QUID PRO QUO SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE NEWS

News camera

Sexual harassment can take various forms in the employment context.  Perhaps the most straightforward example is a situation where an employee is the victim of unwelcome and unwanted sexual advances and/or physical contact.  Another form, called “quid pro quo” sexual harassment, has been making headlines this summer after former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit accusing Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment.

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LIMITING NON-COMPETE AGREEMENTS

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We get a lot of calls about non-compete agreements.  Are they really enforceable?  Will my employer sue me if I take a job elsewhere?  Are there any limitations on non-compete agreements?  The answers are far from simple, but:  yes, maybe, and absolutely.

A few weeks ago, the New York Times ran an article about non-compete agreements and a growing trend among states to lessen the harsh effects these agreements have on workers.  One of those states is Massachusetts.  Its state legislature has spent the latter part of the current session reforming the state’s non-compete law, including exemptions for certain classes of workers, strict limits on how long a non-compete can be enforced, and a requirement that the agreement be supported by more than the employee’s continued employment.  Lawmakers are still working on resolving differences between House and Senate sponsored bills and crafting a final law.

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TRENDS IN WAGE INCREASES

Cash

As a corollary to my earlier post about Trends in Leave Policies, I wanted to highlight two large companies who have committed to raising wages for their employees.  Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sent a letter to employees on Monday announcing that all employees and store managers in U.S. company-run stores will enjoy a base pay raise of 5 percent or more come October.  These raises will affect employees in approximately 7,600 Starbucks locations in the United States.

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JULY 4 – CELEBRATING TRANSPARENCY AND INDEPENDENCE

Iowa

Yesterday I read an interesting article published by the ABA Journal chronicling the history of the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which was signed into law by Lyndon Johnson fifty years ago on June 4, 1966.  Apparently, President Johnson hated the law so much that he threatened to veto it after it was passed by Congress.  While he said he supported open government, he was also concerned that there were certain circumstances, particularly involving national security, that trumped the public’s right-to-know.   One of the interesting notes in the ABA’s article is that Donald Rumsfeld, then a Republican from Illinois serving on the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Government Information, was at first an outspoken and vigorous supporter of FOIA.  He changed his tune over time and eventually became a sharp critic of the legislation.  The article reveals he is not the only person to have such a change in heart.

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AFFIRMATIVE ACTION VICTORY

University

Last week, the United States Supreme Court upheld the University of Texas at Austin’s affirmative action policies in Fisher v. University of Texas.  While not directly related to employment law, the decision is an important sign of the Court’s commitment to diversity and may be indicative of how future decisions will come down.

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THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF “BAN THE BOX” LAWS

Handcuffs

Last week, researchers at the University of Michigan and Princeton University released the results of one of the latest studies regarding the effects of so-called “Ban the Box” legislation.  Prior to the legislation, employers could ask applicants about their criminal background as part of the employment application process.  This resulted in substantial barriers to employment for minority applicants, particularly African Americans and Latinos statistically more likely to have been incarcerated or have a criminal record.  It has also, some believe, resulted in prison overcrowding.

Both bad things.

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THE IOWA SUPREME COURT ON UNEMPLOYMENT LAW

Jail cell

On Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a 57-page opinion in Irving v. Employment Appeal Board.  Sondra Irving appealed a judgment from the district court that affirmed the denial of her unemployment benefits after she was terminated from her job at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC).  Irving was absent from work while she was incarcerated on criminal charges unrelated to her job (which were ultimately dismissed).

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