Cozen O’Connor: Employment Litigation

Employment Litigation

Cozen O’Connor’s employment litigation team represents foreign and domestic corporations, small businesses, individuals, nonprofits, trade associations and governments in all types of employment litigation. We defend clients in wage-and-hour, discrimination, sexual harassment, defamation, ERISA, employment benefits, trade secrets, noncompetition, and duty-of-loyalty claims. We appear frequently before federal and state courts, agencies and departments (including the EEOC, DOL, IRS, OSHA, and ICE), and arbitration panels.

Because labor and employment matters are governed by interrelated federal, state, and local laws, every case requires a tailored approach. Cozen O’Connor attorneys investigate the specifics of each matter, determine how the legal issues connect to the business issues, and develop a strategy to achieve success as it is defined by the client. Employment litigation often involves sensitive personal matters and typically occurs in the context of an ongoing employment relationship. Achieving good outcomes requires technical, legal, and interpersonal skill. Our attorneys bring all of those capabilities to their work.

When an investigation or lawsuit is launched, clients need counsel who can help them determine the best strategic approach—not counsel who automatically push to take every litigation to the bitter end. Cozen O’Connor attorneys are known for providing clients with clear and candid advice about all of their options and for resolving matters quickly and amicably. In the event that a situation does become irretrievably adversarial, our team of litigators is fully prepared to go to the mat. We have a track record of success in complex negotiations, mediations, and trials.

 

SERVICE AREAS

  • Investigate employee claims and government inquiries
  • Defend clients against individual and class (collective) action lawsuits
  • Represent employers in suits alleging discrimination and harassment on the basis of age, race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other areas protected under federal, state, and local law
  • Handle cases involving defamation; invasion of privacy; noncompetition agreements; trade secrets; duty-of-loyalty; equal pay; employment benefits; pension and benefit plan fiduciary liability; wage and hour; whistle-blower; retaliation; and wrongful-discharge claims

Experience

Publications

Temperatures Rise for Employers as Requirement for Additional EEOC Pay Data Looms [Alert]

March 13, 2019

Employers in the process of preparing their EEO-1 reports for submission by the May 31 deadline may now be scrambling to comply with additional onerous reporting requirements on short notice after D.C. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan’s decision in National Women’s Law Center v. OMB breathed new life into what was believed to be a defunct revision to the report.

Is A DOL Rule For Portable Device Work Coming? [Law360]

July 23, 2015

Michael Schmidt offers tips to employers to avoid violating the Department of Labor’s recently proposed rule of changing overtime regulations.

EEOC’s Proposed Wellness Regulations Bring Some Clarity and Some Questions [Employee Benefit Plan Review]

July 15, 2015

Debra Friedman discusses the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission’s (EEOC) recently issued notice of proposed rulemaking with respect to employer-sponsored wellness programs, focusing on the interplay between the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Hold Your Breath and Take a Deeper Dive Into the Department of Labor’s Proposed Overtime Rule Changes [Technical Bulletin]

July 13, 2015

David Barron and Jeremy Glenn authored an article concerning the Department of Labor’s proposed changes to the federal overtime rules.

Employer Liability in the Age of Cybersecurity [The Legal Intelligencer]

June 30, 2015

David Walton and Leigh Ann Benson discuss the importance of employers preventing cybersecurity incidents and what the outcome of the Supreme Court case Spokeo v. Robins would mean for class actions brought by their employees.

Trick Or Tweet: The Perils Of Punishing Employee Posts [Law360]

April 02, 2015

In an article titled “Trick Or Tweet: The Perils Of Punishing Employee Posts,” Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses a company’s ability to take some form of employment-related action in response to an employee’s negative social media post while maintaining compliance with guidance of the National Labor Relations Board.

Complaints from Transgender Employees by the EEOC: How Can a Company Prepare & Respond? [HR Advisor]

February 02, 2015

In an article titled ''Complaints from Transgender Employees by the EEOC: How Can a Company Prepare & Respond?'' Jason Cabrera, an associate in Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses how companies should prepare for and learn how to respond to Title VII claims from transgender employees given the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s recent enforcement actions in fall 2014.

Is OSHA About To Ramp Up Its Whistleblower Program? [Law360]

January 23, 2015

In an article titled, ''Is OSHA About To Ramp Up Its Whistleblower Program?'' Debra Friedman, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment Department, discusses the significant challenges employers face when a whistleblower complaint is filed with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and recommends that employers prepare themselves by implementing a whistleblower complaint procedure program.

Minnesota Human Resources Manual [American Chamber of Commerce]

January 20, 2015

Heather Marx, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Commercial Litigation Department, and Kristi Zentner, a member in the Business Law Department, co-authored the “Minnesota Human Resources Manual” for the American Chamber of Commerce. This comprehensive human resources manual explains, in plain English, the duties of the employer during the entire employment process – everything from pre-hire through post-termination. It covers more than thirty primary topics and includes practical advice on what should be done, solid advice on how to do it and a complete explanation of why it is important.

Department of Labor Targeting Oil and Gas Contractors [Breaking Energy]

December 18, 2014

In an article titled ''Department of Labor Targeting Oil and Gas Contractors,'' David Barron, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment Department, highlights the increased scrutiny on employers in the oil and gas industry and offers some important tips for maintaining compliance with wage and hour regulations.

Steps to a Company Party? Eat, Drink and Be Wary [Texas Lawyer]

December 01, 2014

In an article titled “Steps to a Company Party? Eat, Drink and Be Wary,” A. Martin Wickliff, Jr., a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, suggests a number of steps employers should take to minimize potential legal problems when hosting office happy hours and holiday parties.

Pay Transparency: The New Way of Doing Business [Compensation & Benefits Review]

November 18, 2014

In an article titled “Pay Transparency: The New Way of Doing Business,” Debra Friedman, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the federal government’s recent Executive Orders mandating pay transparency for the federal contracting community. This new way of doing business has potentially profound implications for all employers. Companies must be prepared for employees, the federal government and third parties to closely scrutinize their compensation systems and decision-making practices.

Attorney: Halloween parties don't have to be scary for employers [Philadelphia Business Journal]

October 30, 2014

In an article titled “Attorney: Halloween parties don’t have to be scary for employers,” David Walton, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the key steps employers should take to avoid any potential legal headaches that might arise from an office Halloween party.

Internships: Worthwhile Programs or Liability Traps? [New York Law Journal]

October 20, 2014

In an article titled ‘’Internships: Worthwhile Programs or Liability Traps,’’ Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the recent surge in lawsuits brought on behalf of a company’s current (and former) unpaid interns and the steps companies can take in order to avoid such litigation.

OFCCP Announces Proposed Rule on Pay Transparency [Labor & Employment Alert]

September 16, 2014

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has announced a proposed rule on pay transparency, to be published in the September 17, 2014 Federal Register. The proposed rule would implement Executive Order 13665, which prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against applicants and employees for inquiring about, disclosing or discussing pay information. The proposed rule applies to covered federal contracts and subcontracts exceeding $10,000 in value that are entered into or modified on or after the effective date of the final rule. While the proposed rule could change before it is finalized, it is time for federal contractors to consider their policies and practices on pay information.

Paid Sick Leave Now Mandatory in California: What Employers Need to Know Now! [Labor & Employment Alert]

September 11, 2014

On September 10, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. The Act applies to public and most private employers and mandates paid sick leave to workers starting on July 1, 2015. Specifically, California employees will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a total of six paid sick days per year. Because it establishes leave based on the amount of hours worked, the law will cover part-time, temporary and seasonal workers.

5 Things To Consider Before Posting Social Media Policies [Law360]

September 08, 2014

Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, authored an article for Law360 titled, “5 Things To Consider Before Posting Social Media Policies.” The article addresses the need for employers to develop an appropriate mindset when it comes to managing social media use by their employees and creating their social media policies and practices. Michael reviews five common workplace issues and explores the National Labor Relations Board’s position on each.

New Jersey Becomes Latest State to “Ban the Box” [Labor & Employment Alert]

August 13, 2014

On August 11, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed into law the Opportunity to Compete Act, New Jersey’s version of “ban the box.” When the law takes effect on March 1, 2015, companies who employ 15 or more employees will be prohibited from inquiring orally or on a job application about a job applicant’s criminal history until after the employer conducts a first interview. The Act will also prohibit employers from posting job advertisements that exclude applicants with criminal histories from consideration. Employers will be permitted to inquire about an applicant’s criminal history after the first interview. Moreover, employers may still refuse to hire an applicant based upon the applicant’s criminal record, unless that record has been expunged or erased through executive pardon.

Obama Issues Executive Order Scrutinizing Labor Practices of Federal Contractors [Labor & Employment Alert]

August 04, 2014

President Obama does it again, issuing yet another Executive Order aimed at those seeking to do business with the federal government. On July 31, 2014, Obama issued the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which the White House expects to be implemented in stages on new federal contracts valued at more than $500,000, beginning in 2016. This new Executive Order targets three areas: (1) disclosure to the federal government of a prospective contractor’s labor law violations over the three years preceding the contract; (2) disclosure of information necessary for the employees of federal contractors and subcontractors to verify the accuracy of their paychecks; and (3) for those federal contracts or subcontracts with an estimated value exceeding $1 million, a prohibition against the imposition of pre-dispute arbitration agreements covering claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (Title VII), or for torts related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment.

New Employment Protections for LGBT Employees of Federal Contractors, U.S. Government [Labor & Employment Alert]

July 23, 2014

Continuing to use executive authority to act in the absence of Congressional action, President Obama signed an Executive Order on July 21, 2014 that gave new protections against discrimination to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees of federal contractors and subcontractors, and the federal government. (For the federal government, discrimination was already prohibited on the basis of sexual orientation and is now also prohibited on the basis of gender identity.) The new rules relating to federal contractors won’t be effective until additional regulations are issued in the next three to nine months, but the rules relating to employment by the federal government are effective immediately.

Pennsylvania Expands Whistleblower Law to Cover Some Private Employers, Nonprofits [Labor & Employment Alert]

July 16, 2014

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett gave final approval to two bills that drastically expand the scope and enforcement provisions of the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law. Under the amendments, which take effect on August 31, 2014, employees of any business or nonprofit organization that receives public contracts or funding from the commonwealth or its subdivisions will now receive whistleblower protection.

The Latest Do's and Don'ts With Social Media Policies [Bloomberg BNA]

July 15, 2014

In an article published in Bloomberg BNA, Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment Department, advises on the "Do's and Don'ts" of company social media policies and reviews recent NLRB positions on five common workplace issues.

U.S. Supreme Court Doubles Down on Fair Labor Standards Act [The Legal Intelligencer]

July 03, 2014

In an article published in The Legal Intelligencer, Stephen Miller and Kaitlin DiNapoli, attorneys in Cozen O’Connor’s Litigation Department, discuss the U.S. Supreme Court’s exploration of two Fair Labor Standards Act cases that have far-reaching consequences for employers, since back pay, overtime and double damages for employees are on the line. The cases involve the compensability of certain activities—donning and doffing protective gear in the case decided in January and going through a security screen in the new case—that employees must complete to perform their jobs, but are not necessarily the crux of the jobs themselves.

The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby Decision Carries Broad Implications for Employers [Labor & Employment Alert]

July 02, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court this week issued its long-awaited decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., regarding the ability of for-profit corporations to refuse to abide by regulations that require them to provide cost-free contraception to their female employees. The Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, holding that the regulations imposing the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act violated another federal law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Although the Court seemed to emphasize the limited nature of its holding, this case has broad implications for all corporations and all types of government regulations.

Pennsylvania Employers’ FMLA Obligations in Light of Recent Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage [Labor & Employment Alert]

May 23, 2014

This week, Pennsylvania became the 19th state to extend the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples when a federal judge struck down as unconstitutional a 1996 statute defining marriage as “[a] civil contract by which one man and one woman take each other for husband and wife.” The same statute stated that a same-sex marriage entered into in a state recognizing such marriage “shall be void in this Commonwealth.” Governor Tom Corbett’s announcement that he would not appeal the decision cements Pennsylvania’s new status and heralds a new era for Pennsylvania employers. Here is what you need to know in light of this significant change in the law.

Restrictive Covenants in the Internet Age [The Legal Intelligencer]

May 06, 2014

Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor and Employment Department, and Jason A. Cabrera, associate in the Labor and Employment Department, co-authored an article for The Legal Intelligencer titled, “Restricted Covenants in the Internet Age.” The article discusses the impact of social media on restrictive convents.

The Latest From New York City: New Law Prohibits Discrimination Against Interns [Labor & Employment Alert]

April 18, 2014

There are two trends that continue to gain steam in the employment law world: an increase in employee protections by the new Mayor De Blasio administration in New York City, and an increase in employment law claims made by interns. Both trends have come together in a new law affecting New York City employers beginning on June 14, 2014.

President Obama Wields His Executive Power Once Again to Target Federal Contractors on Pay Issues [Labor & Employment Alert]

April 09, 2014

On April 8, 2014, President Obama took two significant actions in the employee pay arena. He signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against their applicants and employees for inquiring about, disclosing or discussing pay information. He also issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to issue new regulations requiring federal contractors to provide compensation data to the federal government, broken down by gender and race.

President Obama Orders the Department of Labor to Modernize Overtime Rules [Labor & Employment Alert]

March 17, 2014

In a White House ceremony on Thursday, March 13, 2014, President Barack Obama signed a memorandum ordering the Secretary of Labor to “propose revisions to modernize and streamline the existing overtime regulations” governing the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Although the president did not direct specific changes, he clearly stated that the goal of any regulatory changes would be to make more workers eligible for overtime pay under federal law. The president’s directive is expected to lead to proposed rules that would require employers to pay overtime to millions of workers who are currently classified as exempt employees.

Understanding State Anti-Discrimination Statutes [HR Magazine]

March 01, 2014

In an article titled “Understanding State Anti-Discrimination Statutes,” Debra Friedman, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses state anti-discrimination statues and how important it is for employers that operate in multiple states to be able to navigate which state’s anti-discrimination statutes apply.

Supreme Court Holds That Items of Protective Clothing Are ‘Clothes’ For Purposes of the FLSA [Labor & Employment Alert]

January 28, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday released its much-anticipated decision in the case of Sandifer v. United States Steel Corporation, and held that Section 203(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) — which allows parties to a collective bargaining agreement to decide for themselves through negotiations whether “time spent in changing clothes … at the beginning or end of each workday” is compensable — applies to articles of protective clothing such as flame-retardant jackets, pants, hoods, snoods, wristlets, leggings, hardhats, work gloves and steel-toed boots.

New Jersey Now Requires Employers to Provide Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Employees [Labor & Employment Alert]

January 28, 2014

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law last week a bill that specifically adds pregnancy to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJ LAD) and requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees who request accommodation. The new law, which was passed unanimously by the state Senate and with just one dissenting vote in the state Assembly, makes several major changes to existing law. Employers should be mindful of this new law because it strengthens the already tough NJ LAD and goes farther than the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Reminder of Two New Obligations for New York City Employers [Labor & Employment Alert]

January 17, 2014

Employers operating in New York City should be reminded of two significant additions to the checklist of employment obligations that will become effective in the coming weeks.

More Regulation: The OFCCP Sets Its Sights on Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities [AHLA Labor & Employment Newsletter]

December 13, 2013

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has stepped up its efforts in recent years to assert jurisdiction over more health care providers. As a result, a growing number of health care providers are struggling to comply with OFCCP's many regulatory requirements, while others are warily watching developments in this area. Now, federal contractors are faced with new regulations principally aimed at increasing employment opportunities for veterans and individuals with disabilities. These regulations, which cover an estimated 200,000 federal contractor establishments, become effective March 24, 2014, and require contractors to make additional, significant recruitment and outreach efforts to these groups.

The haze has not lifted: Medical marijuana continues to confound employers [Retailing Today]

December 12, 2013

So far 20 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws permitting and regulating the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Colorado and Washington have gone further and legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Moreover, Americans’ tolerance for the legalization of marijuana is increasing. An October 2013 Gallup poll showed that 58% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. What does this trend mean for retailers, especially those operating in multiple states? The answer is complex, as the law is evolving.

Why Employers Shouldn't Ignore Workplace Bullying [The Legal Intelligencer]

November 27, 2013

Many associate bullying with kids and schools. State laws, educational awareness campaigns and all-too-frequent tragedies focus our attention on the problem of school bullying. Much less attention is paid to workplace bullying. In fact, in telling my school-age child that there are bullies at some workplaces, her response was: “There are no bullies at work. It is just people complaining.” This misconception is common, and unfortunately extends to many employers. As a result, many employers don’t see the need to take a proactive stance against workplace bullying. Even employers who acknowledge the prevalence of bullying in the workplace often see no need to act because currently there are no federal or state laws that expressly make workplace bullying illegal. This inaction, however, can translate into missed opportunities and increased costs.

Two New Measures in New York: Wage Deduction Rules and Pregnancy Accommodation

October 16, 2013

Most employers tend to focus on federal law as a source of labor and employment obligations. However, employers should also pay careful attention to state and local laws on workplace issues. The first half of this month has already seen two significant developments in New York.

Changes to New Jersey’s Unemployment Insurance Law Penalize Nonresponsive Employers [Labor & Employment Alert]

September 12, 2013

New Jersey has joined a growing list of states enacting changes to their unemployment insurance laws to comply with an upcoming federal deadline. Starting October 22, 2013, New Jersey will refuse to relieve an employer’s account of charges for erroneous benefit payments if (1) the payments were made because the employer failed to timely respond to requests for information from the New Jersey Division of Labor and Workforce Development, and (2) the employer has a pattern of failing to respond to such requests.

Harassment Concerns and Effective Policies for Hotel Employers [Hotel Executive]

July 03, 2013

The scene is not uncommon, a beautiful hotel with several floors of luxurious rooms, restaurants and bars, and cascading waterfalls out at the pool. It is not your typical office, yet it is critical that hotel employers understand that the men and women who work in this setting are employees and that the hotel is a workplace. So, as informal, perhaps even as romantic, as the scene may be, employment laws proscribing harassment in the workplace apply in hotels as equally as they do in a medical practice, a law firm or an insurance brokerage house.

Supreme Court Decision Upholding Class Action Waivers is Good for Employers [Labor & Employment Alert]

June 25, 2013

On June 20, 2013, in a 5-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) does not permit courts to invalidate a contractual waiver of class arbitration on the ground that the plaintiff’s cost of individually arbitrating a federal statutory claim exceeds the potential recovery.

High Profile Decision Deals Blow to Unpaid Internship Programs [Labor & Employment Alert]

June 14, 2013

Many companies with unpaid internship programs have been closely watching a case filed by unpaid interns who worked on the film Black Swan, and this week, the outlook turned grim. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that two of the named interns in the case were employees of Fox Searchlight Pictures (Fox) under the Fair Labor Standards Act (and the New York Labor Law) who should have been paid for the hours they worked.

New York Increases Its Minimum Wage [Labor & Employment Alert]

April 02, 2013

On March 29, 2013, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that will raise the New York minimum wage in staged increases over the next three years.

Take the Target Off Your Back [HRO Today]

April 01, 2013

Disability discrimination remains a hot button issue in the workplace. Employees and applicants file more disability discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year, totaling some 25,000 charges in fiscal year 2011 alone.

Five Key Areas to Watch During Obama’s Second Term [HR Morning]

March 27, 2013

One of Barack Obama’s first actions when he became president was to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, resetting the statute of limitations each paycheck for equal-pay gender discrimination lawsuits and making it easier for employees to pursue them.

New York City Employers Cannot Discriminate Based on Unemployment Status As of June 11, 2013 [Labor & Employment Alert]

March 19, 2013

The New York City Council continues to grow the chasm that exists between New York City employment law and its state and federal counterparts. Specifically, on March 13, 2013, the council overwhelmingly enacted (by a 43-4 vote) a local law that precludes employers and employment agencies from refusing to consider or hire an applicant because he or she is unemployed, and from posting advertisements that require job applicants to be employed. This comes less than a month after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg initially vetoed the legislation, which now is set to become effective on June 11, 2013.

New Employment Eligibility Verification Form, Form I-9, Issued by USCIS [Labor and Employment Alert]

March 14, 2013

On March 8, 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new Employment Eligibility Verification Form, Form I-9, and a revised Handbook for Employers, M-274. The main changes to the new Form are that it contains further instructions on how to complete the Form I-9 and also expands the Form itself to two pages. Employers should review the revised Handbook and may begin using the new Form I-9 immediately both for new hires and for work authorization reverification. USCIS is allowing employers two months to transition to the new Form I-9, but beginning on May 7, 2013, employers must use the new Form I-9. Employers do not need to complete a new Form I-9 for current employees with a proper I-9 on file.

OFCCP Rescinds Its 2006 Compensation Standards in Favor of More Flexible Approach to Pay Discrimination Compliance Evaluations [Labor and Employment Alert]

March 04, 2013

Effective February 28, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) rescinded its much criticized 2006 Compensation Standards and Voluntary Guidelines (Compensation Standards) utilized in pay discrimination compliance evaluations of federal contractors. The Compensation Standards essentially had applied one analytic approach to pay discrimination, regardless of industry, job type or other data specific to the federal contractor’s pay practices. Not surprisingly, the OFCCP claims that the narrowly defined "cookie cutter" compliance evaluation procedures imposed by the Compensation Standards impeded the OFCCP’s investigation efforts.

Dropbox and the Impact of Personal Cloud Storage on ESI [The Legal Intelligencer]

January 29, 2013

We have all heard and read about the ubiquitous internet "cloud." But what exactly is the cloud? And what specifically does that mean for e-discovery?

The New Employee Wage Deduction Law in New York [Labor and Employment Alert]

September 18, 2012

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) just made things a little easier for employers. Effective November 6, 2012, employers in New York will have greater flexibility when it comes to permissible deductions from employee wages.

Fluctuating Workweek Overtime Method Not Permissible Under Pennsylvania Law [Labor and Employment Alert]

September 13, 2012

Fluctuating Workweek Overtime Method Not Permissible Under Pennsylvania Law - Labor and Employment Alert - A federal court in Pennsylvania recently held that the "fluctuating workweek method" of calculating overtime compensation violates Pennsylvania’s Minimum Wage Act (PMWA), 34 Pa. Code. § 231.43(d)(3). See Foster v. Kraft Foods Global, Inc., No. 2:09-cv-00453 (W.D. Pa. Aug. 27, 2012).

Pennsylvania Adopts FLSA's 8/80 Overtime Rule for Health Care Industry Employers [Labor and Employment Alert]

August 13, 2012

Pennsylvania Adopts FLSA's 8/80 Overtime Rule for Health Care Industry Employers - Labor and Employment Alert - Pennsylvania has taken a major step toward making its overtime requirements for employers in the health care industry consistent with federal rules.

Asking Employees to Keep Mum During Internal Investigations Could Constitute an Unfair Labor Practice, NLRB Rules [Labor and Employment Alert]

August 02, 2012

Asking Employees to Keep Mum During Internal Investigations Could Constitute an Unfair Labor Practice, NLRB Rules - Labor and Employment Alert - The National Labor Relations Board took another step into territory most employers previously assumed was safe when it decided on July 31 that a general rule requiring confidentiality during an internal investigation into an employee complaint constitutes an unfair labor practice.

Third Circuit Establishes New Test for "Joint Employers" [Labor and Employment Alert]

July 02, 2012

Third Circuit Establishes New Test for "Joint Employers" - Labor and Employment Alert - A determination that a company is a “joint employer” can dramatically increase its potential exposure to liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act, because joint employers can be held responsible for each other’s violations of the law.

Philadelphia's Sick Leave Ordinance Takes Effect July 1 [Labor and Employment Alert]

June 25, 2012

Philadelphia's Sick Leave Ordinance Takes Effect July 1 - Labor and Employment Alert - Beginning July 1, 2012, certain employers within the city of Philadelphia will be required to provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave for their regular full-time employees each year.

Supreme Court Approves Treatment of Pharmaceutical Sales Reps as Exempt from Overtime Under the FLSA [Labor and Employment Alert]

June 19, 2012

Supreme Court Approves Treatment of Pharmaceutical Sales Reps as Exempt from Overtime Under the FLSA - Labor and Employment Alert - The U.S. Supreme Court has issued its much-anticipated opinion on whether pharmaceutical sales representatives can properly be treated as exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standard Act’s “outside salesman” exemption.

DOL Issues Proposed Regulations Regarding FMLA Entitlement for Military Families and Airline Flight Crew Members [Labor and Employment Alert]

February 01, 2012

DOL Issues Proposed Regulations Regarding FMLA Entitlement for Military Families and Airline Flight Crew Members - Labor and Employment Alert - On January 30, 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued proposed regulations to implement
amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that were passed in 2009. These amendments cover “qualifying exigency leave” and “military caregiver leave” available to military families under the FMLA.

Summer 2008 [Labor and Employment Observer]

August 15, 2008

Our Summer 2008 Labor and Employment Law Observer covers a multitude of topics of interest to in-house counsel, human resources professionals and corporate management.

Business Groups Challenge Florida "Guns at Work" Law [Inside Counsel]

July 01, 2008

Business Groups Challenge Florida "Guns at Work" Law - Inside Counsel - A new state law that will allow Florida residents to keep firearms in their cars at work is being challenged by several employer groups. The law, which takes effect July 1, prohibits public and private employers from having policies prohibiting firearms in their parking lots. It allows employees with valid weapons permits to keep guns locked in their cars in employers’ parking lots.

Employment Law: Language debate [Daily Business Review]

June 15, 2007

Employment Law: Language debate - Daily Business Review - While the debate over immigration reform heats up in Washington, English-only policies in the
workplace are sparking numerous legal challenges in the courts. Labor and employment attorneys say that, in recent years, a growing number of businesses have created English-only policies, triggering a backlash of discrimination lawsuits by immigrant workers.

Events & Seminars

Past Events

2017 Labor and Employment Law Update - Chicago

October 05, 2017 - Chicago, IL

25th National Forum on Wage & Hour Claims and Class Actions

September 28, 2015 - San Francisco, CA

21st Annual Employment Law Institute

April 28, 2015 - Philadelphia, PA

The Legal Intelligencer's In-House Counsel CLE Seminar

March 24, 2015 - Philadelphia, PA

Tri-State Human Relations Coalition

November 14, 2014 - Philadelphia, PA

Critical Employment Law Issues for 2015

November 05, 2014 - Philadelphia, PA

Human Resource Law: What You Need to Know Now

October 08, 2014 - Rochester, MN

Susan G. Komen: Young Survivor's "Living Confident" Event

September 10, 2014 - Philadelphia, PA

Social Media and Employment Law

December 03, 2013 - Philadelphia, PA

Hot Topics in Labor and Employment Law

November 03, 2010 - Philadelphia, PA

In The News

Cozen O’Connor Welcomes Commercial Litigator Miguel Alexander Pozo to its Minneapolis Office

July 25, 2018

Pozo Further Strengthens the Firm’s Commercial, Employment and Trademark Litigation Bench

2018 U.S. News & World Report – Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" Ranks Cozen O’Connor

February 01, 2018

In the 2018 U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms, Cozen O’Connor is ranked nationally in 17 practice areas and regionally in 64 practice areas.

Twelve Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named To 2018 Illinois Super Lawyers Lists

January 26, 2018

Super Lawyers has recognized 12 Cozen O'Connor attorneys to its 2018 lists of top practitioners in Illinois, including Joe Tilson who was again named one of the "Top 100" Illinois Super Lawyers.

Cozen O'Connor ranked in 2017 U.S. News & World Report – Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms"

November 23, 2016

Firms included in the 2017 "Best Law Firms" list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers.

Debra Friedman Discusses the Recent Trend of Postponing Retirement in SHRM

October 08, 2015

Debra Friedman discusses how companies can cultivate the value of employing an older workforce and legal issues to consider.

Alex Barbour Discusses Landmark NLRB Ruling in the Chicago Tribune

August 27, 2015

Alex Barbour discusses the recent federal labor ruling in which the National Labor Relations Board redefined what it means to be a “joint employer.”

David Barron Discusses EEOC’s Enforcement Efforts on Workplace Testing in SHRM

August 25, 2015

David Barron discusses the EEOC’s increased enforcement efforts around workplace testing and what employers should do to avoid litigation.

David Walton Discusses Bring-Your-Own-Device Policies in SHRM

August 24, 2015

David Walton discusses BYOD policies and offers advice on how to prevent employees from being vulnerable to hackers and bugs.

Michael Schmidt Discusses DOL’s Potential Rule on Device Use Outside Of Work Hours in Bloomberg BNA

August 24, 2015

Michael Schmidt offers his opinion on how the DOL could resolve the issue of determining when employees must be paid for connecting with their jobs during hours they aren't scheduled to work.

Michael Schmidt Discusses An Employee's Last Day in the Office in The Wall Street Journal

August 18, 2015

Michael Schmidt discusses how employers handle an employee's last day of work at the office.

Joseph Tilson Discusses the Meaningfulness of Being an Employment Attorney in Law360

August 17, 2015

Joseph Tilson discusses the meaningfulness of being an employment attorney and the ability for young attorneys to get involved.

Michael Schmidt Discusses Chicago Trial on the Issue of Off-Duty Portable Device Work in Law360

August 14, 2015

Michael Schmidt discusses the increasing need for employers to be aware of potential overtime liability stemming from off-site, off-duty work enabled by smartphones and other technologies.

Joseph Tilson Discusses Employee Handbook Revisions in the Chicago Tribune

August 04, 2015

Joseph Tilson discusses the growing trend of the National Labor Relations Board causing employers to revise their employee handbooks for the digital age as people talk about their workplaces on social media platforms.

David Barron Discusses Employee Privacy Protection in SHRM

July 20, 2015

David Barron discusses the privacy protections employees have regarding personal information, such as HIPAA, which requires health plans, health providers and health care clearinghouses to keep an individual’s protected health information confidential.

Michael Schmidt Discusses the DOL’s Proposed Overtime Rule in SHRM

July 20, 2015

Michael Schmidt discusses the DOL’s overtime rule and how establishing email curfews can help newly nonexempt employees understand the types of work that now are off-limits.

David Barron Discusses Proposed Federal Labor Regulations in The Recorder

June 30, 2015

David Barron discusses the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposal to more than double the salary threshold under which employees must be paid for overtime even if they’ve been classified exempt because they have management responsibilities or meet other exceptions.

Michael Schmidt Discusses DOL Rule That May Impact Working Outside of the Office in SHRM

June 19, 2015

Michael Schmidt discusses a potential rule by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor that will focus on the use of technology, including portable electronic devices, by employees away from work and outside of scheduled work hours.

David Barron Discusses Dress Code Policies in SHRM

May 18, 2015

David Barron discusses how employers can enforce dress code policies while avoiding litigation.

Debra Friedman Discusses Difference Between EEOC’s Newly Proposed Rule on Wellness Programs and HIPAA Requirements in SHRM

April 24, 2015

Debra Friedman, a member of the Labor & Employment Department, comments on the EEOC’s proposed rule on wellness programs differing from HIPAA’s wellness program incentives in that it extends the 30 percent limit on incentives under health-contingent wellness programs to participatory wellness programs that require disability-related inquiries or medical examinations.

Debra Friedman Discusses the EEOC’s New Proposed Rule on Wellness Programs in Employment Law Daily

April 19, 2015

Debra Friedman discusses the EEOC’s recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which describes how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employer wellness programs that are part of group health plans.

David Barron Discusses Employee Facial Piercings in SHRM

April 15, 2015

David Barron discusses the potential legal troubles a company can run into by prohibiting employees from facial piercings.

Michael Schmidt Discusses Posting About Work on Social Media in Refinery29

April 03, 2015

In an article titled “You Can Complain About Work on Facebook – But You Shouldn’t,” Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the specific kinds of complaints employees can make on social media that are actually protected by law, no matter your employer’s policy. “When an employee or group of employees are speaking on social media collectively about work and conditions at work, they have a right to engage in that activity according to the NLRB,” says Michael, “The NLRB considers that kind of action — connecting with your fellow employees on social media to discuss working conditions — a 'protected, concerted activity.'"

Michael Schmidt Discusses Employee Tweets in SHRM

April 01, 2015

In an article titled “What to Do About Employees’ #StupidTweets,” Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses whether an employer should take action against an employee for an inappropriate tweet. Michael remarked that “assuming no outright prohibition [by the law] on disciplining the employee for the tweet, the employer also may consider both the impact that the tweet has or may have on co-workers, as well as the impact on morale if the offending employee or others perceive the employer as overly regulating employee speech and expression, particularly of a more innocuous and not patently offensive message.”

Jeffrey Pasek Comments on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act in SHRM

April 01, 2015

Jeffrey Pasek, a member of the Labor & Employment Department, discusses Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act and how the meaning of RFRA-type laws have changed.

Jeffrey Pasek Discusses Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the Los Angeles Times

March 31, 2015

In an article titled “Indiana’s Anti-LGBT Law is Even Worse Than it Seems,” Jeffrey Pasek, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses Indiana’s new state law SB 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is broader than existing federal law and differs from other state laws in significant ways. “Nothing like this exists under federal law,” observes Jeff; under SB 101, those claiming religious grounds to justify discrimination “are much less likely to be challenged and much more likely to prevail.”

Jeffrey Pasek Discusses Indiana’s Religious Freedom Bill in Employment Law Daily

March 26, 2015

In an article titled “Indiana’s ‘Religious Freedom Restoration’ Law is Far Broader Than RFRA,” Jeffrey Pasek, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, comments on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. ““This bill goes far beyond the federal RFRA,” explains Jeff. “It would fall to the individual who is being discriminated against to attempt to justify an otherwise neutral law by asserting that the government has a compelling interest in enforcing the law, but nothing in this bill says the government has to get involved in those cases,” he added. “At least if someone outright challenges a governmental requirement against government enforcement, we can expect the government to make a reasoned decision about whether to support its requirement and to apply that rationale on an even-handed basis. That is totally lacking here.”

Debra Friedman Discusses Disability Self-Identification Forms in SHRM

February 05, 2015

In an article titled “Increase Responses to Disability Self-Identification Form,” Debra Friedman, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the new affirmative action regulations under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act that took effect in 2014. They require that contractors invite applicants to self-identify as individuals with disabilities at both the pre-offer and post-offer phases of the application process, using language prescribed by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. The regulations also require that contractors invite their employees to self-identify as individuals with disabilities every five years. The disability self-identification form gives employees an opportunity to start conversations about needed reasonable accommodations without fear of retaliation, observed Debra.

David Barron Discusses How Employers Can Protect Themselves When Making Job Cuts in Houston Business Journal

January 28, 2015

In an article titled ''How to not get sued when cutting jobs at your office,'' David Barron, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment Department, discusses five basic steps employers should take before they move forward with job terminations.

George Voegele Discusses the Debate Over Joint Employers in Bloomberg BNA’s Bulletin to Management 2015 HR Outlook

January 20, 2015

In an article titled ‘’Worker Misclassification Tops HR Agenda in 2015,’’ George Voegele, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses a potentially major change in the way the National Labor Relations Board views franchisers’ relationships to their franchisees’ employees.

Jeffrey Pasek Discusses Regulatory Developments and New Compliance Mandates in Bloomberg BNA’s Bulletin to Management 2015 HR Outlook

January 20, 2015

In an article titled ‘’Worker Misclassification Tops HR Agenda in 2015,’’ Jeffrey Pasek, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the possibility of Congressional pushback against a number of National Labor Relations Board policies and recent developments at the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

Debra Friedman Discusses Employee Retaliation Claims in Bloomberg BNA's Bulletin to Management 2015 HR Outlook

January 20, 2015

In an article titled ‘’Worker Misclassification Tops HR Agenda in 2015,’’ Debra Friedman, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the increase in employee retaliation claims and the implications for employers.

David Barron Discusses the Secularization of the Holidays in SHRM

December 04, 2014

In an article titled ''The Secularization of the Holidays,'' David Barron, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the Montgomery County (Maryland) Board of Education’s decision to remove mention of any religious holidays from its 2015/16 calendar and the implications for employers. Government employers and schools operate under different rules than private companies, explained David. Governments must be careful to separate church and state, while private companies must not discriminate based on religion under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Michael Schmidt Offers Tips to Avoid Office Holiday Party Trouble in Law360

December 01, 2014

Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, offers 10 tips employers can follow to avoid potential legal trouble during the office holiday parties.

Debra Friedman Discusses the EEOC’s Stance on Wellness Programs

November 14, 2014

In an article titled “EEOC Targets Wellness Programs,” Debra Friedman, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s recent actions against employers for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) with their company wellness programs. “The EEOC describes it as ‘you can’t penalize employees,’ but they have not defined what constitutes a penalty,” observed Debra. “Employers need to understand this is an evolving area, and there’s a lack of guidance from the EEOC, so we need to wait and see whether EEOC and courts will find wellness programs that are compliant with the ACA regulations to be compliant with ADA and GINA,” she added.

David Barron Discusses the Do's and Don'ts of Halloween Costumes in the Office in the Houston Chronicle

October 28, 2014

In an article titled ''On Halloween, employees should save the sexy maid outfit for after work,'' David Barron, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, offers some do’s and don’ts to guard against sexual harassment and discrimination claims when it comes to picking a costume for the office Halloween party.

David Barron Discusses the Legal Implications of Halloween Parties in Inside Counsel

October 23, 2014

In an article titled ''Nazis and naughty nurses: 4 bone-chilling dangers of your office Halloween party,'' David Barron, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, alerts employers to a number of labor and employment issues that might arise from the annual Halloween costume party.

Michael Schmidt Discusses Potential Legal Risks Associated with Halloween Office Parties on CBS Newsradio / WSJ Radio Network

October 21, 2014

Michael Schmidt, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses some of the legal risks employers should consider when hosting a Halloween office party in an interview on CBS Newsradio / WSJ Radio Network.

Debra Friedman Discusses Misclassification of Employees in Risk & Insurance

October 15, 2014

In an article titled “Classified Information,” Debra Friedman, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the government’s crackdown on misclassification of employees as independent contractors. According to Friedman, misclassification of employees has serious implications for companies, as they are at risk for investigations and lawsuits from both federal and state governments, as well as private lawsuits from individuals or classes of individuals.

Debra Friedman Discusses the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act in Human Resource Executive Online

October 08, 2014

In an article titled “The Trouble with Medical-History Requests,” Debra Friedman, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Cummins Power Generation Inc., in which the EEOC alleges Cummins improperly required an employee to undergo a fitness-for-duty examination and to sign a release for all of his medical records. The case is one of very few GINA lawsuits to date. ''HR should make sure there is a permissible purpose for conducting a fitness-for-duty exam or asking for medical information. Then it's very important that it is narrowly tailored to that permissible purpose,'' said Debra.

Michael Schmidt Discusses HR's Challenge with Wearable Technology in Human Resource Executive Online

August 26, 2014

In an article titled, ‘’Banning Wearable Tech at Work,’’ Michael Schmidt, vice chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the challenge human resource departments are facing with the evolution and popularity of wearable technology (i.e. Google Glass). Michael says the main HR challenge is to find ''the proper balance between and employee’s reasonable and protected interests in communicating and depicting workplace conditions and the company’s interests in protecting its valid business interests and ensuring they have productive employees during working time.''

David Walton Discusses the Third Circuit’s Ruling on Classwide Arbitration in Law360

July 30, 2014

In an article titled ''Employers to Embrace Arbitration After 3rd Circ. Ruling,'' David Walton, vice chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the Third Circuit's ruling that courts, rather than arbitrators, should decide whether classwide arbitration is available when an agreement is silent on that point. The ruling will encourage some employers that had been on the fence about arbitration to embrace it as a means to counter the surging tide of costly wage-and-hour class actions.

A. Martin Wickliff, Jr. Authors Employment Law Chapter in American Lawyer Media’s Texas Business Litigation

July 07, 2014

A. Martin Wickliff, Jr., a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, has authored a chapter focusing on employment law in American Lawyer Media’s newly released book, Texas Business Litigation.

David Barron Discusses Houston's Human Equal Rights Ordinance in My Fox Houston

June 25, 2014

In an article titled “Effort to Appeal Human Equal Rights Ordinance,” David Barron, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department, discusses the Human Equal Rights Ordinance in Houston. Barron states that if the ordinance passes this week, offices such as his, will start seeing an overflow of cases. He adds, “my clients employers now have to deal with not just federal & state, but they have to deal with the city now.”

Contacts

Thomas S. Giotto

Co-Chair, Labor & Employment Department

tgiotto@cozen.com

(412) 620-6550

Joseph E. Tilson

Co-Chair, Labor & Employment Department

jtilson@cozen.com

(312) 474-7880

Michael C. Schmidt

Vice Chair, Labor & Employment Department

mschmidt@cozen.com

(212) 453-3937

Anna Wermuth

Vice Chair, Labor & Employment Department

awermuth@cozen.com

(312) 474-7876

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