Attorney General Jeff Sessions on October 4, 2017 issued a memorandum to all US Attorneys signaling a change in the previously articulated position of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ)  on transgender employment discrimination.  The memorandum, entitled Revised Treatment of Transgender Employment Discrimination Claims, states that in pending and future cases, the DOJ will take the position that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not provide protection against discrimination based on gender identity.  Sessions concedes that some federal courts have interpreted the law differently, and advises his US Attorneys to preserve the issue for “further review” or appeal.

Continue Reading DOJ Changes Course on Transgender Discrimination

In a brief court filing on Tuesday, the Trump Administration dropped its appeal of the injunction preventing the Obama Administration’s new overtime rule from going into effect.

The new overtime rule, which was supposed to have gone into effect last December, would have raised the “salary level test” for executive, administrative, and professional workers from $455 per week to $913 per week.  Continue Reading Overtime Rule Update: Trump Administration Drops Its Appeal

Photo: Governor Charlie Baker (Public Domain)

Last week, Governor Baker signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act into law, which guarantees greater protections for pregnant women and nursing mothers in the workplace.  The bill had unanimously passed in both the House and Senate.  The law prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee because of pregnancy or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child and from denying these employees a reasonable accommodation when it would not cause the employer undue hardship.

Please click here for a more detailed discussion of the law.

The law will take effect on April 1, 2018.  Employers should start reviewing their current policies now in order to make the necessary revisions to comply with the law.

Our April 5, 2017 post highlighted a decision of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals finding that Title VII protections against discrimination on the basis of gender extend to sexual orientation.  That court referenced US Supreme Court decisions such as the 2015 same sex marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges, in concluding that “[t]he logic of the Supreme Court’s decisions, as well as the common-sense reality that it is actually impossible to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without discriminating on the basis of sex, persuade us that the time has come to overrule our previous cases that have endeavored to find and observe that line.”

Continue Reading Department of Justice Contradicts EEOC in Sexual Orientation Discrimination Case

A few weeks ago, the Department of Labor filed a brief with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in which it backed away from the $913 per week salary level test set in the 2016 amendments to the FLSA overtime rules.  In that brief, the DOL stated that it would soon publish a request for information seeking public input to be used by the DOL in drafting a new proposed overtime rule.

Continue Reading DOL Issues Request for Information on Changes to Overtime Rules

In a highly-anticipated decision issued yesterday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a suit filed by a woman who was fired because of her off-duty use of medical marijuana.  The SJC held that the woman’s claims for disability discrimination under the Massachusetts antidiscrimination statute, G.L. ch. 151B, could go forward.

Continue Reading Massachusetts High Court Reinstates Suit by Employee Fired for Off-Duty Medical Marijuana Use

On July 17, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) released an updated version of the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. This updated version will replace the most recent form from late January of this year. Employers will have the option to use the updated form (Rev. 07/17/17 N) or continue using the previous Form I-9 (Rev. 11/14/2016 N) during a 60 day grace period, until September 17, 2017. Beginning September 18, 2017, employers will be required to use the updated form for the initial employment verification of all new hires, as well as any applicable employment re-verifications.

Continue Reading USCIS Releases Updated I-9

On July 5, 2017 Washington became the latest state to enact some form of paid family and medical leave. The new law goes into effect in January 2020 and will provide employees with up to twelve (12) weeks per year of paid family leave for the following purposes:

• The employee’s own serious health condition;
• Care of a family member with a serious health condition;
• Care of a child new to the family following birth, adoption or placement in foster care; or
• For qualifying exigencies due to a family member’s deployment to active duty in the US Armed Forces. Continue Reading Washington State is Latest to Enact Paid Family Leave Legislation

Last November, a Federal District Court Judge in Texas issued a nationwide injunction preventing changes to the overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) from going into effect. Among other things, the new rules would have modified the so-called “salary level test,” such that an employee would need to make at least $913 per week in order to fall under the executive, administrative, and professional exemption (the “EAP exemption”). In the months that have passed since the injunction went into effect, there has been great uncertainty about the future of the new overtime rules. However, a brief filed by the Department of Labor on June 30 in its appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit sheds some light on the Trump Administration’s plans for the overtime rules. Continue Reading DOL Defends Its Authority to Establish a Salary Level Test under the FLSA, but Backs Away From the Amount Set in 2016 Rule