Tag Archives: Arnstein & Lehr LLP

U.S. Supreme Court Has Been Busy on the Employment Front

Megan Toth

Arnstein & Lehr Attorney Megan Toth

In the last two months, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided three different cases, all of which have significant implications for employers as discussed below.

1. Young v. UPS: Broad Pregnancy Accommodations at the Federal Level

Although many states’ laws already require broad accommodation policies for pregnancy related disabilities, the recent Supreme Court decision in Young v. UPS, indicates federal law favors and may require the same. In Young v. UPS, UPS denied a pregnant employee’s request for light duty assignment because she was “equivalent to an employee injured off the job,” and thus, did not qualify for light duty assignment under UPS’ accommodation policy. The employee, therefore, filed claims against UPS for violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and for sex discrimination under Title VII. The District Court of Maryland found that UPS’ policy was not discriminatory and granted UPS’ Motion for Summary Judgment – because no similarly situated comparator was treated more favorably, and the employee could not show UPS’ non-discriminatory reason was pretext. The Fourth Circuit affirmed, and the employee appealed to the Supreme Court.

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More Company Handbook Provisions Are Held Invalid According to the NLRB

E. Jason TremblayE. Jason Tremblay

As previously reported, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has taken a very aggressive approach against employers by requiring them to rescind employee handbook provisions that it deems to be unlawful pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). In the most recent example of such an approach, an NLRB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found in favor of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union against Macy’s Inc. and held that several Macy’s employee handbook provisions unlawfully restricted its employees’ right to communicate and complain about workplace conditions. A copy of the Macy’s Inc. decision is here.

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NLRB General Counsel Provides Guidance on Lawful and Unlawful Employer Rules

E. Jason TremblayE. Jason Tremblay

On March 18, 2015, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) General Counsel, Richard Griffin, issued the “Report of the General Counsel Concerning Employer Rules,” a comprehensive report providing guidance to employers on what the NLRB deems to be lawful and unlawful company handbook provisions and policies. We strongly encourage all employers, union and non-union, to pay close attention to this new guidance from the NLRB.

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NLRB Weighs in on Employers’ Right to Monitor Workplace Communications

E. Jason TremblayE. Jason Tremblay

It has traditionally been understood and recognized that employees do not have an expectation of privacy when using their employer’s computer system and that employers can monitor and control their employees’ emails. However, in light of a recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) in Purple Communications, Inc., 361 NLRB 126 (2014), employers may need to rethink this commonly held belief.

In Purple Communications, the NLRB overruled long-established precedent that employees have no statutory right to use their employer’s email system for Section 7 purposes and held instead that employee use of email for statutorily protected communications on nonworking time must be presumptively permitted by employers that give employees access to their email systems.

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Limitations Period For Bringing Discrimination and Retaliation Claims May Be Contractually Shortened

E. Jason TremblayE. Jason Tremblay

A recent case from the Northern District of Illinois, Lugihibl v. Fifth Third Bank (Case No. 13 CV 7193, March 16, 2015, Kennelly, M.), held that Title VII and ADEA limitations periods can be contractually shortened under certain circumstances, despite the general 300-day limitations to bring such claims in Illinois.

In Lugihibl, a bank employee brought sex and age discrimination and retaliation claims against his employer after he was discharged. While the discharged employee filed his EEOC charge within the 300-day period allowed in Illinois, he filed it after the six-month (or 180-day) period that he contractually agreed to in his incentive compensation agreement for bringing such claims. Specifically, the incentive compensation agreement stated that the employee would not commence an employment-related action “[m]ore than six months after the termination of Employee’s employment, if the action or suit is related to the termination of Employee’s employment,” or “[m]ore than six months after the event or occurrence on which Employee’s claim is based, if the action or suit is based on an event or occurrence other than the termination of Employee’s employment.” The discharged employee also contractually agreed to waive any statute of limitations periods that were contrary to this position.

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Cook County Enacts Wage Theft Ordinance with Serious Consequences for Employers

Arnstein & Lehr Attorney Megan TothCook County recently became the largest county in the nation to pass a “wage theft” ordinance that will have significant consequences for employers that are located in, contract with, or do business in Cook County. Effective May 1, 2015, qualifying employers found in violation of any state or federal wage-payment laws within the past five years may face business license denial or revocation, be denied or lose existing contracts with Cook County, and face enormous property tax liability.

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Chicago to Raise Its Minimum Wage

TremblayJason_web

E. Jason Tremblay

On December 2, 2014, the Chicago City Council followed several other municipalities around the country and approved an ordinance to raise the minimum wage. Effective July 1, 2015, Chicago employers of all sizes will be required to pay a minimum hourly wage of $10.00 (from its current $8.25 per hour) with successive increases to $13.00 per hour by July 1, 2019. Specifically, the minimum wage increases will be as follows:

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“Ban the Box” is Coming to Illinois

Jason Tremblay

Illinois has become the 5th U.S. state to prohibit inquiries about criminal history on initial applications from most private sector jobs. Commonly known as “ban the box” legislation, the “Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act” requires private employers or employment agencies in Illinois who employ at least 15 employees to evaluate an applicant’s skills and qualifications before inquiring into the applicant’s criminal history. While asking about criminal history is not prohibited, employers are prohibited from making inquiries into criminal backgrounds and convictions until later in the interviewing process. Specifically, an employer or employment agency cannot “inquire about or into, consider, require disclosure of the criminal record or criminal history of an applicant until the applicant has been determined qualified for the position and notified that the applicant has been selected for an interview….or, if there is not an interview, until after a conditional offer of employment is made to the applicant….”

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Joel Hurwitz quoted in Law360 regarding real estate legislative and regulatory issues

Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Joel M. Hurwitz

Arnstein & Lehr Chicago Partner Joel Hurwitz was quoted in a January 1 article, “Real Estate Regulation And Legislation To Watch in 2014.” The article provides an overview of the biggest legislative and regulatory issues real estate attorneys will be keeping a watch on in 2014.

To read the article in full, please click here.

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Robert E. McKenzie writes on common tax mistakes and Swiss tax evasion issues

Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Robert E. McKenzie

Arnstein & Lehr Chicago Partner Robert E. McKenzie was quoted in two recent articles, one dealing with common tax mistakes and the other with tax evasion issues in Switzerland. The first article, “Avoid These 10 Common Tax Mistakes,” was published on January 2 in The Fiscal Times. The article discusses 10 common mistakes that are made when people begin to prepare their 2013 tax returns, such as completing taxes by hand or waiting too long to begin to file. To read the article in full, please click here. The second article was published in a Swiss newspaper, Le Matin Dimanche. It discusses tax evasion issues with Swiss banks Leumi, Mizrahi and Hapoalim.

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