Business Law - Legal Comment
The author, R. Eddie Wayland, is TCA's General Counsel, and a partner with the law firm of King & Ballow. Mr. Wayland frequently speaks and presents seminars throughout the U.S. on legal topics, including labor and employment issues. He also provides in-house training in these areas. He has twice been selected Chairman of the Labor and Employment Section of the Tennessee Bar Association and was founder and editor of the TBA Labor Letter. Among his publications, Mr. Wayland was co-author for Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Guidebook, and was a contributing author for The Developing Labor Law.
- Recent National Labor Relations Board Developments Update
In recent articles, significant year-end decisions of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were discussed. Specifically, one article concerned the NLRB’s return to the legal standard for the joint-employer analysis that was in place prior to the Browning-Ferris decision.
- Court Finds Employer-Mandated Mental Health Examinations Permissible
Last month, the Chicago-based United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a federal trial court’s decision which held that an employer did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it required an employee to undergo mental health examinations.
- EEOC Prevails in Title VII Lawsuit for Sexual Orientation Discrimination
A current “hot” topic in employment discrimination law is whether sexual orientation discrimination is protected by Title VII. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has taken the position that sexual orientation discrimination falls under the ambit of Title VII’s protection against discrimination based on sex.
- NLRB Changes Test for Evaluating Employer Workplace Policies
This past month, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) voted in a 3-2 decision to change a component of the test it uses to determine whether an employer’s policies in the workplace violate federal labor law. The decision is one of several recent actions reversing or revising rulings from the Obama era that affect employers, as Republican appointees now hold a majority on the NLRB for the first time since the George W. Bush administration.
- Court Finds No Duty to Automatically Reassign Disabled Employee
Recently, a federal district court in South Carolina addressed whether an employer sufficiently offered a disabled employee a reasonable accommodation after the employee was no longer able to fulfill the essential functions of her current position.
- Appeals Court Holds Discrimination Related to Breastfeeding is Protected by the PDA
The federal appeals court based in Atlanta issued a decision in which it held that discrimination related to breastfeeding is protected by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The decision is an important one for employers to be aware of when considering accommodation requests made by pregnant or breastfeeding employees.
- Court Rejects Employer’s No-Break “Flexible Time” Policy
A federal appeals court in Philadelphia recently held that an employer was liable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) for not properly compensating its employees for rest breaks taken under the employer’s new “flexible time” policy. The decision came after an appeal from the trial court’s ruling that the employer violated a U.S. Department of Labor regulation that required breaks of less than 20 minutes to be compensable as working time.
- Court Rules “Totally Disabled” Employee Still Can Be “Qualified” Under the ADA
This past month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a press release on its website regarding a recently-attained settlement in a disability discrimination suit. Under the terms of the settlement, the employer accused of the discrimination agreed to pay $100,000.00 to settle the lawsuit. The settlement comes on the heels of an appeals court decision in the employee’s favor.
- NLRB Finds Employee not to be a Supervisor as defined by the NLRA
In late 2015, a Union filed a petition seeking to represent drivers, dispatchers and safety instructors for a single distribution center that primarily serviced only one customer. Prior to the election, the employer challenged a number of issues related to the election; all challenges were unsuccessful. Approximately two months later an election was conducted via mailed in ballots, and the distribution center employees voted 27 to 1 in favor of joining the Union. After the election was completed, the employer requested the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to review the Acting Regional Director’s decisions on the pre-election issues.
- Court Holds Multi-Month Leave of Absence is Not a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has taken the position that a leave of absence following a return from Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave can constitute a reasonable accommodation.
- Apparent End-of-the-Road for Obama Administration’s Overtime Pay Rule
On August 31, 2017, a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas invalidated the Department of Labor’s (DOL) recent changes to the federal overtime rule, finding the DOL’s broad expansion to the rule went beyond Congress’s original intent.
- Temporary Employee Unable to Establish Claim of Discrimination
In a recent case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, the Court addressed whether an employer’s denial of a temporary employee’s request for an unspecified amount of time off, relating to a recently diagnosed medical condition, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Genetic Information Act.
- Appeals Court Finds Error in the Counting of a Disputed Vote in a Union’s Favor
The federal court of appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently ruled that the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) erred in counting a disputed vote in the union’s favor during a union-representation election. The case provides an interesting look at the law surrounding the counting of disputed votes in union representation elections.
- Court Revises Ruling on Sleeper Berth Issue in Carrier’s Favor
A federal trial court in Nebraska recently revised a previous decision in a case involving the issue of whether time spent by truck driving students in truck sleeper berths needed to be paid by a motor carrier.
- Court Upholds FMCSA’s ELD Rule
It appears that the new ELD rule is here to stay. Per the FMCSA, Carriers and drivers who are using paper logs or logging software must transition to ELDs no later than December 18, 2017. Drivers and carriers should familiarize themselves with the rule and be prepared to be in compliance with it by the end of this year.
- Driver Fails in Fair Credit Report Act Reinvestigation Claim
In this case, the driver, who was no longer employed by the carrier, claimed to have trouble finding employment because of a negative remark on a report concerning his driving record published by a consumer reporting agency. The information for the negative remark was supplied to the consumer reporting agency by the carrier. The driver filed a lawsuit concerning the “reinvestigation” done by the carrier to see if the negative remark was accurate.
- Truck Drivers Found Not Exempt From Overtime Requirements
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals found that two trucking companies’ employees were not subject to the Motor Carrier Act (“MCA”) exemption to FLSA overtime requirements and that the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (“PMWA”) applied. The companies, Fast Rig Support and First Americans Shipping and Trucking, failed to “plainly and unmistakably” show that the exemption applied.
- Trucking Company Secures $3.25 Million for Trademark Infringement
This month, a jury awarded a Wisconsin-based tucking company $3.25 million in damages for trademark infringement, unfair business competition, and other charges against a company that owns the controlling interest in several job-board posting websites related to the trucking industry.
- Court Allows Female Truck Driver's Discrimination Claims to Move Forward
A federal appeals court recently vacated the trial court’s dismissal of a female trucker’s employment discrimination claims, holding that the trucker pleaded facts sufficient to state plausible claims of employment discrimination.
- Effective Interactive Process Results in Dismissal of Truck Driver’s Disability Lawsuit
A federal district court in Illinois recently rejected a truck driver’s allegation that his employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
- Motor Carrier Found Liable for $5,890,338.82 in Lost Pharmaceuticals
A federal court in Ohio ruled that a motor carrier had to pay a freight broker $5,890,338.82 pursuant to the terms of the contract between the parties after the shipment of pharmaceuticals that was being transported by the motor carrier was stolen in Tennessee.
- Court: It’s Not Whistleblowing if You Only Report to the Wrongdoer
Tennessee law protects employees from being fired for “whistleblowing.” In a recent decision by the Tennessee Supreme Court, the Court ruled that a whistleblower must report the misconduct to someone other than the wrongdoer, even when the wrongdoer is the head of the employee’s company.
- Court Rules Interacting With Others is a Major Life Activity Under the ADA
A federal appeals court recently ruled that “interacting with others” is a “major life activity” under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This ruling is significant because it opens the door (even wider) to employees qualifying as “disabled” under the ADA. This case also brings into focus the need for employers to document all disciplinary and performance issues of their employees.