About

As employment law constantly changes, the attorneys at Bean, Kinney & Korman stay up to date on the law as it develops. Our blog topics focus on those changes and what you need to know about them, ranging from severance agreements and the FLSA to social media in the workplace and recent court decisions. If you are interested in having us cover a specific topic, please let us know.

Contact Us

Topics

Archives

Select Month:

Contributors

Posts from June 2011.

Gender equality.jpg

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires that employers treat pregnant employees the same as non-pregnant employees who suffer from some injury or sickness that occurred outside of work. 

In our last post, we reviewed the D.C. Fire Department’s change to their pregnancy policy.  In this post we take a look at what the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires. 

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act:  A Brief History

In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court found that under Title VII, discrimination based on pregnancy was not sex discrimination.  Unhappy with this interpretation, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) which became law in 1978.  The PDA amended Title VII and specified that sex discrimination does include discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.

Female Firefighter.jpg

Earlier this week, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department changed its policy regarding pregnant firefighters.  The change limits pregnant firefighters to 30-days of light duty during and after pregnancy.

Tom Sherwood from NBC 4 in Washington, DC reports

In a move to cut overtime and other administrative costs, the department is now limiting pregnant firefighters to 30 days of light duty or desk duty during a pregnancy.  After that, the employee must use accrued sick leave or annual leave to cover the rest of the pregnancy or any post pregnancy time off...

Under the old policy, a pregnant firefighter might work several months on light duty until she was due to give birth.  Under the new policy, the firefighter could face several months of no pay at all.

Fire Engine.jpg

Two former Fairfax County Firefighters recently pursued sexual harassment claims against Fairfax County in Alexandria Federal Court.  In one case decided in late May of this year, former firefighter Mary Getts Bland received a $250,000 jury verdict.  In early June, a second former firefighter, Stacey Bailey had her claim dismissed on summary judgment. 

Peter Vieth of Virginia Lawyer’s Weekly reports

Both cases involved allegations of a male-dominated culture at Fairfax firehouses, where crude jokesare the norm and one particular officer regularly made explicit and demeaning comments to female employees. 

The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor recently released a timesheet application on the Apple iTunes store.  On May 9, 2011, “DOL – Timesheet” became available for download.  The application allows employees to keep track of hours worked and amount of pay owed including overtime.  Through the app, employees are able to maintain an “electronic timecard” where they click to clock-in and out, record breaks, enter comments, receive a summary and even send the summary via email.

Optimized-DOL - Timesheet.jpg

While the application contains many features, it also possesses several significant limitations.  The “app” does not have the capability to take into account items such as tips, commissions, bonuses, deductions, and holiday pay.  Still, in a press release from the Department of Labor, Secretary Hilda L. Solis praised the app stating “this app will help empower workers to understand and stand up for their rights when employers have denied their hard-earned pay.” 

Currently, the app is only available for iPhone and iPod Touch.  The Department of Labor has plans to make versions available for Blackberry and Android users in the future. 

Since its release there has been quite a bit of commentary about its usefulness.  As of today the app has a rating of 3.5 stars out of a possible 5 in Apple’s app store.   Many of the ratings come from two extremes – users either love the app or they despise it.  Comments ranged from “simple and efficient”, “easy interface” to complaints about how the app will lead to increased complaints from employees.

While the app will be helpful for some employees, the results produced will only be as accurate as the data entered.  Employers could face increased complaints over alleged miscalculations in time worked due to an employee’s failure to record time in the app at the same time as they clock-in and out for work. 

Additionally, the release of the app signifies the importance of ensuring that employees are fully aware of employer payroll policies.  Taking a proactive approach in refreshing employees on timekeeping policies and ensuring that recordkeeping is adequate, complete and in compliance with State and Federal law will go a long way towards avoiding future issues and complaints.