Legal Updates

The Longest Lasting Non-Compete Case Of All Time?

Non-compete litigation is generally fast and furious, with witness interviews, fact gathering, drafting, requests for injunctive relief, and expedited discovery all happening within a very compressed timetable. Accordingly, a recent decision issued by the Indiana Court of Appeals (Think Tank Software Development Corporation v. Chester, Inc., et al.) in a case filed in April of 2002 is a “head scratcher”: how could any non-compete case take nine years to resolve? The short answer is that after some initial skirmishing over a restraining order, a change of venue, and the dissolution of that restraining order, the case apparently went dormant for two years. Then, after an unsuccessful motion to dismiss the case for want of prosecution in 2004, the case lurched into discovery which lasted until November 30, 2009. The defendants then successfully moved for summary judgment, after which the case moved on to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed in part and reversed in part, sending the case back to the trial court . . . for still further proceedings.

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Minimize Your Risk of Invalidating the Tip Credit Paid to Tipped Employees Performing “Dual Jobs”

By:  Douglas Weiner and Charles H. Wilson

In a recently reported case from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Applebee’s servers and bartenders alleged they spent a “substantial” amount of time performing non-tipped work, such as cleaning and maintenance, and, therefore, should be paid the minimum wage of $7.25 for the time spent performing non-tipped work, rather than the direct wage of $2.13 the FLSA allows employers to pay employees in tipped occupations See 29 U.S.C. § 203(m) and 29 U.S.C. § 203(t).

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Do you know the status of your workers? The right answer is more important than ever.

On April 28, a multi-disciplinary team of McDonald Hopkins lawyers explored the issue of worker classification – and misclassification – and the impact it can have on your business. With perspectives from tax, employee benefits, business law, and labor and employment attorneys, the panelists discussed the various tests used for distinguishing employees from independent contractors as well as potential liability under the Internal Revenue Code, the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act, among others. Panelists also offered tips for avoiding some of the most common mistakes found in employment agreements, benefit plans, and other business records.

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Minimize Your Risk of Invalidating the Tip Credit

By Douglas Weiner and Charles H. Wilson

In a recently reported case from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Applebee’s servers and bartenders alleged they spent a “substantial” amount of time performing non-tipped work, such as cleaning and maintenance, and, therefore, should be paid the minimum wage of $7.25 for the time spent performing non-tipped work, rather than the direct wage of $2.13 the FLSA allows employers to pay employees in tipped occupations See 29 U.S.C. § 203(m) and 29 U.S.C. § 203(t).

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Attestation for EHR Incentive Programs Available

Earlier this month, CMS launched the attestation portion of the EHR Incentive Payment Program.  Beginning on April 18th, eligible professionals and hospitals are now able to attest to meaningful use (or adopt, implement or upgrade for Medicaid).  Along with the attestation itself, CMS launched its Meaningful Use Attestation Calculator, a wizard which walks eligible professionals and hospitals […]

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United States Supreme Court enforces class action waiver in arbitration agreement

In a move that could have a significant impact for employers, the United States Supreme Court recently upheld a so-called class action waiver provision in an agreement to arbitrate.  Although the decision occurred in the context of a consumer contract, the implications are likely to be far more wide-ranging.  In particular, employers that require employees to agree to otherwise enforceable arbitration clauses are likely to have those clauses upheld and enforced even if they include a bar to classwide arbitration.

In AT&T Mobility, LLC v. Concepcion, AT&T offered a free phone to anyone who signed up for itsThumbnail image for Cellphone-CourtesyOf_www.adigitaldreamer.com.jpg cell phone service.  The contract between AT&T and cell phone service purchasers included a mandatory arbitration clause that barred classwide arbitrations.  Dissatisfied with the fact that AT&T charged sales tax on the “free” phone, cell phone service purchaser Vincent Concepcion joined a purported class action law suit in a California Federal District Court.  AT&T moved to compel one-on-one arbitration under the sales contract.  Both the District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to do so.  The lower courts relied on a California state court decision that held that class arbitration waivers in consumer contracts were unconscionable and, therefore, rendered the arbitration clause unenforceable.

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CMS Announces State Demonstration Project Initiative for Dual Eligibles: Is Your State on the List?

by Lynn Shapiro Snyder and Amy F. Lerman

On April 14, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced several initiatives that will offer states more flexibility to adopt innovative new practices in order to provide better and more coordinated care for Medicare and Medicaid enrollees who are dually eligible under both of these programs. Under one of these initiatives, 15 states have been awarded $1 million contracts to support the design of state demonstration projects that will aim to improve the coordination of care for dual eligibles. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”), through its newly formed Federal Coordinated Health Care Office, will evaluate the projects proposed by the 15 states. CMS hopes to implement the top strategies as soon as 2012. Providers and payors in selected states who currently treat a significant number of dual eligibles may want to contact their agency representatives to help influence the way in which their state intends to pursue this demonstration project initiative.

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Housekeepers Use OSHA as a Weapon Against Hospitality Employers

By: Jay P. Krupin, Kara M. Maciel, Eric J. Conn

As we reported in our blog post in November of 2010, hotel housekeepers across the nation launched a concerted program of filing complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) alleging a range of ergonomic and chemical exposure injuries sustained on the job. Government regulators and legislators are now taking action in response to these complaints. We have attached a series of articles discussing the nature of the complaints and the government’s response to them.

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Don’t Touch That Phone–It May Cost You! California Applies Different Rules for "On Call" Time

A client recently asked us to provide them with a summary of the California rules for paying non-exempt employees for “on-call” time.  Our client requires non-exempt IT employees to carry cell phone and/or pagers after hours and on weekends so they can respond to requests for assistance and emergencies at the facility which operates on a 24/7 basis.  The employees are required to respond to a call or page within 10-15 minutes and to be available to go to the facility immediately if necessary.  The questions presented were: 1) whether these employees should be paid for the time spent carrying the cell phone or pager and 2) is there a minimum amount of pay the employees must receive if they are required to report to the facility.  We thought that it would be helpful to share our thoughts here. 

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Diving into the Federal Issuances Implementing the Medicare Shared Savings Program: A Summary of Topic Areas On Which Government Agencies Specifically Requested Public Comments

by Ross K. Friedberg, Shawn M. Gilman, and Lesley R. Yeung

On March 31, 2011, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and the Internal Revenue Service released four separate issuances providing the public with the opportunity to comment on the creation of accountable care organizations eligible for participation in the voluntary Medicare Shared Savings Program (“MSSP”). This alert sets forth a listing of each of the places in which the government agencies specifically request comments from the public. Even those organizations that ultimately may decide not to participate in the MSSP should still take advantage of this unique opportunity to provide these agencies with comments and help shape the modifications being proposed to the Medicare program.

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