Polsinelli at Work |  Labor & Employment Blog

Employers, whether large or small, face an ever-growing web of workplace regulations and potential entanglements with employees. With employment litigation and advocacy experience as our strength, preventing legal problems from arising is our goal. Our Labor & Employment attorneys advise management on complex employee relations and workplace issues. 20 offices; 800+ attorneys. 

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No Vaccine? No Job! Court Affirms Employer’s Ability to Condition Employment Upon Vaccinations

No Vaccine?  No Job!  Court Affirms Employer’s Ability to Condition Employment Upon Vaccinations

By: Cary Burke

On December 7, 2018, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an employee who was terminated for refusing to take a rubella vaccine was not discriminated or retaliated against, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (“ADA”).  See Hustvet v. Allina Health System, Case No. 17-2963.

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No, Stealing Personnel Files Is Not Protected Activity (But the analysis doesn’t end there)

No, Stealing Personnel Files Is Not Protected Activity  (But the analysis doesn’t end there)

By: Kelly Muensterman

On November 15, 2018, the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Middle District of North Carolina in the case of Netter v. Barnes, et al, upholding dismissal of Netter’s case because her removal of other employees’ personnel files from the workplace is not “protected activity” and is a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for her termination.[1] A longtime employee of the Sheriff’s Department, Catherine Netter believed she was being discriminated against on account of her race and religion and removed several coworkers’ personnel files without permission, presumably “fishing” to determine whether said employees were being treated more favorably than her. Then, Netter copied the files and shared them with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) when attempting to support her charge of discrimination. Eventually, Netter sued her employer for discrimination when she was passed over for a promotion. Netter (through her attorney) subsequently produced the files to the Sheriff in discovery. When deposed, Netter conceded that she had obtained the files as described above.

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Supreme Court Adopts Narrow Reading of Dodd-Frank’s Whistleblower Provision

Supreme Court Adopts Narrow Reading of Dodd-Frank’s Whistleblower Provision

By: Andrew McKinley

In Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers, No. 16-1276 (U.S. Feb. 21, 2018), the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the anti-retaliation provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”) is limited to individuals who report a violation of the securities laws to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) under § 78u-6(h).  The plaintiff alleged that defendant terminated him shortly after he reported suspected securities law violations to senior management, in violation of Dodd-Frank’s anti-retaliation provision.  Although plaintiff could have alerted the SEC prior to his termination, he did not do so.  In the district court, the defendant moved to dismiss the claims, arguing that plaintiff did not qualify as a “whistleblower” under Dodd-Frank because he did not report any alleged violations to the SEC.  

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Supreme Court Considers Whether Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Protection Applies to Internal Reporting

Supreme Court Considers Whether Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Protection Applies to Internal Reporting

By Michael J. Lorden

This week, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers to consider whether the Dodd-Frank Act (“Dodd-Frank”) protects internal whistleblowers and, more broadly, regulatory agencies’ power to interpret federal statutes. The Court’s decision could impact an employer’s ability to terminate employees who report concerns of malfeasance internally, and give agencies the power to circumvent Congress’ legislative authority. 

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Protect Your Business – Restrictive Covenant Agreements

Protect Your Business – Restrictive Covenant Agreements

By Katharine K. Sangha

Many states allow businesses to require employees to sign agreements restricting their competitive activities following the termination of employment. Such restrictive covenant agreements, including non-competition and non-solicitation agreements, can be great tools to protect an employer’s business interests. 

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