Labor union members have been forced for many years to prove bad faith interest when seeking to make claims against their own unions for failure to represent them properly. That has now changed based on an October 24, 2018 Memorandum from General Counsel, Peter Robb (Trump appointee) of the National Labor Relations Boards (NLRB – the federal labor law enforcement agency). Claims of negligence against unions will now be easier because the union will be presumptively liable if workers’ grievances are not properly processed.
Last week, the Department of Justice submitted a brief to the United States Supreme Court arguing that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination against transgender employees. The DOJ argued that the protection against “sex” discrimination does not apply to gender identity. Importantly, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has not changed its position accordingly, and therefore the EEOC still considers transgender employees to be protected from discrimination.
A New York employee who worked for the NYS Insurance Fund for many years allegedly experienced discrimination and a hostile work environment based on the fact that he was gay and had a disability. The employee complained of discrimination and alleged that following his complaints he was retaliated against. On remand from the Second Circuit, the district court dismissed the employee’s Title VII discrimination claims because he failed to allege that he suffered an adverse employment action based on his sexual orientation.
Since the federal estate tax exemption has risen to $11.18 million per individual under the 2017 Tax Act (with this amount doubling for married couples), many individuals believe that they require only very simplistic estate planning, or that they do not require any estate planning at all.
NYS issued its final guidance on the new sexual harassment policy and training requirements in effect for all New York employers. The state clarified that October 9, 2018 remains the deadline by which all employers must adopt a written sexual harassment policy and an anti-harassment training program. The state has issued model language and training documents for employers that need assistance developing those documents.
Employees will pay more of their paycheck towards the Paid Family Leave benefit program in 2019 - 0.153% of gross wages up to a yearly maximum of $107.97 (up from 0.126%/$85.56 in 2018). Moreover, as per the original provisions of the Paid Family Leave law, employees will be permitted to take up to 10 weeks of paid family leave in 2019, and receive 55% of their average weekly wage, up to a maximum of $746.41.
In April, we wrote about new steps New York State is taking to prevent harassment in the workplace, including requiring New York employers to comply with policy and training requirements.
Earlier this month, a New York Federal Court magistrate recommended conditional certification of a class of Lululemon employees who allege they were expected to take yoga classes at studios to promote Lululemon apparel, and perform other work related tasks off the clock. Lululemon paid the fee for the classes but did not pay the employees to attend, calling it “community work.” The employees allege they spent approximately five hours each week in fitness classes and another five hours per week performing other tasks.
By now, everyone has heard of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and how it increased the federal gift and estate tax exemption to approximately $11.2 million per person in 2018, with the exemption amount being doubled to approximately $22.4 million for married couples. Further, thanks to portability, the estate of a surviving spouse can use the unused portion of the deceased spouse’s exemption amount.
Employers with retirement plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) often seek to reduce their potential class action liability for breach of fiduciary duty claims by including mandatory arbitration clauses in employment agreements. University of Southern California (USC) workers challenged the school's management of its plans in federal court several years ago, despite the arbitration clauses in their agreement.