Recent Developments in Employer/Employee Disputes
We update this page with developments since 2000.
Fradulent Hiring Results in $10 Million Verdict
A New Jersey jury awarded an employee $5 million in punitive damages, $3 million in lost wages and $2 million in emotional distress damages against an insurance brokerage for lying to a prospective employee about the possibility of a takeover. The head of the brokerage assured the plaintiff, former pro football player Phil McConkey, that rumors of an impending takeover were untrue. Several months later, the firm was acquired by another company and the plaintiff lost his job. He sued for fraud claiming he wouldn't have taken the job if he had known there was real chance the company would be sold. Takeover negotiations were underway and the acquiring company was performing due diligence while the company was recruiting the plaintiff. This verdict means an employer must be truthful when hiring an employee.
Does the flu qualify as a serious health condition for unpaid, job-protected leave with continued benefits? Employees in certain circumstances have the right under state and federal law to take up to twelve weeks to recover from a serious health condition, as well as to care for a newborn; an adopted or foster child; or a seriously ill parent, spouse, or child. [California Government Code §12945.2 (California Family Rights Act); 29 USC §§2601 et seq. (Family and Medical Leave Act). The term serious health condition is intended to be broadly construed, and the statutory scheme is designed to have medical determinations made by health care providers, not employers or the courts.
The federal statue provides that when complications of seemingly mundane ailments may satisfy the regulatory requirement of a serious health condition. [29 USC §2612(a)(1)(D); 29 CFR §825.114.] For example, if a doctor instructs an employee to stay at home over a three-day period for chicken pox (and two visits to the doctor during that time) it is a serious health condition. [George v. Associated Stationers (ND Ohio 1996) 932 F Supp 1012]
An employee must provide the employer, sufficient detail of the need for leave, such as the incapacity to work for more than three consecutive calendar days coupled with continuing treatment. Absence from work alone does not establish incapacity. [Gibbs v. American Airlines Inc. (1999) 74 Cal.App.4th 1.]