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EEOC Sues Greyhound Lines For Religious Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on religion and requires employers to reasonably accommodate an applicant's or employee's sincerely held religious beliefs unless it would pose an undue hardship. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against Greyhound Lines, Inc., claiming the provider of intercity bus transportation refused to accommodate the religious beliefs of a bus driver. The driver stated her religious beliefs require her to dress modestly by wearing a headscarf and an abaya, a loose-fitting ankle-length overgarment. Greyhound refused to allow her to wear the abaya, claiming it would be a safety hazard, and proposed she wear a knee-length skirt over pants. The EEOC said that the driver was compelled to quit because the skirt-and-pants uniform proposal conflicted with her religious practice of modest dress by revealing the outline of her body.

Insurance Fraud Investigators Entitled to Overtime Pay Under FLSA

Insurance fraud investigators are not exempt from the overtime pay requirements mandated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), according to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The FLSA requires employers to pay overtime for each hour their non-exempt employees work in excess of 40 hours per week. The court held that conducting factual investigations and making recommendations to the company on whether to prosecute certain insurance claims as fraudulent is not, by itself, sufficient to make these employees exempt. Of significance, the court determined that the investigators had no role in managing, running or servicing the company’s general business operations nor developing, reviewing, evaluating or recommending to the company business policies or strategies related to the claims they investigated. This case provides a clear reminder that employers periodically need to examine employment positions they are treating as exempt from the FLSA’s overtime pay requirements. SESCO has a long history of ensuring that employers are compliant with federal and state wage and hour requirements. If employers have any questions or concerns about their pay practices, we recommend they contact us to ensure compliance.

NLRB Issues Decisions on Handbook Policies

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) considered whether the employer’s following work rules were lawful under the National Labor Relations Act: (1) a policy prohibiting insubordination, neglect of duties or other disrespectful conduct, including refusal to perform work or comply with a supervisor’s instructions; (2) a policy prohibiting solicitation or distribution of literature without management or HR approval; (3) a policy prohibiting conduct not in the best interest of the company; and (4) a prohibition on the use of company supplies or equipment, including email, for solicitation and distribution. The NLRB determined that the first rule was lawful because employers have a legitimate and substantial interest in preventing the identified behaviors and expecting employees to perform their work and follow instructions. The others were found to be unlawful because they banned protected activities. The solicitation and distribution rule violated employees’ well-established rights to solicit during non-work time and to distribute literature during non-work time and in non-work areas. The reputational rule impacts employees’ rights to engage in protected concerted activity that could negatively impact an employer’s reputation, such as strikes, protests, boycotts, and other “public expressions of workplace dissatisfaction.” And finally, the use of company equipment rule was unlawful to the extent it restricts employees’ rights to use an employer’s email system during non-working time to engage in protected communications. We recommend all employers have SESCO review their Employee Handbook on annual basis to ensure compliance with all federal and state laws.

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"Jamie, just a quick note to say that it was super seeing you in San Diego and thank you for your session in our 2016 CEO Summit and our Small Business Roundtable session. WOW, what may I add? It was incredibly informative and our members not only learned a lot, but also took away so many new ideas! It also kept them on their toes, wishing for this session not to end!"

– Gillian Campbell — SISO

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