Out, Out and Away – The EEOC’s Guidance on Extending Leave As An ADA Accommodation

On Monday, May 9, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a new resource document entitled “Employer-Provided Leave and the Americans with Disabilities Act” which details the steps the agency believes employers must take to accommodate employees who need time away from work in connection with medical issues. Employers should be prepared to consider time off as a reasonable accommodation when employees need medical treatment or rehabilitation to enable them to perform essential job functions.

Click here for more information.

New Equal Pay Law in California

A new year brings new changes for employers with employees working in California, who are now subject to one of the most stringent equal pay laws in the country. Effective January 1, 2016, the California Fair Pay Act (“Act”) aims to shrink the gender wage gap by making several significant changes to California’s equal pay law. The Act provides greater protections to employees by broadening the scope of individuals who may be compared and by narrowing the factors an employer may rely on to justify a wage discrepancy. The Act also shifts to the employer the burden of proof to show that wage differences are not gender-based.

Click here for more information.

Responding to Accommodation Requests

Employers continue to struggle with how best to respond to employees with medical issues who request accommodations. With the EEOC’s renewed focus on disability issues and pregnancy-related limitations, employers must take care to understand, handle, and document accommodation requests carefully. As detailed in Hollie Reiminger and Larry Stuart’s recent article in the April 6, 2015 issue of Texas Lawyer, employers should assume that although every accommodation request will be unique, having a standard way of responding to such requests will minimize legal risks.

Click here for a copy of the article.

Why is Breaking Up So Hard to Do?

Nobody likes a bad breakup. Getting closure with a terminated employee is getting harder thanks to recent actions by the EEOC and the NLRB challenging what many regarded as standard severance agreement language. On April 1, 2015, the SEC announced its first enforcement action against a company for using improperly restrictive language in confidentiality agreements. Employers should review their agreements to ensure they don’t run afoul of the latest agency enforcement positions, a topic addressed in a December 1, 2014 Texas Lawyer article authored by Cheri Thomas and Larry Stuart.

Click here for a copy of the article.

Out Sick, or Sick of Work?

What’s a manager to do with employees who can’t do their jobs because of medical issues? Employers continue to struggle with how best to handle workers who seem to be more focused on their work limitations than on getting the job done. Managers with good intentions may expose themselves to personal liability and put their company at risk. As detailed in Ehsan Tabesh and Larry Stuart’s article entitled “Out Sick, or Sick of Work” in the March/April 2014 issue of Well Servicing magazine, managers should take time to understand and handle employee medical issues very carefully.

Click here for a copy of the article.

Is That Worker Really an Independent Contractor?

Classifying workers as contractors presents an array of legal risks.  And with the DOL, IRS and state workforce agencies on the lookout for companies that have misclassified workers as independent contractors, companies should proceed with caution.  Hollie Reiminger and Larry Stuart’s article in the January 2014 issue of Well Servicing details the legal standards and risks associated with use of independent contractors.  Click here for a copy of the article.

Litigation of OSHA Death Cases and Retaliation Claims

As energy companies ramp up to meet production and staffing needs, the use of workers who are new to the industry and related safety concerns are on the rise, as is the frequency of workplace injuries and deaths.  Cases that routinely would have been efficiently resolved in the past are now referred by OSHA to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution, raising the specter of more significant enforcement actions than in the past.  Employers must also take care not to retaliate against employees who raise safety concerns.  Larry Stuart gave a presentation about these issues at a conference sponsored by EUCI in January 2014.  Click here for a copy of the presentation.

Is Your Non-Compete Agreement Enforceable?

Use of non-compete and non-solicitation agreements is on the rise.  Whether an agreement will be found enforceable will depend on state law, the specific language of the agreement, and the background facts.  Larry Stuart and Glen Rigby published an article entitled “Locking Up Employees with Non-Compete Agreements”in the November/December 2013 issue of Well Servicing magazine. Click here for a copy of the article.

Overtime Litigation On the Rise

Larry Stuart gave a presentation entitled “What’s New Pussycat?  The Perfect Storm of Overtime Litigation” at the 2013 Texas Total Rewards Conference, where he presented the results of Stuart PC’s study of overtime cases filed in the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, during 2013. The presentation addressed national and local trends and provided guidance regarding steps companies should consider to reduce the risk of claims and unpaid wage liability.  Click here for a copy of the presentation.

Handling Employees With Medical Issues

Employers know they must reasonably accommodate qualified employees who have disabilities, but what’s an employer to do when an employee’s medical condition or treatment protocol presents serious safety concerns?  The company must tread lightly and be prepared to gather accurate information and document its good faith efforts to work with the employee to identify possible solutions.  Stuart PC’s August 2013 newsletter details the EEOC ‘s interpretation of applicable standards and outlines steps employers should take to reduce the risk of claims.  Click here for a copy.

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