A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reaffirmed the application of the attorney-client privilege to protect materials generated during the course of internal investigations by corporations, particularly in the context of regulated industries or other businesses which have compliance programs that are mandated by law. The decision is In re Kellogg, Brown & Root, Inc., 756 F.3d 754 (D.C. Cir. 2014).
Last week, the Eight Circuit held that where an employer terminated an employee over the age of 65, allegedly in an attempt to lower health care plan premiums, the employee could state a claim for violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”). Tramp v. Associated Underwriters, Inc., No. 13-2546, 2014 WL 4977396 (8th Cir. 2014). The ruling reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer by the District Court for the District of Nebraska.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to prohibit pay secrecy policies and actions by covered Federal contractors and subcontractors (“Contractors”). The NPRM seeks to implement Executive Order 13665, signed by President Obama earlier this year, by proposing to prohibit pay secrecy policies and practices.
Kozy Kitten Cat Food (if you are unfamiliar a YouTube Video is available here) has affected some of our lives more significantly than others. In 1977, a Southern District of Florida court was faced with the religious discrimination claims of Mr. Stanley Oscar Brown. Mr. Brown claimed that he was discriminated against because of his religion. His Complaint alleged that his employer was interfering with is “‘personal religious creed’ that ‘Kozy Kitten People/Cat Food . . . is contributing significantly to (his) state of well being . . . (and therefore) to (his) overall work performance.’” While not spelled out in the Complaint, our guess is that Mr. Brown himself enjoyed the taste of Kozy Kitten Cat Food. The Court found “Plaintiff’s ‘personal religious creed’ concerning Kozy Kitten Cat Food can be described as . . . a mere personal preference and, therefore, is beyond the parameters of the concept of religion as protected by the constitution or, by logical extension, by 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et. seq.”
Three months ago, we reported on EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., in which a three-judge panel on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit brought by a fired Ford Motor Company employee Jane Harris. In 2011, the EEOC had filed suit on her behalf, alleging that Ford violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to accommodate Ms. Harris' disability and by retaliating against her for filing a charge with the EEOC. A U.S. District Court in Michigan granted Ford summary judgment, however, the Sixth Circuit panel threw out that decision, ruling that Ford had not met its burden of proving that Ms. Harris’ physical presence was an essential function of her job. The Sixth Circuit’s ruling raised potentially significant issues for companies that allow employees to telecommute. (Our prior post on the case can be found here: http://www.hrlawupdate.com/home/2014/6/17/where-do-you-work.html.)
Recently, however, a majority of the Sixth Circuit’s judges voted to rehear the case and the Court issued an Order vacating its prior opinion pending rehearing.
We will continue to follow this case and keep our loyal viewers updated. If you have questions about it, or about any aspect of your company’s telecommuting policy, please contact Verrill Dana’s Labor & Employment Department.