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

  • In a groundbreaking decision, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Seventh Circuit’s decisionin Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana is significant because it is the first decision by a federal appeals court to hold that sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited under Title VII.Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana  The fundamental question at issue in Hively... More
  • The evolution of Maine wage payment laws continues apace, and a raft of legislative bills are currently undergoing scrutiny in Augusta.   Back in November, Maine voters increased the state minimum wage to $9 per hour and approved phasing-out the “tip credit” by increasing the minimum direct service wage for tipped employees to $5 per hour in 2017 and increasing it by an additional $1 per hour each year until it reaches the state minimum wage.   On Wednesday, April 5th, the... More
  • The situation is common enough: an employee is alleged to have engaged in misconduct and, as part of its investigation, the employer decides to search the employee’s company-issued computer for any relevant documents and communications.   One might expect that because the company owns the computer, anything discovered on the computer would be fair game.  That expectation, however, can sometimes lead employers astray – and straight into a claim under electronic privacy and anti-hacking statutes like the Stored Communications Act (SCA) and... More
  • 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