All posts by Katie Ervin Carlson

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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JULY 4 – CELEBRATING TRANSPARENCY AND INDEPENDENCE

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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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THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF “BAN THE BOX” LAWS

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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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POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR U.S. WOMEN’S SOCCER TEAM – BUT WILL IT MATTER?

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Back in March, members of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging members of the team are paid less than members of the men’s team, violating the federal Equal Pay Act.  The players argue they are paid almost four times less than their male counterparts (for example, if the women’s team wins the world cup, each player gets a $75,000 bonus; if the men’s team wins, each player gets a staggering bonus of $9.375 million).

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SO, WHAT DOES MAKE FOR A GOOD EMPLOYEE LAWSUIT?

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Last week, our colleague Patrick Smith posted an entry on his employment blog titled, “What Makes for a Good Employee Lawsuit”.  In his blog, Patrick responded to an employment presentation given by Ohio-based attorney Randy Freking.  While the employment attorneys at Babich Goldman primarily represent employees, Patrick primarily represents employers, so his ideas on what he thinks makes a good employee lawsuit caught my eye.  Below are some of Patrick’s thoughts from an employer perspective and some of my thoughts from an employee perspective.

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SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

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On March 23, the New York Times reported on a sexual harassment and sex discrimination lawsuit filed recently by Enrichetta Ravina against Columbia University.  Ms. Ravina, an assistant professor, worked with another professor at the university to obtain data as part of her research which she hoped would eventually lead to tenure.  The professor had a relationship with the company that held the data and used that relationship to help Ms. Ravina get the data she needed.  Because of that relationship, the professor could also influence the company to revoke Ms. Ravina’s access to the data.  Among other things, Ms. Ravina says that when her research got to where taking the data away would have damaged the project, the professor harassed her and interfered with her research.  According to the lawsuit, the more Ms. Ravina rebuked the professor’s sexual advances, the worse his behavior became.  For its part, Ms. Ravina alleges Columbia ignored and marginalized her complaints, telling her to forget about the research and move on and comparing her situation to a soap opera.

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IOWA SUPREME COURT REVERSES LOWER COURT’S DECISION IN OPEN MEETINGS CASE

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Today the Iowa Supreme Court reversed the district court’s decision in Hutchison, et al. v. Warren County, et al., a case involving Iowa’s Open Meetings Law. Babich Goldman employment attorneys Tom Foley, David Goldman, and Katie Ervin Carlson are part of the Plaintiffs’ legal team.  We’ll take some time to re-read the decision and compile our thoughts about what happens next.  In the meantime, you can read the decision here.

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