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Macron’s Reforms

Macron’s Reforms

June 8, 2017

Authored by: François Alambret

Emmanuel Macron was elected one month ago promising to reform France’s employment regulations. It’s too early to determine if Mr. Macron will succeed in opening up the French labor market and much will depend on the result of parliamentary elections that will be held in mid-June 2017. However, what are the main reforms that have been proposed by Mr. Macron?

Click here to read the Alert in full.

Bryan Cave LLP has a team of knowledgeable lawyers and other professionals prepared to help employers assess the French labor market. If you or your organization would like more information on this or any other employment issue, please contact an attorney in the Labor and Employment practice group.

Mass Dismissal Filings in Germany – Be Aware

June 8, 2017

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Successful restructuring measures in Germany, the more so if they result in RIF (reduction in force) proceedings, require very careful preparation, close observation of strict deadlines as well as very diligent processes with regard to works council information and consultation procedures.

In the event that the number of affected staff exceeds the collective dismissal filing requirements, extra care is essential in particular for larger entities and globally operating employers: any formal mistakes by them will result in the terminations being null and void. To make things worse, by the end of last year the German Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit/ the Agency) introduced new forms and spreadsheets for German employers to fill in and file with the Agency prior to implementing any terminations in the course of mass dismissal.

The relevant dismissal/ termination thresholds for notification of the Agency in the event of mass dismissals – within 30 calendar days – are:

Number of staff                                Planned Layoffs

21-59                                                   more than 5 employees

60-499                                                more than 25 employees or 10%

500 or more                                       at least 30 employees

In RIF scenarios of the aforementioned size, the employer must notify the Agency prior to giving notice

Avoiding Three Common Mistakes Made By Employers When Terminating Employees (Part 3 of 3)

Common Mistake No. 3: Poor Drafting of Termination Letters

This post continues the discussion of common errors made by employers terminating employees which can be easily avoided.

As a general rule, an employer may terminate an employee for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason, just not for an illegal reason. Moreover, in most (but not all) states, an employer is not required to provide an employee with the reason for the employee’s termination. Although there are different schools of thought on the subject in light of the broad latitude given to employers in most states, I typically recommend including the reason(s) for the employee’s termination in the termination letter. In my experience, the termination of an employee without providing a reason usually strikes an employee as fundamentally unfair and increases the likelihood of the employee seeking advice from an attorney (which, in turn, increases the likelihood of a lawsuit being filed by the terminated employee).

In drafting termination letters, the most common mistake that employers make is not including all of the reasons for the employee’s termination in the termination letter. This does not mean that the termination letter should be long and detailed. To the contrary, it should be short and use broad terms that encompass all of the reasons for the employee’s termination without including unnecessary detail. In order to understand the rationale behind this recommended approach, a brief discussion of the employee’s burden of proof in attempting to defeat an employer’s motion for summary

Employers Should Accept Resignations As Soon As Possible

Although an employee can claim constructive termination, it is always beneficial for an employer to accept, as soon as possible and in writing, an employee’s resignation.  By doing so, the employer creates a clear record that an employee was not fired and limits the potential claims which an employee can assert against the employer.

This point was recently illustrated in Featherstone v. Southern California Permanente Medical Group.  In that case, the ultimate issue was whether a resignation is an “adverse action” under California’s anti-discrimination law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act.  In that case, Ms. Featherstone tendered her resignation on December 23, 2013, and it was immediately accepted.  The court recognized that general contract rules apply to resignations and that “a resignation is an offer which may be withdrawn prior to its acceptance.”  In that circumstance, however, though Ms. Featherstone subsequently tried to rescind her resignation, the court held that she was no longer able to rescind the resignation (which was an offer) because it had already been accepted.

Of equal importance, the court held that the refusal of the company to allow Ms. Featherstone to rescind her resignation was not an “adverse employment action” and, therefore, she had no claim under the Fair Employment and Housing Act for discrimination and/or retaliation because both such claims require an adverse employment action.

Take Aways:

  • An employer should accept an employee’s resignation as soon as possible and in writing;
  • Not every perceived wrong by an employee constitutes an adverse employment action

Avoiding State Law Pitfalls (Part 3 of 4)

May 29, 2017

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This is the third hypothetical in our series showing how well-intentioned employers can violate unfamiliar state laws.

Scenario #3

The manager of a restaurant in Hartford, Connecticut calls you regarding an outspoken cook who frequently expresses his views on controversial topics. All of the cooks discuss a broad range of topics while working, and these discussions do not interfere with their performance. Nevertheless, the manager has advised the cook that he should be careful about offending others with his views on sensitive topics. The cook responds that this is America, and he has a constitutional right to say whatever he wants. The manager asks you whether this is true. You correctly advise the manager that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not apply to private employers. Rather, federal constitutional rights only come into play if there is some form of “state action.” The next time the cook expresses his view on a controversial topic, the manager fires him.

Result

The employee files suit under Connecticut state law which prohibits the discipline or discharge of an employee for exercising his or her rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. See Conn. Gen. Stat. §31-51q. The employee prevails. In addition to reinstatement, the employee is awarded his attorneys fees, back pay, and $1 million in punitive damages by a jury that was offended by the Company’s attempt to suppress the cook’s right to free speech.

If you have any questions about this state law or have any other

Mandatory Paid Sick Leave for Arizona Employees: How Proposition 206 Impacts Your Business

After surviving a legal challenge rejected by the Arizona Supreme Court, Arizona’s $10 minimum wage enacted under Proposition 206 is already in effect, and the sick leave portion of the law takes effect in July. For many companies, this will require new paid time off and sick leave policies, or at least revisions to their existing policies.

With enactment of Proposition 206, Arizona joins other states with sick leave laws, including Illinois, California, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. As previously reported by the Bryan Cave Retail Law blog, the Illinois law took effect in January 2017.

The Arizona law generally applies to all Arizona employees; it makes no distinction between salaried, hourly, full-time, part-time, temporary or seasonal employees. All employees must accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.

Paid sick leave can be used for medical care of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition of the employee or their children, spouse or registered domestic partner, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, or any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship. Paid sick leave cannot be used, however, to bond with a new child or for grief and recovery following a family member’s death.

Employers cannot ask the reason for taking paid sick leave unless three consecutive days off are requested, in which case they can request documentation that the leave was requested for permitted reasons.

Bryan Cave attorneys

OSHA Indefinitely Postpones Electronic Submission of Injury and Illness Records

May 26, 2017

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We’d like to share with our readers a recent Client Alert from the Bryan Cave OSHA Industry Team providing notice to clients that an upcoming July 1, 2017 deadline for submission of injury and illness logs to OSHA has been delayed by the Trump Administration.  The alert also contains some additional commentary on related injury/illness recordkeeping requirements.

https://www.bryancave.com/en/thought-leadership/osha-indefinitely-postpones-electronic-submission-of-injury-and.html

Bryan Cave LLP has a team of knowledgeable lawyers and other professionals prepared to help employers assess their obligations. If you or your organization would like more information on this alert or how the new regulations affect your business, please contact an attorney in the Labor and Employment practice group.

House Passes Bill to Reduce Overtime

May 25, 2017

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On May 3, 2017, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1180, Working Families Flexibility Act, a law that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act, to allow employers to give workers paid time off or comp time instead of time-and-a-half overtime pay.  Under the Act, comp time could only be provided in lieu of overtime if it is part of a collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated with the labor organization.  For non-union employees, the employee must have knowingly and voluntarily agreed to the comp time.  There are other conditions such as the employee working a minimum 1,000 hours in a 12-month period before he or she can agree to comp time, as well as limitations, including a maximum accrual of 160 hours of comp time and a mandatory payout of compensation for any unused and accrued comp time by the end of calendar year.  See H.R. 1180 at www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1180/text.

Republicans will need eight Democratic votes in support of the Working Families Flexibility Act to avoid filibuster in the Senate.

We will be tracking the Working Families Flexibility Act.

Bryan Cave LLP has a team of knowledgeable lawyers and other professionals prepared to help employers assess their wage and hour obligations. If you or your organization would like more information on the proposed Working Families Flexibility Act or any other employment issue, please contact an attorney in the Labor and Employment practice group.

France’s Right to Disconnect

May 24, 2017

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Early this year, France enacted a new law concerning the right of French employees to disconnect from digital devices off hours. The intent is to reduce work-induced stress and enable employees to benefit from their rest time at night, on weekends, and during vacation.

On May 9th 2017, Bryan Cave Labor & Employment lawyers Sarah Delon-Bouquet, Federica Dendena, Gary Freer, and Martin Luederitz from four jurisdictions – France, Germany, Italy and the UK – presented a highly attended webinar discussing the recent developments in France and Europe. For those clients operating globally and across various EU jurisdictions, it came as no surprise that there is no uniformity amongst the EU jurisdictions, and each requires individual interpretations that also include a consideration of the differing cultural norms and working practices.

Although there are differences, the following summary can be applied universally:

  • Try to anticipate and plan ahead;
  • Recognize the working culture and expectations of staff across Europe is critical;
  • Apply common sense rules that respect the rights and employees and ensure they are able to retain a healthy work life balance;
  • Avoid court battles with your employees over these topics;
  • Enable your staff to voice their concerns;
  • Listen to raised concerns and work to avoid costly disputes; and
  • Consult your legal advisors if confrontation appears likely.

 

If you would like a copy of Bryan Cave’s presentation, or would like to discuss France’s Right to Disconnect or any other EU jurisdiction, please contact a member of Bryan Cave’s Labor

Reducing Exposure to Attorneys’ Fees Awards Through Use of Rule 68 Offers of Judgment (Part 2 of 2)

May 22, 2017

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This is a continuation of Part 1 https://bclpatwork.com/2017/04/12/reducing-exposure-to-attorneys-fees-awards-through-use-of-rule-68-offers-of-judgment/

The Recommended Form and Content of a Rule 68 Offer of Judgment

The offer of judgment should be in writing and state that the defendant is offering to allow judgment to be taken against it for a specific dollar amount (which typically is no less than the amount of the plaintiff’s lost wages through the date of the offer, filing fees, and other recoverable costs), plus an unspecified amount described as “the reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred by the plaintiff through the date of the offer in prosecuting his claims against the defendant.”

There is risk that the plaintiff will accept offer and a dispute will ensue regarding the amount of the unspecified “reasonable attorneys’ fees” offered. To guard against this, it is advisable to include the following language in the offer of judgment: “The amount of the ‘reasonable attorneys fees’ will be either agreed upon by the defendant and the plaintiff or, in the absence of an agreement, determined by the Court.” It also is a good idea to add the following language to dissuade the plaintiff from seeking judicial intervention to determine the amount of fees at issue: “Pursuant to the terms of this offer, the plaintiff shall not be entitled to recover any post-offer attorneys’ fees that he incurs.” Thus, if the Court is required to determine the amount of pre-offer “reasonable attorneys’ fees,” the plaintiff shall not be entitled to recover the post-offer attorneys fees’ that he incurs in

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