Tag Archives: Legal News

DOL Withdraws Guidance Letters Leaving Employers to Pick up the Pieces

On June 7, 2017, the U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced the withdrawal of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) guidance on independent contractors and joint employment issued during the Obama administration, without issuing replacement guidance. Although the DOL offered no explanation for its decision, the move signaled that, under the Trump administration, the DOL may take a more employer-friendly approach when investigating these issues. At the moment this is simply an expectation and will not serve as a defense before the DOL or in litigation. So how do employers protect themselves? Unfortunately, there is no foolproof answer. The best defense is knowledge. Employers should understand the DOL’s position in the withdrawn guidance, the DOL’s position pre-guidance (likely the DOL’s current position) and how the absence of the guidance may impact judicial decisions.

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In Matal V. Tam, Scotus Rules Prohibition On Disparaging Trademarks Unconstitutional

The Asian American members of the band the Slants adopted that name to “reclaim” and “take ownership” of the derogatory term. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) refused to register a trademark application for THE SLANTS filed by Simon Shiao Tam, the band’s lead singer, because the mark violated the Lanham Act’s disparagement clause. Tam appealed and finally prevailed before the Supreme Court of the United States in Matal v. Tam, 582 U.S. ___ (2017), which was announced on June 19, 2017. In pushing to secure a trademark registration for “The Slants,” however, Tam opened the flood gates for hate speech in trademark registrations issued by the USPTO.

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California & the Federal Government Expand Laws to Eliminate Wage Disparity

California state legislature amended the Fair Pay Act to prohibit race and ethnicity-based wage differentials and to preclude employers from relying on salary history to justify the wage gaps. In addition, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) finalized Regulations to require employers to collect and include wage data in EEO-1 Reports.

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Paid Sick Leave: Coming to a Town Near You

You are likely familiar with the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 (“AB 1522”), which entitles California employees to use at least 24 hours of paid sick leave per year and caps accruals at 48 hours.  However, you may not appreciate that, since then, at least seven California cities have enacted their own paid sick leave ordinances, offering employees in those cities even more paid sick leave than the State statute.  Those cities include:  San Francisco, Oakland, Emeryville, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Monica, and Berkeley.  Indeed, you should not assume that because you’re complying with the California statute that you’re out of the woods.

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