Employee Handbooks and Policies

In an article published by The Corporate Counselor, published by ALM’s Law Journal Newsletters, Tim Garrett discussed the latest developments and next steps surrounding the Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime rule. The November 22, 2016, injunction of the rule and subsequent appeal by the DOL have created uncertainty for employers, with some having prepared

Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett provided insight on the impact that hospitals may encounter as a result of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new overtime pay rule, set to take effect December 1, 2016. The new rule will more than double the salary level for those employees classified as exempt from overtime pay

Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett authored an article for Workforce magazine outlining how the workplace can be considered the unintended battleground for cultural wars. In the article, Tim identifies the causes of this reality and the tension it creates; highlights certain “false” solutions; and provides a more effective, practical solution for working toward a coherent, team-oriented, positive work environment.

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The Ninth Circuit recently held in Morris v. Ernst & Young, LLP that employees have a substantive right to pursue work-related claims collectively, and employers may not force employees to waive this right as a condition of employment.  As a result, class action waivers in arbitration agreements signed as a condition of employment are no longer enforceable in California.

Like many employers throughout the country, Ernst & Young required that all its employees sign arbitration agreements as a condition of employment, and each agreement required that the employees promise not to join with other employees in bringing legal claims against the company.  Specifically, the agreements required that the employees pursue legal claims (1) exclusively through arbitration, and (2) only as individuals and in “separate proceedings.”  As a result, employees could not initiate concerted legal claims against the company in any forum, whether court, arbitration proceedings or elsewhere.


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Recent developments show that employers face both incentives and threats from the Obama Administration designed to ensure that employees know of their right to engage in “whistleblowing” (i.e., sharing possible unlawful activity with government agencies). Two recent examples are the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) and recent enforcement actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has updated their mandatory posters, which notify employees of their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA), to no longer list the civil monetary penalties that may be assessed for violations of the aforementioned Acts.  Additionally, the FSLA poster has also

On August 3, 2016, the mayor of San Diego signed a new Implementing Ordinance that will provide for several changes to the city’s new paid sick leave law.  As noted in our previous post, the San Diego City Council had considered changing the law shortly after it was passed because the ordinance seemed to create conflicting obligations with the statewide mandate.  For example, while the California Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 permits capping annual sick leave accrual and allows employers to avoid carrying over sick leave from one year to the next (under the practice of providing all required hours at the beginning of each calendar year, i.e., the “upfront method”), the San Diego Ordinance did not.  The new amendments, however, address these issues and provide additional clarity for employers seeking to comply with both laws.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently fined BlueLinx Holdings and Health Net, Inc. for including within severance agreements a provision designed to eliminate a former employee’s right to recover whistleblower incentives. In what is generally considered a standard provision in severance agreements, the companies’ agreements allowed for the former employees’ participation in any government investigation but required a waiver of the right to recover any incentive payments that the law provides for whistleblowers. The SEC issued substantial fines to these companies for this waiver requirement. The SEC explained that the whistleblower incentive is a key part of the SEC’s enforcement efforts and that any public company’s attempt to eliminate or limit that incentive violates the law.

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