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- Show Some Consideration
- The Inbox - Liars, Titans and Terror Babies, Oh My!
- Foreign Whistleblower Cashes in on Report to SEC
- The Inbox - The Dude Abides
- Goldman Sachs Programmer Asks Third Circuit to Take Another Look at Advancement Case
- The Inbox - September 12, 2014
- An Officer or a Vice President: Goldman Sachs Programmer Must Prove Advancement Case to Jury After Appellate Ruling
- The Inbox - August 29, 2014
- Five Takeaways from the Second Circuit’s Dodd-Frank Decision in Liu v. Siemens
- Part 3 - Anatomy of a Big-Time Non-Compete Dispute
- "Key Man" Provisions
- After-Acquired Evidence
- Age Discrimination
- Arbitration and ADR
- Breach of Contract
- Change-in-Control Provisions
- Civil Litigation
- Dodd-Frank Act
- Equal Pay
- Executive Compensation
- Family Medical Leave
- Fiduciary Duties
- First Amendment
- Government Employers and Employees
- Monthly Roundup
- Motions to Dismiss
- Noncompete Agreements
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Preliminary Injunction
- Religious Discrimination
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act
- Section 1983
- Severance Agreements
- Social Media
- Statutes of limitations
- Summary Judgment
- Termination With or Without Cause
- The Basics
- The Inbox
- Title VII
- Trade Secrets
- Vicarious Liability
- Wage and Hour
- Workplace Conditions (Occupational Safety and Health)
- Wrongful Termination
Blogs We Like:
The AmLaw Daily
The BLT: The Blog of LegalTimes
Connecticut Employment Law Blog
The D&O Diary
Delaware Employment Law Blog
DeNovo: A Virginia Appellate Law Blog
The Employer Handbook
Executive Pay Matters
The Federal Criminal Appeals Blog
Grand Jury Target
Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home: What You Need To Know Before You Scream “I Quit,” Get Fired, Or Decide to Sue the Bastards
Trade Secrets & Noncompete Blog
Virginia Appellate News & Analysis
WSJ Law Blog
Showing 93 posts in The Inbox.
If executives lie and fudge credentials on their resumes, they may find their pantsuits on fire when falsehoods are discovered. For example, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that David Tovar, a top Wal-Mart spokesperson, was terminated recently when a bogus credential was discovered through the company’s promotion-vetting process. According to the Journal, liars and resume-fakers should beware of embellishing their credentials given the increased digitization of transcripts and diplomas. A company named Parchment, for example, houses these credentials in a secure database, allowing employers and employees to substantiate resume claims. Additionally, Pearson PLC has developed a digital platform whereby recipients of licenses and certifications can post “badges” to their profiles on websites like LinkedIn. It’s all in an effort to keep everyone honest, especially those who need a little nudging in that direction.
The University of Detroit Mercy’s Titans athletic department has seen its share of controversy stemming from a lawsuit filed by former assistant basketball coach, Carlos Briggs. According to The Varsity News, Briggs claimed he was terminated for blowing the whistle on an affair between the athletic director and another assistant coach. A federal judge dismissed the case, asserting that no recognized cause of action arose from his colleagues’ extramarital relationship. Briggs is appealing with the hopes that an oral argument on the merits will give weight to his claims. Read More ›
The court of public opinion giveth, and taketh away. You may recall that we reported on the reinstatement of Arthur T. Demoulis as Market Basket’s CEO, following weeks of customer and employee advocacy for the chief. Public opinion, in the case of Desmond Hague, cut the other way in unrelenting fashion. Mr. Hague, president and chief executive of Centerplate, a catering company servicing sports and entertainment venues, was captured on video kicking and abusing an otherwise docile Doberman Pinscher puppy. The Washington Post reports that when the footage made its way to the SPCA of British Columbia, it quickly went viral and users of social media demanded his resignation. Initially, Centerplate dismissed the incident as a personal matter. As media attention increased, Centerplate announced that Mr. Hague would undergo counseling and community service. The masses remained unimpressed, and as the pressure mounted, Mr. Hague was ultimately removed from his position. Given the power of social media, it appears that the court of public opinion has rendered its verdict.
The National Law Review, citing the recent lawsuit filed by TrialGraphix Inc. against its competitor FTI Consulting, Inc. in the New York Supreme Court, offered helpful tips to employers on both sides of the battle over poached employees. In this case, four high-ranking employees conspicuously left TrialGraphix for FTI Consulting. As in similar suits filed by Booz Allen and Arthur J Gallagher Co. (which we discussed here), claims of corporate poaching usually involve claims of trade secret theft and interference with client business relationships. The article highlights the importance of clearly-worded, reasonably-framed restrictive covenant agreements, safeguarding data upon the employee’s departure, and requiring employees to formally acknowledge the return of all company proprietary information and devices. Similarly, employers seeking to hire these employees should review any non-compete agreements to ensure compliance while also requiring the employee to refrain from using the previous employer’s confidential information or trade secrets. Non-disparagement agreements can also go a long way to prevent ill will between the old and the new employers. Read More ›
It’s only a matter of time before the traffic swells return to D.C. after a blissful summer of light, breezy roadway locomotion. As the holiday weekend begins to take hold, ushering in the anticipated congestion, here are a few highlights from around the web to ease you into the long weekend.
Departing employees leaving for the greener pastures of a rival in their industry might see red when the former employer suspects foul play and takes action. Such was possibly the case when Arthur J. Gallagher Co. sued three of its former insurance executives in New York federal court as well as Howden Insurance Services Inc., the rival that inherited the trio. According to Law 360, AJG claims that the executives conspired to stagger their departure dates, steal proprietary information, and lure clients away to Howden. AJG attributes the projected $700 million loss in revenue in 2014 to business redirected to Howden upon their departures. AJG first seeks to enjoin Howden from soliciting or working with 13 of AJG current and former clients, and to bar the use of trade secrets allegedly taken from them.
Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., a Virginia-based consulting firm known for its lucrative government contracts business, sued former employees last year in a New Jersey district court for conspiring to steal proprietary information from the company. According to Washington Business Journal, Booz Allen recently amended its complaint to name Deloitte and some of its senior executives in the suit, claiming that they obtained proprietary information about salaries, roles, and security clearances of key employees for the purpose of luring them, their intellectual capital, and the potential business stream to Deloitte. The Booz Allen team was devoted to the Instructional Development and Immersive Learning (IDIL) capability which invested in and developed 3-D modeling, animations, and interactive simulations. Read More ›
A recent decision from the Third Circuit proved a boon to employers facing the dangers of class arbitration in costly wage/hour disputes. In its decision, the Third Circuit determined that courts, rather than arbitrators, should decide whether class arbitration exists in the absence of specific language in the arbitration agreement. Employers generally oppose class arbitration because of arbitrators’ tendency to allow them, and the low prospects of overturning an unfavorable arbitration decision. The longer-term consequences of the decision also bode well for employers who seek to insert class waivers in their arbitration agreements. Law 360 interviewed Steven Suflas, a Ballard Spahr partner, who opined that employers can now take solace in the fact that a court will likely enforce class waivers found in arbitration agreements.
Speaking of upholding class waivers in arbitration agreements, the California Supreme Court’s recent Iskanian decision did just that. However, the court did carve out a general exception to the rule, stating that employers may not bar arbitration of claims brought under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) as a matter of California public policy. As if on cue, plaintiffs in a federal putative wage class action against CarMax Auto Superstores California LLC filed new state claims under PAGA, claiming they could not be arbitrated despite being ordered to arbitrate other claims on July 2. As reported by Law 360, CarMax argues that plaintiffs are seeking to avoid the arbitration order with the state PAGA claims while plaintiffs maintain that the suits are substantially different. Read More ›
Just when government whistleblowers hoped retaliation was on the decline following the passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, there appears to be a 2.0 version out, and it’s coming with a vengeance. The latest wave in retaliation comes in the form of criminal investigations lodged by government agencies against truth-telling employees. Rather than risk detection with a baseless termination or demotion, these employers have increasingly begun to wage criminal investigations, said Tom Devine, legal director for the Government Accountability Project in an interview with Government Executive. Devine stated that such actions are a scary, dangerous trend, and that forcing someone out of a government position through criminal investigations could forever damage the employee’s prospects for future employment.
NYG Capital LLC made two headlines this week when a former intern accused its CEO, Benjamin Wey, of sexual harassment and wrongful termination, among other things. The plaintiff, Hanna Bouveng, a Swedish native, was working in the US on a J-1 visa when the alleged actions took place. Upon her termination, Bouveng alleges that Wey continued to stalk, harass and malign her reputation. Meanwhile, as also reported by Law 360, a former graphic design artist was terminated shortly after cooperating with attorneys investigating Bouveng’s charges against Wey. Yonatan Weiss lent credence to Bouveng’s accusations and claims he was fired for being truthful during interviews on the subject. Read More ›
We’re in the midst of summer and the news outlets are replete with anti-compete and whistleblower developments. But before we get to those, let’s turn our attention to China:
If the dog days of summer here in the U.S. aren’t sweltering enough, imagine what they must feel like in the bustling, smog-laden cities of China. The Wall Street Journal reports that Coca- Cola Co. offers “environmental hardship pay” to some employees as a condition for relocating to some of China’s cities. Ed Hannibal of the HR consulting firm, Mercer LLC, indicates that it is not uncommon for multinational companies to offer the extra pay to incentivize workers to relocate to polluted cities. It helps to offset severe living conditions and ensure the company’s continued presence on the ground.
These days it seems employers face an uphill battle to see non-compete agreements prevail in court. Recently, a Louisiana state court carefully examined the terms of a non-compete in Gulf Industries, Inc. v. Boylan (La. App. 1 Cir. June 6, 2014). The National Law Review reports that the employer in this case inserted a two year non-compete provision into a one-year employment contract. According to the Court, even though Boylan’s employment extended two years past the date specified in the employment contract, the non-compete provision kicked in when the one year employment term was satisfied. The employer sought to extend the non-compete, arguing that it did not take effect until Boylan resigned. The Court disagreed and held that the non-compete had run during Boylan’s continued employment with the company. Little did he realize at the time, but Boylan was quite the multi-tasker. Read More ›
Happy 4th of July! While many Americans enjoy a festive day of parades, barbecues and fireworks, let’s see if this week’s highlights spark your interest:
- The American Apparel/Dov Charney feud seems set to implode as the parties fire missiles and missives at one another. According to Fortune, Mr. Charney requested a special shareholder meeting in an attempt to increase the number of sympathetic directors on the board while also reporting in a regulatory filing that he is working with investment firm Standard General to amass a controlling interest. Meanwhile, American Apparel responded by adopting a poison pill which would cap a shareholder or group of shareholders interest at 15 percent.
- Bloomberg reported that the former employees of Goldman Sachs, who have alleged gender bias in their suit against it, ignited a class certification request on Tuesday. In support of their motion, the plaintiffs argued that female vice presidents and associates were systematically paid and promoted less than their male counterparts in the investment banking, management and securities divisions since September 10, 2002.
On Thursday, even though the United States lost to Germany, they moved on from the Group of Death to take on Belgium in the World Cup round of 16. In honor of US Soccer’s achievement, we are glad to present this footy-themed edition of the Inbox.
- The New York Post continues to report on the controversy surrounding last week’s decision to terminate American Apparel CEO Dov Charney. In this piece, one of our editors achieved his goal of being quoted in that paper, although neither he nor Charney got a clever rhyming front-page headline.
- A New Jersey judge issued a red card to a shareholder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, tossing the case out on summary judgment. MassDevice.com reported that the judge decided that J&J acted in good faith when it decided not to claw back $40 million that had been paid to its former CEO, William Weldon.
This has been a noteworthy week here at Suits by Suits for developments in the law concerning whistleblowers; in addition to our in-depth articles we published this week, we also saw the following developments:
- The big news – which we tweeted about yesterday – is that the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lane v. Franks, a case we’ve been watching with considerable interest. In a unanimous (9-0) decision, the Supreme Court ruled that whistleblowers are protected against retaliation by their employers when they are called to testify in court about corruption, departing from past cases in which employees were held not to have First Amendment rights to discuss matters learned at their jobs. Writing for the unanimous Court, Justice Sotomayor held that such testimony is in fact protected by the First Amendment because “Anyone who testifies in court bears an obligation, to the court and society at large, to tell the truth.” We’ll be analyzing this decision in depth in the coming days.
- The Supreme Court’s decision in Lane v. Franks comes on the heels of a survey conducted by the federal Office of Personnel Management showing that nearly 20% of federal employees are afraid of retaliation if they were to disclose “a suspected violation of any law, rule or regulation” by any government agency. (61.2% affirmed that they felt free to disclose such violations without fear of reprisal.) The Washington Post analyzed these results in the context of the ongoing controversy regarding the department of Veterans’ Affairs; the Acting Secretary of the VA, Sloan Gibson, has promised to protect any whistleblowers from reprisal. Nevertheless, attorney Scott D. Gerber, writing in the Huffington Post, opines that the VA’s whistleblower protection program “is broken, too.”
- Relatedly, the Wall Street Journal opined that recent activity and statements by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may signal that the agency is prepared to take stronger measures against employers who retaliate against whistleblowers.
- Illustrating the SEC’s get-tough policy, earlier this week, it fined a hedge fund, Paradigm Capital Management, for retaliating against a whistleblower that reported alleged “improper transactions” by the hedge fund to the SEC.
Of course, not everything that happened this week involved whistleblowers; here are a few other Suits by Suits that may be of interest:
- The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in a case that will determine whether mortgage loan officers are “employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity” and thus exempt from mandatory overtime pay requirements.
- Finally, the Washington Post documented the fallout over years’ worth of complants about American Apparel’s CEO Dov Charney (as well as photographer Terry Richardson) for multiple alleged instances of sexual misconduct. Despite founding the company, the American Apparel board of directors ultimately suspended Charney for a 30-day cure period as required by contract before he can be terminated. Charney’s bizarre conduct is alleged to include wandering through American Apparel offices in his underpants, masturbating in front of a (female) reporter, among other behvaiors that led one plaintiff to describe his leadership as a “reign of sexual terror.” The Post also called out Richardson’s “aesthetic of hipster softcore pornography” (which it then documents by reproducing a half-dozen advertising shots of young-looking models).
- Netflix is challenging the lawsuit filed against it by its former content acquisitions executive Jerry Kowal, whom Netflix fired before he could resign to work for Amazon last summer. Kowal's claims against Netflix - which we examined earlier - include defamation. Netflix now claims that Kowal took its confidential documents - downloading them while on vacation weeks before he left for Amazon.
- A 48-year-old former director of Disney's story department has sued Disney in Los Angeles Superior Court for age discrimination, claiming that Disney fired him after 26 years and replaced him with a woman in her late 20s or early 30s.
- Twitter's COO Ali Rowghani resigned this week, although he will continue as an employee of the company. Reportedly, he had little to do after CEO Dick Costolo took on more responsibilities at the struggling company. Rowghani and Costolo exchanged friendly tweets about his resignation, so we would be surprised to see a suit by suit emerge.
- SunTrust Bank is paying $300,000 to settle a charge by the EEOC that one of its branch managers in Sarasota sexually harassed three women who reported to him by, for example, allegedly repeatedly trapping one of them at the teller's desk using his body and telling another that she should wear a bathing suit to work.