In Syed v. M-I, LLC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently held that combining a liability waiver and a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) disclosure in an employment application constitutes a willful violation of the FCRA. The employee claimed that his employer obtained his credit report unlawfully because the disclosure form he signed did not consist “solely of the disclosure” as required by the FCRA. The Ninth Circuit’s decision reversed the judgment of a California district court, which had dismissed the lawsuit because the complaint failed to allege that the employer’s understanding of its obligation under the FCRA was unreasonable.

Continue Reading In Bizarre Procedural Posture, Ninth Circuit Finds FCRA Willful Violation

For the first time since 2002, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has updated its guidance on national origin discrimination in the workplace in an effort to address important legal developments over the past 14 years. In 2015, the EEOC reported 11 percent of the charges filed alleged national origin discrimination. The EEOC’s recent Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2017-2021 includes protecting immigrant and migrant workers from discrimination as a top substantive priority, and this guidance is another step toward increasing the EEOC’s enforcement efforts in this area. Of course, with the election of President-elect Donald Trump last month, the EEOC’s guidance is subject to change. However, the guidance is a useful tool to analyze employers’ existing policies and practices of preventing national origin discrimination with an eye toward the EEOC’s focus for enforcement action.

Continue Reading New Guidance on National Origin Discrimination

Human Resources (HR) personnel are now specifically under the scrutiny of the antitrust enforcement agencies. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are typically known for enforcing antitrust laws against price-fixers and bid-riggers. Recently they announced a new set of targets: anti-competitive agreements between employers related to hiring and compensation. For the first time, these agencies have warned HR personnel and their employers they may be criminally prosecuted for agreeing with other companies to fix employee pay (wage-fixing agreements) or not to recruit each other’s employees (no-poaching agreements). Criminal violations of the antitrust laws are felonies and threaten substantial fines and jail time.

Continue Reading HR Personnel (and Employers) Beware: Antitrust Enforcers Warn of Criminal Liability for Compensation, No-Poaching Pacts

Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett provided insight on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime pay policy, slated to take effect on December 1, 2016 (for additional background on the DOL policy, read the firm’s blog post, “DOL Announces New Salary Level in Overtime Regulations“). As Tim points out for the article, “‘I’m not saying overtime pay shouldn’t be increased, but this should be done in more responsible manner… The regulations currently don’t recognize some unintended consequences.'” According to Tim, these consequences may include the following:

Continue Reading 3 Overtime Pay Policy Repercussions

Can employers enter into pacts not to “poach” each other’s employees? That is the question at the center of a recent case claiming that two universities conspired to depress compensation for faculty members in violation of federal antitrust law. A radiologist at Duke University School of Medicine filed the suit after applying and being rejected as an applicant at the University of North Carolina. The applicant was told the universities had agreed to block lateral moves of faculty between the universities. What are the legal concerns regarding employee poaching behavior?

My colleagues, Dale Grimes and Gingie Yetter, analyzed the case in a recent client alert, “Academic Medical Centers Target of Latest Employee Anti-Poaching Antitrust Claim,” that is available online.

Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Lisa Rivera provided insight for the article “OIG Steps Up Enforcement Against Providers Hiring Prohibited Employees,” that was published on January 28 by Modern Healthcare. The article analyzes the rise in fines being levied against companies that hire people on government exclusion lists. According to the article, fines totaling $9 million were levied against 75 healthcare companies in 2014, a significant increase from the prior year. To read the full article, visit the Modern Healthcare website.