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Recent Employment Law News for Mar 05, 2015
Apple, Google Settlement Appears Headed For Approval in “Poaching” Case
Tue, 03 Mar 2015 07:04:19 - Pacific Time
A U.S. District Court judge, Lucy Koh, appears satisfied with a proposed $415 million settlement that would conclude a lawsuit in which tech workers accused Apple, Google and two other Silicon Valley companies of conspiring to hold down salaries. The plaintiffs alleged that Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe Systems agreed to avoid poaching each other’s employees, thus limiting job mobility and, as a result, holding down salaries. Judge Koh had previously rejected an earlier $324 million deal as too low. During a hearing on Monday, March 2, 2015, Judge Koh raised no objections about the size of the settlement as she had at an earlier court session. Although Judge Koh did not formally rule from the bench on whether she would preliminarily approve the new deal, she set another hearing date for final sign off of the $415 million deal. Read more here..
EEOC Sues Disability Services Company for Inflexible Leave Policy
Tue, 03 Mar 2015 06:52:47 - Pacific Time
ValleyLife, a disability support services company, has been sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for allegedly terminating disabled employees rather than provide them with a reasonable accommodation in the form of a leave of absence due to its inflexible leave policy. The policy compelled the termination of employees who had exhausted their paid time off and/or any unpaid leave to which they were eligible under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). For example, the EEOC alleges that the company forced out one supervisor due to his need for further surgery when his FMLA leave was exhausted. In addition, the company did not engage in any interactive process to determine whether any accommodations (including additional leave) were possible. The employee had worked for ValleyLife for over ten years at the time of his termination. The EEOC also alleges that ValleyLife commingled medical records in employee personnel files and failed to maintain these medical records confidentially in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Read more here..
DHS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 06:47:32 - Pacific Time
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez announced that, effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. DHS amended the regulations to allow these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States. Read more here..
U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Religious Discrimination Case
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 06:12:20 - Pacific Time
The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in EEOC v. Abercrombie, a lawsuit involving an employee’s right to wear a hijab in the workplace. The case involves Samantha Elauf, a practicing Muslim who applied for a position as a model at the Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa, Okla., in 2008. She was denied employment because she was wearing a black headscarf, known as hijab, which violated the company’s “look policy.” The EEOC argues that Abercrombie violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by failing to accommodate Elauf’s religious beliefs. Abercrombie claims Elauf never informed hiring managers of the conflict and that allowing her to wear a headscarf would have imposed an undue hardship on the company. The company’s position was upheld by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal district court sided with the EEOC. Read more here..
LA Times Reports "Women Are Leaving the Tech Industry in Droves"
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 07:22:46 - Pacific Time
According to a recent LA Times article, “Women are leaving the Tech industry in droves.” As noted in the article, industry group Code.org, predicts that computing jobs will more than double by 2020, to 1.4 million. However, if women continue to leave the field, an already significant shortage of qualified tech workers will worsen. During the summer of 2014, Google, Facebook, Apple and other big tech companies released figures showing that men outnumbered women 4 to 1 or more in their technical sectors. It's why the industry is so eager to hire women and minorities. For decades tech companies have relied on a workforce of whites and Asians, most of them men. Although numerous educational programs now encourage girls and minorities to pursue technology at a young age, qualified women are still leaving the tech industry in significant numbers. Read more here..
Family and Medical Leave Rights Extended to Eligible Workers in Same-Sex Marriages
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 07:11:13 - Pacific Time
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that workers in legal, same-sex marriages, regardless of where they live, will now have the same rights as those in opposite-sex marriages to federal job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for a spouse with a serious health condition. The DOL announced a rule change to the FMLA in keeping with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor. That ruling struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act provision that interpreted "marriage" and "spouse" to be limited to opposite-sex marriage for the purposes of federal law. The rule change updates the FMLA definition of "spouse" so that an eligible employee in a legal same-sex marriage will be able to take FMLA leave for his or her spouse regardless of the state in which the employee resides. Read more here..
Silicon Valley Venture Capital Firm Accused of Sexual Harassment
Mon, 23 Feb 2015 21:44:24 - Pacific Time
A jury will soon hear claims by the now-interim chief executive of the news and social-networking site Reddit that a Silicon Valley venture capital firm subjected her to sexism while she worked for the company. Ellen Pao’s lawsuit alleges that Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers allowed her to be sexually harassed by male managers, and then punished and eventually terminated her when she complained. Ms. Pao also alleges that the company excluded her and other women from business meetings, dinners and promotions. However, the Menlo Park company says it hired an outside investigator who conducted a thorough investigation and found that Pao’s claims were without merit. Pao was eventually terminated from her position as a junior partner because “she could not demonstrate the skills necessary for success as an investing venture capitalist” and because she had “conflicts with most of her colleagues, men and women.” Her lawsuit may rattle Silicon Valley companies, where gender and racial diversity have been a recurring problem for financial and technology companies. Kleiner Perkins’ lawyers said in a court filing that Pao is seeking $16 million, a figure her lawyers have not confirmed. After jury selection Monday, the trial is scheduled to last four weeks. Read more here..
DOL Investigation results in $39.8 Million Judgment
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 15:53:54 - Pacific Time
After nearly six years of litigation, a federal district court in Philadelphia entered a $39.8 million judgment in favor of workers who participated in more than 400 death benefit plans that were allegedly mismanaged, in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The defendants in that case are permanently barred from serving as fiduciaries to any employee benefit plan and, with the exception of one defendant, must make restitution to the plans. Read more here..