Tag Archives: Fisher & Phillips

employment

Fisher & Phillips Adds New Practice Group

Fisher & Phillips LLP announced that it has formed a new Government Solutions Practice Group to help employers who are faced with a fluid and evolving legislative and regulatory regime at the federal, state and local levels of government. The practice focuses on labor and employment legislation and regulations in areas such as: workplace discrimination; employee privacy; wage and hour; employee compensation; trade secrets; employment contracts and terms; unionization and organization efforts; healthcare; immigration; workplace accommodations; employee leave; workers’ compensation; workplace safety; affirmative action; and employee benefits.

Practice Group Chairman Rick Grimaldi of the firm’s Philadelphia office said: “It’s critical that employers remain well-informed about proposed legislation and regulation at any level of government. Our clients want their opinions heard by Congress, the executive branch, and state and local governments, and we plan to help facilitate that.”

The Government Solutions Practice Group is comprised of 26 attorneys who are well versed in the area of government affairs. These attorneys will partner with employers to assist them with navigating and advocating for their interests in the modern legislative and regulatory arenas. Grimaldi added: “By partnering with our firm’s government affairs attorneys, our clients will stay apprised of legislative developments impacting their interests. This gives them a voice for fair and appropriate policymaking at all levels of government throughout the country.”

Working across the firm’s nationwide footprint, the practice offers an array of services including:

· Filing amicus curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court, other federal and state courts, and the National Labor Relations Board
· Representing employer views during formal rule-makings by federal, state and local regulatory agencies by filing comments on behalf of clients, assisting clients to file their own comments, and/or testifying before federal, state and local legislative committees and subcommittees
· Ensuring the availability of high level legal and technical resources to support the important efforts of legislators and executive office staff who are (a) defending employer and employee rights against special-interest groups espousing an “anti-employer” or “pro-union” agenda, and (b) supporting balance in employment and labor laws
· Providing a voice for clients with federal, state and local government officials at general-interest trade associations and business organizations, and with other policy groups and natural allies on labor and employment issues
· Supporting positive initiatives, and opposing and/or improving initiatives that would inappropriately restrict employers and business
· Monitoring relevant legislation introduced in Congress, state legislatures and key local municipalities, and providing regular updates on legislative and regulatory activity

Through these services, the attorneys in the Government Solutions Practice Group partner with clients to cooperatively protect and promote their interests, at all levels of government, in the area of labor and employment legislation and regulations.

The attorneys have been posting updates to the firm’s Government Solutions Blog at www.fpgovernmentsolutions.com.

iphone

Fisher & Phillips Updates FMLA Leave App

Fisher & Phillips LLP announced that it has released Version 2 of its popular FMLA Leave Calculator App. The law firm has also added a web browser version of the app along with the iOS and Android versions. The earlier version of the app released last June has been downloaded more than 1,600 times and it won a First Place Award from the Southeastern Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association for Social/Interactive Media.

The app allows employers to calculate certain FMLA leaves of absence. The FMLA Leave Calculator app will allow human resource professionals and other managers to calculate basic leave requests and determine how much FMLA leave an employee has available. The Beta version of the iPhone and Android app was introduced during the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago last year. Version 2 is being released during the SHRM Conference in Orlando.

Fisher & Phillips invited several early adopters of the first app to be Beta Testers for the second version. Their input was very valuable in helping to improve the intuitive app.

Fisher & Phillips Chairman and Managing Partner Roger Quillen said: “When we set out to develop our first app we said we wanted to create a tool that employers and HR professionals can use at work. This free tool has proven to be very popular as the 1,600-plus downloads illustrate. It was exciting to have our early adopters provide direct feedback as we developed the next version. We hope to hear from SHRM members and other professionals after using Version 2 of the FMLA app for their leave calculations.”

The Fisher & Phillips FMLA Leave app can be downloaded at the Apple App Store or Google Play. On the Apple App Store or Google Play search for “Fisher & Phillips.” You can also visit www.laborlawyers.com/FMLALeaveApp to get the app, including the Web version.

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Fisher & Phillips Adds Labor Law Attorney

The law firm of Fisher & Phillips announced that Alanna R. Brook has joined the firm’s Phoenix office as a labor and employment law staff attorney.  An Arizona native, Alanna graduated cum laude from Tulane University with a degree in Russian Language. Prior to attending law school, Alanna served as Officer in the United States Air Force and was honorably discharged at the rank of captain.

Alanna received her Juris Doctor from the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona.  While in law school, Alanna served as a staff writer for the Arizona Law Review and was a founding member and Executive Editor of the Arizona Journal of Environmental Law & Policy. She also interned with the Consumer Protection and Advocacy Section of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.  Alanna earned a certificate in Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy from the University of Arizona’s program of the same name.

Pavneet Uppal, managing partner stated, “We are pleased to have Alanna as part of the Fisher & Phillips team. She truly exhibits what our firm looks for in an associate. Her academic and military career and dedication to the community is very impressive and we look forward to seeing her flourish at our firm.”

Prior to joining Fisher & Phillips, Alanna held the position of Associate with Fennemore Craig. Additionally, Alanna served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Virginia C. Kelly in the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division II and practiced as a commercial litigation associate in a Southwest Regional law firm’s Phoenix office prior to practicing with Fisher & Phillips.

In her free time, Alanna serves as a volunteer adoption counselor with the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. She is also a regular participant in charitable events throughout Phoenix with such organizations as the Aunt Rita’s Foundation No Aids Walk, The National MS Society and Arizona Chapter’s Cooks and Chords Event.

ABrook Headshot (3)

Fisher & Phillips Adds Labor Law Attorney

The law firm of Fisher & Phillips announced that Alanna R. Brook has joined the firm’s Phoenix office as a labor and employment law staff attorney.  An Arizona native, Alanna graduated cum laude from Tulane University with a degree in Russian Language. Prior to attending law school, Alanna served as Officer in the United States Air Force and was honorably discharged at the rank of captain.

Alanna received her Juris Doctor from the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona.  While in law school, Alanna served as a staff writer for the Arizona Law Review and was a founding member and Executive Editor of the Arizona Journal of Environmental Law & Policy. She also interned with the Consumer Protection and Advocacy Section of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.  Alanna earned a certificate in Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy from the University of Arizona’s program of the same name.

Pavneet Uppal, managing partner stated, “We are pleased to have Alanna as part of the Fisher & Phillips team. She truly exhibits what our firm looks for in an associate. Her academic and military career and dedication to the community is very impressive and we look forward to seeing her flourish at our firm.”

Prior to joining Fisher & Phillips, Alanna held the position of Associate with Fennemore Craig. Additionally, Alanna served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Virginia C. Kelly in the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division II and practiced as a commercial litigation associate in a Southwest Regional law firm’s Phoenix office prior to practicing with Fisher & Phillips.

In her free time, Alanna serves as a volunteer adoption counselor with the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. She is also a regular participant in charitable events throughout Phoenix with such organizations as the Aunt Rita’s Foundation No Aids Walk, The National MS Society and Arizona Chapter’s Cooks and Chords Event.

iphone

New App for HR Professionals

Fisher & Phillips LLP announced that it has developed a Smartphone and Tablet app that allows employers to calculate certain FMLA leaves of absence. The Beta FMLA Leave Calculator app will allow human resource professionals and other managers to calculate basic leave requests and determine how much FMLA leave an employee has available. This Beta version of the iPhone and Android app was introduced during the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago June 16-19.

Fisher & Phillips Chairman and Managing Partner Roger Quillen said: “The FMLA is a complicated law and FMLA leave calculations can be challenging for employers. Our attorneys frequently field questions about calculating FMLA leave. This new app is a free tool we’re providing to anyone to help them with basic FMLA leave requests. The Beta version covers requests for leave for employees working a standard 40-hour work week. The next version will cover more complicated situations such as employees working reduced work weeks. We’re very excited about introducing the app for the first time to the SHRM members attending the national conference in Chicago.”

Quillen added that the firm is eager to receive feedback from the SHRM members who test the new app. The app will provide an easy way for users to call or email the firm with comments and suggestions.

How the app works

The app offers a user-friendly interface and works very simply utilizing the rolling 12-month method measured backwards from the date of any FMLA leave.

• Enter the number of FMLA leave days the employee is requesting
• Enter the number of days of FMLA leave the employee has already used
• Enter the start date of the requested leave
• Indicate the days of the week the employee works
• Click “Calculate Now!”

The app then reports:

• Number of days of FMLA leave available
• When the employee should return to work based on the new leave request
• How much leave the employee has remaining after the current leave request is completed; if leave has been exhausted at the time of this request, it will indicate such

The HR professional or other manager using the app can then email the information directly to the employee who requested the leave. Of course, further documentation to the employee should be provided as required by the FMLA.

How to get the app

The Fisher & Phillips FMLA Leave app can be downloaded at the Apple App Store or Google Play. On the Apple App Store or Google Play search for “Fisher & Phillips.” You can also visit www.laborlawyers.com/FMLALeaveApp to get the app.

Fisher & Phillips attorneys and marketing professionals worked with developers at Saturno Design to create the new app.

Nonexempt Vs. Exempt Employees

Arizona employers face an onslaught of wage and hour claims

For Shayna Balch, business is booming.

Since the start of 2012, the labor attorney at Fisher & Phillips in Phoenix is seeing — on average — one to three wage and hour cases filed each day. This is compared with one or two a month in previous years. Nationally, the number of new Fair Labor Standards Act suits lodged in federal courts between 2010 and 2011 jumped more than 15 percent, according to Federal Judicial Caseload Statistics.

Historically, Balch says wage and hour cases have not been an issue in Arizona. Because of that, employers are not prepared for the trend and she worries that this a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.

“There are multiple causes (for the increase)” says John Thompson, who handles wage-hour cases at Fisher & Phillips and is the editor of the firm’s Wage Hour Laws Blog.

“They include a greater familiarity of plaintiff’s lawyers with wage-hour laws and with the many areas in which non-compliance can occur; workers’ increasing awareness of wage-hour requirements — including via the Internet and the media; the growing number and complexity of the laws themselves;  and the stepped-up enforcement efforts of government officials.”

As the economy suffered and employers looked for ways to reduce labor costs, many of the cost-cutting measures conflicted with employment laws, according to Phoenix attorney John Doran of Sherman & Howard, and that has led to an avalanche of wage and hour claims. The number of collective actions has increased by more than 400 percent nationally in the last decade. In Arizona, the increase has been even more dramatic.

“In Arizona, there has been a sudden and dramatic increase in wage and hour collective and class actions,” Doran says. “This should be a source of serious concern for Arizona employers.”

It’s particularly stressful for employers desperately trying to recover from the recession.

“Employers have looked for every possible angle to reduce labor costs including overtime, and many of those angles simply do not jive with the wage and hour laws,” Doran says. “This has been especially true with employers trying to convert their employees into independent contractors, which is an extremely difficult, and often mishandled strategy that has the attention of the Department of Labor and the I.R.S.”

The Department of Labor has increased its strength thanks to a significant bump in funding under the Obama Administration, increasing both its enforcement and public awareness campaigns. More than 250 new investigators have been hired and the revitalized Wage & Hour Division launched its “We Can Help” campaign in 2010 to increase visibility and accessibility to workers.

“The DOL has also been more aggressive in pursuing employers, by expanding the scope of wage and hour investigations, issuing more administrative subpoenas, and imposing more penalties on employers,” says Phoenix attorney Tracy A. Miller, shareholder. Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

And the DOL is making it even easier for employees to build cases against their employers. Last year, the DOL developed a smartphone application that allowed employees to keep track of their own time and monitor employer compliance with certain wage and hour requirements. The DOL also created hard copy “exhibits” for employees to track their time. In taking these steps, the DOL has stated that employees must be paid for any work they do, regardless of where they do it.

Empowered with DOL-provided tools, “We are seeing more individuals who file suit on their own behalf,” says Stephanie Quincy, a partner in the labor and employment practice group for Steptoe & Johnson. “In Arizona, if wages are not paid when they are due or the wages are withheld without a good faith reason, the employee is entitled to three times the amount, as a punishment for the employer. We are seeing employees filing these suits themselves, without an attorney.”

So where are employers most susceptible?

“The biggest increase has been in lawsuits and investigations involving workers who claim to be misclassified as independent contractors,” Miller says. “Failing to pay workers for pre-shift and post-shift activities, such as computer boot-up and power-down, is also still a hot issue. Another common mistake that the DOL and private litigants are focusing on is the failure to include bonuses and commissions when calculating overtime. Wage payments during temporary company shut downs and furloughs has been a hot issue, although usually these issues are resolved without a lawsuit.  Cases involving the misuse of the tip credit or tip pools have also been on the rise.  Finally, we continue to see off-the-clock cases from employees who work remotely and/or routinely use smartphones.”

All of this is a conundrum for employers, considering the changing face of the economy and the workplace. The DOL is encouraging employers to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was enacted in 1938 when people worked at work. Now, thanks to technology, many of us can work anywhere and anytime.

To protect themselves, employers of all sizes should engage in serious introspection, Doran advises.

“An internal wage and hour audit, if not a must, is still the most valuable tool employers have to fend off such claims,” Doran says, “Annual or bi-annual audits would include analyzing job descriptions and comparing them with what is actually happening in the workplace day to day; examining timekeeper practices; ensuring that supervisors and managers are adequately and accurately carrying out otherwise compliant pay practices; and much, much more. These audits are best conducted through outside legal counsel in order to cloak them in attorney-client privilege.”

Quincy says employers should examine each employee and determine if the employee — not the position — is doing the type of work that is considered “exempt” or “non-exempt.” Non-exempt employees must be paid overtime. Employers should also carefully examine deductions from pay and time, including automatic deductions such as rest and meal breaks. Employers must train supervisors that any changes to hours worked must be explained to the employee and the employee must sign off on them.  The employer should hold supervisors accountable for encouraging — or pressuring — employees to work off the clock or not to accurately record their hours.

“Often businesses feel as though they must be in compliance because they have been paying workers in the same way for years without any problems,” Miller says. “Very few businesses are completely in compliance with the wage and hour laws, however, and an investigation or a lawsuit is an expensive way to learn about violations.  Businesses that proactively audit their pay practices end up saving a lot of money in the long run.”

paying_for_online_education

Fisher & Phillips and Inspired eLearning develop employment law courses

Fisher & Phillips LLP and Inspired eLearning, Inc. have joined together to produce a new series of web-based compliance training courses for supervisors and employees. They have announced the initial release of an updated workplace harassment training program, and plans to release a broad-based suite of courses to train managers in all areas of employment laws and corporate ethics.

Fisher & Phillips is one of the nation’s leading management-side labor and employment law firms, with over 275 attorneys in 27 offices nationwide. Inspired eLearning is one of the most recognized developers of online training programs covering employment law, compliance and ethics. Together, they are developing courses that run the gamut of employment law and compliance issues that are becoming more extensive, complicated and global.

The attorneys at Fisher & Phillips are developing content on subjects that include: sexual harassment, discrimination, social media, hiring, wage and hour compliance and protection of trade secrets. Inspired eLearning produces online courses employers can utilize across their enterprises, including in foreign countries. The company produces courses in 21 languages. Employers also benefit from the Learning Management System (LMS) developed by Inspired eLearning. LMS tracks training completion and provides reports back to management.

Inspired eLearning President Martin Rico said: “Employers are under increased pressure to comply with ever-changing employment laws. They must ensure that their workers understand and comply with laws to help companies avoid fines and litigation. The attorneys at Fisher & Phillips understand what businesses face and they present information in a way that business people and other working professionals understand. In addition to creating the course material, the attorneys are prepared to provide follow-up training at work sites and to assist our clients in reviewing policies, developing codes of conduct, assisting in investigations and managing litigation.”

Fisher & Phillips Managing Partner and Chairman Roger Quillen said: “Our clients have for years benefited from the training our attorneys provide to them both at their workplaces and online. We were looking for a platform to extend this valuable training. Inspired eLearning has the structure, expertise and desire to deliver the best possible training to companies that recognize the importance of keeping their leadership and staff up-to-date on employment law.”

Quillen went on to say that the training is important to medium and large multinational companies. “They face serious challenges in getting training to their people when they’re scattered around the globe.”

Joe Ambash, Managing Partner of Fisher & Phillips’ Boston office and leader of the training project, stated: “Our innovative and creative approach to compliance training combined with Inspired eLearning’s worldwide platform will result in a superior level of training for employers worldwide.”