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States Sue Labor Department Over New Overtime Rule

This week, twenty-one states including Texas filed a complaint in federal court against the Department of Labor over its new rule on the white collar exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The complaint alleges that at the new rule exceeds the Obama Administration’s power, and seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against the new rule, which is to take effect December 1st and which would double the salary threshold for the white-collar exemptions.  The case was filed in Sherman, Texas,…

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U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case on Domestic Service Exemptions

At the end of its most recent term, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case challenging the Department of Labor’s 2013 regulations on the exemptions for domestic service employees from the minimum wage and overtime laws.  The refusal leaves intact an appeals court’s 2015decision in Home Care Association of America v. Weil upholding the regulations, which primarily narrowed the “companionship” exemption and prohibit third parties (like home care agencies) from claiming the exemptions.  The DoL is now free…

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High Court Issues Boring But Important Decision on Statute of Limitations

On the heels of its recent decision on attorneys’ fees, the U.S. Supreme Court decided on May 23rd when the statute of limitations begins to run in an employment discrimination case where the employee claims “constructive discharge,” i.e., where the employer makes conditions so bad the employee feels compelled to quit.  While not a sexy decision, Green v. Brennan answered this important and difficult question by holding on a vote of 7-1 that the statute of limitations begins to run…

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High Court Issues Boring Decision on Attorneys’ Fees

On May 19th, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an unexciting if not actually boring decision on when a litigant in an employment discrimination lawsuit can be awarded its attorneys’ fees if it is the “prevailing party.”  In CRST Van Expedited, Inc. v. EEOC, the Court ruled that the employer did not have to obtain a “ruling on the merits” (that the employee or the EEOC actually had a bogus claim) in order to be awarded $4 million in attorneys’ fees.…

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Labor Department Issues Long-Awaited Rule on Exemptions

The Department of Labor just issued a long-awaited final rule amending regulations on the “white collar” executive, administrative, professional, and computer employee exemptions from its minimum wage and overtime rules.  Most importantly, the rule doubled the salary threshold for the those exemptions from $455 a week ($23,660 a year) to $913 a week ($47,476 a year), and the threshold is then to be adjusted every three years. If a supposedly exempt employee is not paid at least the new salary,…

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President Signs “Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016”

In a major development in intellectual property law, on May 11th President Obama signed into law the “Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016,” after it passed Congress in rare and overwhelmingly bipartisan votes.  The law created a new federal civil claim for misappropriation of trade secrets.  Employers who want to protect their trade secrets can be the prime beneficiaries of the new law, but they should be aware of its definitions of “trade secret” and “misappropriation.”  The law applies to…

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Federal Agencies Support Transgender Rights in Employment

Recent news coverage of political battles over bathrooms for transgender persons has concentrated on the issue in schools, but the issue can also arise in the employment context.  Federal agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the EEOC) and OSHA now unequivocally support transgender persons having access to bathrooms matching their gender identity, concluding that discrimination on the basis of transgender status (and sexual preference for that matter) is discrimination “because of sex” under Title VII of the Civil…

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Court Allows Claim of Retaliation for Supporting Fellow Employee’s Complaint

In an important development in employment retaliation law, in April the federal appeals court whose area includes Texas allowed a retaliation claim by a female employee who, when asked to be a witness, supported a fellow female employee’s complaint that a male supervisor had insisted on looking at that employee’s derriere.  Such a complaint isn’t  ordinarily enough for a claim of sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but the court allowed the witness’ retaliation claim anyway.…

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Justice Scalia’s Death Results in Tie Vote in Union Fee Case

On March 29th, the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 in the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a closely-watched case on the constitutionality of fees public unions charge non-members.  In the Supreme Court, a tie has the effect of affirming a lower court decision, which in this case had gone in favor of the union.  Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on February 13th, had been expected to cast the deciding vote against the union, but his death resulted in…

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