Wyatt Employment Law Report


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


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


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Worksite Immigration Enforcement

By Glen Krebs

Seven months ago, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) Deputy Director Thomas Homan issued a directive that called for increased worksite enforcement investigations to ensure U.S. businesses maintain a culture of compliance.  ICE recently announced that the agency’s Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) has already doubled the amount of ongoing worksite cases this fiscal year compared to the last fully completed fiscal year.

From Oct. 1, 2017, through May 4, 2018, HSI opened 3,510 worksite investigations; initiated 2,282 I-9 audits; and made 594 criminal and 610 administrative worksite-related arrests, respectively.  In comparison, for the entire 2017 fiscal year – from October 2016 to September 2017 – HSI Continue reading


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Workplace Romances: Avoiding Liability from Office Secrets

By Sean G. Williamson

Spring has sprung.  The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming.  And some of your employees may be in the midst of budding romances – or continuing longtime relationships.  A recent employee survey by Namely highlighted the prevalence and secrecy of office romances.¹ Forty percent (40%) of Namely’s survey respondents indicated that they had engaged in an intimate relationship with a coworker.  However, less than 5 percent of all respondents stated that they would tell Human Resources if they were involved in a workplace relationship.  Even if an employer’s policy required employees to report relationships to HR, only 42 percent said they would comply.  (That 42 percent seems optimistically high, given the mere 5 percent of respondents who indicated they would tell HR in the first place.)

The take away – which may come as no surprise – is that employees have Continue reading


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The Sixth Circuit Rules an Employer Violated Title VII by Terminating its Transgender Employee

By R. Joseph Stennis, Jr.Business people walking together in the city

On March 7, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed a district court decision and ruled in favor of a transgender employee who claimed she was terminated by her employer based on her sex pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Aimee Stephens, formerly known as Anthony Stephens, worked as a funeral director at R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc.  The funeral home had a dress code policy, requiring male employees to wear suits and female employees to wear skirts and business jackets.  The funeral home provided free suits to the male employees, but did not (at least initially) provide female employees with any clothing to comply with the company’s dress code policy.  Stephens informed the funeral home that she would be transitioning from male to female and therefore would begin to dress to be in compliance with the company’s dress code for females.  Shortly thereafter, Continue reading