OCTOBER  14, 2019
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The United States Supreme Court is preparing to settle a contentious debate on employee protections under federal employment discrimination laws.  On October 7th, the Court returned from its summer break to start the new term.  The Court did not have to wait long before it tackled a complex case because on October 8th, the Court heard two major oral arguments with potentially far-reaching implications for both employers and employees.  Both cases focus on the prohibitions in employment discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act ("Title VII"). Under Title VII, Congress made it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of "race, color, religion, sex, and national origin."More on if an Employee Can be Fired for Being Gay or Transgender Here>
On Thursday, October 10, 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law several new measures that employers will need to comply with by January 1, 2020 and that will generally make it easier for employees to sue their employers.  Specifically:AB 9 extends the statute of limitations period for employees to file claims of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) from one to three years.  Employees would then have one more year (after their receipt of a right-to-sue letter from the DFEH) to file a civil action in court.  In short, employers could find themselves defending against claims for workplace incidents that occurred as long as four years in the past. More on California's New Employment Laws Here>
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The United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently published its final rule governing overtime obligations under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). An employee covered by the FLSA must receive overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 during a workweek, unless the employee is exempt. In general, to be exempt from overtime, an employee must satisfy a salary basis test, a duties test, and a salary threshold test. The final rule increases only the salary threshold for exemption. The key provisions of the final rule include:
Increasing the current salary threshold from $455 to $684 per week ($35,568 per year for a full-year employee);
 More on 1.3 Million Employees' Potential Overtime Eligibility Here >
A federal judge in Chicago recently held that an individual can be convicted of attempting to steal a trade secret, even if the information at issue did not actually constitute a trade secret, so long as the individual believed that the information was a trade secret.
In United States of America v. Robert O’Rourke Opinion, Judge Andrea R. Wood denied a post-conviction motion for a new trial in a case involving attempted and actual trade secret theft.  The decision involved a metallurgical engineer and salesperson, Robert O’Rourke, who resigned his employment to take a position as vice president of research and development for a China-based competitor.  Shortly before his last day, he entered his employer’s facility and downloaded over 1900 documents from its network onto a personal hard drive. More on Trade Secret Theft Here >
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