Verrill Dana, LLP

Verrill Dana, LLP is one of New England's preeminent regional law firms. With offices in Portland and Augusta, ME; Boston, MA; Stamford, CT; Providence, RI; and Washington D.C. Verrill Dana provides sophisticated legal representation to businesses and individuals in the traditional areas of litigation, real estate, business law, labor and employment law, employee benefits, environmental law, intellectual property and estate planning.  The Firm also has industry-focused specialties including higher education, health care and health technology, energy, and timberlands. 

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Fashion, Religion & The Supreme Court

Much like your humble blogger, image is everything for teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch. That may be problematic, however, as the U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear an appeal addressing whether the Company’s enforcing its controversial employee dress code, or “look policy,”  constituted religious discrimination.

In 2008, Samantha Elauf, a Muslim, applied for a job at an Abercrombie store in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She wore her hijab or headscarf during the interview. Abercrombie rates applicants on their sense of style (of course they do) and hiring manager, Heather Cooke, initially gave Elauf a score that recommended hiring her. However, after consulting with district manager Randall Johnson about the hijab, Cooke gave Elauf a low score in the “appearance and sense of style” category. (Johnson allegedly told Cooke that employees were not allowed to wear “hats” at work, and declined to hire her, even though Cooke told him that she assumed Elauf wore the scarf for religious reasons.) Cooke also told Johnson that she did not ask about religion during Elauf’s interview, in accordance with EEOC guidelines.

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Manic Monday: Ebola in the Workplace

With all the issues that surround the cases of the Ebola virus in the United States it’s important to remember that protecting employees from the spread of the disease cannot come at the cost of other employee rights. A good article discussing these issues and potential ways to deal with Ebola in the workplace is available here.


Using Outside Counsel When Dealing With Internal Investigations 

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).

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Eighth Circuit “Check-Up” Finds ADEA Violation After Health Insurance Based Lay Off

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.

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The OFCCP Publishes Proposed Rule Prohibiting Pay Secrecy

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.

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Throw-Back Thursday: Mr. Brown is “Losing His Religion”

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.”