The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently held—consistent with other courts that have considered the issue—that “insurance agents are independent contractors and not employees for purposes of various federal employment statutes,” including ERISA, the ADEA, and Title VII.  In Murray v. Principal Financial Group, Inc., case number 09-16664, the panel unanimously affirmed a district court order granting summary judgment in favor of a purported employer because it found that the plaintiff was an independent contractor, not an employee entitled to the protections of Title VII.  The panel’s opinion clarifies the appropriate test for distinguishing between employees and independent contractors in the context of Title VII, and concludes that despite apparent precedent for multiple tests, there is, in fact, only one.Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Adopts Single Test For Employee/Independent Contractor Determinations

Committees in both the House and the Senate heard testimony this week regarding the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (H.R. 3721 and S. 1756).  Democrats introduced the Act last fall with hopes of restoring employees’ rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) by overturning the Supreme Court’s decision in Gross v. FBL Fin. Servs. Inc., 557 U.S. __ (2009).
Continue Reading Proposed Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act May Alter Other Discrimination And Retaliation Statutes

A new proposed rule by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides new guidance in determining what constitutes a “reasonable factor other than age” in defending against a claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.  The EEOC introduced the proposed rule on February 18, 2010 and is currently soliciting comments until Monday, April 19, 2010.Continue Reading “Reasonable Factor Other Than Age”: EEOC Proposes New Rule On ADEA Defense

The Obama Administration announced on February 1, 2010, that it requested $385.3 million for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for fiscal year 2011.  In addition, the administration requested $162 million for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.  Significantly, the requests represent an $18 million dollar budget increase for the EEOC and a $17 million dollar budget increase for the DOJ Civil Rights Division.Continue Reading Obama Announces Major Budget Increases for EEOC and DOJ Civil Rights Division

President Obama recently nominated Victoria A. Lipnic for a seat on the five-member Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  Lipnic is Republican, with an extensive background in employment law.  During the prior Administration, she served as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards from 2002-2009.  In that capacity, Lipnic oversaw the Department of Labor’s largest agency, and led the teams that revised the Part 541 overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations.
 Continue Reading Three New EEOC Commissioners Recently Nominated

On July 15, 2009, the EEOC issued guidance entitled “Understanding Waivers of Discrimination Claims in Employee Severance Agreements.” In this guidance, the EEOC generally explains the waiver of discrimination claims through release agreements and answers questions employees may have about the effect of those agreements on the filing of charges of discrimination and on severance