Week In Review
April 11, 2016
Employers in California are Required to Reasonably Accommodate Even Non-disabled Employees
An appellate court in California has held that the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) requires employers to reasonably accommodate non-disabled employees who are associated with a person with a disability. The employee had a son who required daily home dialysis treatments. For two years the employee had been granted a work schedule accommodation that permitted him to work the earlier shift every day and be home in the evening to administer the dialysis. However, in 2013, the employee’s new supervisor changed his work schedule and required him to work later shifts. Eventually, the employee was terminated for refusing to work a late shift that would have prevented him from being home in time to care for his son. The Court found that FEHA creates a duty to accommodate employees associated with persons with disabilities “according to the plain language of the act.” The Court’s ruling opens the door for employees to ask for accommodations in their work schedule to care for someone else, including, for example, accommodation requests to take a friend or neighbor to a doctor’s appointment.
Beauty Company’s Non-Compete Deemed Unenforceable
An appellate court in Massachusetts held a non-compete agreement unenforceable, finding that, to be enforceable, such agreements must protect a legitimate business interest — protection of mere ordinary job skills and knowledge is insufficient. While employed by the Company, the employees had signed agreements that prevented them from, among other things, working for a competitor within 25 miles for one year following termination. Upon separation of employment from the Company, the employees went to work for a competitor within the 25-mile radius. The focus of the Court’s analysis was on the nature of employee’s duties and the training they received. Specifically, the Court indicated that although the Company alleged that it had trained its employees “in its skin care service techniques, client management procedures, and such other business methods as salon dress codes, gift certificates, appointments, and sales promotions,” it failed to present any evidence, or that any of that information is truly proprietary or was maintained in confidence. Accordingly, the Court held the Company had not presented any evidence to demonstrate that its’ non-compete agreement safeguarded a legitimate business interest, such as the former employees possessed or exploited trade secrets, confidential information, or customer good will belonging to the Company. Rather, the Company was simply attempting “to thwart ordinary competition from conventionally skilled service providers.”
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