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KU BLAW 301 - Chapter 21 (FA14)-2

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Slide 1Sec. 1: Employment-at-WillEmployment-at-WillEmployment-at-WillEmployment-at-WillEmployment-at-WillSignificant Statutes Affecting Employer-Employee RelationsSec. 2: Wages, Hours, and LayoffsFLSAOvertime Provisions & ExemptionsFLSA ExemptionsLayoffsSec. 3: Family and Medical LeaveFamily and Medical Leave (FMLA)Slide 15Occupational Safety and Health Act (1970)Workers’ Compensation (State Laws)Workers’ Compensation BenefitsFeatures of Workers’ Compensation LawsSec. 5: Income SecuritySocial Security/Medicare FundingSocial Security/Medicare BenefitsSocial Security BenefitsSocial Security FeaturesPrivate Pension PlansUnemployment CompensationConsolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation ActAdditional Laws1Employment Relationships Chapter 212Sec. 1: Employment-at-WillHistorically, the common law doctrine of “employment-at-will” governed most employment relationships. This doctrine provides that either an employer or employee can end the relationship at any time and for any reason---unless doing so would violate a statute, an employment contract, or public policy. Exceptions based on statutes: Several federal and state statutes prevent the at-will doctrine from being applied (e.g., employment discrimination laws; whistleblower protection laws).3Employment-at-WillExceptions based on contract theory: Employment contracts that state a fixed employment term (e.g., “one year from the date of this agreement”) or state certain conditions for termination create exceptions to the employment at-will doctrine. Even where there is no express employment agreement, courts may find an “implied” employment contract exists based on an employer’s personnel policy manual or published notices to employees. If an actual or implied contract states conditions to termination (such as termination can only be for good cause or only after notice and a chance to improve performance), then those conditions would govern instead of the employment-at-will doctrine.Employment-at-WillEmployment agreements without a fixed term are generally considered to be “at will” agreements.Read Case 21.1: Ellis v. BlueSky Charter School (MN Ct. App. 2010). Plaintiff was a former charter school director who alleged a breach of contract when his employment contract was terminated. The agreement, which stated that it was an “at will agreement,” had a fixed term and automatic renewal provisions. The court had to decide whether or not the plaintiff was an at-will employee. Outcome?An action for “wrongful discharge” may also be based on tort theories such as “abusive discharge” or “employer fraudulent misrepresentations.” 4Employment-at-WillPublic policy. Exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine occur when an employer fires an employee for reasons that violate a clear public policy (e.g., firing an employees who refuse to perform illegal acts or who are whistleblowers). Read Case 21.2: Waddell v. Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Inc. (NY 2012). Plaintiff was fired after repeatedly complaining about his supervisor’s handling of documents. He alleges that he was fired in violation of the company’s whistleblower policy, which was enacted after he began working there. Outcome?5Employment-at-WillSome public policy exceptions are now covered by statutes.TN Whistleblower’s Law states that an employer may not take any reprisal against an employee who advises the employer that the business is in violation of a law and then discloses, threatens to disclose, or testifies about the violation.TN statutes also prohibit terminations based on voting in elections; call to military service; a wage garnishment; filing a workers compensation claim; and jury duty.Employees who are wrongfully fired (i.e., in violation of an employment agreement, tort law, statute, or public policy) may bring a civil lawsuit against the employer for “wrongful discharge” or “retaliatory discharge.”67Significant Statutes Affecting Employer-Employee Relations1900 – State worker’s compensation statutes1935 – Social Security Act 1930s –State unemployment compensation statutes1938 – Fair Labor Standards Act (amended in 1963 to enact the Equal Pay Act, covered in Ch. 22)1964 – Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (Ch. 22) 1970 – OSHA1974 – ERISA 1985 – COBRA1988 – WARN Act 1993 – Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)8Sec. 2: Wages, Hours, and LayoffsThe Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) was enacted to eliminate labor conditions that did not allow employees to maintain minimum living standards and to prohibit oppressive child labor. The Act is enforced by the Department of Labor.Key provisions:Covered workers must be paid minimum wages (currently $7.25/hour) and overtime pay (at least 1.5 times regular wage rate) for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.Equal pay for men and women (Ch. 22)Child labor rules9FLSAChild Labor RulesChildren under 14 can only do limited types of work. 14 and 15 year-olds can work in most non-hazardous jobs, subject to limitations on hours per day and per week.16 and 17 year-olds are not subject to working times and hours restrictions, but they cannot work in hazardous jobs.More than 130 million workers are covered by FLSA (per DOL), including employees of businesses involved in interstate commerce, federal/state/local governments, construction co., hospitals, schools.FLSA does not apply to independent contractors.10Overtime Provisions & Exemptions “Exempt employees” are ones who are exempt from the FLSA overtime pay rules because of the nature of their work. One class of “exempt employees” includes: “executive, administrative, and professional employees, outside salespersons, and certain computer professionals.” Manual laborers, LPNs, and public safety workers (police, fire fighters) are not exempt under this class.For this exemption to apply, minimum weekly salary requirements must also be satisfied.Highly compensated ($100K or more annually) white-collar employees are generally exempt.11FLSA ExemptionsTo classified as an exempt executive employee, the employee’s primary duties must be management-related (i.e., supervising at least 2 other FT employees; authority to hire/fire employees, etc.). See Case in Point 21.4 involving former Starbucks manager who sued for overtime pay.The “administrative employee” exception applies to


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