Board Members Not "Employers" Under Virginia Wage Law

Eric Paltell
Eric Paltell
11/03/2022
 On October 13, 2022, the Supreme Court of Virginia held that a company's board members are not "employers" who can be held liable for unpaid wages under Virginia Code Section 40.1-29(j). Cornell, et. al. v. Benedict, et.al. (No. 210934). In so holding, the Court ruled that the statute's definition of employer is more narrow than that used in the Fair Labor Standards Act or the Virginia Minimum Wage Act.  The appellants worked as  therapists at...
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Documented Reorganization Aids Virginia Company’s Win In Pay Discrimination Case

Documentation of and communicating about employment-related decisions, including those pertaining to employee job duties, compensation, and changes in the workplace are important for several reasons.  Among those reasons are keeping employees informed of developments in the workplace and being positioned to explain to a court or administrative agency why things happened the way they did.  In the case of job duties, documentation is only part of...
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Disabled Student’s Inappropriate Touching Did Not Create a Hostile Work Environment

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
08/02/2022
In a recent decision, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals considered the difficult circumstances in which special education teacher often operate and how that environment can intersect with protections against workplace discrimination and harassment.  The case, according to the court, brought “to light the difficult balance that schools must find between ensuring that all students have access to a public school education while simultaneously...
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Court Dismisses Hostile Work Environment Claim

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia recently dismissed a claim of hostile work environment  under the Rehabilitation Act.  Katz v. Department of Justice, No. 1:20-cv-554 (June 20, 2022). In dismissing the case, Judge Ellis found that the plaintiff's own pleadings doomed his claim.  The plaintiff was employed as a Special Agent for the DEA from May 1996 until April 2020. In 2017, Katz was diagnosed with a brain...
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Kiss, Hugs, and Rude Comments Not Enough for Viable Sex Harassment Claim

Garrett Wozniak
Garrett Wozniak
06/28/2022
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) makes it unlawful for an employer to “discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s . . . sex.”  42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1).  Title VII’s prohibitions cover sex-based harassment that is “sufficiently severe or pervasive” such that it amounts to an actual change in an individual’s...
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Fourth Circuit Denies Alexandria Firefighter's Race Discrimination Claim

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently denied an Alexandria, Virginia firefighter's claim that he was denied a promotion to a paramedic position because he is Black.  Lyons v. City of Alexandria, No. 20-1656 (4th Cir. 6/1/22). The Court affirmed a grant of summary judgment to the City of Alexandria, finding that the Appellant had misunderstood the City's promotion policy and failed to present any evidence of racial...
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Virginia Court Enforces Forum Selection Clause

A federal court in Richmond, Virginia recently held that a Massachusetts employee who left the company and began soliciting former clients was required to defend her actions in a Virginia court, even though she never worked in Virginia. The Hill Group of New England, LLC, v. Susan LePage, No. 3:21cv757 (E.D. Va. 5/16/22).   The decision is a stark reminder that employees who sign restrictive covenant agreements as part of their employment need to...
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Attorney’s Participation in Sexual Harassment Investigation Waives Attorney-Client Privilege

Communications between an attorney and its clients are privileged, and must not be shared in discovery.  However, when that privilege is waived, communications between a client and the attorney lose their protection and become discoverable.  That is what a U.S. District Court Judge concluded in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. In Jennifer Berry Brown v. Town of Front Royal, VA, Civil Action...
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Placement on Leave Pending Investigation is Not Adverse Action

When employers conduct investigations into suspected employee misconduct, they often place the employee on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.  The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia recently held that placing an employee on such a leave does not amount to an adverse employment action under the anti-retaliation provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  Kashif v. PNC Bank, Civil Action No,...
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Eric Paltell Presents on Collective Bargaining at Virginia Association of Counties Meeting

On May 1, 2021, Virginia's new law permitting local governments to enact collective bargaining legislation for employees took effect. On November 15, 2021,  K&S Partner Eric Paltell joined Virginia Senator Jennifer Boysko, Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet, and attorney Cynthia Hudson on a panel discussing the new law at the Virginia Association of Counties Annual Meeting in Norfolk.  Eric's presentation focused on steps...
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