In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation and/or transgendered status.  Though Title VII does not expressly mention “sexual orientation” or “transgender,” the Court held that “homosexuality and transgender status are inextricably bound up with sex” and that “it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex”—a protected class under Title VII.

Continue Reading BREAKING: The U.S. Supreme Court Holds That Title VII Protects LGBTQ Employees

An interdisclipinary effort navigating all aspects of workplace hazards, safety and compliance through all phases of the global health pandemic.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP has been advising some of the largest companies in the country regarding COVID-19 in the workplace, including assisting companies in developing workplace policies and procedures, advising on compliance with agency guidance and shutdown orders, assessing future claims risk and developing mitigation strategies to reduce risk. As the inevitable first wave of COVID-19 litigation has hit, Hunton has been on the front lines actively defending clients in some of the most high-profile litigation in the country.  Hunton has developed an integrated and interdisciplinary COVID-19: Workplace Risk & Incident Response Team that joins the expertise of our OSHA and employment law lawyers with the experience and talent of our nationally recognized toxic tort and mass tort litigators.

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Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP partners Deidre DuncanAmber Rogers and Emily Burkhardt Vicente were named among Profiles in Diversity Journal’s 2020 Women Worth Watching®. The honorees, whose profiles will appear in the journal’s summer issue, represent women executives from nonprofit, corporate and government sectors whose accomplishments and contributions have broken new ground.

Based in Washington, DC, Duncan is the Environmental Practice Leader and focuses on environmental, energy and administrative law relating to water and natural resource issues. Rogers is a partner in the Dallas office, assisting clients with labor relations and litigation, employment advice and counseling, and complex employment litigation. As Co-Chair of the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice, Vicente focuses her legal practice on complex employment and wage and hour litigation.

View Profiles in Diversity Journal’s Women Worth Watching® (summer 2020) for the complete list of award recipients.

As indicated in our previous blog on this topic, on May 30, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a two page order invalidating five elements of the NLRB’s 2019 election regulation, based on Count One of the plaintiff’s complaint.  On June 7, the court issued its promised memorandum opinion further explaining that order.

The opinion makes three key points.

Continue Reading NLRB: Federal Court in DC Issues Promised Opinion on Election Regulations

Under ERISA, a plaintiff must file a lawsuit within six years of an alleged breach of fiduciary duty, or within three years if the plaintiff had “actual knowledge” of the breach. There has been a longstanding split among the circuits regarding what constitutes “actual knowledge” for purposes of determining whether ERISA’s three-year limitations period should apply. On February 26, 2020, the Supreme Court settled this issue in Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee v. Sulyma, 140 S. Ct. 768 (2020).  In that decision, the Supreme Court held that a participant must have a genuine subjective awareness of information, and, therefore, the mere availability of plan disclosures will not, in itself, establish “actual knowledge” of a potential breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA.

Continue Reading Actual Knowledge under the Supreme Court’s Intel Decision: Can the DOL’s New Electronic Disclosure Regulations Bridge the Divide?

As we have previously reported here, here, and here, Virginia has enacted several new labor and employment laws that are poised to dramatically change the legal landscape for employers in Virginia.  In addition to the laws discussed above, Virginia has also enacted “ban the box” legislation for simple possession of marijuana.

Continue Reading Virginia Enacts “Ban the Box” Legislation for Marijuana Possession Arrests, Charges, and Convictions

On May 14, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule stating that group health plans, including employer-sponsored health plans, are not required to count the value of drug manufacturer coupons toward participant deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums (the “Final Rule”).  The Final Rule, published in HHS’s Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2021, allows group health plans to exclude the value of drug manufacturer coupons from participant annual cost-sharing amounts even where no medically appropriate generic drug is available.

Continue Reading HHS Rule is Good News for Prescription Drug Accumulator Programs

In mid-May the NLRB established a clear rule regarding stray marks on ballots in union representation elections, eradicating years of convoluted and inconsistent precedent. The decision, which applied retroactively, resulted in a union’s failure to amass a majority of the votes and, consequently, a reversal of the Regional Director’s Decision and Certification of Representation.

In a dispute between Providence Portland Medical Center (the “Employer”) and Service Employees International Union Local 49 (the “Union”), the representation election was decided by the narrowest margin, ultimately resulting in 383 votes for representation, and 382 votes against representation. Included in the mix was a single ballot with a clear “X” in the “Yes” box and a dark diagonal line with a smudge mark in the “No” box. The ALJ and Regional Director applied Board precedent and both concluded that the smudge mark on the diagonal line in the “No” box was an “obvious attempt at erasure,” resulting in the ballot being counted in favor of representation.

Continue Reading NLRB Provides Clarity and Consistency to Stray Marks on Ballots

One day before they were to go into effect, the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. blocked portions of the NLRB’s recently promulgated election rule, but left the agency free to implement the remainder.  American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations v. National Labor Relations Board, Civ. No. 20-cv-0675 (KBJ) (May 30, 2020).

Specifically, the Court granted the AFL-CIO’s motion for summary judgment “with respect to Count One of the Complaint”, but “will not vacate the remainder of the rule,” which was “remanded to the NLRB for reconsideration in light of this Court’s ruling.”

Continue Reading NLRB: Elements of Election Rule are Blocked by Court, But Board Implements the Rest

In another decision recognizing employers’ rights to issue reasonable prohibitions even if they have some slight impact of employees’ right to engage in concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act, a beverage manufacturer’s rules banning cell phones in food production and warehouse working areas was recently upheld by the National Labor Relations Board.  Cott Beverages Inc., 369 NLRB No. 82 (2020).

Continue Reading NLRB: Employer Allowed to Ban Cellphones in Beverage Production and Warehouse Working Areas