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Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place: #MeToo Movement Creates Challenges for Directors

The #MeToo movement continues to make headlines across the globe, toppling more than 200 powerful U.S. company leaders in entertainment, media, sports and a variety of other industries.  According to EEOC reports, sexual harassment charges have increased by 14% and EEOC-filed lawsuits asserting harassment have increased by 50%.  Larger amounts of cash are being paid to settle harassment suits, and those amounts may be minor compared to the reputational damage of being tried in the court of public opinion.

Directors have long grappled with how to oversee company “culture” and employee behaviors.  Now many boards find themselves wedged between a rock and a hard place, as they struggle to balance the need for swift action when a complaint is made versus the need for appropriate due process rights for the accused.

Boards increasingly are expected to investigate stale and non-actionable claims and off-duty conduct.  They are also expected to treat

Meet the CCPA: New Privacy Rules for California Employees

Employers with operations in California should be aware of the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), a new privacy law that applies to data collected about California-based employees.   HR professionals should be aware that, although the CCPA refers to “consumers,” as currently drafted the CCPA’s definition of a “consumer” will apply to California-based employees.

Which employers will have to comply with the CCPA?

Employers with employees in California will need to comply with the CCPA if their business falls into one of the following three categories:

  • Their business buys, sells, or shares the “personal information” of 50,000 “consumers” or “devices”;
  • Their business has gross revenue greater than $25 million; or
  • Their business derives 50% or more of its annual revenue from sharing personal information.
  • What are the key implications of having to comply with the CCPA?

    The Employers who have to comply with the CCPA will be subject to the

    DOL: Employers May Not Delay FMLA Designation, Even at Employee’s Request

    It is not uncommon for employees to ask whether they can first use paid time off available under the employer’s leave policies and “save” their unpaid – and protected – Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave entitlement until later, in the event that they need additional leave.  Some employers permit this approach, perhaps out of a desire to be “generous” to employees with respect to leave, or sometimes inadvertently due to not realizing that paid leave and unpaid FMLA leave can run concurrently, or even because of a failure to recognize at the beginning of an employee’s leave that the FMLA applies.

    In an opinion letter issued on March 14, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) took a firm stand against this practice, stating unequivocally that “the employer may not delay designating leave as FMLA-qualifying, even if the employee would prefer that the employer delay the designation.” 

    NYC Lactation Policies Going into Effect on March 18, 2019

    In October 2018, the New York City Council passed two bills, Int. 879-2018 and Int. 905-2018, to supplement existing federal and state laws concerning lactation accommodation policies in the workplace.  Currently, New York State Labor Law Section 2016-c  mandates employers to provide employees with a reasonable number of breaks; and a private sanitary space, other than a restroom, with a chair and flat surface on which to place the breast pump and other personal items, to express breast milk during the workday.

    Effective March 18, 2019, Int. 879-2018 requires NYC employers, with four or more employees, to provide lactation rooms[1] with an electrical outlet, as well as refrigerators, in reasonable proximity to work areas, for the purposes of expressing and storing breast milk.  Those employers who cannot provide a lactation room, as required under the new law because of undue hardship, are required to

    U.S. Department of Labor Proposes Changes to Minimum Salary for Overtime Exemptions

    March 11, 2019

    Categories

    On March 7, 2019, the United States Department of Labor issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would change the minimum salary levels necessary for an employee to be properly classified as exempt from the overtime compensation requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Under the proposed rule, the minimum salary for most exemptions would rise from $455 per week ($23,660 annualized) to $679 per week ($35,308 annualized).  The minimum annual compensation for the “highly compensated employee” exemption would rise from $100,000 to $147,414.

    For employees in the executive, administrative and professional exemptions, the proposed rule would permit nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to ten percent (10%) of the required minimum salary.  In addition, provided that the employee has received at least ninety percent (90%) of the required minimum compensation in each payroll week for 52 weeks, the employer would be permitted to make a

    Top bankers without termination protection?

    January 31, 2019

    Categories

    The Brexit Transition Act (“Brexit-StBG/Steuerbegleitgesetz” – The Act) will allow banks in Germany to terminate the employment of their high paid employees without following the usual strict requirements of German labor law. The Act is still under discussion within the German parliament. This blog provides an overview of the proposed simplification of termination protection.

    A potential consequence of Brexit is that financial institutions currently based in London may look to relocate to other European financial centres. In Germany, this has led to a discussion around concerns that the German financial metropolis Frankfurt was facing a major disadvantage against competing cities such as Paris, Zürich and Barcelona.  German Employment protection laws were at the top of the list of concerns. In particular, the key issue was how employers would be able to terminate the employment of high paid (investment) bankers under strict German labor laws?

    The solution proposed is not surprising:

    Ninth Circuit Issues Important Decision in Domino’s Website Accessibility Action

    January 23, 2019

    Categories

    As businesses continue to face lawsuits and demand letters alleging that their websites are inaccessible to blind and deaf patrons in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), courts across the country continue to weigh in on the issue.

    Click here to read the recent article posted on our Retail Law blog.

    Recharacterization of the Relationship Between a Delivery Driver and a Digital Platform as an Employment Agreement

    In a judgment dated 28 November 2018, the French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) ruled for the first time on the characterization of the agreement between a delivery driver and a digital platform. The French Supreme Court granted the status of employee to a former delivery driver of Take Eat Easy.

    The French Court of Appeal had rejected the employee status because, among other things, the driver remained free each week to determine the time slots during which he wished to work. The French Supreme Court considered, basing itself on objective elements, that the “geo-tracking system which enabled the company to monitor in real time the position of the driver and the number of kilometers covered by him” allowed the company to sanction the driver (via a bonus and malus system). It therefore ruled that the existence of a power of direction and control over how the driver provided his

    New French Measures Affecting Employees and Employers Following Yellow Vest Demonstrations: Exemptions for 2018 Exceptional Bonus and 2019 Overtime

    January 7, 2019

    Categories

    French Parliament passed a bill last December 21, 2018 introducing urgent economic and social measures to improve employees’ purchasing power.

    One measure concerns the payment of an exceptional bonus of up to 1,000 euros net, exempted from social contributions and income tax, to employees earning up to 3 times the yearly minimum wage. Another is an exemption from certain social contributions and from income tax for any overtime worked as from January 1, 2019.

    The exceptional bonus measure concerns those employees that earn up to three times the minimum wage and is capped at 1,000 euros. The bonus must be paid between December 11 and March 31, 2019. Existing bonuses or those provided by employment agreements, company practices, collective or company labor agreements, and planned salary increases cannot benefit from the exemptions.

    The amount of this bonus may only vary according to the level of remuneration, employee classification, effective presence

    Alambret publishes article on the decrease of litigation cases before the labor court in France.

    Recent figures issued by the French ministry of Justice point out a decrease of litigation cases before the labor court. What are the reasons of such a trend? The French government outlines the positive impact of the Macron’s reforms. On the other hand, Unions replied that now the employees renounce to claim before the labour court. What are the reasons of this decrease? Could you link it or not to political measures?

    Francois Alambret recently published an article regarding this subject on Focus RH, a website dedicated to labor and employment topics and specifically to HR directors or managers. Click this link to read it.

    https://www.focusrh.com/strategie-rh/organisation-et-conseil/saisir-les-prud-hommes-est-devenu-plus-complique-31482.html

     

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