Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, sitting en banc, became the second federal appellate court to officially recognize a discrimination claim under Title VII based solely on the plaintiff’s sexual orientation. The Court’s decision in Zarda v. Altitude Express follows on the heels of the Seventh Circuit’s decision last April in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, in which the Seventh Circuit also overturned its prior cases to recognize protections based on sexual orientation under Title VII. Continue Reading Circuit Courts Recognize Employment Protections for Sexual Orientation Under Title VII

Earlier this month, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) dropped its defense of an Obama-era regulation that sought to increase the salary level for overtime-exempt employees from $23,660 per year to $47,476 per year. The regulation had been set to take effect in November 2016, but a last-minute preliminary injunction issued by a federal district court in Texas stayed the implementation of the regulation.

In the preliminary injunction ruling, the district court ruled that the new $47,476 salary threshold exceeded the scope of the DOL’s authority because such a high salary level had the effect of making an employee’s salary—and not their primary duty—the determinative factor in the exemption inquiry. Importantly, the district court’s preliminary injunction ruling went well beyond the appropriateness of the particular salary level at issue in the new regulation, and instead expressed the broader view that the DOL lacked the authority to impose any salary level requirement (regardless of the level of salary chosen) because the relevant provision of the FLSA focused on an employee’s duties, not their salary.  Continue Reading DOL Drops Appellate Defense of Overtime Rule

Recently, President-elect Donald Trump tapped Andrew Puzder as his pick for Secretary of Labor. Puzder—the CEO of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.—has been an outspoken critic of government regulations, including efforts to increase the minimum wage and recent changes to the white-collar overtime exemption. If the Senate confirms Puzder, he will oversee the agencies responsible for these policies and his confirmation could signal a slowdown of anti-business federal regulations from the Department of Labor under President Obama’s Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez. Continue Reading Trump’s Pick for Labor Secretary Could Mean Good News for Retailers