“Equal” Means “Equal in Substance,” Not “Equal in Form”

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We noted several weeks ago that the Ellen Pao case reminds us that sometimes settlement is better than the airing of sensitive allegations, and sometimes outrageous settlement demands require an aggressive defense, media attention notwithstanding. But just below that surface is a different issue Ms. Pao’s allegations have highlighted: equal pay for equal work questions, an issue that may be garnering increased scrutiny, particularly as studies continue to find pay rates for women lag behind their male counterparts. In the last several months, the federal appellate courts have taken up several Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) claims, with their analyses often getting to the heart of what “equal” really means in the context of the EPA. While employers have prevailed in the majority of these cases, an appellate decision finding in favor of the employer from earlier this year offers a helpful illustration of what “equal” is supposed to mean and how an employer looking to assess EPA compliance should approach such a question. Continue reading this entry

Isn’t Consistency Great?

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There is probably no more hard and fast rule, or favorite word of human resource professionals, than “consistency.” And we love consistency, right? It allows you to say “no” to an employee who wants something outside of the norm. It gives you a guilt-free reason to evenly apply policies, even when the result may otherwise seem to be unfair, disproportionate or even unwarranted. It makes responding to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges easier when you can show a clear pattern of how employers apply or enforce policies. In short, consistency makes life easier. Or does it? Continue reading this entry

Employer Wellness Programs: Finally (or at Least Potentially) Some Clarity

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Late last week, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its long-anticipated proposed regulations regarding the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to employer-sponsored wellness programs for employees, and the news for employers is not all bad. In fact, while the guidance only comes in the form of proposed rules (meaning there is now a mandatory 60-day public comment period after which the agency will issue its final rules), its clarity on how employers can use financial incentives to encourage workers to participate in wellness programs without violating federal law is welcome news for employers. Continue reading this entry

Common Sense Prevails: Working From Home Sometimes Will Not Work

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Well, phew.

We like when legal developments we believe raise troubling questions with problematic implications later develop into something seemingly more rational based on the intersection of law and logic. One such pleasant development occurred last week, when a federal appellate court reversed an earlier decision suggesting employers could no longer require many workers to actually come to work. However, employers should also be careful not to mistakenly conclude that telecommuting is not a reasonable accommodation as a general matter. Continue reading this entry

Don’t Let the Door Hit You … Oh, and I Have a Few Questions Before You Go

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Regardless of how great you are as an employer, not all of your employees will stick around forever, especially your most valuable employees. If the employee is valuable to you, you can be sure he or she would be just as valuable, if not more so, to a competitor. When the day comes to say goodbye, make sure to have an exit strategy in place to guard against your confidential information and trade secrets walking out the door with your former employee.

Continue reading this entry