Protected Activity

News & Analysis as of

Quirky Question #284: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, can you still unlawfully retaliate against it?

Question: One of our male supervisors wants to fire a female employee who complained that he was sexually harassing her. The harassment allegations appear to have some substance: he asked her for pictures of herself in a...more

NLRB Punishes Company for Asking Employees to Maintain Positive Work Environment

As attorneys we often advise clients to continually review and revise their employee handbooks. One of the reasons why is that what appears to be innocent language ends up costing employers money due to a capricious decision...more

Can Employers Discipline Employees for “Self-Help Discovery”? Massachusetts Decision Raises More Questions Than Answers

Employers know all too well that employees sometimes help themselves to documents the employer would like to keep confidential. This is precisely why many employers require employees to sign confidentiality agreements and...more

S.D.N.Y. Dismisses SOX and Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Claims For Lack Of Protected Activity

On June 22, 2016, Judge Daniels of the Southern District of New York dismissed SOX and Dodd-Frank whistleblower claims, ruling that Plaintiff’s alleged internal complaints did not constitute protected activity, as they did...more

Massachusetts High Court Paves Way for Employees to Engage in ‘Self-Help’ Discovery

The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that, in certain instances, an employee can access and obtain an employer’s records in order to support a claim of employment discrimination. Verdrager v. Mintz Levin, No....more

Help Yourself: Mass. Court Approves Employee’s Self-Help Discovery in Discrimination Case

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled that an attorney’s search for confidential firm documents in an effort to prove a discrimination claim against her employer may constitute protected activity. The Court, in Verdrager...more

Court-Sanctioned Employee Theft? Self-Help Discovery May Be Protected Activity In Discrimination Cases

Recently in Verdrager v. Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, P.C., No. SJC-11901, 2015 WL 10937776 (Mass. May 31, 2016), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held, as a matter of first impression, that...more

Appellate Court Rejects Defamation Lawsuit Targeting Statements Made In American Hustle

Plaintiff Paul Brodeur, a well-known author, filed suit in California state court against the producers and distributors of the motion picture American Hustle, asserting claims for defamation, slander, and false light. The...more

Easier Retaliation Claims on the Horizon? EEOC Proposes New Guidance

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is considering easing the burden a complaining employee faces to establish a claim for retaliation in proposed revisions to its Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation...more

Anti-Slapp Motions – Published Statements Regarding Matters Not a Issue of Public Interest

Yasser Abuemeira et al. v. John F. Stephens, et al. - Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District (April 27, 2016) - What is a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (“SLAPP”)? Simply put, a SLAPP is a...more

Employee’s Self-Help Discovery May Be Protected Activity Under Massachusetts Anti-Retaliation Law

On May 31, 2016, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held in Verdrager v. Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, P.C. that an employee’s accessing, copying and forwarding of an employer’s confidential documents...more

Seventh Circuit Creates Circuit Split on Arbitration Agreements that Prohibit Class or Collective Wage and Hour Claims

Recently, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago held in Lewis v. Epic Systems Corporation that a mandatory agreement between the employer (Epic) and its employees requiring arbitration of wage and hour claims on an...more

Bring on the Chain Mail: NLRB Strikes Down Another Facially Neutral Email Use Policy

A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judge has struck down Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation’s policy that prohibited employees’ using the company email system to distribute “nonbusiness” information. Why, you ask?...more

Fourth Circuit Upholds Four-Year Front-Pay Award To Whistleblower

On May 20, 2016, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the decision of the ARB, finding that a former employee of Deltek, Inc. (Company) was retaliated against in violation of Section 806 of SOX and entitled to four years’ worth of...more

Another Day, Another Violation: Board Targets Hospital’s Work Rules Prohibiting Offensive Conduct

Seyfarth Synopsis: Board panel finds hospital’s work rule prohibiting employees from engaging in offensive conduct to be unlawful. In Valley Health System, LLC d/b/a Spring Valley Hosp. Med. Ctr., 363 NLRB No. 178 (May...more

How Gov't Contractors Can Avoid Pay Transparency Mishaps

The final rule implementing Executive Order 13665 (the Pay Transparency Act) went into effect on Jan. 11, 2016. The act prohibits employers from requiring their employees to keep their compensation confidential. Under the new...more

Maintaining Patient Privacy In The Digital Age

Those in the heavily regulated healthcare industry know that patient information is sacrosanct. And for good reason; improper handling can result in hefty fines or criminal prosecution under the Health Insurance Portability...more

Vote YES! for Compliance: An Election Law Refresher for California Employers

Seyfarth Synopsis: Under California law, employers have a part to play in protecting employee voting rights and other political activity. What follows is a short reminder of employer duties and obligations. With the...more

Work Rules Hanging in the Balance? NLRB Dissenter Proposes Balancing Test Blueprint for Work Rule Challenges, a Significant...

Earlier this month, the NLRB struck down a couple of facially-neutral workplace civility rules in an employer’s Code of Conduct. Ho hum, business as usual. What is fascinating, however, about this otherwise unremarkable...more

Still Cookin’ In California Court: Bakery Employer Survives EEOC Motion For Summary Judgment

In what has become an oft-used recipe in the EEOC cookbook of Title VII retaliation litigation, the government has once again utilized the strategy of taking an employer’s deposition and thereafter moving for summary...more

The New California Regulations Part IV: Support Animals in the Workplace

The California Office of Administrative Law recently approved regulations drafted by the California Fair Employment and Housing Council. These new regulations, covering the entire gamut of employment law topics within the...more

California FEHA Forecast: Evidence of Pretext Required in Anti-SLAPP Case Against TV Stations

On January 19, 2016, a California Court of Appeal issued an unpublished decision in Hunter v. CBS Broadcasting, Inc. The case was brought by Kyle Hunter, who filed an employment discrimination complaint, claiming that two...more

Blowing the Whistle on Food Safety: OSHA Issues a Final Rule Related to FDCA Complaints

On April 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it has issued procedural rules for enforcement of whistleblower complaints alleging violations of the...more

Unworkable Employer Work Rules: The Board Once Again Makes Perfection the Enemy of the Good

The Board majority holds firm to its standard for evaluating employer work rules despite Member Miscimarra’s vigorous dissent advocating for a new, clearer standard that takes into account an employer’s legitimate business...more

Nursing Manager, Removed from Patient Case, Seeks Supreme Court Review in Discrimination Case

Petitioner to the Supreme Court claims that the Sixth Circuit engaged in a “separate but equal” rationale when it rejected her claim that her employer discriminated against her based on race after the employer allegedly...more

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