Bill Wright

Bill Wright

Sherman & Howard L.L.C.

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News Flash: ESOP Fiduciaries May Obey the Law

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Fifth Third Bancorp et al. v. Dudenhoeffer, No. 12-751 (U.S. June 25, 2014), that no special presumption of prudence applies to the decision by ESOP fiduciaries to buy and hold stock of the...more

6/27/2014 - Compliance ESOP Fiduciary Duty FIfth Third Bancorp v Dudenhoeffer SCOTUS SEC U.S. Bancorp

HR as Caesar’s Wife

An employee rejects a co-worker’s proposal of a physical relationship. The co-worker gets him fired. Is the employer liable for sex discrimination? This is different from earlier cat’s paw cases because the person who caused...more

5/29/2014 - Employer Liability Issues Harassment Human Resources Professionals Negligence

History + Pretext = Trial

A history of workplace racial imbalance might undermine your legitimate non-discriminatory reason for a promotion decision. In Ahmed v. Johnson, No. 13-1054 (1st Cir. May 21, 2014), the plaintiff argued he was passed over for...more

5/29/2014 - Discrimination Employer Liability Issues Job Promotions Racial Discrimination

ADEA Safe Harbor Unsafe

In 1945, an employer and unions created a pension plan that provided equal pensions to all workers retiring at age 65 but capped the employer’s contributions. The result was that workers who joined the plan later in life,...more

4/2/2014 - ADEA Age Discrimination Employer Liability Issues Safe Harbors

SOX Un-Boxed

Prepare for DOL whistleblower litigation. The Supreme Court has ruled on the scope of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act whistleblower provision. According to SCOTUS, SOX allows any employee to bring a whistleblower complaint, so long...more

3/7/2014 - DOL FMR LLC Lawson v FMR Sarbanes-Oxley SCOTUS Whistleblower Protection Policies Whistleblowers

Location Doesn’t Matter

The Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that where an employee provides care for a family member with a serious health condition does not matter under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”)....more

2/4/2014 - Caregivers Family Members FMLA

Broken Bones

Cases under the ADA Amendment Act are finally reaching the courts of appeals. In what might be the first case to reach the appellate level on an issue other than whether the statute applied retroactively, the 4th Circuit has...more

1/28/2014 - ADA ADAAA Bodily Injury Disability EEOC Employee Rights

RLA: A Duty to Unionize?

Aircraft service employees threatened to close Seattle’s airport. They were disgruntled about the suspension of a co-worker, and they banded together with a community organizer (not a union agent) to threaten a strike. The...more

1/17/2014 - Railway Labor Act Railways Unions

Administrative Law Judge “Anti-intellectual?”

Clearly annoyed, the 7th Circuit Court attacked an ALJ’s ruling on expert evidence as “circular,” “unscientific” and “anti-intellectual.” At issue was a conflict between the prevailing medical view on the cause of elbow...more

12/19/2013 - Appeals Expert Testimony Judges OSHA

Cat’s Paw Revisited

Stalking the string of “cat’s paw” cases after the Supreme Court’s 2011 decision in Staub v. Proctor Hosp., a former employee recently asserted that his manager’s bias against Hispanics caused the employer to terminate his...more

11/9/2013

Forced Leave – No Violation

An employer thought one particular employee was obviously unwell. The employer placed her on FMLA leave and required her to get certification of fitness to return to work. The first doctor released her to work. A second...more

9/18/2013 - FMLA Retaliation Sick Leave Termination Unpaid Leave

Busy Month at the OFCCP

The U.S. Department of Labor made several announcements in August. It issued a new handbook for compliance officers auditing federal contractors' compliance with executive orders; it also announced updates to its regulations...more

9/17/2013 - Affirmative Action Compliance Executive Orders Federal Contractors OFCCP Rehabilitation Act Veterans Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act

Affirmative Action Comes to a Hospital Near You

Does the OFCCP have jurisdiction over hospitals that contract to provide medical services to members of the military? We hoped we were done with this issue when the Congress enacted the National Defense Authorization Act...more

9/16/2013 - Administrative Review Board Affirmative Action Hospitals NDAA OFCCP TRICARE Veterans

Is Class Action Arbitration Available Under Agreement Covering Civil Actions?

In a much-anticipated case the U.S. Supreme Court reached a decidedly unremarkable conclusion on June 10, 2013. The gist of the U.S. Supreme Court's new decision on class action arbitration agreements is old hat - courts may...more

7/15/2013 - Arbitration Arbitration Agreements Class Action Class Action Arbitration Waivers Federal Arbitration Act Oxford Health v Sutter SCOTUS

Supreme Court Defines “Supervisor” For Title VII

The Supreme Court staked out a definition for "supervisor" in the context of Title VII. Vance v. Ball State Univ., No. 11-556 (June 24, 2013). Whether a person is a "supervisor" determines whether the employer can be held...more

7/10/2013 - Adverse Employment Action EEOC Harassment Hiring & Firing Negligence SCOTUS Supervisors Title VII Vance v. Ball State University

Supreme Court Applies “But-For” Standard To Title VII Retaliation Claims

Also on June 24, 2013, the Supreme Court addressed the standard courts should apply to determine whether an employer violates Title VII's anti-retaliation provision. Because of a statutory amendment in 1991, courts apply a...more

7/10/2013 - But For Causation Discrimination EEOC Racial Discrimination Retaliation SCOTUS Substantial Motivating Factor Test Title VII UT Southwestern Medical v Nassar

Corporations Can’t Be Harassed

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, corporations have First Amendment rights, at least to the extent that they can make monetary contributions to political candidates.* However, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently...more

3/12/2013 - All-State Sweeping v Black Citizens United Harassment Hostile Environment

Firing a Supervisor for Her Workplace Threat Was Not Retaliatory

These days, everyone has good reason to be leery of threats in the workplace, and the courts are generally supportive of employers who take those threats seriously. A recent Tenth Circuit decision is a good example. ...more

1/7/2013 - Harassment Hiring & Firing Retaliation Supervisors Termination

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