News for July 14, 2014

Featured this week:

In state law news:

Featured this week:

Alleged across-the-board salary-maintenance policy no defense to EPA, Title VII claims
Stating that in order to afford a defense under the Equal Pay Act, red circling must be done based on the particular circumstances of the individual involved and by not a blanket policy of maintaining salaries, a federal district court in Alabama ruled that a community college employee can proceed on her Equal Pay Act claim that she was paid less than a male coworker who was allowed to maintain his higher salary for 11 years after he transferred into her department. The court also denied summary judgment on her Title VII claims that she was paid less than other comparable employees because she was an African-American woman. Finally, the court denied summary judgment on her claims that the college president, in her individual capacity, discriminated against her in pay, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Sec. 1981 (Youngblood v George C. Wallace State Community College, MDAla, July 1, 2014, Thompson, M).

Employee who got awards while supervisor criticized him advances discrimination claim
Noting evidence that a Hispanic employee had previously received positive reviews and was receiving performance-based awards from other company sectors while his supervisor criticized his work and allegedly treated him worse than a white employee at the same level, a federal district court denied the employer's motion for summary judgment on his Title VII and state law race discrimination claims. However, the employee's pre-termination complaint of a "personality conflict" with the supervisor was not a protected activity and his retaliation claim failed as a matter of law (Finn v Suncor Energy aka Suncor Energy USA, Inc, DColo, July 3, 2014, Kane, J).

Manager fired 10 days after calling ethics hotline advances HWE, whistleblowing claims
Evidence that a male district manager leered at a female store manager, asked if she would wear a bikini for Halloween, often hugged her, and took other inappropriate actions led a federal district court in Maine to deny Bath & Body Works' motion for summary judgment on the store manager's state-law hostile work environment claim. Her whistleblower retaliation claim also advanced based on evidence that she was fired for re-coding time records only 10 days after she reported the district manager's behavior, even though she had never before been disciplined and she claimed to have merely followed directions (Haverly-Johndro v Bath & Body Works, LLC, DMe, June 30, 2014, Levy, J).

Women granted certification of nationwide equal pay claim against accounting firm
Female employees of an accounting firm were granted conditional certification of their claim under the Equal Pay Act (EPA) alleging that they were paid less than their male counterparts for performing substantially equivalent work. The federal district court in New York explained that it was not necessary for purposes of conditional certification that the prospective class members all performed the same duties as the named plaintiffs, and determined that the named plaintiffs were similarly situated to the putative class. Further, the employees presented sufficient evidence that the employer's compensation decisions were made by centralized leadership such that offices nationwide may be considered one establishment as required by the EPA (Kassman v KPMG LLP, SDNY, July 8, 2014, Schofield, L).

African, European, and Asian cities most expensive for expatriates due to currency fluctuations and the impact of inflation on goods and services, finds Mercer survey
Two African cities top the list of most expensive cities for expatriates according to Mercer's 2014 Cost of Living Survey. Although not typically recognized as wealthy cities compared to others, Luanda in Angola is the world’s most expensive city for the second year in a row followed by N'Djamena, Chad. European and Asian cities also continue to dominate as the costliest cities with Hong Kong in third place, followed by Singapore. Zurch jumped three places to rank fifth, followed by Geneva in sixth. Tokyo dropped four spots to rank seventh.



India, China and Brazil lead in planned pay increases, while U.S. budgets continue to slowly rise, WorldatWork reports
India, China and Brazil averaged the highest 2014 total salary budget increases at 10.5 percent, 8.2 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively (medians: 11.0 percent, 8.3 percent and 7.3 percent), according to preliminary data released from the "WorldatWork 2014-2015 Salary Budget Survey," now in its 41st year. These three countries have retained the largest increases since WorldatWork expanded its data collection to include countries outside the United States in 2012, and all are projecting similar salary increase budgets for 2015.



In state law news:

Rhode Island minimum wage will increase to $9 in 2015
The minimum wage in Rhode Island will increase to $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2015. Governor Lincoln Chafee has signed a pair of bills—H. 7194A and S. 2249A—that will provide workers with a $1 per hour increase over the current state minimum wage rate of $8.00 per hour.



Illinois Governor Quinn signs law to put women's rights issue on November ballot
Governor Pat Quinn has signed a law to let voters weigh in on whether prescription insurance programs should be required to include birth control. The question will now appear on the November 4th General Election ballot. This action is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to ensure that all women in Illinois have full access to healthcare.



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Special Report

EEOC discussion letter clarifies GINA, ADA boundaries in fitness-for-duty exams


An informal discussion letter released by the EEOC sketches out the lawful boundaries under GINA and the ADA with regard to medical history inquires and annual fitness-for-duty examinations. Although the letter responds to an inquiry about medical history information sought in a questionnaire used as part of a public employer's annual fitness-for-duty exam, the boundaries discussed apply equally to private employers covered under these statutes.



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