Employment News

Immigration Changes Employment Eligibility Verification(I-9) Requirements For Employers

A December 12, 2008 memorandum issued by the USCIS revises an employer’s responsibility in verifying an employee’s eligibility for employment as well as the Form I-9 which implements the process. Employers face stiff penalties as well as other significant sanctions for failing to comply with the requirement of the Form I-9 and employing aliens not authorized to work in the United States.

The interim rule narrows the list of documents that are acceptable for employment eligibility verification as a new Form I-9. Under this rule, employers are required to verify employee eligibility for all new employees beginning 45 days after the publication of the Federal Register which was submitted on December 11, 2008. This rule imposes the additional requirement that an employer must re-verify any existing employee with expiring employment authorizations. The current Form I-9 (dated 6/5/07) will no longer be valid as of 45 days after the publication of the Federal Register.

Finally, this program applies to all employers, agricultural recruiters as well as referrers and recruiters for a fee. The new specifications are quite extensive and require a detailed study by affected employers, recruiters and staffing agencies. [pdf Review The Revised I-9 Employment Verification Memorandum


Firm Wins Disability/Handicap Discrimination Appeal Victory For The Deaf

September 12 2008, Germano v. International Profit Associates, Inc. (IPA), et. al.

Our law firm won a major court victory for deaf job applicants and workers in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Our deaf client is an attorney who obtained a J.D. Degree from Quinnpiac University School of Law and an LLM degree in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center. He applied to work for IPA/ITA as a tax consultant. He claimed that in a subsequent telephone conversation conducted through a Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS), IPA/ITA offered him a job interview which they later retracted after learning that he was deaf during that TRS conversation.

IPA/ITA asked that the case be dismissed, arguing that the TRS discussion was inadmissible hearsay and could not be considered in the case. The district judge dismissed the case on the grounds that our client could not testify to the contents of the conversation with IPA/ITA. According to the district judge, testimony regarding communications through TRS is inadmissible hearsay because a third person is involved who translates between the hearing person and the deaf person.

Our law firm appealed that decision to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals with the assistance of attorneys from the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) as well as the EEOC and U.S. Department of Justice. On appeal, we argued that a TRS conversation involving deaf persons should be treated the same way as telephone conversations between two hearing people which are admissible in evidence.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with us. It overturned the decision of district judge and ruled that testimony of TRS conversations involving deaf persons are admissible just like telephone conversations between hearing people. This ground-breaking decision bears major significance for the deaf as it ensures that they can conduct day-to-day business activities through TRS without fear that their testimony regarding the transactions would not stand up in court. The decision is further remarkable as it is the first case in the Seventh Circuit jurisdiction that has ruled on the issue. In fact, no Court of Appeals had addressed the admissibility of the statements made in a TRS conversation prior to this opinion.

Needless to say that our victorious client, law firm, as well as attorneys from NAD are ecstatic about the outcome of the appeal. The case has now been assigned to a new district court judge who will set a trial date in January 2009. The case may be found at Michael Germano v. International Profit Association, Inc., International Business Analysis, Inc. and International Tax Advisors, Inc. (#073914); 544 F.3d. 798 (7th Cir. 2008)

 [false Read The Complete 7th Circuit Opinion]


Supreme Court- Age Discrimination Easier To Prove Where Neutral Policy Affects Older Workers More

The United States Supreme Court’s ruling of June 19, 2008 makes it easier for Plaintiffs to prove age discrimination in federal court. Under this ruling, where an employee shows that a particular employment policy instituted by an employer affects older workers disproportionately, the burden is now placed on the employer to prove that those policies were based on reasonable factors other than age. If unable to prove this defense, the employee will likely win the case. This applies even if the claimed policy is neutral on its face so long as it has a disparate impact on older workers.

This is a significant decision in favor of employees claiming age discrimination because it requires employers to prove that their choices are reasonable, thus making such cases harder and costlier for employers to defend. While plaintiffs must still isolate and identify specific employment practices that are allegedly responsible for the observed statistical disparities, the employer who seeks to benefit from the "reasonable factors other than age" exemption is required to prove that it applies. This decision significantly decreases the burden that employees must carry in disparate-impact age claims. Meacham, et. al. v. Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, et. al., Case Number 06-1505, 2008 U.S. Lexis 5029 (June 19, 2008). [Read the entire court ruling].

Sexual Harassment Requiring Femail Receptionist To Serve Coffee To Male Workers Not Grounds For Sex

A United States District Court has ruled that a female receptionist who was fired from her job after refusing to get coffee for the men in her office cannot sustain a lawsuit for sexual harassment or retaliation. The judge ruled that there is nothing sexist about requiring workers to serve coffee and that the act of getting coffee is not by itself a gender-specific act.

The Plaintiff was a part-time receptionist who initially complied with the requests to bring coffee to male coworkers as part of her job as a receptionist even though she found the requests to be demeaning and embarrassing. Plaintiff later refused to comply with orders to bring coffee for male co-workers but agreed that she would do so for guests. In her e-mail , she said that she not "serve and wait on you [male co-workers] by making coffee and serving you." Her employer, claiming that her e-mail was the straw that broke the camel’s back, fired her. The judge dismissed her entire case of sex harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination on the basis that she could not prove that she was subjected to demeaning treatment due to her sex and was not a victim of sexual advances. Tamara Klopfenstein v. National Sales and Supply, LLC. No. 07-4004. (June 5, 2008) [Read the entire court ruling].

Supreme Court- Victims Of Sex Discrimination In Pay Must Complain When Pay Decision Is Made

The United States Supreme Court’s ruling of May 29, 2008 makes it harder for victims of discrimination in pay to win if they do not sue promptly. This ruling requires that victims of pay discrimination file an EEOC charge of discrimination within 180 days or 300 days after the pay decision is made in order to be able to later sue in federal court. The Court explained the deadline for filing a charge does not start running at the time when the discriminatory paychecks are received because the paycheck only reflects the effects of the prior discriminatory decision. The clock starts running for the employee when the pay decision is made instead.

This decision does not favor victims of pay discrimination who typically are not always certain when the discrimination pay decision is made by the employee. Furthermore, in light of the confidential nature of salaries, victims of pay discrimination are frequently unaware that they are underpaid until much later when they learn of the salaries paid to others in the same position. By then, the relatively short deadline for filing a charge has expired, rendering them unable to sue or recover. Lilly Ledbetter v. The Good-year Tire & Rubber Co., Inc. Case Number 05-1074 (May 29, 2008). [Read the entire court ruling].

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