On October 22, 2013, the United States District Court in Boston issued a decision discussing who is the “employer” in a multi-party employment situation. The case, Blanco v. United Comb and Novelty Corporation, involves allegations that employees were not properly paid overtime and is discussed below.
What You Need To Know. Obtaining labor through a staffing company or through a separate corporate entity will not shield you from wage and hour violations involving the people who do your company’s work. Even if a company is not technically responsible for the wage and hour violation as an employer, the company may be held responsible for aiding and abetting if it is aware that workers are not being paid their proper wages. Accordingly, a company should make sure all workers performing services for it are being properly paid under state and federal wage and hour laws.
In the case, Isidoro Blanco worked for United Comb through a staffing agency. Blanco brought suit against multiple companies alleging violation of state and federal wage laws. Continue reading →
The Massachusetts Appeals Court issued a ruling on October 18, 2013. that an employee could not collect worker’s compensation for a stress injury arising from a workplace investigation. The case, Upton’s Case, is discussed below.
What You Need To Know. Done correctly, an investigation into employee misconduct that causes an employee to leave work with a stress related injury will not support a workers’ compensation claim. However, a poorly handled or abusive investigation, could be the basis for a claim. So, before beginning an investigation into employee misconduct, you should review the matter with counsel to ensure your plan and methods are acceptable.
On October 7, 2013, the United States District Court in Massachusetts issued a ruling discussing the potential problems associated with hiring your defense lawyer to perform investigations into employee misconduct. The case of Koss v. Palmer Water Departmentis discussed below.
What You Need To Know. If you want to conduct an investigation into employee misconduct. You need to bring in an independent investigator as opposed to your regular defense counsel. Because the investigator could be called as a witness at a subsequent trial and ordered to turn over all his or her work papers, you don’t want your defense lawyer conducting the investigation, testifying as a witness, and being barred from representing you.
The Palmer Water Department received a sexual harassment complaint brought by one of its employees. If that happened to you, what to do? Continue reading →
On October 9, 2013, the First Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling discussing employee rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). The case, McArdle v Town of Dracut, is discussed below.
What You Need To Know. Always verify an employee’s eligibility for FMLA before granting leave but make sure you don’t retaliate against an employee who request leave or inquires about leave even if the employee is not eligible for FMLA leave. Continue reading →
Here is a great example of how management’s poor planning (and stupidity) can really help an employee’s lawsuit against the company. The court decision discussed, (Hollingsworth v Sheriff’s Office of Winn Parish, was issued on October 3, 2013.
What You Need to Know. The key lesson from this case is that employers need to think through the reasons for a termination before taking action, provide terminated employees with accurate explanations for the termination, and make sure the companies actions remain consistent with that explanation even after the termination is complete. Do not lie to an employee about a termination because, as you will see below, the lie could come back to bite you in court. Continue reading →