Paid family leave – Brent Hunsberger of At Work blogs about how Washington is poised to become the second state to enact paid family leave, following California’s lead. A bill which passed the legislature is expected to be signed by Governor Chris Gregoire. The bill, which would go into effect in 2009, would provide workers with $250 a week for five weeks when they take leave to care for a child. Unlike California’s act, the bill does not extend any pay for workers caring for an ill family member. He notes that similar legislation is under consideration in Oregon.
More on workplace bullying – Following last week’s post on workplace bullying, we were interested to see an article in Human Resource Executive Online about state level legislative efforts to combat workplace bullying. The Healthy Workplace Act would give victims of bullying the right to sue for damages for psychological harassment. It has been introduced in 12 states: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington. According to the bill’s author, “There are built-in defenses for employers. … [They] can avoid litigation by showing they acted responsibly.”
Older Workers Benefits Protection Act – Lou Michaels of Suits in the Workplace discusses a judgment against Guidant Corporation related to Older Workers Benefits Protection Act waivers, which he says are now a part of virtually every severance agreement involving reductions in force or mass layoffs. This appeared to be a case of “too much information.” According to Michaels:

“The short lesson in this case is that an employer is asking for it when it creates a disclosure document pursuant to an OWBPA waiver that looks like it is designed to intimidate people from actually assessing the impact of a layoff . Courts are sensitive to the fact that individual employees do not have the time, wherewithal or, in many cases, the focus, to breakdown 8800 separate job titles, calculate their ages, and then compare and contrast that information with more than 700 additional entries to figure out the impact of a lay-off. Guidant management designed something that looked like it was going to be too difficult to analyze and the court called them on it.”

Age bias suitsWorkplace Prof Blog points us to an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on baby boomer age bias suits. While federal statistics actually point to a drop in such suits, the article points out that these figures don’t include lawsuits in state courts, retaliation suits, and matters resolved before reaching court. Some states, such as Missouri, have reported an increase in such claims. The article discusses a few prominent class action suits, but states that the bulk of such suits tend to be filed by individuals who have certain situational commonalities: “These plaintiffs tend to have several things in common: They’ve worked for one employer for many years, have been stellar performers and were fired after new managers had taken over.”
New York bias judgment – Michael Fox of Jottings by an Employer’s Lawyer reports on a $4 million bias suit in New York. The aggrieved employee was a female bank manager who was passed over for a promotion to the position of treasurer, even though she had filled the role on an interim basis. After then having been relegated to mostly administrative duties, she filed a discrimination complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. She was subsequently terminated. Fox notes that it is unclear from the article whether her suit was for discrimination, retaliation, or both.


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