job description required applicants to be able to walk over rough terrain, which the Plaintiff could not do. While the City claimed this act was an essential function of the job, a federal court found evidence to the contrary. Two individuals in the same position had not conducted site visits at all in the past 11 months.
As the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) pursues new discrimination suits moving into 2020, employers must be aware of misconduct and harassment initiated by customers and vendors as well as co-workers. While employers are not responsible for the actions of customers or vendors, they are responsible for protecting their employees from alleged harassment by these third parties. This begins by ensuring company policies cover customer-based harassment and may include banning the customer from the premises.
Recognizing Supreme Court precedent, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed course, allowing arbitration of claims concerning an ERISA 401(k) plan in Dorman v. Charles Schwab Corp., No. 18-15281, 934 F.3d 1107 and 2019 WL 3939644 (Aug. 20, 2019). In 1984, the Ninth Circuit held that ERISA claims were not subject to arbitration in Amaro v. Continental Can Co. The United States Supreme Court later held in American Express Co. v.
The Department of Labor (DOL) formally rescinded it’s 2016 Final Rule, which was blocked by a federal judge before implementation. In its place, the DOL issued new regulations to increase the salary threshold for white-collar exemptions to $684 per week ($35,568 annually) and for highly compensated employees to $107,432 annually. The new Final Rule includes provisions for nondiscretionary bonuses, incentive payments, and “catch up” payments. Employers should take note of this Final Rule and take steps to ensure compliance.
ClarkDietrich, a steel producer, sued CSSA, a trade association of three competitors, for publishing false statements regarding its material quality. When the jury returned a verdict against CSSA for $43 million, the association’s E&O insurer, Evanston Insurance Company, declared it had no obligation to indemnify. Evanston claimed CSSA’s publication of false statements fell under the dishonest conduct exclusion.
Many errors and omissions (E&O) and similar malpractice insurance policies include a breach of contract exclusion. Insureds who purchase these policies often work from contracts, which can leave the door open for their insurance company to refuse to defend lawsuits based on work related to those contracts. Courts’ decisions on whether the insurers must provide coverage vary based on the essence of the claim against the policyholder.

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