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Employment Law News Roundup: January 2016

employment-law-news-roundup-january-2016.pngJanuary was a big month for employment and labor law litigation, settlements, and proposed legislation. Most notably, workplace sexual harassment lawsuits took over news headlines throughout the nation, including an announcement of a proposed bill that would address the prevalent sexual harassment problem in astronomy.

Because many employment law news stories are published daily, we've decided to keep our readers informed by offering an employment law news roundup each month with summaries and links to top employment law content from around the web.

The following stories are an overview of just some of the latest developments in employment and labor law news, cases and legislation for January 2016.

employment-law-news-roundup-january-2016.png

January was a big month for employment and labor law litigation, settlements, and proposed legislation. Most notably, workplace sexual harassment lawsuits took over news headlines throughout the nation, including an announcement of a proposed bill that would address the prevalent sexual harassment problem in astronomy.

Because many employment law news stories are published daily, we've decided to keep our readers informed by offering an employment law news roundup each month with summaries and links to top employment law content from around the web.

The following stories are an overview of just some of the latest developments in employment and labor law news, cases and legislation for January 2016.

Top Employment Law News for January 2016

1.) AB 1509 Means New Protections for California Whistleblowers in 2016

Last October, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 1509 which took effect in January. AB 1509 offers more whistleblower and anti-retaliation protections for employees whose family members engage in whistleblower activities.

Read the bill text

2.) Disney Faces Lawsuits for Using H-1B Visas to Replace American Workers

H-1B work visas bring foreign workers to the U.S. to do specialized work for a few years when companies have trouble finding American workers to do those jobs, but two former Disney employees, Leo Perrero and Dena Moore, were replaced by H-1B workers - and also had to train them to do their jobs. The former employees filed class-action lawsuits in federal court in Tampa against Disney and two global consulting companies, HCL and Cognizant, which brought in foreign workers who replaced them. At least 30 more former Disney workers filed complaints with the EEOC claiming that they faced discrimination as American citizens.

Read the full story on DailyKoz.com

3.) EEOC Cautions Employers About Discrimination Against Employees who are, or are Perceived to be Muslim or Middle Eastern

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a statement by its Chair Jenny R. Yang, as well as two informational Question and Answer Guidance documents about workplace discrimination against employees who are, or who are perceived to be Muslim or Middle Eastern. The EEOC issued this guidance due to the recent tragic events in the United States and abroad involving extremist terrorist groups who have been widely perceived as Muslim and Middle Eastern. This serves as a reminder to employers that discrimination based on country of origin, race, or religion violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Read the full story on The National Law Review

4.) EEOC Seeks Public Input on Draft Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) made an announcement that it has voted to seek public input on proposed enforcement guidance addressing retaliation and related issues under federal employment discrimination laws. The Commission's enforcement guidance documents inform the public about the Commission's interpretation of the law and promote voluntary compliance. The 30-day input period ends on February 24, 2016.

Learn more on EEOC.gov

Review the draft guidelines

5.) Lyft Settles Independent Contractor Suit for $12 Million

Lyft recently agreed to pay $12.25 million to California drivers who claimed the on-demand ride company denied them employee benefits by misclassifying them as independent contractors.
Under the terms of the deal, Lyft will not reclassify its drivers as employees. This means that the company won't have to change its business model to provide drivers with benefits such as minimum wage and reimbursement for driving expenses.

Read the full story on SiliconBeat.com

6.) Minimum Wage: 14 States Raise Minimum Wage For New Year

On January 1, 2016, fourteen states raised minimum wages including California and New York. Only 29 states and Washington, D.C. have wages higher than the federally mandated minimum of $7.25 an hour, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several cities are going even higher than the states. In fact, Los Angeles and San Francisco are implementing these systems in July, which will eventually increase to $15 an hour over six years.

Read the full story on HNGN.com

7.) Obama Administration Cracking Down on Bosses Who Use Temp Workers to Dodge Labor Laws

Businesses don't just use temp staffing agencies to add workers for short periods when they need some help. Staffing agencies are also dodging responsibility in these instances, but now the Department of Labor is issuing guidelines on when the company using the staffing agency to hire temp workers should be considered a joint employer that's responsible for the people working in its facilities.

Read the full story on Today's Workplace

8.) Sexual Harassment at Work: Congresswoman Proposes Bill to Fight Growing Problem in Astronomy

California Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) announced a newly proposed bill that would bring to light confidential sexual harassment investigations into astronomy faculty members. Last year, a leaked confidential report revealed that University of California, Berkeley had conducted an investigation into one of its own astronomy researchers, ultimately finding that the prominent researcher had repeatedly engaged in unlawful harassing behaviors. The secrecy of the report was kept from even his closest colleagues, and he, as well as others were able to continue their careers despite their harassing behaviors.

Read the full story on ArsTechnica

9.) Transgender Roadmap: 10 Steps the EEOC Thinks Employers Should Take

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently settled a transgender discrimination and harassment suit. Although the employer entered into the consent decree voluntarily, the case brought about some information on how the EEOC (likely) thinks employers should deal with employees who are transgender.

Read the full story on Employment & Labor Insider

10.) Yoga Guru Bikram Choudhury Must Pay $6.4 Million in Punitive Damages, Jury Decides

A Los Angeles jury awarded more than $6.4 million in the first of a series of lawsuits against renowned yoga guru Bikram Choudhury in which women accuse the Bikram Yoga founder of sexual harassment. This verdict marks a significant financial and legal blow to the world-renowned yoga guru. The case involved a lawsuit involving one of his former legal advisors who alleged that Choudhury sexually harassed her while she worked for him, then fired her for investigating claims that he raped a yoga student.

Read the full story on LATimes.com

Do you know of other notable employment law stories from January that we should add to our list? Let us know in the comments.

If you are being subjected to workplace discrimination, harassment or employer retaliation in California, contact the expert employment attorneys at Hennig Ruiz for your free consultation today.

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