On July 17, 2013, the Supreme Court of New Jersey expanded the state’s already broad Law Against Discrimination (LAD), holding that an employee’s complaints about inappropriate workplace conduct need not identify any specific victim of discrimination or harassment to constitute protected activity. Rather, the court held, complaints about derogatory comments concerning a protected class can support a claim for retaliation under the LAD, regardless of whether those comments were made to or heard by members of the protected class.
Continue Reading New Jersey Supreme Court Expands State Law Retaliation Claims

Starbucks shift supervisors can legally participate in tip-sharing with other store employees, but the coffee chain’s assistant managers have enough managerial responsibility to disqualify them from sharing in customer tips, according to the New York State Court of Appeals.

Starbucks’ policy provides for weekly distribution of gratuities to the company’s two lower ranking categories of employees, baristas and shift supervisors, but not to its two higher ranking categories of employees, assistant managers and store managers. In addressing questions certified by the Second Circuit regarding the validity this policy, the Court of Appeals concluded that since shift supervisors, like baristas, directly serve patrons, they remain tip-pool eligible even if their role also involves some supervisory responsibility. But assistant managers, because they are granted “meaningful authority” over subordinates, are not eligible to participate in the tip pool.Continue Reading New York State Court of Appeals Backs Starbucks Policy on Tip-Pooling

As previously reported, on May 8, 2013, the New York City Council, by a vote of 45-3, passed the Earned Sick Time Act (the “Sick Leave Act”). On June 7, 2013, Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the Sick Leave Act, citing a possible chilling effect on hiring. As expected, on June 27, 2013, the City Council overrode Mayor Bloomberg’s veto by a vote of 47-4, setting the implementation of the Sick Leave Act in motion.
Continue Reading UPDATE: New York City Council Overrides Mayor Bloomberg’s Veto And Enacts The Earned Sick Time Act Requiring Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

As we detailed in a previous blog post (available here), in September 2012, Governor Cuomo signed into law new legislation which permits employers to make additional deductions from employees’ paychecks. Among other things, the bill amended Section 193 of the New York Labor Law to authorize employers to make deductions from an employee’s wages to recover accidental wage overpayments, or to make deductions in connection with repayment of a salary/wage advance. Although the statute became effective on November 6, 2012, under the law, such deductions could only be made subject to regulations to be promulgated by the New York Department of Labor. This guidance came on May 22, 2013, when the Department of Labor published its proposed regulations for wage deductions under Section 193. In addition to addressing the procedures for deductions for overpayments and advances, the proposed regulations also provide clarification on deductions that may be taken “for the benefit of the employee.” The proposed regulations (available here) are currently open for public comment until July 6, 2013, meaning the Department of Labor will likely finalize and then codify its regulations later this summer.
Continue Reading Update: New York Department of Labor Releases Proposed Wage Deduction Regulations

On May 29, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued its opinion in Cuevas v. Citizens Financial Group, Inc. and RBS Citizens, N.A., Case No. 12-2832, reversing the Eastern District of New York’s grant of Rule 23 class certification to a putative class of Assistant Branch Managers (“ABMs”) alleging that they were denied overtime. In a summary order, the Court held that the District Court failed to resolve factual disputes concerning the duties performed by putative class members, which were material to its ability to issue a ruling concerning commonality under Rule 23(a) and predominance under Rule 23(b)(3).
Continue Reading Second Circuit Overturns Class Certification Order in Assistant Branch Manager Overtime Case

On May 8, 2013, the New York City Council, by a 45-3 vote, passed the New York City Earned Sick Time Act which will require employers with 20 or more employees to provide paid sick leave to their employees (the “Sick Leave Act”). While Mayor Bloomberg has stated his intention to veto the Sick Leave Act, the 45-3 vote was more than sufficient to overcome the two-thirds majority needed to override the Mayor’s veto. In passing the Sick Leave Act, New York City has joined Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle as the latest municipality requiring paid sick leave for employees.
Continue Reading New York City Council Passes Act Requiring Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

On February 22, 2013, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan reversed his prior decision that required a plaintiff to seek court approval of a settlement before her action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) could be voluntarily dismissed. In Picerni v. Bilingual SEIT & Preschool, Inc., No. 12 Civ. 4938 (BMC) (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 22, 2013), plaintiff Donna Piscerni sued her employer, defendant Bilingual SEIT & Preschool, Inc., alleging that she was not paid the requisite minimum wage for her work. In October 2012, the defendant made an offer of judgment and the plaintiff accepted the offer. The offer was accepted prior to the initial case management conference with the court, and prior to the defendant filing its answer or appearance. In considering the offer of judgment, Judge Cogan initially declined to enter judgment, citing 29 U.S.C. § 216(c), which gives the Secretary of Labor the right of approval over stipulated settlements in FLSA cases. In light of Judge Cogan’s initial ruling, the plaintiff filed a motion for approval.
Continue Reading E.D.N.Y. Judge Reverses Course: Rule 41 Stipulation of Voluntary Dismissal in FLSA Action Does Not Require Court Approval

By Paul Cowie and Wayne Chang

This article was originally published by The Recorder.

Eagle v. Morgan, 2013-11-4303 (E.D. Pa. 2013), represents one of the first trials on the issue of who owns social media accounts: the individual employee who first created the account or the employer whose business was promoted using the account? In Eagle a company’s founder sued her former employer for the alleged illegal use of her LinkedIn account. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania held that an employer’s conduct, absent a company social media policy, resulted in the torts of unauthorized use of name, invasion of privacy by misappropriation and misappropriation of publicity. The court, however, held the employer not liable for conversion, tortious interference with contract, civil conspiracy and civil aiding and abetting. Lastly, the court rejected the employer’s counterclaims of misappropriation and unfair competition.Continue Reading Who Owns Your Online Persona?

By Travis Anderson and Shannon Petersen

In Flores v. West Covina Auto Group, — Cal.Rptr.3d —, 2013 WL 139200 (Cal.App. 2 Dist. Jan. 11, 2013), the California Court of Appeal extended the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in AT&T Mobility, Inc. v. Concepcion, 131 S. Ct. 1740 (2011) by holding that the Federal Arbitration Act preempts any right to a class action under the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”), and class action waivers in arbitration agreements governed by the FAA are therefore enforceable.Continue Reading Class Action Waivers Are Enforceable Despite Any State Statutory Right To A Class Action

By Robert D. Rose

DOL’s View

Thomas Spinner was a CPA whose firm provided accounting and audit services to a public company. Spinner’s accounting firm was not publicly-traded. A month after being assigned to audit the pubic company, Spinner was removed and fired. As required by S-O-X, he filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA alleging that his termination was the result of his reporting internal control problems at the customer. A year later, in February 2010, OSHA concluded that Spinner was S-O-X protected, but he would have been terminated regardless of his report.Continue Reading S-O-X Protects Only Public Company Whistleblowers, Or Does It?