The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently decertified a class of female correctional facility employees who alleged gender discrimination based, in part, on a theory of “ambient” harassment.  The opinion underscores how the individualized nature of harassment claims can act as a barrier to class certification.
Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Decertifies Ambient Sexual Harassment Class of Plaintiffs

While COVID-19 may have hit the business community like a hurricane, whether the pandemic, in fact, qualifies for a natural disaster exception under the federal law requiring businesses to warn employees of impending layoffs, remains an open question. This February, a federal judge paved the way for the Eleventh Circuit to weigh in on whether a class action can proceed against an employer who was forced to lay off employees due to COVID-19.
Continue Reading The Eleventh Circuit Could Tackle Whether COVID-19 is a Disaster for WARN Purposes with Companies Facing Continued Layoffs

For over 30 years, most district courts throughout the country have used a two-step conditional certification process to govern certification of collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  But in its recent and game-changing opinion, the Fifth Circuit rejected that two-step process and laid out a stricter framework for FLSA collective actions. 
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Rejects Two-Step FLSA Certification Process

For decades, most federal courts have held the view that private settlements of Fair Labor Standards Act claims are unenforceable unless they are approved by the Department of Labor or a court.  However, some federal courts have recently begun to challenge this long-held view and have taken a more flexible approach that treats FLSA settlements no differently than settlements or releases involving other employment law claims.
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Holds that Private FLSA Settlement With Union Bars Future FLSA Claims

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has joined several sister circuits in holding that courts should consider the amount of “possible” and not “probable” punitive damages in determining the $5 million amount-in-controversy for federal jurisdiction in class action cases. 
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Says Reasonable Possibility of Punitive Damages Will Suffice for Amount-in-Controversy Under CAFA

Virginia has enacted several new labor and employment laws that are poised to dramatically change the legal landscape for employers in Virginia, including enacting “ban the box” legislation for simple possession of marijuana. 
Continue Reading Virginia Enacts “Ban the Box” Legislation for Marijuana Possession Arrests, Charges, and Convictions

A recent Fifth Circuit opinion held that a company’s arbitration agreement did not prevent employees from pursuing their claims as a collective arbitration, rather than individual claims.  As class claims related to COVID-19 begin to surge, the opinion provides occasion for companies to review their arbitration agreements to ensure that the companies’ aims are clearly drafted.
Continue Reading As COVID-based Class Actions Loom, Fifth Circuit Provides Reminder for Arbitration Agreements and Class Action Waivers

The Seventh Circuit recently held that district courts should not send court-authorized notice of pending FLSA collective actions to employees who are party to a mandatory arbitration agreement.
Continue Reading Seventh Circuit: Employees Covered by Arbitration Agreements Should Not Receive Notice of Pending FLSA Collective Actions

On Saturday, April 11, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam officially signed the Virginia Values Act into law.  The bill’s headlining purpose—adding gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of classes protected under the Virginia Human Rights Act—is commendable and has garnered widespread support.  However, other, more technical changes in the bill that are unrelated to the headlining purpose are poised to change the landscape of employment litigation in Virginia and could lead to a significant increase in discrimination lawsuits filed in Virginia’s state courts.  Virginia employers are well served to begin preparing now for this new procedure in the handling of employment discrimination charges and litigation, as the bill’s new provisions go into effect on July 1st.
Continue Reading Virginia Values Act Could Open Floodgate of New Employment Discrimination Cases For Virginia Employers