Using Arbitration Agreements With Employees To Control Costs and Exposure

A useful tool that I do not see enough employers using is arbitration agreements with their employees.  There is no doubt that using arbitration agreements has positives and negatives, but it is one of the very few, limited ways in which an employer can force an employee to forego the rather ridiculously lengthy and expensive processes involved with defending claims for discrimination, retaliation, or the like.  As such, more employers should be using arbitration agreements to proactively address such situations. Read More… “Using Arbitration Agreements With Employees To Control Costs and Exposure”

Optimizing Social Security Spousal Benefits

Managing your way through the Social Security system can be a very challenging maze and proper planning can sometimes increase the benefits to which you are entitled.  As the Social Security website states:  “Even if you have never worked under Social Security, you may be able to get spouse’s retirement benefits if you are at least 62 years of age and your spouse is receiving retirement or disability benefits.”  Note that you can also receive the spouse’s benefit no matter what your age is if you are caring for the spouse’s child who is also receiving benefits.  Based upon the way the Social Security system works, both spouses can request benefits based on their partner’s Social Security work record.  When you apply for Social Security benefits based upon your work record, the Social Security Administration considers you as filing for both your individual and your spousal benefits.  You are supposed to receive the higher of your own accumulated benefit or one-half (1/2) of your spouse’s benefit provided your spouse has already applied for Social Security. Read More… “Optimizing Social Security Spousal Benefits”

Client Alert: U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Mandatory Arbitration Clauses in Employment Contracts

On Monday, May 21, 2018, the United States Supreme Court in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, ruled in a 5 to 4 decision that employers can utilize mandatory arbitration provisions to bar employees from bringing class-action lawsuits over employment disputes.  In reconciling conflicting federal laws, the Supreme Court held that mandatory arbitration agreements providing for individualized proceedings must be enforced.

As a practical matter, the Court’s decision is a big win for employers.  Companies may include provisions in employment contracts that require employees to bring any dispute through individualized arbitration and bar the filing or joining of a class-action lawsuit.  As compared to arbitrating a single employee dispute, a class-action lawsuit, even a frivolous one, can consume substantial time and resources.  Employers would be wise to consult with an attorney about whether using mandatory arbitration agreements could be beneficial to help limit potential claims and damages over employment related disputes.

The Supreme Court’s decision can be accessed here.

For more information on the history of this case, please see a prior Mallery & Zimmerman blog post.

U.S. Supreme Court Changes Course on 70 Years of Federal Overtime Law

A recent United States Supreme Court decision has changed the game in interpreting whether employees are exempt from overtime requirements.  For more than 70 years, the Court has interpreted exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) narrowly.  The FLSA is a 1938 law that requires employers to pay overtime to certain employees who work more than 40 hours in a week.  There are many categories of employees who are exempt from this requirement.  The Court, however, has long-held that such exemptions should be construed narrowly with an eye towards the payment of overtime.  On April 2, 2018, the Court departed from this principal.  Read More… “U.S. Supreme Court Changes Course on 70 Years of Federal Overtime Law”

Important Changes to Litigation in Wisconsin on the Horizon

On April 3, 2018, the Wisconsin legislature enacted 2017 Wisconsin Act 235, which includes several reforms to litigation taking place in Wisconsin state courts.  The changes include a new definition of what is “discoverable” in litigation, limitations and alterations to certain aspects of discovery and changes to several statutes of limitation.  Below is a short summary of a few of the more important changes.  Attorneys practicing law in Wisconsin should be aware of these changes, which will take effect July 1, 2018. Read More… “Important Changes to Litigation in Wisconsin on the Horizon”

Telecommuting and the Americans with Disabilities Act

A recent decision from the United States 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found that working remotely can be a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employers should always remain cautious about applying rigid and inflexible rules to requests for reasonable accommodations.

In Meachem v. Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division, the Plaintiff was an in-house employment attorney for Memphis Light. After a history of miscarriages, her physician placed her on bed rest for the last 10 weeks of her pregnancy. The Plaintiff requested that she be allowed to work from home as an accommodation. Her employer denied the request. The 6th circuit found that she could perform the essential functions of her job remotely for the applicable time period. It also found that other employees had been allowed to work from home without objection. Therefore, the Court upheld the jury verdict in favor of the Plaintiff finding that her employer had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The real lesson from cases such as this is inflexible policies simply do not work with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employers need to engage in an interactive process to prove and determine whether or not an accommodation is reasonable and does not create an undue hardship. Time and time again employers apply a policy without thought and are found liable. More specifically to this case, working from home with the technologies of the time, could certainly be found to be reasonable in certain circumstances.  Therefore, carefully consider all aspects of any request before deciding whether or not to deny it. If in doubt, discuss the issue with your attorney.

If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact its author, Mark Sauer, at 715-8456-8234 or msauer@mzattys.com.

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Non-Solicitation Agreements Invalidated by Wisconsin Supreme Court as Overbroad

Employers beware. Many employers utilize non-solicitation of employee agreements as standard practice when hiring new employees. Such agreements typically prevent a former employee (in usually a high level or management position) from encouraging current employees to leave the employer to join him or her at their new company. Despite the practicality of these agreements, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has called into question the enforceability of non-solicitation of employee agreements, and employers who utilize these agreements would be wise to reevaluate them in light of the Court’s decision in Manitowoc Company, Inc. v. Lanning, 2018 WI 6 (Jan. 19, 2018). Read More… “Non-Solicitation Agreements Invalidated by Wisconsin Supreme Court as Overbroad”

Waterfront Property Buyers Beware: Buying the Land Doesn’t Guarantee Rights to the Water

In a previous post, we discussed the Court of Appeals’ decision on Movrich v. Lobermeier. As noted, that decision was appealed and heard before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which recently overturned many of the holdings of the court of appeals. This new opinion is instructive and should cause shoreline property owners and prospective shoreline property owners to pause because of the impact on their rights. Read More… “Waterfront Property Buyers Beware: Buying the Land Doesn’t Guarantee Rights to the Water”

Rounding Time: The Do’s and Don’ts of an Effective Rounding Policy for Wisconsin Employers

A common question that often arises for employment attorneys relates to proper rounding policies for employee time.  A legal policy can be an effective, efficient method of dealing with the issue, while a misstep can lead to significant potential liability, costing an employer thousands of dollars in legal fees, and considerable time and headaches. The best way to avoid this wasted money, time, and frustration is to preemptively review your policies and procedures to ensure they are compliant with the law. Below are things to consider to achieve a compliant rounding policy. Read More… “Rounding Time: The Do’s and Don’ts of an Effective Rounding Policy for Wisconsin Employers”

Changes to Wisconsin’s Conditional Use Permits May Warrant Revisions To Zoning Ordinances

Without much fanfare or public attention, the Wisconsin legislature recently enacted 2017 Wisconsin Act 67.  One component of this legislation was to create and amend statutes pertaining to conditional use permits (CUPs) at the county, town and city levels.  Given the changes to Wisconsin law in this regard, which became effective November 28, 2017, it may necessitate local governments updating, or wholesale revising, their zoning ordinances.  Such revisions may be appropriate to: (1) ensure the ordinances comply with Wisconsin law; (2) try and retain, to the extent still possible, some discretion over the granting of CUPs; and (3) ensure that the conditional uses listed in the ordinance are still acceptable in light of the possibility of some loss of control and discretion as to where and when these may occur. Read More… “Changes to Wisconsin’s Conditional Use Permits May Warrant Revisions To Zoning Ordinances”