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Employment Law
South Texas College of Law Houston
Carlson, Richard R.

EMPLOYMENT LAW OUTLINE
FALL 2009
PROF. RICHARD R. CARLSON
Richard R. Carlson, Employment Law (2d. ed. 2009)
 
CHAPTER 1: AN OVERVIEW OF EMPLOYMENT AND THE LAW… 4
I.       Complications Created by Employment for an Indefinite Duration. 4
 
CHAPTER 2: WHO IS AN EMPLOYEE AND WHO IS THE EMPLOYER?. 4
I.       The Employee/Independent Contractor Problem.. 4
II.      Who Can Be Employed?. 5
a.      Children. 5
b.      Aliens. 5
III.         Who Is the Employer?. 6
a.      Joint Employer Theory. 6
b.      Single Employer Theory. 7
 
CHAPTER 3: SELECTION OF EMPLOYEES. 8
I.       Duties to Third Parties in the Selection of Employees. 8
a.      Respondeat Superior. 8
b.      Negligent Hiring. 8
II.      Statutory Prohibitions Against Employment Discrimination. 8
a.      Proving Discriminatory Intent. 8
b.      Discriminatory Inquiries. 9
c.       Disparate Impact. 9
d.      Affirmative Action. 10
e.      Reasonable Accommodation. 11
III.         Beyond Discrimination: Inaccuracy and Intrusion. 13
a.      Overview.. 13
b.      Background Investigations. 14
c.       Drug Testing. 15
d.      Polygraph Examinations and Other Tests of Honesty and Character. 16
 
CHAPTER 4: COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS. 17
I.       Wages and the Labor Market. Todd v. Exxon Corp.17
II.      Contractual Rights. 18
a.      Individual Bargaining. 18
b.      Collective Bargaining. 18
III.         Statutory Minimums and Remedies. 19
a.      Minimum Wage and Overtime Laws: Basic Requirements. 19
i.       FLSA Coverage. 19
ii.      The Rates. 20
iii.     Exempt vs. Nonexempt: “White Collar” Exemptions. 21
b.      What Compensation Counts?. 23
c.       What Hours Count? Allocating the Cost of Unproductive Time. 24
d.      Allocating Expenses and Losses. 25
i.       The Employment Contract and the FLSA.. 25
ii.      State Wage Payment and Deduction Laws. 26
e.      Enforcement and Remedies. 27
i.       FLSA.. 27
ii.      State Wage Payment Laws. 27
iii.     Class and Collective Wage Actions. 27
IV.         Deferred and Contingent Compensation. 27
a.      The Risk of Forfeiture. 27
b.      Retirement and Welfare Benefits: ERISA and Related Federal Laws. 28
i.       What’s a “Plan”?. 28
ii.      Securing the Right to Pension Benefits. 29
iii.     Deciding Benefit Claims: Ensuring Fairness and Accountability. 29
iv.     Medical Benefit Claims: Special Issues. 29
v.      Fiduciaries and Fiduciary Duties. 29
vi.     Interference and Retaliation. 30
vii.         Discrimination in Benefits. 30
c.       Retirement and Welfare Benefits: Rights and Remedies Under State Law.. 32
 
CHAPTER 5: WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH.. 32
I.       Compensation for Work-Related Injuries. 32
a.      Introduction: The Workers’ Compensation Scheme. 32
b.      Accidental Injury. 32
c.       Occupational Disease and Other Progressive Injuries. 33
d.      Disqualification. 34
e.      Employer Interference with Access to Benefits. 35
f.       Preserved Tort Claims. 35
i.       Third-Party Liability: Who’s an Employee and Who’s the Employer?. 35
ii.      Employer Liability. 36
II.      Preventive Regulation: Occupational Safety and Health Law.. 36
a.      Overview: OSH Act Characteristics. 36
b.      Establishing Employer Duties. 37
i.       The General Duty Clause. 37
ii.      Specific OSH Act Standards. 37
c.       Employee Self-Help. 38
i.       Individual Employee Action. 38
ii.      Concerted Employee Action. 39
d.      Employer Rights. 39
e.      Employee Selection and Occupational Safety. 39
i.       The Accident-Prone Employee. 39
ii.      The Injury/Illness Prone Employee. 40
 
CHAPTER 6: MANAGEMENT AND SUPERVISION OF THE WORKFORCE. 40
I.       Rights and Duties of Supervisors. 40
a.      Employer Control and Employee Autonomy. 40
b.      Duties of Supervision. 41
i.       Negligent Supervision and Third Parties. 41
ii.      Abusive Supervision: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. 41
iii.     Sexual Harassment. 42
II.      Intrusive Investigation of Employees. 43
a.      Laws Limiting Intrusion. 43
b.      Interrogation. 43
c.       Investigatory Lie Detector Examinations. 44
d.      Investigatory Searches. 45
e.      Surveillance. 46
III.         Negligent Investigation. 48
 
CHAPTER 7: ACCOMMODATING PERSONAL, FAMILY, AND CIVIC NEEDS. 48
I.       FMLA Overview.. 48
II.      Personal Needs. 49
III.         Family Obligations. 50
a.      Sick Child Leave. 50
b.      Leave to Care for Adult Family Members. 50
c.       Is Leave Needed for Care?. 50
d.      Restoration, Noninterference, and Nondiscrimination. 50
IV.         Civic Duties. 51
a.      Military Service. 51
b.      Other Possible Needs for Time: The Variety of State Initiatives. 52
 
CHAPTER 8: EMPLOYMENT SECURITY. 52
I.       Introduction. 52
II.      Overcoming the Presumption. 52
a.      Employer Promises of Job Security. 52
b.      Employer Countermeasures. 54
i.       Disclaimers. 54
ii.      Modification or Revocation. 55
c.       Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. 55
d.      Extracontractual Remedies. 55
i.       Promissory Estoppel55
ii.      Tortious Interference. 56
iii.     Discharge for an Illegal Reason: Status Discrimination. 57
iv.     Discharge for an Illegal Reason: Retaliation Against Protected Employee Conduct. 57
III.         Mitigating the Impact of Termination of Employment. 58
a.      The Employee’s Reputation: Defamation and Stigmatization. 58
i.       Common Law Defamation. 58
ii.      Stigmatization by a Public Entity. 59
b.      Unemployment Compensation. 59
i.       Overview.. 59
ii.      Disqualification by Misconduct. 59
iii.     Excuses for Misconduct. 60
iv.     Disqualification Because of Resignation. 60
c.       Collective Terminations. 61
i.       Terminations: A Recap of What We Know.. 61
ii.      Restrictions Against Employer Restructuring. 61
iii.     The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN”). 61
 
CHAPTER 9: PROTECTING THE EMPLOYER’S INTEREST. 62
I.       Implied Employer Rights and Employee Duties. 62
a.      The Employee’s Implied Duty of Loyalty. 62
b.      Inventions and Trade Secrets. 63
II.      Express Contractual Limits on Resignation and Competition. 64
a.      Express Limits on Resignation. 64
b.      Non-Competition Agreements. 64
 
CHAPTER 1: AN OVERVIEW OF EMPLOYMENT AND THE LAW
I.        Complications Created by Employment for an Indefinite Duration
a.       Employment at Will (default). Employer (ER) or employee (ee) is free to discontinue the employment (emp) relationship at any time.
b.      Changing At-Will Employment Contract. The party asserting a change to an at-will employment contract must prove: (1) notice of the change, and (2) acceptance of the change.
                                                               i.      Acceptance by Continued Working. When the ee continues working w/ knowledge of the change, he has accepted the changes as a matter of law.
                                                             ii.      Promises Cannot Be Illusory. A promise by either ER or ee which is dependent on a period of continued employment is illusory.
                                                            iii.      In re Halliburton Co. ER sent notice that all disputes would be sent to arbitration; ee acceptance by continuing to work. Ee’s promise to arbitrate was not illusory b/c ER also promised to be bound to arbitrate.
CHAPTER 2: WHO IS AN EMPLOYEE AND WHO IS THE EMPLOYER?
I.        The Employee/Independent Contractor Problem
a.       Conflicting Employer Goals.  ERs want to avoid regulation over “ees,” but they want to retain as much control as possible over the details of the work.
b.      STEP ONE: Does the contract designate status? This is merely persuasive.
c.       STEP TWO: Does the statute have a definition or independent contractor exemption?
d.      STEP THREE: Wh

    Disability Benefits. States are divided over the question whether an unauthorized alien is entitled to disability benefits.
III.    Who Is the Employer?
a.       Joint Employer Theory
                                                               i.      The Theory. An ER can be a “joint ER” (i.e., a 2d ER) for purposes of statutory duties (cf. K duties), depending on the “economic realities” and control the ER exerts over the ee.
1.       Direct vs. Indirect Control. Direct control really determines joint ER status. Cf. the indirect control a customer exerts over a contractor (e.g., “the plumber looks shady; send another”).
2.       Regularity/Continuity of Relationship. A joint ER is more likely to have a continuous relationship w/ the ee. E.g., STCL is not the joint ER of its elevator repairman.
3.       Contract is a Factor. When a claim is based on a statutory right, the parties’ K’ual agmt is significant but not dispositive. Instead, we must look at the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the alleged ee is entitled to statutory benefits.
4.       Note: Theory Does Not Combine Entities. Unlike the single-ER theory, the joint-ER theory keeps the entities distinct; ees cannot be combined for statutory coverage.
5.       Note: Both Liable for Withholding Taxes. IRS may pursue either ER for failure to pay w/holding taxes (non-delegable duty).
6.       Amanare v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. Ee was hired by Mature Temps and worked for Merrill Lynch as admin. assistant. HELD: Merrill Lynch was joint ER for purposes of Title VII. It exercised complete contol over ee’s work assignments, the means and manner of her performance, and the hours of her emp; it also had rt to discharge.
7.       Black v. Employee Solutions, Inc. Ees in emp. leasing arrangement sued Lessor under wage pmt statute. HELD: Lessor ≠ ER. The leasing agmt does not show a mutual intent of the parties to establish an emp relationship. Lessor merely processed payroll data submitted by Lessee.
                                                             ii.      Outsourcing and Joint Employment: In Reality One “Enterprise”?
1.       FLSA “Suffer or Permit” Rule. FLSA defines “employ” to include “to suffer or permit work” (broader than CL).
2.       Factors in Distinguishing Legitimate Contractor with Entity that “Suffers or Permit[s]” its Subcontractor’s Employees to Work
a.       Putative ER’s premises/equipment?
b.      Could Nominal ER shift business from one client to another?
c.       Work integral to Putative ER? Consider:
                                                                                                                                       i.      Industry Custom (if the practice of using sub-K’ors is widespread, unlikely to be subterfuge to avoid complying with labor laws)
                                                                                                                                     ii.      Historical Practice (prevalence of sub-K’ors may be attributable to widespread evasion of labor laws)
d.      Could Putative ER shift work from one Nominal ER to another w/out material change?