Gender Explicit Language Is Enough for Hostile Environment Case


The Eleventh U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Reeves v. C. H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., recently gave the go-ahead for a woman’s hostile work environment claim based on the pervasive use of sexually explicit language in the workplace. Of particular interest in the case, the offensive language was not directed at the claimant. The claimant worked as a transportation sales representative for a shipping company. She was the only woman working in the sales area with six male co-workers. The work spaces were open cubicles. The sales workers could…

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Meal Break Risks Under Federal Wage Laws

Wages Law

Missed meal breaks in the workplace are coming under increasing legal scrutiny. To be clear, an employee has no absolute entitlement to a meal break under federal wage laws (although this may be different under some state laws). But, if an employee is given a meal break period, either the employee must be completely relieved from his or her duties for more than twenty minutes, or the employee must be paid for the break time. In many instances, employers unintentionally fail to pay employees for compensable meal breaks. In this…

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Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP: Title VII’s Retaliation Protections Extend to Third Parties

Supreme Court of the United States

On January 24, 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously extended Title VII’s protections to an individual who was terminated after his fiancee filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office. The facts of the case are relatively straight forward. Until 2003, both petitioner Eric Thompson and his fiancee, Miriam Regalado, were employees of respondent North American Stainless (NAS). In February 2003, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) notified NAS that Regalado had filed a charge alleging sex discrimination. Three weeks later, NAS fired Thompson.…

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New Posting Requirement For Federal Contractors

Government Contract

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a final rule specifying the contents of a new required notice for federal contractor and subcontractor employees. The notice, to be titled “Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws,” is intended to advise employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The details of the notice are prescribed by the DOL. Among other things, contractors are required to advise employees specifically that they have the right to “organize a union to negotiate” with their employer, to “form, join or assist…

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FLSA Amended To Require Breast Feeding Breaks

Feeding Break

The new 2010 health care law, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will affect employers in a variety of ways in the coming years. One provision, which received virtually no attention during the months before passage of the new law, will surprise many employers now. Section 4207 of the new law amends section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (the federal law on minimum wages and overtime entitlement) to mandate now that employers provide “reasonable break time” for a mother to “express breast milk for…

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Will Spear Stick?

Washington Airport Authority

In the months following Judge Chamblin’s August 2009 ruling in Spear v. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, defense counsel across the Commonwealth jumped on the Spear bandwagon, arguing as the Court ruled in Spear that changes in suits re-filed by a plaintiff after taking a voluntary nonsuit, such as to the ad damnum, create a different action and the plaintiff accordingly loses the benefit of the tolling of the statute of limitations provided by Va. Code § 8.01-229(E)(3). But so far, no other court has followed Spear. Now, the Supreme Court…

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Changes to Virginia Corporation Annual Registration Fees

Virginia Corporation

Beginning July 1, 2010, annual registration payments made by a corporation will be applied first to any previously unpaid annual registration fees and/or penalties and then to currently assessed fees. This change is a result of an amendment to the Code of Virginia. Prior to the amendment, registration fee payments were applied first to currently assessed fees and then to unpaid penalties. As a result, a termination of corporate existence may occur notwithstanding a Virginia corporation’s payment of current registration fees. See the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s website for more…

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