EEOC Wants In On NLRB’s Fun: EEOC Focuses On Waivers, Releases and Arbitration Agreements

By Joseph S. Murray IV

For the past couple of years, the nonunion employment bar has watched as the National Labor Relations Board upended the law surrounding handbooks, waivers, arbitration agreements and a host of other aspects of the employment relationships. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, apparently not content to allow the NLRB to have all of the fun, has stepped up the use of its authority to attack separation and employment agreements.

In EEOC v. CVS Pharm., Inc., 809 F.3d 335 (7th Cir. 2015), the EEOC contended that CVS’ standard severance agreement constituted a pattern and practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of rights in violation of Section 707(a) of Title VII (42 U.S.C. § 2000e-6). The EEOC pointed to seven specific clauses it believed violated Title VII. EEOC v. CVS Pharm., Inc. Cmplt. ¶ 8.a.–f. (last visited Dec. 6, 2016). The EEOC contended the clauses each contained language that interfered with an employee’s right to file a charge with the EEOC or to participate in an EEOC investigation.

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A Practice Management Expert’s Top Gift Ideas for Techies

By Joyce Brafford

Tech gurus know that nothing pleases a fellow techie like a new gadget for the holidays. Here are my top five picks for the techies you love. Although, you just may keep a few for yourself.

For the Cord Cutter: Mohu Releaf 30, $29.99

This is a wonderful gift for anyone who has, or is thinking about, ditching the cable box. Mohu has a variety of products, but the Releaf is a great place to start your shopping. Built from recycled cable boxes and with a range of 30 miles, it’s a gift that will allow the recipient to cut the cable cord, cut their monthly utilities and stay in touch with local news and events.

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Paralegals Beware: Wire Instruction Fraud Plagues N.C. Lawyers

Stell,CamilleBy Camille Stell

In recent weeks, Lawyers Mutual has received multiple reports of North Carolina attorneys who were targeted by scammers attempting to divert seller closing proceeds following real estate transactions.  Unfortunately, several of these attacks were successful and hundreds of thousands of dollars were stolen and are very unlikely to be recovered.

Often, paralegals are on the front line of client communications and details surrounding loan closings. I’ve asked our claims attorney, Troy Crawford, to talk with me about what went wrong and how to prevent it.

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Judge Halts DOL Overtime Regulations – Now What?

murphyfletcher2By Murphy Fletcher

I imagine that, if you are reading this blog, you have heard the big news: after 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, a federal judge in Texas issued an order granting a nationwide preliminary injunction that will prevent the DOL overtime regulations from going into effect today, Dec. 1, as everyone had planned.

According to the court, the plaintiffs had demonstrated a “likelihood of success on the merits” due to the fact that the DOL, in enacting the new overtime rule, had exceeded its authority through its significant increase of the salary threshold.  The court took particular notice of the fact that an estimated 4.2 million workers currently ineligible for overtime would automatically become eligible, regardless of duties, due to the increased threshold.  This, in the eyes of the court, would create “essentially a de facto salary-only test.”  After analyzing the other requirements of a preliminary injunction, the court enjoined the DOL from “implementing and enforcing” the new overtime rule.

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N.C. Court Of Appeals On Brink Of Slippery Non-Compete Slope


Wall,JonBy Jonathan Wall

In Beverage Sys., LLC v. Associated Beverage Repair, LLC, 368 N.C. 693, 784 S.E.2d 457 (2016), the North Carolina Supreme Court clarified that North Carolina adheres to the “strict blue pencil rule;” that is, a trial court may strike distinct unreasonable restrictions in a noncompetition agreement but may not re-write provisions in order to make them enforceable, even if the parties, in the contract, authorize judicial revisions.  The court sent a message it is not interested in expanding blue-penciling, noting no good could come from changing the role of the trial court:

Allowing litigants to assign to the court their drafting duties as parties to a contract would put the court in the role of scrivener, making judges postulate new terms that the court hopes the parties would have agreed to be reasonable at the time the covenant was executed or would find reasonable after the court rewrote the limitation. We see nothing but mischief in allowing such a procedure.

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Employer’s Attempt At Repayment Of Training Costs Can Backfire Causing Employee Misclassification Under the FLSA


By Andrew J. Henson and Michael A. Kornbluth

henson-andrewA growing practice among employers is to require new hires to sign a Training Cost Agreement (TCA), which puts employees on the hook for the cost of their on-the-job training if they quit or are fired before completing a period of years of work for the employer. The concept is something like the evil twin of the signing bonus. However, a recent court ruling in the Middle District of North Carolina suggests enforcing these agreements may backfire and cause an employee who was previously exempt from overtime laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act to suddenly become subject to overtime laws, leaving the employer liable for back pay for any hours of unpaid overtime.

kornbluthmichaelUnder the FLSA, employees are entitled to “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.” This includes overtime for nonexempt employees who work more than forty hours in a week. Exempt employees are not entitled to overtime. The determination of who is exempt and who is not can be complicated, and has been subject to fierce dispute in the courts. Typically employees classified as exempt are those whose job duties can be considered administrative, executive, or professional. But, these white collar workers may still qualify as nonexempt employees, if the way they are paid does not satisfy what’s called the “Salary Basis Test.”

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