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toy cars with lyft and uber

Uber and Others Threaten to Leave California Over Independent Contractor Rules

Uber and Lyft threatened to suspend their passenger operations in California in late August over a new California law that requires companies to treat workers as employees rather than independent contractors if they contribute to the usual course of business.  Uber and Lyft, both based in California, who have large operations in that state, argue that drivers themselves would suffer over less flexibility, and the law would vastly reduce their work time. 

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wooden restrooms sign

Supplying "Sex Neutral" Bathroom Insufficient

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has joined the Eleventh Circuit in ruling that prohibiting a transgender student's ability to use bathrooms that match his gender identity violate Title IX and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.  Grimm v. Gloucester Cty. Sch. Bd., No. 19-01952 (4th Cir., 8/26/20).  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year for LGBTQ protections in the workplace, and later the Eleventh Circuit supported a high school student who challenged the transgender bathroom ban. 

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person kneeling outside with a yellow smoke stick

Employer Confronted with Worker "Taking A Knee"

The controversial subject of professional football players "taking a knee" during the National Anthem has now expanded to the workplace.  In a recent case, an employer was confronted with an African-American employee protesting his employer's alleged racial mistreatment by taking a knee during a meeting.  A supervisor asked the plaintiff to step into his office following the kneeling incident.  The discussion in the supervisor's office "escalated" when the supervisor issued the plaintiff an  "official discussion," and the supervisor felt threatened and asked the plaintiff to leave, and local police were called when the plaintiff refused to leave.  The plaintiff was placed on leave without pay pending an investigation.

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TPS Status to End for Immigrants from Four Countries

A decision from a divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will end protection for about 300,000 persons who have been living in the U.S. with a Temporary Protected Status (TPS), as to immigrants from Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.  Ramos et al. v. Wolf et al., No. 18-16981 (C.A. 9, 9/14/20). 

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washington dc congress building at night

Trump's Federal Unemployment Supplement Runs Dry as Congressional Compromise in Doubt

In the absence of a Congressional compromise on additional pandemic federal funding, in August President Trump extended an extra $300.00 per week from the federal government to most unemployment compensation recipients, but the funding has now run out and will not extend beyond the week that ended September 5, 2020.  The Administration is supposedly looking at ways to extend the program even absent Congressional approval. 

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now hiring sign outside by grass lawn

New DOL Joint Employer Rule Rejected in Court

Almost every employer of substantial size deals with contractors of some type, with the most common application being temporary staffing, janitorial services, franchisee-franchisor arrangements, and others.  Under the Department of Labor (DOL) enforcement guidance during the Obama Administration, the guidance expanded the application of the "joint employer" concept so that the immediate employer and any alleged joint employer often were deemed liable for workplace violations, such as minimum wages and overtime to workers.  During the current administration, DOL issued a regulation updating the joint-employer rule whereby joint employment would only be found when a business hires and fires employees; supervises and controls employees' work schedules or conditions of employment to a substantial degree; determines employees' rate and method of payment; or maintains employment records.  The result of the new regulation was to reject joint employer status of companies that stay out of the day-to-day employment decisions of their contractors.  

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coronavirus letters over a black background

Use of COVID-19 Liability Waivers and Related Approaches

Some reports indicate that employees have filed almost 600 COVID-19-related lawsuits against their employers.  As a result, about a dozen states, including Georgia, have passed laws attempting to provide some liability protection from COVID-19 liability.  Georgia's law provides that an employer or other business entities may post a warning at its premises to protect itself from liability due to Coronavirus claims.  The warning states as follows:

Warning: Under Georgia law, there is no liability for an injury or death of an individual entering these premises if such injury or death results from the inherent risks of contracting COVID-19.  You are assuming this risk by entering these premises.

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Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider & Stine

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