Wyatt Employment Law Report

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Department of Justice Drops Appeal on Obama Overtime Rule

By Daniel Reed

The Justice Department will no longer fight to preserve President Barrack Obama’s proposed overtime rule that a federal judge declared invalid in August.

The Obama-era rule would have required employers to pay overtime to most salaried workers who earn less than $47,476 annually, a sharp increase from the current annual salary cap of $23,660.  The rule would have extended mandatory overtime pay to more than 4 million U.S. workers.  A court challenge to the rule was filed by business groups and 21 states in the Eastern District of Texas. (Nevada v. DOL, E.D. Tex., No. 4:16-CV-731).

In August of this year, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant, an Obama appointee,  struck down Continue reading

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$7,494,459.90 for Discovery Abuses

By Michael D. Hornback

Most lawyers (let’s be honest…all litigation lawyers) have had the unfortunate experience of getting an unfavorable ruling from a court, which they then have to pass on to their client. Those situations always make me psychically ill. I cannot imagine the torment Delta Airlines, Inc.’s counsel was in when they received an Order from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on August 3, 2015 (a Monday no less) requiring their client to pay $2,718,795.05 in sanctions for discovery abuses. I guess Delta was somewhat ready for it, given that it had previously been ordered to pay $4,775,664.85 for separate (but related) discovery missteps. Oh yeah, to add insult to injury, there was no evidence that Delta intentionally destroyed a single document.

This multidistrict litigation involves allegations that Delta and AirTran Airways, Inc. violated the Sherman Act by colluding to implement a “first-bag” fee. In February 2009, prior to the filing of any civil action, the Department of Justice served a Continue reading

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U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division Rules that School District Staff Must Assist Student with Handling of Service Dog

By Jason A. Lopp

On April 13, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division issued a ruling stemming from an investigation of the Gates-Chili Central School District (DJ No. 204-53-128) located in Rochester, New York. A complaint was filed against the school district by the parent of a student attending elementary school in the District. According to the ruling, the complaint alleged that the District refused to permit the child’s service dog, who is trained as a seizure alert dog, in school unless the parent provided a separate, full-time, adult handler. Due to the student’s physical limitations, she required intermittent assistance in tethering and untethering the dog and with vocalizing a limited number of commands. While it appears that the District provided a 1:1 aide for the child, the aide was not authorized to assist with the service animal and was not provided for all school-related activities, such as on the bus.

The U.S. DOJ found that providing the requested assistance to the student “falls well within the range of support and assistance that school staff provides to young children day in and day out. Accordingly, the District must reasonably modify its current ‘hands off’ policy” with respect to the service dog. The full decision can be found here, and is an interesting and important read for all school districts and similarly situated entities governed by Title II of the ADA.