Utah News & Analysis

  • Ambiguities can cost you: Draft employee benefits plans carefully

    It can't be stressed enough: Employee benefits plans should be carefully drafted. Any vagaries or ambiguities may have significant unintended consequences. Life Insurance Company of North America (LINA) recently learned that lesson the hard way. Ambiguities about who qualified as a "sales" employee and the extent of LINA's discretionary authority resulted in the company having to pay a plan participant more than it bargained for in long-term disability (LTD) benefits. Careful drafting would have helped it avoid the higher benefits payments as well as five years of unsuccessful litigation.

  • Public-sector employees cannot sue governmental employer under USPMA

    Dating back thousands of years, warriors have used shields for protection against their foes' swords, axes, and arrows. The Greeks, Romans, and Vikings all used shields. And they built walls around their cities and the populace for the very same reason—to protect against attacks.

  • Judicial review open to individuals seeking SSI benefits

    Most of you are familiar with the adage "Better late than never." Sometimes in the law, however, being late is equivalent to never, not better. In many instances, the law imposes hard deadlines with which parties seeking remedies must comply, and their failure to meet deadlines can be fatal to their claims.

  • Supreme Court will decide whether LGBT discrimination is unlawful

    The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide the long-unresolved question of whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The issue has been percolating in the lower courts for quite a while. As it frequently does, the Court declined to consider the question until there was a conflict between several appellate courts. Let's take a look at the history of the Court's decisions, the arguments on both sides of the issue, and what we can expect next.

  • Employers should be aware of recent immigration law developments

    The world of immigration law has always been an area of continuous change, and the last few months have been no exception. Here's an overview of some of recent developments.

  • In rare cases, FMLA leave may be taken to care for siblings

    Q One of our employees has asked to take Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave to care for his adult sibling, who has no other family. Can he take FMLA leave in this situation?

  • Unpaid intern is not protected by ADA, ADEA, or Title VII

    In Disney's animated movie Aladdin, a homeless unemployed young man attempts to pass himself off as a prince with the help of a genie. His purpose is to impress a princess and be worthy of marrying her. It's a classic example of a person attempting to convince others that he is someone other than who he claims to be.

  • Employers must pay UC taxes unless workers are independent contractors

    Acording to the old saying, many hands make light work. In a play on that adage, the Utah Court of Appeals recently stated that many hands may also result in accrued liability for contributions to the state's unemployment compensation (UC) fund. The ultimate question was whether the workers at a home-based spa were employees or independent contractors.

  • Governmental employee's courtroom testimony wasn't protected free speech

    Our founding fathers amended the U.S. Constitution with the Bill of Rights in an attempt to ensure constitutional protections for certain rights the American people believed had been infringed by the English monarchy. The First Amendment to the Constitution affords U.S. citizens freedom of speech. When our forefathers introduced the Bill of Rights, they probably weren't thinking about whether the First Amendment could protect governmental employees. Nevertheless, that constitutional amendment has been recognized to afford governmental employees certain protections with regard to their speech, suggesting they may not be subjected to adverse employment actions because of certain types of speech in which they have engaged. Read on to learn how a governmental employee fared when the issue was whether his courtroom testimony in a child custody matter could be grounds for a demotion.

  • DOL says FMLA leave mandatory for employees and employers

    After more than 25 years, you might think questions regarding proper interpretation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would be settled. It's a highly regulated law, and it provides employers far more detail and clarity than they get with most other labor and employment laws.