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March 2011 Archives

Taxis may violate Americans with Disabilities Act

How often do you travel by taxi? When you travel by taxi do you think about your ability to get in and out of the automobile? When many of us travel by taxi we probably do not think about the ease with which we can access the vehicle, and we probably do not think about the issue of access when we hail a cab. That perspective reflects the travel needs of people who do not need the assistance of a wheelchair. Now ask yourself the questions from above and think about how many taxis you have traveled in that were not wheelchair-accessible.

Employee wins Fair Labor Standards Act case at Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of an employee in a Fair Labor Standards Act case. The Supreme Court ruled that workers who complain to their employers about wage violations are protected from retaliation whether the complaint is written or oral. The issue in the case was whether the phrase "filed any complaint" from the Fair Labor Standards Act applied to written complaints only. Much of the parties arguments' and the Court's discussion centered on whether an oral complaint could be filed.

Mild stress can lead to long-term disability and need for benefits

Mild stress can cause long-term disability that prevents people from working and therefore causes the need for long-term disability benefits according to a new study. The conclusion of the study conducted by the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom is that the consequences of milder forms of stress should be taken with a straight face.

ABA program helps Labor Department with Wage and Hour Law claims

Every year thousands of employees submit various labor law claims to the Department of Labor. The labor law claims touch on various areas of the law such as Wage and Hour Law violations like overtime and minimum wage problems or family medical leave law violations. Faced with an overwhelming number of complaints, the Department of Labor has teamed with the American Bar Association to create a program that refers labor claims placed with the Labor Department with attorneys in private practice.

FMLA would likely be expanded if Defense of Marriage Act repealed

Under a bill introduced to the United States Senate on Wednesday by Senator Diane Feinstein of California, those who would be protected by the Family Medical Leave Act would be expanded. The Senator's bill would repeal the federal ban on same-sex marriages and as a result same-sex married couples would receive the same benefits under federal law as heterosexual married couples currently receive.

Parents believe school's non-allowance of service animal violates ADA

The parents of a 4-year-old disabled boy who uses the assistance of a service animal have filed a lawsuit against a school district in North Carolina that will not allow the young student to bring his service animal to class. The parents of the 4-year-old say their son cannot learn without the service dog's help and claim in the suit that preventing the dog from attending school with their son is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A continued look at grain bin accidents

During a post last month, we talked about the story of three boys who were trapped in the bottom of a grain bin in Illinois. Two of the boys, a 14-year-old and a 19-year-old died during the accident. An investigation by the United States Labor Department found the owners of the grain bin to have violated child labor laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Since our initial discussion of the case more facts have come to light.

Long-term disability awarded to man with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The Ninth Circuit appeals court ruled that a 47-year-old California man should be awarded long-term disability payments for his extreme case of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The federal appeals court found the insurance company's denial of long-term benefits was "illogical" and "implausible." A federal district court in California ruled in favor of the insurance company, but the Ninth Circuit appeals court reversed the decision.

Pharmaceutical companies lose wage and hour lawsuit

Two pharmaceutical companies, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Schering Corp., were dealt a blow in a federal wage and hour lawsuit that challenged federal overtime law. The United States Supreme Court denied the drug companies' petition to review a ruling made by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which is a federal appeals court that has jurisdiction over the federal district courts of New York, Connecticut and Vermont. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that drug company sales representatives were covered by federal overtime laws.

Does termination disqualify me from unemployment insuraunce benefits?

Probably not. Terminated employees are typically entitled to unemployment insurance benefits. The primary exception to this rule is when the employee is discharged for "misconduct". Misconduct has been defined and redefined as an intentional and substantial disregard of the employer's interests. Employers bear the burden of proving to the State that the employee engaged in misconduct and therefore should not be permitted benefits. The unemployment insurance system is in place to protect employees who lose their job to no fault of their own, but employees who are deemed to have engaged in misconduct are found to be at fault for their own job loss and are therefore disqualified from benefits.

EEOC antiretaliation ruling probably has implications for FMLA

The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that an employee who was fired in retaliation for his fiancé's sex discrimination complaint may sue his employer under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Because the Family Medical Leave Act has a similar antiretaliation provision, family members and fiancées would likely be similarly protected under the FMLA.

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