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OphthalmologistTitle VII’s protections are intended to protect employees from impermissible discrimination. In furtherance of that goal, a person must in fact be an employee in order to pursue a Title VII violation case. Some partners in businesses may qualify, but only if they prove that they are only “nominal” partners. In a recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case, an ophthalmologist lost because the proof in her case showed that her standing as a partner was genuine and was much more than just nominal, meaning that she was not an employee under Title VII.

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signing documentThe Fair Labor Standards Act allows employers to use various different methods to pay employees while still remaining compliant with the law. One of these methods is the “fluctuating workweek method,” or paying a base weekly salary to an employee regardless of the hours the employee worked. The key to using this method and remaining in compliance with the law is establishing a clear understanding about how the employee will be paid. In a recent 11th Circuit Court of Appeals case of note to Georgia employers and employees, the employee’s testimony in a deposition proved that the required level of “clear understanding” existed in this case, and the employer was not in violation of the law’s overtime pay rules.

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LayoffsLayoffs. Downsizing. Reductions in force. These words and phrases can be painful for employees and employers alike. However, the issue of downsizing an employee can be especially tricky if that employee is also a member of a protected class, such as women or racial minorities. In a case recently decided by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, a downsized employee brought but lost a sex discrimination case against her employer. She lost because she couldn’t prove an essential part of her case, which was that she was qualified to assume another open job with her employer after her employer eliminated her position.

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clock faceThe law can be full of twists and turns, with many nuances that may affect the resolution of an issue and, in the process, the ability of an employee to succeed in a discrimination case. In a recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case involving several former employees at Chrysler, we saw this on display. The employees brought state, but not federal, age discrimination claims. However, since the alleged discrimination related to the employees’ retirement plans, the federal statute of limitations applied to their case and yielded a decision that they brought their legal action too late.

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It is often a tricky situation for an employer. You’ve approved an employee’s taking a certain amount of time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, only to discover soon thereafter that your employee wasn’t completely honest with you about his leave. When an employer encounters this issue, it is important to understand what the laws says are your options. In a recent case from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, that court concluded that an employer couldn’t be liable for FMLA retaliation when it forced into retirement an employee whom it deemed to have misused his FMLA leave. The employer won because it had ample proof that the employee had been dishonest, and dishonesty and abuse of FMLA leave were permissible non-discriminatory reasons for the employer’s actions.vacation

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police officersA recent ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is an important one for Georgia employers and employees to note, since it may affect some potential minimum wage and overtime cases. In the new decision, the 11th Circuit decided that it would join numerous other circuits in concluding that the Fair Labor Standards Act does not prohibit employees from bringing a case that contains within it both a FLSA collective action and a state-law class action.

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calendar and pencilA recent disability discrimination case from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is useful to Tennessee employees and employers in that it shines a light on some of the “variables” that can tip the scales of an employee’s Americans with Disabilities Act case in one direction or the other. In this case, since the employee had already been granted a long period of time off and was not certain of her recovery when she sought an extension of her leave, the appeals court relied on existing caselaw in ruling that the trial court correctly found the employer not in violation of the ADA when it denied the extension request and terminated the employee instead.

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Employment ApplicationA recent ruling by the full 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a decision that an appellate panel had made earlier this year and also provided some clarity on which types of age discrimination claims job applicants in Georgia are and are not allowed to bring under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The new opinion states that only employees, not employment candidates, can bring ADEA lawsuits in which they allege that the employer’s policies had a disproportionately harmful impact on older workers.

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Wal-martA Wal-Mart employee lost her attempt to bring an age discrimination case against her former employer after the company terminated her at age 62. The employee’s unsuccessful case is a reminder to employers and employees of the wide breadth of the “honest belief” rule, which says that, if an employer reasonably relied upon facts it had before it when it made its decision, it cannot be deemed to be using non-discriminatory reasons as mere pretexts for discrimination. The application of this rule to this employee’s case proved to be one integral piece in the failure of her age discrimination case at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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cell phoneA nurse anesthetist, who was the recipient of two very unwelcome text messages from a co-worker encouraging her to have “wild sex” with her husband, lost her sexual harassment case against the co-worker and her employer. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling against the nurse anesthetist because the acts of harassment she endured were either unrelated to her gender or too few to constitute the sort of severe and pervasive harassment required by Title VII.

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