In 1966, the EEOC began requiring companies with 100 or more employees to compile employment data by race/ethnicity, gender, and job category. Dubbed EEO-1 Reports, these surveys were meant to provide a snapshot of how many racial and ethnic minorities and women were working in a company.

EEO-1 Reports Expanded

During President Obama’s tenure, the EEO-1 Report was broadened into two components. Component 1 would include the same information always collected, while Component 2 would include W-2 wage information for employees by race, ethnicity, and sex. Although designed to target pay discrimination, Component 2 was viewed as overly burdensome. Data compilation would take countless hours, while the human error rate was sure to increase on account of the significantly expanded form.

Continue Reading Federal Judge Rules that EEOC Must Collect Expanded Data on EEO-1 Forms – Current Deadline September 30, 2019

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employment discrimination based on “sex.” Most federal courts have interpreted Title VII to exclude sexual orientation discrimination. The Eleventh Circuit falls into this camp. Since its predecessor’s 1979 decision in Blum v. Gulf Oil Corp., 597 F.2d 936, 937 (5th Cir. 1979), the Eleventh Circuit has steadfastly held to its view that “discharge for homosexuality is not prohibited.” Id. The rationale being that Title VII speaks only of a person’s sex and not sexual orientation. Against this textual backdrop, it is the legislature’s job to extend Title VII if it sees fit. See Evans v. Georgia Reg’l Hosp., 850 F.3d 1248, 1256 (11th Cir. 2017) (discussing view that sexual orientation is not a cognizable claim under Title VII.

Circuit Split

Continue Reading Supreme Court to Settle Dispute on LGBT Bias in the Workplace

A plaintiff asserting a discrimination claim under Title VII must make a preliminary showing that her claims have merit. She can do so in a variety of ways, one of which is by navigating the familiar burden-shifting framework established by the Supreme Court in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973).

Under that framework, the plaintiff bears the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of discrimination by proving, among other things, that she was treated differently from another “similarly situated” individual. The Eleventh Circuit has long grappled with the question of just how “similarly situated” a plaintiff and her comparators must be – waffling between a standard of  “nearly identical” and “same or similar.”

This confusion came to an end last week in Lewis v. City of Union City, Ga., No. 15-11362 (11th Cir. Mar. 21, 2019), when the Eleventh Circuit sitting en banc held that a plaintiff must demonstrate she and the comparators are “similarly situated in all material respects.” Although the nomenclature is new, the court’s analysis of this standard is a win for employers. As the dissenting judges proclaimed,

[t]oday, the Majority Opinion drops an anvil on the employer’s side of the balance.”

The Facts

Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Clarifies the Test for Comparator Evidence under McDonnell Douglas

Florida law requires all businesses to file an annual report with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations (the “Department”). Annual reports are due between January 1 and May 1 of the year following the calendar year in which the business’ articles of organization/incorporation became effective or the foreign entity obtained a certificate of authority to transact business in this state. If annual reports are not filed, businesses could incur penalties or even worse, potential administrative dissolution of the business. Annual reports must be filed with the Department between January 1 and May 1 of each calendar year thereafter.

Electronic Filing of Annual Reports – Proceed with Caution

Continue Reading Business Owners, BEWARE: Business Identity Theft is on the Rise

Henderson Franklin’s Employment Law and Workers’ Compensation attorneys will host the 27th Annual HR Law & Solutions on Friday, March 29, 2019 at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa. Florida Board Certified Civil Trial Expert Robert Shearman will moderate this annual seminar designed to update and educate business owners, managers, human resource professionals and in-house counsel on legal issues impacting the workplace.

Continue Reading Final Week to Register for 27th Annual HR Law & Solutions

The First Amendment is commonly understood as protecting the right to free speech. But the First Amendment does not impact the ability of private citizens and organizations to punish or limit speech. This is why it’s permissible for a private employer to fire an employee for engaging in speech the employer disapproves of – private employers have the right to manage their employees as they see fit.

The situation grows more complicated when the government is the employer. Like any other employer, the government has a legitimate interest in maintaining efficient offices and agencies, which often requires managing and disciplining employee speech. At the same time, however, public sector employees have a protected right to free speech under the First Amendment.

The law attempts to balance these two interests noted above by differentiating between private and official speech. The First Amendment only protects government employees when they are speaking as a private citizen about matters of public concern. If the government employee’s speech is instead part of their official job duties, they can be disciplined or fired for what they say.

Private v. Official Speech Test

Continue Reading Airing of the Grievances: 11th Circuit Declines to Extend First Amendment Protection to Employee’s Work Complaint

Copyright is the exclusive right to reproduce, adapt, distribute, perform, and display works of original expression. These rights accrue upon creation of the work and a copyright registration is not required to own a copyright or acquire these rights.

U.S. Copyright Act

The U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 101, et seq. provides a means for registering copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office, which is a part of the Library of Congress. The Federal registration process, while simple, can take nine to twelve months to complete before any Registration Certificate issues. The Copyright Act also provides various rights and remedies for copyright infringement, including statutory damages and attorney fee recovery. However, the Act also states

[N]o civil action for infringement of the copyright … shall be instituted until … registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this title.” 17 U.S.C. 411.

What Qualifies as Actual “Copyright Registration”?

Continue Reading Supreme Court Requires Registration of Copyright to Claim Under Copyright Act

Obtaining a survey before purchasing a vessel is always advised. Any offer to purchase a boat should always be made contingent on a satisfactory survey and in some cases a sea trial. Courts have recognized the critical role of marine surveyors in maintaining safe sea travels.

Hull Survey vs. Full Survey

The type of survey required will depend on the boat age, condition, value, and date of last survey. It may be that a hull survey is required, or a full survey to include the rig, sails and engine and the equipment on board. If the engines form a substantial part of the value of the boat, you may want to consider having a separate detailed engineer’s report. Or if there are particular technical aspects which you require verification on, make sure to instruct the surveyor on these aspects.

Seaworthiness

Continue Reading Maritime Law: Why is a Survey Needed When Purchasing a Vessel?

Recreational boat owners in Florida are required to either register their vessels with the state of Florida or document their vessels with the U.S. Coast Guard. There are many factors to consider when choosing between state registration and U.S. documentation.

Registration

Chapter 328, Florida Statutes, designates that DHSMV is responsible for issuing vessel registrations and titles. Applications for titles and registrations must be filed at a county tax collector or license plate agent office. The certificate of registration must be carried on board the vessel whenever it is in operation and the decal must be displayed near the registration number on the port (left) side of the vessel. You can find more information on the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website.

Documentation

Continue Reading Maritime Law: What You Need to Know About Registration and Documentation Before Buying a Boat

In order to better protect yourself and your property, it’s a good idea to have a discussion with your insurance agent and/or your maritime lawyer about your vessel, its intended use and operation, the potential for claims and the marine insurance coverage that may be available to you.

Hidden Exclusions

Many people with significant claims after an accident, that could and/or should have been insured against and covered from, are not covered because of an exclusion or limitation that was buried in the insurance policy. These denials often could have been avoided had the person purchased a more favorable insurance policy from a different carrier. The insurance policy need not cover just the vessel, but also needs to cover you, and your passengers, in the event of an accident. If there is a serious accident, any good personal injury attorney will want to go beyond the policy limits and try to hold you personally liable.

Who, What, Where

Continue Reading Maritime Law: What You Need to Know About Insurance Before Buying a Boat