Employment Law

Victory for Transgender Rights in Minnesota

November 18, 2016 - This week, a Minnesota court declared that transgender patients could not be denied medical assistance or Minnesota Care benefits for medically necessary treatment, including transition-related services. This is an important victory for transgender Minnesotans who have been denied benefits and necessary medical treatment and recognizes their right to these benefits, as well as fair and equal treatment under the law. Further, this decision is significant for its recognition of transgender persons as a suspect classification deserving of strict scrutiny in constitutional analysis.

Flowers Foods Distributors Win in New England, New York

On November 7, 2016, Flowers Foods distributors in New England and New York won conditional class certification in their wage and hour case against the company. The decision means that any distributor of Flowers Foods and its subsidiaries, LePage Bakeries and CK Sales, who worked for the company in five New England states and portions of New York in the past three years will have an opportunity to join the lawsuit. This is the latest in a series of victories for distributors who, earlier this year, scored similar wins in North Carolina and Arizona.

Whistleblowers and Defective Medical Technology

Employees at medical device, biotech and pharmaceutical companies are often in the best position to report problems related to medical technology, especially when the products are known to cause harm. Unfortunately, many employees are afraid to come forward for fear of retaliation.

Whistleblower Retaliation and the Wells Fargo Scandal

The Wells Fargo fraud case is now a widespread national scandal, as several employees allege they were fired for reporting company misconduct and systemic and deceitful sales tactics. High-pressure environments drove many employees to create fraudulent accounts to meet sales targets, leading to nearly 5,300 employees being fired for ethics violations. If evidence supports these allegations, then the case for retaliation is clear amidst one of the largest bank fraud schemes in history.

New EEOC Retaliation Guidelines Issued as Claims Increase

Reporting misconduct, filing a claim related to harassment or discrimination, or making a complaint against your employer can often result in an act of retaliation. This could mean demotion or job loss, but there are also more subtle acts of retaliation that can negatively impact your experience in the workplace. The EEOC recently issued new guidelines that help to outline and clarify how the agency enforces retaliation statutes.

Start-Up Helps Employers Stalk Your Social Media

Facebook and other social media accounts are routinely screened by human resources departments making hiring decisions or to check up on employees. Despite privacy concerns, recruiters and employers see Facebook as fair game when screening job candidates. For many employers the process of accessing social media accounts can be a slippery slope, but a new start-up called The Social Index has built a tool that helps employers streamline the search and screen process to stalk your accounts.

Rise of Religious Discrimination at Work Addressed by EEOC

Religious freedom has recently been claimed to justify acts of discrimination in both the public and private spheres—from refusing service to legislative acts in the name of religion that deny the rights of individuals. Unfortunately, unfounded fears, stereotypes, and prejudices have led to harassment and discrimination in the workplace. The EEOC has recognized the underlying tensions and the very real impact in the workplace and has issued a fact sheet to help employees understand their rights and prevent religious discrimination.

EEOC Highlights Employee Rights Regarding Employer Wellness Programs

A growing number of employers have been using employee wellness programs to track the fitness and health of employees while offering certain perks and benefits. At first glance, these employee wellness programs may seem like a positive way to motivate employees and promote healthy living. However well-intentioned, such wellness programs have also shown to discriminate and cost some employees certain benefits resulting in violations of federal privacy and anti-discrimination laws.

Landmark Minneapolis Sick Time Ordinance Protects Workers

Without paid sick time, employees are more likely to force themselves into the workplace even when they should be at home in bed. In other instances, workers must choose between caring for a loved one or going to work. Currently, four out of 10 workers in the city of Minneapolis do not have access to paid sick time. A landmark ordinance was approved recently giving paid sick and safe time for the majority of workers within the Minneapolis city limits.

Flowers Foods Faces DOL Compliance Review

Flowers Foods, Inc. will face a compliance review by the U.S. Department of Labor concerning the company’s employment practices, including its classification of bakery products distributors as independent contractors. The Labor Department’s review follows a wave of class action lawsuits brought by distributors against Flowers Foods under the Fair Labor Standards Act for misclassifying them as independent contractors rather than employees.

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