Employment Law Update Blog

Preti Flaherty's employment lawyers provide news, discuss up-to-date legal issues in employment law and highlight emerging trends in the workplace. The Firm's Employment Law Group represents corporate and individual clients in a wide range of employment-related situations.

Recent Blog Posts

  • It is not often that the Law Court interprets the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA) differently from its federal counterparts.  In a recent decision, though, the Law Court did exactly that – it held that the standard for evaluating claims of disparate impact age discrimination under the MHRA is different from the standard under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Scamman v. Shaw's Supermarkets, Inc.Unlike disparate treatment claims, which are based on an employer’s alleged intentional discrimination against an... More
  • The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently waded into the waters of the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), finding that an employer did not violate the FMLA or ADA where it legitimately believed an employee was misusing FMLA leave, and terminated the employee as a result. In this case, Capps v. Mondelez Global, LLC, the employee had a medical condition that caused arthritis in his hips. The employee had hip... More
  • Sometimes, small things can turn out to be very big.  Take punctuation, for instance.  Just recently, the First Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that proves the point: finding that an absent comma created an ambiguity in Maine’s overtime law, the court reversed summary judgment against several truck drivers and revived their class-action lawsuit against Oakhurst Dairy for unpaid overtime.At issue in the court’s decision is the meaning of an exemption in the overtime law that covers employees whose... More
  • Updating our previous post on this issue, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed the dismissal of a complaint alleging sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII.   In its 2-1 decision in Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, the court explained that its prior precedent foreclosed the ability to bring a claim for sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII.   The court looked specifically to its decision from 1979 in Blum v. Gulf Oil Corp., where it held that Title... More
  • Many state anti-discrimination laws, such as those in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, specifically prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation. To the surprise of many employers, this explicit prohibition is absent under federal law. However, recent activity in the federal courts may be changing that.For a number of years now, the EEOC has taken the position that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits sexual orientation discrimination because it is discrimination based... More
  • Preti Flaherty's Laura Rideout, an attorney practicing with the firm's Litigation and Environmental Groups, has written a year-end overview of several noteworthy OSHA-related developments in the past year. These developments included issuance of final rules setting forth new compliance obligations, previously issued rules with compliance deadlines that came into effect this year, as well as updated guidance.Read the full overview on Preti Flaherty's website: More
  • The EEOC closed out 2016 with several reports that provide interesting reading for employers heading into the new year.The first is the EEOC’s annual performance report, which provides a snapshot of how the EEOC views its accomplishments over the last year. These accomplishments, according to the EEOC, include measured gains in three areas of its strategic plan, including strategic law enforcement where the agency claims it secured $347.9 for employees in the private sector through mediation, conciliation, or settlements,... More
  • [The following comments were originally delivered at a breakfast briefing on December 7 in Portland sponsored by Clark Insurance and KMA Human Resources Consulting.] If we assume that the Question 1 referendum recount does not change the outcome, Maine’s 128th Legislature will begin the process of hammering out a new statutory regime to accompany legalization in 2017.At the present time, no one can reasonably predict how the post-referendum statute is going to read and whether it is going to provide... More
  • A federal district court in Virginia recently grounded an airport’s attempt to escape liability for accessing an employee’s email account. (Hoofnagle v. Smyth-Wythe Airport Commission.) The decision, which delivered a mixed result for the airport, provides important guidance for both public and private sector employers. The employee was the airport’s operations manager and was responsible for its day-to-day operations, including responding to email from the public. To this end, the manager created a Yahoo! email account, which he... More
  • Earlier this month, the Maine Department of Labor announced proposed changes to its regulations that would align them to be consistent with changes being made to federal overtime regulations. The new federal overtime rule, which goes into effect on December 1, 2016, updates the salary threshold needed to qualify for the so-called “white collar” exemption under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. That exemption applies to employees employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity.In its notice of... More
  • In response to concerns about the Human Rights Commission, Governor LePage, by Executive Order, established the Maine Human Rights Commission Review Panel on October 14, 2015. The Panel issued its Findings on September 27, 2016. The Review Panel consisted of eight members including an attorney who represents respondents before the MHRC, an attorney who represents complainants before the MHRC, a person recommended by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a person recommended by the Maine Apartment Owners and... More
  • The Supreme Court of the United States will begin its new term on October 3rd with a quiet slate of cases for employers. Among the few employment-related cases set for review include one involving whether the acting general counsel of the NLRB was validly appointed by President Obama under a federal vacancy statute (NLRB v. SW General, Inc.) and another involving the judicial standard of review for enforcing EEOC investigative subpoenas (McLane v. EEOC). Although these cases are... More
  • Employees are continuing to find success with the “cat’s paw” theory to prove employment discrimination, evidenced by two recent federal court decisions.The “cat’s paw” theory references an old Aesop’s fable in which a monkey tricks a cat into doing work for his own benefit: the monkey puts the cat to work pulling chestnuts from a fire, which rewards the monkey with a hot meal, but which rewards the cat with only burnt paws. In the employment law context,... More
  • Earlier this week, the EEOC issued its final Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues.  The new guidance is the first update to the EEOC’s compliance guide on retaliation since 1998, and it marks the end of the process that began in January 2016 when the EEOC first proposed the new guidance.  The new guidance covers retaliation under each law enforced by the EEOC, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination... More
  • Imagine for a moment: you are the administrator for a skilled nursing facility and your activities director has just informed you of a need to take FMLA leave for shoulder surgery.  You grant the FMLA request and your activities director takes the full twelve weeks he is allowed.  You then learn from his physician that he will need to extend his leave by an additional thirty days to complete physical therapy, which, of course, you oblige as non-FMLA leave.  Everything... More