News & Analysis

Lack of adverse action dooms all of pregnant employee's claims

A recent case from the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans (whose rulings apply to Mississippi employers) involved multiple claims by a pregnant employee, all of which failed because there was no adverse employment action taken against her. Let's review how this employer won its case.

RIFs: when an employee questions your motivation

Many employers have had to make reduction in force (RIF) decisions going back to the economic downturn of 2008. A recent case from the federal trial court in Jackson is a reminder of the issues that can arise during a RIF.

Employer's posttermination conduct gives rise to potential liability

An employee who files discrimination and harassment claims against her former employer often will file a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress based on the same allegedly unlawful conduct. As a result, most emotional distress claims are based on the employer's conduct before or at the time of the termination. A Mississippi employee recently based her claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress on her termination and her former employer's conduct after the termination. The Court of Appeals of Mississippi upheld a lower court's dismissal of the emotional distress claim based on the employee's termination but found that she was entitled to a trial on the claim based on the employer's posttermination conduct.

Stress at work: defining the line between motivation and an abusive workplace

In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Blake is a trainer sent by corporate to motivate a sales team. In addition to offering helpful gems like the acronym ABC to remind the salesmen that they should "always be closing," he repeatedly berates them and calls them names while bragging about his own success. He tells the team about a new sales competition that week: First place gets a Cadillac, second place gets a set of steak knives, and third place gets fired.

6th Circuit delivers new precedent on telecommuting as accommodation

In an 8-5 decision, the 6th Circuit has revisited and reversed its prior decision in a case addressing telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The case, which involved a former Ford Motor Company employee, may provide persuasive precedent to courts in other federal circuits.

Agency Action

2016 H-1B visa cap reached. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7, 2015, that it had reached the congressionally mandated H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2016. USCIS also announced that it had received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption. The agency will use a computer-generated process to randomly select the petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 for the advanced degree exemption. USCIS said it first would randomly select petitions for the advanced degree exemption. All unselected advanced degree petitions then will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general limit. Filing fees are to be returned for all unselected cap-subject petitions that arent duplicate filings.

Be aware of the rules before you hire high schoolers

Q Summer is a pretty busy time of year for our company, and we want to hire several high schoolers for a couple of months to help with some low-skill tasks. What special rules apply to employees under age 18?

Workplace Trends

Survey shows illegal interview questions common. Twenty percent of hiring managers participating in a CareerBuilder survey indicated they have asked a question in a job interview only to find out later that it was illegal to ask. More than 2,100 hiring and HR managers across industries participated in the nationwide survey conducted online from November 4 to December 2, 2014. Here are some of the questions interviewers admitted to asking: What is your religious affiliation? Are you pregnant? What is your political affiliation? What is your race, color, or ethnicity? How old are you? Are you disabled? Are you married? Do you have children or plan to? Are you in debt? Do you drink socially or smoke?

Union Action

Union withdraws election petition for Boeing plant. The International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM) announced on April 17, 2015, that it had withdrawn its petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for an April 22 union election at the Boeing Company in North Charleston, South Carolina. The decision pushes the date for a subsequent election forward by at least six months. The union announced that it made the decision after IAM organizers conducted home visits with more than 1,700 Boeing workers. After speaking with Boeing workers who we were previously unable to reach, weve determined now is not the right time for an election, said lead IAM organizer Mike Evans. An atmosphere of threats, harassment and unprecedented political interference has intimidated workers to the point we dont believe a free and fair election is possible.

Log-in and log-off time: You may have to pay workers for booting up

Imagine this scenario: A group of your hourly employees works 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. As a covered employer, you know your obligations under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). You know you need to pay time and a half for all hours your employees work over 40 in a workweek. You make sure they don't work during their one-hour lunch breaks. You even require them to clock in and out using a sophisticated computer timekeeping program that helps you track their hours and enforce compliance with your policies.