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    The Lawletter Blog

    Nadine Roddy

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    EMPLOYMENT: Supreme Court Rebuffs Another Challenge to the ACA

    Posted by Nadine Roddy on Mon, Sep 13, 2021 @ 12:09 PM

    The Lawletter Vol 46 No 5

    Nadine Roddy—Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

                In a closely watched case, California v. Texas, 141 S. Ct. 2104 (2021), the Supreme Court recently turned back a third challenge to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ACA" or "Act")—the extensive health-care reform law enacted in 2010 that includes, among other things, a requirement for all individuals (known as the "individual mandate") to obtain a minimum level of health insurance coverage (known as "minimum essential coverage" or "MEC") or to pay a tax penalty to the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"). In subsequent legislation, Congress reduced the penalty from $695 to $0. At that point, the State of Texas, joined by several other states and two individual plaintiffs, filed a challenge to the amended Act in a federal district court sitting in Texas. The court held that Congress's effective elimination of the tax penalty had rendered unconstitutional the individual mandate to obtain MEC, as it could no longer be justified as a tax. Further, because the unconstitutional provision could not be severed from the rest of the ACA, the entire Act was invalid. In its June 2021 decision, the Supreme Court did not reach these substantive issues, instead ruling 7-2 that neither the states nor the individual plaintiffs had Article III standing to bring the suit, as none had shown a past or future injury "fairly traceable" to the officials' conduct.

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    Topics: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act PPACA, Nadine Roddy, past or future injury, traceability

    EMPLOYMENT: Title VII and "Supervisors"

    Posted by Nadine Roddy on Mon, Sep 13, 2021 @ 12:09 PM

    The Lawletter Vol 46 No 5

    Nadine Roddy—Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

                One of the more difficult issues in the employment discrimination context has been the determination of whether an employee who is charged with misconduct toward another employee is a "supervisor" or a "coworker" for purposes of employer liability under Title VII and related statutes. Initially, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") took the position that an individual is qualified as an employee's supervisor if (1) the individual had authority to undertake or recommend tangible employment decisions affecting the employee, or (2) the individual had authority to direct the employee's daily work activities. EEOC Enforcement Guidance: Vicarious Liability for Unlawful Harassment by Supervisors (1999). In its 2013 decision in Vance v. Ball State University, 133 S. Ct. 2434 (2013), however, the Supreme Court narrowed the definition, holding that an employee is a "supervisor" only when empowered by the employer to take tangible employment action—such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassigning with significantly different responsibilities, or causing a significant change in benefits—against the employee alleging discrimination. Since then, the lower federal courts have refined this definition in relevant cases.

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    Topics: employment discrimination, Nadine Roddy, employee vs. supervisor, indicia of reliance, authoritative input

    EMPLOYMENT: Exotic Dancers—Employees or Independent Contractors?

    Posted by Nadine Roddy on Thu, Apr 8, 2021 @ 10:04 AM

    The Lawletter Vol 46 No 3

    Nadine Roddy—Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

                An exotic dancer was an "employee" of an adult entertainment club under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), even though a written agreement disclaimed an employment relationship, a federal district court sitting in Florida recently held in Schofield v. Gold Club Tampa, Inc., No. 8:19-CV-3097-VMC-TGW, 2021 WL 533540 (M.D. Fla. Feb. 12, 2021). The summary judgment evidence showed that the economic reality of the relationship was one of employer and employee given the degree of control over the dancer's work exercised by the club, among other factors.

                An exotic dancer who worked at an adult entertainment club brought suit against the club owner and its operator ("club"), seeking a ruling that she had been misclassified as an independent contractor, that she was the club's employee, and that she was thus entitled to employee's protections under the FLSA.

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    Topics: employment law, Nadine Roddy, FLSA, employee vs. independent contractor, adult entertainment club, degree of control

    EMPLOYMENT: Gay and Transgender Employees Are Protected by Federal Antidiscrimination Statute, Supreme Court Holds

    Posted by Nadine Roddy on Tue, Feb 2, 2021 @ 11:02 AM

    The Lawletter Vol 46 No 1

    Nadine Roddy—Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

                An employer that discharges an individual for being homosexual or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Supreme Court held 6-3 in one of the last decisions of its October 2019 term. Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020). Title VII contains the well-known prohibition of discrimination in employment against an individual “because of” the individual's “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). Writing for the majority, Justice Gorsuch explained that an employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Thus, sex plays a “necessary and undisguisable role” in such decisions—precisely what Title VII forbids.

                Three cases were consolidated for this appeal. Each one started with an employer discharging a long-term employee soon after the employee revealed that he was homosexual or gender-transitioning—and allegedly for no other reason.

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    Topics: employment law, Title VII, sexual orientation, Nadine Roddy, gender status

    EMPLOYMENT: Recent Legislation Provides Coronavirus Relief for the American Workforce

    Posted by Nadine Roddy on Wed, May 6, 2020 @ 12:05 PM

    The Lawletter Vol 45 No 3

    Nadine Roddy—Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

                On March 18, 2020, the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 ("Families First Act"), Pub. L. No. 116-127, was signed into law. The measure is the second in a series of recent legislative attempts to ameliorate the adverse health and economic effects of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in the United States.  The Act applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees, and its major provisions require (1) paid sick leave, and (2) paid FMLA leave for child care during the pandemic. The Act's leave provisions are effective April 2, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

                A third piece of legislation, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 ("CARES Act"), Pub. L. No. 116-136, was signed on March 27, 2020. A massive relief package, it provides for increased public health spending, cash relief for individual citizens earning under $75,000 a year ($150,00 a year for married couples), enhanced unemployment benefits, a lending program for small businesses, and targeted relief for certain heavily impacted industries.

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    Topics: Nadine Roddy, COVID-19, Families First Act, CARES Act, child care leave, employer tax credits, paid sick leave

    EMPLOYMENT: Arbitration—“Gateway Issues”

    Posted by Nadine Roddy on Mon, Feb 4, 2019 @ 12:02 PM

    The Lawletter Vol 44 No 2

    Nadine Roddy—Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

                When an arbitration agreement is in effect, who decides whether an employment dispute—or any dispute for that matter—is arbitrable? The Supreme Court recently released a pair of decisions that address this issue under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer & White Sales, Inc., ___ S. Ct. ___, 202 L. Ed. 2d 480, 2019 WL 122164 (Jan. 8, 2019), and New Prime, Inc. v. Oliveira, ___ S. Ct. ___, 2019 WL 189342 (Jan. 15, 2019).

                Each case involved an arbitration agreement that contained a clause delegating the issue of arbitrability of disputes to an arbitrator rather than a court. The Supreme Court had previously held that such clauses are enforceable under the FAA. Rent-A-Center W., Inc. v. Jackson, 561 U.S. 63 (2010) (applying 9 U.S.C. § 2). Some courts of appeals developed an exception to this general rule, holding that a court need not grant a motion to compel arbitration under § 4 of the FAA if the argument that the underlying claim is within the scope of the arbitration agreement is "wholly groundless." These courts reasoned that such an exception would enable courts to block frivolous attempts to transfer disputes from the court system to arbitration.

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    Topics: contracts, Federal Arbitration Act, arbitration clause, Nadine Roddy, gateway issue of arbitrability, exceptions to Act

    EMPLOYMENT: Age Discrimination—Public Employers

    Posted by Nadine Roddy on Thu, Dec 27, 2018 @ 09:12 AM

    The Lawletter Vol 43 No 8

     

    Nadine Roddy—Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

     

                The Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") applies to all public employers, including those with fewer than 20 employees, a unanimous Supreme Court held in its first merits decision of the October 2018 term. Thus, the 20-employee minimum that applies to private employers does not apply to a state or its subdivisions. The 8-0 decision, Mount Lemmon Fire Dist. v. Guido, ___ S. Ct. ___, 202 L. Ed. 2d 262 (2018), resolves a split of authority between the Ninth Circuit on one hand and the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Tenth Circuits on the other.

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    Topics: Nadine Roddy, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, public employer, less than 20 employees, application to state and local governments

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