Virginia Court Strikes Down Homebuilder's Non-Compete Agreement

On February 14, 2017, a federal judge denied a home builders’ motion for a preliminary injunction to stop a former employee covered by a non-compete agreement from working for a competing builder.  Applying Virginia law, Judge Liam O’Grady of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, ruled that the geographic scope of the non-compete was overbroad and, therefore, the agreement was invalid.  NVR,...
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Fired Virginia Teacher Fails to Establish USERRA Claim

Eric Paltell
Eric Paltell
01/05/2017
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently ruled that the Prince William County School Board did not violate the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act ("USERRA") when it fired a teacher who had returned from a four-year deployment to Kuwait.  Butts v. Prince William County School Board, et. al., No. 15-1989 (4th Cir. Dec. 21, 2016).  The Fourth Circuit affirmed a grant of summary judgement to the School...
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Federal Judge Declares Ending Light Duty Assignment to be Adverse Action

In Cobbs v First Transit Co. et. al., Case No. 6:16-cv-00015 (W.D. Va. Dec. 16, 2016), a federal judge in Lynchburg, Virginia ruled that a bus company took an adverse employment action against an employee by ending her light duty assignment. In so holding, the court ruled that an employee had pled a cause of action for “quid pro quo” sexual harassment under Title VII and denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss. The case involved an employee...
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Court Affirms Dismissal of Vacationing Employee's FMLA Claim

On October 31st, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a Virginia federal court's dismissal of an airline employee's FMLA retaliation claim.  The case arose when United Airlines fired the employee for using intermittent FMLA leave to excuse his failure to work the one shift he was scheduled to work during a lengthy vacation.  Sharif v. United Airlines, et. al., No. 15-1747 (4th Cir. 10/31/16). According to the court's...
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Court Enforces Hair Club Non-Compete

Eric Paltell
Eric Paltell
09/14/2016
A federal court in Alexandria, Virginia enforced a  non-compete clause against a former employee of Hair Club for Men in Tysons Corner who stole 25 clients and set up a competing hair replacement business.  Hair Club for Men, LLC v. Ehson, et. al., No. 1:16-cv-236 (E.D.Va. Aug. 31, 2016).   However, the Court found Hair Club's  non-solicitation clause unenforceable. The defendant former employee worked for Hair Club from 2011 to July 2014, when...
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Virginia Supreme Court Strikes Punitive Damage Award

Eric Paltell
Eric Paltell
09/12/2016
On September 8, 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled that an employee who sues his employer for retaliatory discharge under Code §40.1-51.2:1 after making a health or safety complaint is not entitled to an award of punitive damages.  Property Damage Specialists Inc. v. Rechichar.    The Court reversed the judgment of the Circuit Court for Shenandoah County, where a jury had awarded both compensatory and punitive damages to a discharged...
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EEOC Rules That "Don't Tread On Me" Hat Might Be Racially Offensive

According to an article in the Washington Post, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that an employee may create a racially hostile work environment by wearing a hat depicting the "Gasden Flag" (a coiled rattlesnake and the phrase "Don't Tread On Me").  Sheldon D. v. Brennan, 2016 WL 3361228. The Gasden Flag, which gained recent popularity as a symbol of the Tea Party movement, has its origins in the American Revolution, when it was...
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"I Quit" - Well, Not Really ...

Eric Paltell
Eric Paltell
07/29/2016
Many of us who have worked for someone other than themselves have fantasized about walking in to the office one day, handing our boss a letter of resignation, and then walking out the door (with the lyrics of The Who's "I'm Free" playing in our heads).  Some of us may have even taken the fantasy one step further and written that letter of resignation, only to leave it in a desk drawer.  So what happens when an employee goes so far as to write...
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Virginia Employer Not Liable for Employee's Sexual Assaults

Eric Paltell
Eric Paltell
07/29/2016
A federal court in Virginia held that an employer is not liable for a female employee's sexual assault by a male co-worker.  Applying the doctrine of respondent superior, the Court held that the male employee was not acting within the scope of his employment when the assault occurred. Clehm v. BAE Sys. Ordnance, Inc. , W.D. Va. No. 16-0012 (July 22, 2016). The case arose when BAE employee Carla Clehm alleged that a male co-worker "slammed her...
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Fourth Circuit Finds Fire Captains Eligible for Overtime

In a case with potentially far-reaching implications for fire departments in Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and West Virginia, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that Fairfax County, Virginia fire captains are non-exempt employees entitled to overtime compensation. Morrison v. County of Fairfax, No. 14-2308 (June 21, 2016).  The Court reversed a grant of summary judgment in favor of the County and granted summary...
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