News & Analysis

Same-sex marriage in Alaska: what employers need to know

An Alaska federal district court recently deemed the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. On October 12, Judge Timothy Burgess ruled that the constitutional and statutory provisions that banned same-sex marriage violated basic due-process and equal protection principles under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Alaska Supreme Court rules firefighter's prostate cancer was work-related

At the end of summer, the Alaska Supreme Court considered a workers' compensation claim filed by a 30-year veteran of the Anchorage Fire Department. The employee asserted that his prostate cancer was work-related based on a new law that creates a presumption that some diseases are work-related for firefighters if they meet certain requirements.

Train conductor with positive drug test properly dismissed

The Railway Labor Act (RLA) provides procedural protections for union-represented railroad employees. But even those protections couldn't save the job of a train conductor on a "last chance" agreement when he tested positive for amphetamines. The 9th Circuit recently upheld an arbitration panel's decision affirming the conductor's dismissal.

Supreme Court takes on pregnancy accommodations, other employment issues

With the opening of the U.S. Supreme Court's new term October 6, employers can expect clarifications related to accommodations for pregnant workers as well as other employment matters. Here's a look at some key cases.

Leave, discrimination laws help families cope with domestic abuse

A prominent, long-overdue national dialogue on domestic violence has been ongoing since late summer. Regrettably, it took a high-profile public act of abuse to remind many of this pervasive problem that is so often kept hidden behind closed doors and dark sunglasses.

Even small adverse actions may be unlawful retaliation

When a worker engages in some form of protected activity, what actions by her employer may be deemed unlawful retaliation? That was the question addressed recently by the 9th Circuit in a First Amendment retaliation claim filed by a public-sector employee in California.

On bended knee: Preexisting knee injury isn't compensable

The Arkansas Court of Appeals recently upheld a decision by the Workers' Compensation Commission (WCC) that an employee's aggravation of a preexisting knee injury was noncompensable.

Dropping older employees equals drop in insurance premiums

The 8th Circuit recently held that a supervisor's negative comments about older and sicker employees being separated from employment provided sufficient evidence to allow a terminated employee to proceed to trial on her age discrimination claims.

Supreme Court takes on pregnancy accommodations, other employment issues

With the opening of the U.S. Supreme Court's new term October 6, employers can expect clarifications related to accommodations for pregnant workers as well as other employment matters. Here's a look at some key cases.

8th Circuit decides to go ahead with Superman's retirement party

The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Arkansas employers) recently held that a 76-year-old security guard was rightfully terminated for cause after he crashed a company vehicle into a stationary object. The new decision reverses a 2013 ruling in which a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit found that the district court shouldn't have dismissed the case before trial because there was an inference that the employee had been fired on the basis of his age rather than the workplace accident. Among the evidence that led to the panel's decision to overturn the dismissal were comments by the employee's supervisor that he "needed to hang up his Superman cape," was "too old to be working," and needed to retire. (For details about the case, see "Old dogs, new tricks: Age-based claim fetched back for trial" on pg. 1 of our October 2013 issue.)