an update for the week of march 27, 2006
today's workplace: the employee rights blog
Would You Riot for Just Cause?: For the last couple of weeks, the nation of France has been shaken by increasingly violent riots, while today (March 27) it faces a national strike by its citizens. What's the big hullabaloo about, anyway? What's remarkable about it is that the rioting has been motivated by a proposed change in the law that would make it less difficult to fire young workers, 26 years of age or less, in their first two years of employment. The French have considered the change such an affront to their national identity that people are taking to the streets in violent protest. Obviously the right to just cause before termination is not nearly as dearly cherished in the United States, since in every state but one, it isn't a right at all. The French riots do make you wonder whether the American public will ever rally against unfair terminations on a national scale to the same extent the French are currently up in arms.
Should Business Execs Meet at Strip Clubs?: Do we even need to ask this question in 2006? Apparently we do, as USA Today reports today that some business executives haven\'t gotten the memo that meeting in strip clubs subjects their firms to liability for sexual harassment and discrimination, and still end up providing strippers with a significant percentage of their income. And to make matters worse, all the fun and hilarity is a tax-deductible business expense. How many millions in disgorged assets will it take for some dummkopfs to learn that having meetings in places where some of your colleagues feel more than a little uncomfortable is a bad idea?
Who's Really a Threat to the American Family?: Surely not Barbara Ehrenreich. But at least one author (whose other employment includes work for the National Review and Fox News Channel) seems to think so. So Ehrenreich, fresh from a trip to Atlanta to see her son, nephew and their respective families, felt compelled to respond, in a funny essay published in Alternet, "Those Corporate Homewreckers." There Ehrenreich deflects the criticism aimed at feminists, and by extension, herself, to focus on just who's keeping working women and men away from their families. You guessed it: corporate America.
this week in the courts
Wedow v. City of Kansas City  (Eighth Circuit; No. 04-1443, 04-1704)
Decision Date: March 24, 2006
Denial of defendant's motions for judgment as a matter of law and denial of equitable relief for plaintiffs following jury verdicts for plaintiffs are affirmed in an employment discrimination suit brought by fire department battalion chiefs asserting discriminatory treatment in clothing and facilities on the basis of their sex, and retaliation.
Chao v. Gunite Corp.  (Seventh Circuit; No. 04-4017)
Decision Date: March 24, 2006
Denial of four Department of Labor citations against a foundry by the Occupational Safety and Health Commission is reversed and remanded with instructions to affirm the citations where the Commission failed to explain why the Secretary failed to satisfy her burden and reached factual conclusions contrary to substantial evidence on record.
Simpson v. Merchants & Planters Bank  (Eighth Circuit; No. 04-3972)
Decision Date: March 20, 2006
Denial of defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law with regards to a jury's finding of a willful violation of the Equal Pay Act is affirmed where there was sufficient evidence for a jury to find that plaintiff was paid less than a male counterpart for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort and responsibility, and a reasonable jury could reject an affirmative defense that the pay differential was based on factors other than sex.
In Re: Household Int'l Tax Reduction Plan  (Seventh Circuit; No. 06-8001)
Decision Date: March 20, 2006
Grant of class action status to an ERISA suit is affirmed where the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the unnamed members of the class to become class members before exhausting their administrative remedies because of the lack of an exhaustion provision in ERISA's language.
Turner v. Hershey Chocolate USA  (Third Circuit; No. 04-4674)
Decision Date: March 20, 2006
Summary judgment for defendant-employer, a candy maker, on an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim is reversed where estoppel did not apply to bar the ADA claim with regards to certain prior submissions of plaintiff for disability benefits, and the district court erred in determining that plaintiff was not a "qualified individual" under the ADA because she could not perform an essential job function.
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