May 13, 2021

Labor and Employment Newsletter

5 min


D&I Programs Should Achieve Diversity Goals and Avoid Legal Issues

Think about a recent hiring decision you've made. Now imagine that a non-selected candidate brings a discrimination claim, arguing that implicit biases in the hiring process led to their non-selection. Could implicit preferences and associations—unconscious mental shortcuts made without awareness or control—justify a discrimination claim?

Certainly, the appetite of employees to prove discrimination through unconscious bias is growing. Shareholders and clients may also be asking what your organization is doing to eliminate unconscious bias in the workplace. Whether facing a claim or a question, it may be time for your organization to reevaluate and reinvest in its Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) program—in a way that minimizes legal risks without creating new ones.

Latest Biden Executive Order Raises Minimum Wage to $15 for Federal Contractor and Subcontractor Employees

On April 27, 2021, President Biden signed the Executive Order on Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors (EO), which increases the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour for federal contractors and subcontractors working on or in connection with covered contracts. Not surprisingly, President Biden's EO closely follows a 2014 executive order issued by then-President Obama that increased the minimum wage for federal contractors and subcontractors to $10.10.

What does this latest minimum wage increase for federal contractors and subcontractors mean and when does it take effect? Click below to see a summary of the key provisions.

Wage Payment Guidance Updated as Pandemic and Telework Continue

On April 26, 2021, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued new guidance related to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance comes as a part of DOL’s Essential Workers, Essential Protections Initiative, in which DOL released a series of resources aimed to inform essential workers and their employers of rights under the FLSA and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

COVID-19 Tuition and Fees Related Refunds: 5 Ways to Insulate Your Institution from Reimbursement Litigation

Higher education institutions across the country are currently grappling with one major question in anticipation of reopening in the fall of 2021: What do they do about students who refuse to receive the COVID-19 vaccination? It is no secret that the COVID-19 vaccination has been met with skepticism across all generations, with many opting to forgo the vaccine altogether. As higher education institutions consider requiring mandatory vaccinations for their students, schools may face litigation from students who are prevented from attending in-class learning as a result of their refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This quandary has led to a proliferation of lawsuits seeking reimbursement of tuition for individuals who feel forced to forgo live education based on this choice. Click below to read our review of the current state of tuition reimbursement litigation and a discussion of ways higher educational institutions can insulate themselves against these inevitable legal battles.

Ready, Set, Yellow! Los Angeles Provides Additional Guidance for Offices Looking to Welcome Back Employees

This past week, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued an order moving Los Angeles into the least restrictive of California's color-coded levels of coronavirus-related tiers, the "yellow tier." As restrictions loosen for theaters, amusement parks, sports venues, museums, and bars, what does this mean for office-based employers in Los Angeles?

Dos and Don'ts of Using Biometric Data in the Workplace

Does your organization use employees' "biometric data"? Probably. Fingerprint swipes for time cards, temperature screenings for COVID precautions, and retina scans for security access — these are just a few examples of the proliferation of biometric data used in the workplace.

Using employee biometric data is not risk-free, however. In 2015, a court awarded a Pittsburgh-based employee $586,860 in damages for being illegally fired after he refused to clock in and out of work via the employer's biometric hand scanner. Employers that use biometric data should be wary of the developments in biometric data legislation and should take proactive steps to ensure compliance.

Attorney Spotlight

Why did you get into the practice of Labor and Employment law?

Karel MazanecKarel Mazanec: I became a Labor and Employment attorney because I enjoy working with employers to find thoughtful and practical solutions to workplace problems and disputes. I appreciate the opportunity to get to know my clients, their business, and their staff. My practice allows me to develop long-lasting relationships with my clients, collaborate to devise and implement strategies to help my clients avoid the disruption and cost of litigation, and defend my clients in the event litigation does arise. I enjoy the challenge of helping organizations comply with the ever-evolving framework of applicable labor and employment laws and regulations. Whether I am advising a company on personnel matters or workplace policies, or representing an organization in litigation or labor proceedings, each day presents unique challenges and opportunities that make my job interesting.

About the Labor and Employment Group

The bicoastal, 40-person Labor and Employment team at Venable provides guidance and support across the full spectrum of workplace dynamics – helping employers control costs, avoid disputes, and defend themselves when litigation arises. As co-editors of this newsletter, Michael Volpe and Doreen Martin invite you to share the content with your colleagues and reach out with any questions.