Virginia Federal Court Enforces Non-Compete Agreement

As a general rule, Virginia courts are reluctant to enforce non-compete agreements because they are disfavored restraints on trade. However, when the agreements are narrowly tailored, restrictive covenants will be enforced. A recent decision from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia provides good guidance as to what type of agreement will be upheld. Update, Inc. v. Lawrence Samilow, Case No. 1;18-cv-00462-TSE-JFA ...
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Pharmacy Not Liable for Employee’s Defamatory Statements Made In The Workplace

Bernadette Hunton
Bernadette Hunton
06/12/2018
Under the theory of vicarious liability, employers can be held responsible for an employee’s wrongful conduct provided he is acting within the scope of his employment.   But as the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reminded us this week, not all workplace conduct which gives rise to a lawsuit against an employee, gives rise to one against his employer as well.  Garnett v. Remedi Seniorcare of Virginia, LLC, No. 17-1890 (6/11/18). In this case,...
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Court Dismisses Grumpy Hospital Clerk's Claim of Age Discrimination

On March 12, 2018, a Virginia federal court dismissed a claim of age discrimination brought by a 54 year old woman who had worked for Norton Community Hospital as an admissions clerk for nearly 23 years.  In Moore v. Mountain States Health Alliance, et. al., No. 2:16CV00014 (W.D. Va. 2018), Judge James Jones granted summary judgment to the employer, reasoning that the undisputed facts showed that the plaintiff could not prove that she was meeting...
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Virginia General Assembly Considering Legislation To Limit Liability for Disclosing Threats of Workplace Violence

Eric Paltell
Eric Paltell
01/23/2018
On January 17, 2018, Delegate Chris Hurst of Blacksburg  introduced legislation that would grant civil immunity to employers who share information about violent acts or threats made by current or former employees to prospective employers or law enforcement agencies.   The proposed legislation, House Bill No. 1457, would also grant civil immunity to employers who rely upon such information in hiring decisions. The bill would protect employers who...
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Richmond Court Dismisses Discrimination and Retaliation Claims

I've been practicing employment law for over 30 years, and one thing I have learned over those three decades is that you can generally predict how a judge will rule in your case by reading the first couple paragraphs of their decision.  In Bowman v. Rescare Inc., Braley and Thompson, Civil Action No. 3:16-CV-601-JAG (10/19/17) , a recent decision from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, Judge...
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Red Cross Stuck With Phlebotomist's Retaliatory Discharge Claim

On July 14, 2017, a Norfolk federal judge denied a motion to dismiss a former Red Cross employee's claim that her employer fired her for reporting what she believed were health and safety violations committed by her supervisor.  Easterbrooks v. American Red Cross, No. 2:17cv98 (E.D.  Va. 2017). Judge Raymond Jackson ruled that plaintiff Julie Easterbrook's claims were sufficient to state a cause of action under Virginia Code Section 40.1-51.2.1,...
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Virginia Court Refuses to Dismiss Jeweler's Bowman Claim

Virginia courts recognize a narrow exception to the employment at will doctrine for employees who claim to have been discharged  in violation of public policy. Known as Bowman claims (after the seminal 1985 Bowman v. State Bank of Keysville decision),  employees can bring a claim for "wrongful discharge" if they can show that a statute expressly or implicitly protects them from being discharged for conduct covered by the statute. In the recent...
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Employer Lawfully Fired Employee for Making Harassment Claim

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier
06/16/2017
Sex, lies, but no videotape.  A Virginia restaurant was faced with this juicy but difficult harassment investigation involving several current and former employees.  After sorting out the sordid claims, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that employers who honestly believe, after investigation, that employees have made false harassment complaints are permitted to use their business judgment to discipline or terminate the person who they...
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Appellate Court Rules Employee Can Sue City of Alexandria as Joint Employer Under FMLA

It is no secret that businesses today are increasingly outsourcing human resources functions in an effort to cut costs.  But absent careful planning, the outsourcing employer may still bear legal liability for workplace discrimination issues.  Here’s what the Fourth Circuit had to say about the subject in a case decided this week.  Quintana v. City of Alexandria, et al., No. 16-1630 (4th Cir. 6/6/17). The case arose from the City of...
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Virginia Supreme Court Affirms Dismissal of Bowman Claim Based on Protective Order Statutes

On February 23, 2017, the Virginia Supreme Court sustained a demurrer to a complaint alleging a Bowman claim of wrongful termination.  Francis v. National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences, Inc. No. 160267.  The Court rejected an employee's claims that the public policy embodied in Virginia Code §§ 19.2-152.7:1 through 19.2-152.10 (the Protective Order Statutes) provides the basis for a wrongful discharge claim. According to...
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