Wyatt Employment Law Report


The Supreme Court of Kentucky Upholds Employees’ Right-to-Work

By Marianna Michael

The Supreme Court of Kentucky has rejected a challenge to Kentucky’s right-to-work law, which prohibits companies from requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition for holding a job.

The relevant provision, codified in KRS 336.130, states:

Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section or any provision of the Kentucky Revised Statutes to the contrary, no employee shall be required, as a condition of employment or continuation of employment, to:

2. Pay any dues, fees, assessments, or other similar charges of any kind or amount to a labor organization.

Kentucky’s AFL-CIO and Teamsters 84 challenged the law. They argued that, pursuant to the Fifth Amendment, the law amounted to an unconstitutional taking from labor organizations that had previously required every worker in a union shop to pay dues, regardless of whether they joined the union. Additionally, they argued that the law was unconstitutional because the Kentucky Constitution prevents lawmakers from passing “special legislation” or laws targeting a specific group or class.

However, both the lower court and the Supreme Court of Kentucky disagreed. The lower court dismissed the case, reasoning that there would be no constitutional taking, since the law was not retroactive and contracts that are currently in existence will remain effective until the contracts expire. Additionally, the court’s opinion distinguished the legislature’s right to create laws and the court’s role in protecting the General Assembly’s ability to legislate. The Supreme Court of Kentucky affirmed the lower court’s ruling.


Stay Cool: Preventing Heat Illness in the Workplace

By Julie Laemmle

breathing-apparatus-dangerous-emergency-36031Heat-related hazards can affect a variety of workers and workplaces.  Without proper employer and employee precautions, exposure to heat can lead to worker injuries, diseases and fatalities; reduced productivity; and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) citations and penalties.  To minimize any health or business risks, employers should be properly educated on the dangers of occupational heat exposure, understand their responsibilities and take appropriate steps to protect workers.

Heat-related illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat rash, heat fatigue and fainting.  Further, all of these illnesses can progress to much more serious conditions and could even lead to death.  Other heat-related risks Continue reading


Sixth Circuit Issues Ruling Regarding Modified Work Schedules

By Amanda Warford Edge

adult-africa-african-1089550 (1)Last week, the Sixth Circuit issued an opinion in Hostettler v. College of Wooster, — F.3d — (6th Cir. July 17, 2018), reminding employers that determining the essential functions of a position is a highly fact-specific endeavor.  In that case, the College of Wooster had hired Heidi Hostettler in 2013 when she was four months pregnant.  She worked as a full-time HR Generalist.  After giving birth to her child, Hostettler experienced severe postpartum depression and separation anxiety.  As a result, her doctor determined it was medically necessary that Hostettler work a reduced schedule, working on a part-time basis for the “foreseeable future.”  After two months of working a reduced schedule, Hostettler was fired for being “unable to return to [her] assigned position of HR Generalist in a full time capacity.”

Hostettler brought suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”)¹,  Continue reading


President Trump Nominates Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court: What Does This Mean for Employment Law?

By Thomas E. Travis

On July 9, 2018, President Trump nominated Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to the Supreme Court.  If confirmed, Judge Kavanaugh will fill the seat recently vacated on July 31 by retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.  Here’s what we know about Kavanaugh and how his appointment to the Court will impact emerging issues in labor and employment law.

Judge Kavanaugh has been a member of the D.C. Circuit for the past twelve years and has an extensive paper trail, especially with respect to reviewing administrative agency determinations.  He is generally perceived as contemplative and precise, with a reputation as a textualist and originalist jurist, meaning that he attempts to interpret legal texts as written and according to their original understandings at the time they were enacted.  The resulting consequence often finds Judge Kavanaugh skeptical of Continue reading


Supreme Court Hands Public Sector Unions Major Setback

By Michelle D. Wyrick

In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 et al., held that non-union members cannot be compelled to pay agency fees to the union, delivering a blow to public sector unions.  In doing so, the Court overruled Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, a 41 year old decision.

Janus involved a dispute between an Illinois state employee, Mark Janus, and a union about whether the union was permitted to collect agency fees from him, even though Janus chose not to join the union and disagreed with many of its public policy positions, including the positions it took in collective bargaining.  Under Illinois law, state employees are permitted to unionize.  If a majority of the employees in a bargaining unit votes to be represented by a union, that union becomes Continue reading


Should Salary History be History? Circuit Court Holds Past Salary History Cannot Justify Unequal Pay

By Sharon L. Gold

In Rizo v. Yovino, the Ninth Circuit Court recently held that an employer cannot use an employee’s prior salary history as a ‘factor other than sex’ upon which a wage differential may be used under the Equal Pay Act.  The EPA prohibits employers from paying women less for the same job unless the difference is based on merit, seniority, quantity or quality of work or the catchall “any other factor other than sex.”  The court held that salary history was not a legitimate factor that was related to the job, and instead, employers should use factors such as experience, training, education or prior performance to set wages.  The en banc decision was unanimous.

This decision comes amid several states banning salary history as a permissible factor upon which to base pay.  According to the Department of Labor, women in the U.S. make on average 82 cents to a dollar of what men make in comparable jobs.  Proponents of banning the “salary history” question claim that Continue reading


Should Your Company “Ban the Box”?

By Lexy Gross

There’s a question on most job applications that will make a candidate sigh in relief or disappointment, with no middle ground: “have you ever been convicted of any misdemeanor, felony, or other crime?”  If you check the “yes” box, you know there’s little chance you’ll get a call back, much less an interview.

Of course, there are variations of this question, but regardless of its form, it’s led to an outcry from activists to “ban the box.”  Former President Barack Obama explained in 2015 that Americans who have paid their debt to society should have better access to a second chance in their job search.  In 2017, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin challenged private employers to ban the box on their job applications after he signed an executive order stopping the practice in state agency hiring.  Some state legislatures and jurisdictions Continue reading