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Washington DC Employment Law Blog

Can an employee on FMLA leave from work attend a night concert?

A federal court in Texas has dismissed a claim of FMLA discrimination and retaliation by a woman who was fired after attending a Beyoncé concert while she was on personal medical leave. The railroad employee claimed that the company interfered with her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act and illegally terminated her. The employer countered that she was fired for abusing the leave policy and failing to communicate with her managers per FMLA rules.

The Northern District of Texas judge shut down the woman’s claim with Beyoncé-like finality. But it raises the legitimate question of whether people on medical leave or family leave are entitled to enjoyment of life or expected to sit at home and recuperate in stoic solitude.

9th Circuit revisiting decision that allows unequal pay for women

In a conundrum with big implications, a federal appeals court will revisit whether – in some circumstances -- men can be paid more than women for the same job.

On the surface, that conflicts with the Equal Pay Act. But a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit ruled in April that salary history could justify unequal pay. In essence, the panel determined the men in question were not paid more because of their gender but because of their experience.

9th Circuit revisits ruling on unequal pay in some situations

In a conundrum with profound implications, a federal appeals court will revisit whether - in some circumstances -- men can be paid more than women for the same job.

On the surface, that conflicts with the Equal Pay Act. But a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit ruled in April that salary history could justify unequal pay. In essence, the panel determined the male hires in question were paid more because of their last paycheck and that their gender was a coincidence.

Employees are not fully protected by the First Amendment

Private employment is at will. The most productive or most loyal worker is subject to termination at any time. Employers are not required to show cause or pay severance. The only exception is getting fired for a discriminatory reason that violates state or federal law.

Recent developments have people wondering if they can be fired for speaking their mind or expressing political views, especially off the clock and away from work. In many cases, the answer is yes, when “free speech” activities reflect poorly on the company or violate company policy or employment agreements.

News from the Courts: Discrimination Complaint Reinstated

News from the Courts:  On August 11, 2017, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued its revised opinion in Ortiz-Diaz v. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, No. 15-5008.  Reversing its own prior decision, the panel reinstated portions of Mr. Ortiz-Diaz's EEO complaint.

EEOC lawsuits allege sex discrimination in physical ability tests

 Three different cases. Three different theories of gender discrimination. But one common thread – an old school presumption that certain blue-collar jobs are a “man’s work.”

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) has filed suit against three U.S. employers for sex discrimination in hiring. The lawsuits allege overt bias against female job candidates in the form of bogus physical tests, physical appearance, and a blatant “no girls allowed” hiring policy. 

DOJ Brief Supports 2nd Circuit Ruling On Sexual Orientation

Trump administration is drawing battle lines on LGBT issues

Contradicting campaign rhetoric about being an ally to the LGBT community, the Trump administration has thrown down the gauntlet on sexual orientation in the workplace and transgender individuals in the military. The Department of Justice has filed an amicus brief in support of a 2nd Circuit decision that Title VII does not extend to gay and lesbian employees. In the same week, President Trump declared that the U.S. armed forces will no longer allow transgender citizens to serve in any capacity.

Developments at OPM: Proposed Rule on Administrative Leave

Developments at OPM:  On July 13, 2017, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published a Proposed Rule in the Federal Register (82 Fed.Reg. 32,263-32,281).  The Proposed Rule implements recent legislation modifying the legal structure for administrative leave for federal employees. 

News from the Courts: DC Employee Fired Discriminatorily Reinstated

News from the Courts: On July 10, 2017, the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) issued its Final Order in Massengale v. D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, OHR Docket No: 14-360-DC(CN). OHR reversed Ms. Massengale's 2014 termination and ordered her reinstated with back pay.

News from Congress: VA Employees' Civil Service Protections Slashed

News from Congress:  On June 23, 2017, the President signed into law Pub.L. 115-41.  The new statute reduces civil service protections for employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA).

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