Mere months after the Kindred Healthcare decision enforcing an arbitration agreement between a nursing home and holders of a late resident’s power-of-attorney, the U.S. Supreme Court heard argument in another case that healthcare employers will want to watch. The Court’s decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis will determine the enforceability of arbitration agreements that provide for individual arbitration alone. The NLRB and certain employees claim that precluding joint, class, or collective claims in the courts or in arbitration violate employees’ rights to collective action under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. Husch Blackwell will keep you updated on the status of the law once the decision comes down from the Court. For now, you can learn more about the concerns of the Justices and the unusual position of two U.S. government agencies in this blog on Husch Blackwell’s Labor Relations Law Insider.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held recently that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”)—which prohibits sex discrimination in the “education programs or activit[ies]” of entities receiving federal financial assistance—can apply to residency programs at hospitals. The ruling may profoundly impact how hospitals respond to complaints of sex discrimination (including sexual harassment) by resident physicians and necessitate that hospitals comply with federal Title IX regulations and guidance. The ruling also opens the door for residents who experience sex discrimination to sue under Title IX, thereby avoiding the complex administrative exhaustion process required to file a similar claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which generally governs sex discrimination in the workplace. For more information on this new development, visit the legal alert authored by Derek Teeter and Lorinda Holloway.

Earlier we wrote that two Fifth Circuit cases seemed to reach inconsistent determinations about the availability of punitive and pain and suffering damages under the FLSA and ADEA. The Fifth Circuit previously expressed its intent to interpret the remedies provision under the FLSA and ADEA consistently with each other. Please see our discussion at via our January 13 blog post.

One of those opinions has been withdrawn and a new opinion substituted, but the inconsistency remains, The Vaughan v. Anderson Regional Medical Center decision was first issued on December 16, 2016 (we discussed the first issued version in our prior post). But because the opinion contained some manifest inconsistencies with the Pineda v. JTCH Apartments, LLC opinion issued just three days later, the plaintiff in Vaughan requested a rehearing en banc. Although the court denied the petition for a rehearing en banc, the court withdrew the prior opinion and substituted a new opinion. The new Vaughan opinion reaches the same ultimate conclusion and holding as the prior opinion, but it contains a few revisions that make clear its holding on ADEA remedies does not extend to FLSA remedies. But still, the two panels did not interpret remedies available under the ADEA and the FLSA consistently.
Continue Reading In the 5th Circuit, Pain and Suffering and Punitive Damages Recoverable under FLSA, not ADEA

The Fifth Circuit has long held that pain and suffering damages and punitive damages are not recoverable under the ADEA. The Fifth Circuit has also expressed its intent to interpret remedies under the ADEA and FLSA consistently with each other since the ADEA incorporates the FLSA’s remedies provision. Thus, you would think that pain and suffering and punitive damages would not be recoverable in a FLSA retaliation case.

Not so fast. In a decision issued on December 16, 2016, a three-judge panel reaffirmed that pain and suffering and punitive damages are not recoverable for ADEA discrimination or retaliation claims. Only three days later, however, another Fifth Circuit panel issued a decision finding that emotional distress damages are recoverable in FLSA retaliation cases. In so holding, the two panels cited the same 1977 seminal case, Dean v. American Security Insurance Co., but reached different conclusions under similarly worded provisions of the two statutes. Obviously, the two panels did not interpret remedies available under the ADEA and the FLSA consistently. Continue Reading Are pain and suffering and punitive damages recoverable under the ADEA and FLSA? The 5th Circuit issues inconsistent decisions

Exercising Office WorkerHusch Blackwell was recently named a finalist for the St. Louis Business Journal’s Healthiest Employers 2016 competition. The Business Journal’s profile of Husch Blackwell highlights the firm’s effective use of wellness challenges in the workplace and praises Chris Smith, a partner in our St. Louis office, for his dedicated participation in the wellness initiatives.

Given our firm’s success with health and wellness initiatives, we decided to take this opportunity to discuss and reflect on just a few (of the many) legal requirements relevant to employer wellness programs. Continue Reading EEOC’s targeting of wellness programs and what that means for your company

white collarAs most are aware, on May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its much anticipated final rule, drastically increasing the salary requirements to qualify as an exempt executive, administrative or professional employee. The DOL estimates that the final rule will extend overtime protections to 4.2 million workers in the first year of implementation and boost wages by $12 billion over the next 10 years. The rule is set to become effective Dec. 1, 2016. Continue Reading Challenge to the doubling of the white collar salary exemption under FLSA

Gun controlRecently, Husch Blackwell partners Stephen Cockerham and Kevin Koronka presented a webinar to Texas employers concerning the impact legislation concerning gun rights may have on employers. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over Texas federal district courts, recently released a decision concerning employee gun rights of which employers, particularly those with Mississippi employees, should take note. Continue Reading Fifth Circuit decision finds new exception to at-will employment: employee gun rights

Pay DayEmployers often misconstrue the terms “non-exempt employee” and “hourly employee,” leading them to believe the terms are interchangeable. But, not all non-exempt employees are necessarily hourly employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows employers to pay their non-exempt employees on a salary basis as long as they meet minimum wage and overtime mandates. Paying certain non-exempt employees on a salary basis may prove a useful tool as healthcare institutions weigh changes in employee compensation practices necessitated by new FLSA regulations (previously discussed). Continue Reading Compensating non-exempt employees using the fluctuating workweek method

checkboxA new ordinance went into effect April 4, 2016, which prohibits many employers in Austin from asking job applicants about their criminal histories until they’re well into the hiring process. The Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance, colloquially known as the “Ban the Box” measure, will forbid most employers from considering an applicant’s criminal record until after making a conditional offer of employment. Thus, Austin employers must evaluate whether the ordinance will affect their operations and, if so, what steps they need to take to alter their hiring processes and related guidelines. Continue Reading Austin becomes first Texas city to “Ban the Box”

clock-timer-iStock_000023196160_LargePatricia Smith, U.S. Department of Labor solicitor, recently announced the final rules regarding the changes to the FLSA White Collar Exemption Regulations will be published in July 2016. She also indicated the regulations will be effective 60 days after their publication. This means the changes will become effective no later than September 2016. Continue Reading DOL Announces FLSA changes will be effective no later than September 2016