Recently the U.S. Supreme Court struck another blow against consumers and employees in the case of Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela. Yet again the Court reasoned backward from the result it wanted to reach and went out of its way to find in favor of a corporate defendant – at the expense of individual citizens – by reading into a contract language that did not exist.
Looking for legal information and resources? If so, take a moment to check out Halunen Law’s Employment blog for articles related to wrongful termination.
Employee misclassification has become a huge problem in the United States. Employers who want to increase profits by not paying withholding and other taxes and escaping liability for workers’ compensation and unemployment claims will often claim that their workers are ‘independent contractors’ or ‘consultants’ (ICs), even though these people perform jobs that go to the heart of the employer’s business. As an example, it has become almost automatic for operators of trucking, courier, and delivery services to use only independent contractor drivers. Why? The answer is simple- they save hundreds, maybe millions, of dollars each year by stiffing workers of benefits like 401(k) matches, insurance coverage, overtime, etc. For many years now companies have largely gotten away with this intentional misclassification by requiring workers to sign agreements with arbitration clauses and class action waivers. When workers challenged misclassification they were required to do it individually, rather than as part of a larger group of workers, and had to submit their claim to an arbitrator rather than a judge (arbitrators often coming from the ranks of lawyers that defend corporations). As a result, it became almost impossible to succeed in these types of cases. However, the tide has finally turned.
In 1986 the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson – its first significant venture into the world of workplace sexual harassment claims. While the decision was critically important in confirming that hostile workplace sexual harassment is unlawful, it also unfortunately made it extremely difficult for workers to hold their harassers accountable for such conduct by imposing upon them a difficult (and often insurmountable) evidentiary burden. Specifically, the Court held that in order for sexual harassment to be actionable, “it must be sufficiently severe or pervasive ‘to alter the conditions of the [victim’s] employment and create an abusive working environment.’”
In 2014, a Minnesota demographic survey conducted on State employees showed that less than 4% self-identified as having a disability. When compared to the presence of employees with a disability statewide and nationwide, 7.9% and 10.5% respectively, it was evident that the State’s workforce did not reflect the diversity of Minnesota’s population of individuals with a disability.
As a result, former Governor Dayton’s office issued Executive Order 14-14, which issued a goal for State agencies to increase employment for people with disabilities to at least 7% by August 2018. Fast forward four years, on August 29, 2018, former Governor Mark Dayton’s office announced that Minnesota met its goal to have 7% of its workforce identified as having a disability. This modest increase of individuals with a disability in the State’s workforce can be attributed in no small part to the implementation of a trial work program, Connect 700.
Ten Things Minnesota Job Applicants Need To Know About Drug & Alcohol Testing Laws
You received a telephone call from a prospective employer, and they want to hire you! You are ecstatic – this is the dream job you’ve always wanted! The employer goes on to tell you that that the “offer of employment is contingent upon you passing a drug and alcohol test.”
You stop dead in your tracks…
…Am I required to submit to the test?
…What if my current medications impact my test results?
…What happens if I do not pass?
…What should I do?
As an immigrant from Bangladesh, Eva Biswas was granted asylum in the United States to escape the persecution, terrorism, and sexual violence she experienced in her home country. But she found life in her new country brought unexpected challenges in the form of the alleged sexual harassment from her workplace supervisor at a national chain store. In her lawsuit, Ms. Biswas alleges her store manager propositioned her for sexual favors in exchange for a promotion. She claims that she told the other managers at her store what happened, but was told to keep it to herself and that she had “misunderstood” what her manager did because she didn’t understand American culture.
Several months ago the New York Times published an article on why the #MeToo phenomenon has become one of the most important movements in the employment law arena.1 Journalist Susan Chira explained the results of a national online survey reporting that an astounding 81% of women and 43% of men had experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault in their lifetimes—including at home, and in their community or workplace. No other survey had reported numbers so high, suggesting that this type of conduct has been under-reported for years. In another survey conducted by the CDC, researchers noted that nearly 1 in 10 respondents reported being sexually harassed in the workplace within the past 12 months—though women, multi-racial individuals and divorced or separated individuals were significantly more likely to say they’d experienced such discrimination.2
Immigration has long been a contentious subject, and we now see media reports nearly every day telling us that the United States has an immigration “problem.” Indeed we do, but it is one that most people never hear about; specifically the physical and sexual harassment, abuse, assaults and rapes perpetrated against the women, men, and even children who are confined to immigration detention centers located across the county.
Data collected by a non-profit advocacy group, Freedom for Immigrants (formerly Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement or CIVIC), and provided to officials at Immigrations and Customs (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), confirms that the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) received at least 1,016 reports of sexual abuse filed by detainees between May 2014 and July 2016- equating to about one complaint of sexual abuse per day.1 In April 2017, CIVIC filed a civil rights complaint with the federal government noting that the abuse and assaults reportedly occur at all points of interaction with detained immigrants, including: during routine searches, medical examinations, and transport to and from the facility and/or hearings.
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