Alabama Employment Law Report
State of the Union, EEOC and Lady GaGa
State of the Union. Last night, President Obama gave his State of the Union address. Topics that will have an impact on employers include his proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour, with automatic annual cost of living increases. Although I do not think that this will get through Congress, if it does, it will raise costs dramatically for those employers who have entry level positions. It will also have an upward ripple effect on those who make more than the current minimum wage: if an employee is currently being paid $9.00 an hour, and the minimum wage is raised to $9.00 an hour, the current employee will most likely get an increase to remain above the minimum wage. Also, costs such as FICA, workers' compensation insurance, unemployment compensation and 401(k) contributions will go up. Mr. Obama also proposed comprehensive immigration reform. With a bipartisan committee already working on this, I believe that it has a good chance to pass in some form. It is too early to tell what compromises will be made, but this looks like it will pass. When and if immigration reform is implemented, I will report on it. The Affordable Care Act continues to be implemented over time. I believe that this too will increase costs for businesses, although the true impact may not be felt until 2014. Finally, with his long list of projects, I believe that it will take more money to make them happen, if they get approved. Mentioned were the elimination of tax "loopholes", which may increase the tax burden on corporations and individuals. It will take more money to pay for the other projects proposed during the address: although both democrats and republicans talk about cutting spending, in reality, it is difficult to accomplish. If dramatic cuts are not made, the only way to fund these projects is higher taxes. I will continue to post about these issues as we move forward.
State of the EEOC. The EEOC recently released statistics for fiscal year ending September 30, 2012. The EEOC received 99,412 private sector discrimination charges, down slightly from 2011. The most frequently filed charges were retaliation (37,836), race (33,512) and sex discrimination (30,356). The inventory of charges pending was reduced 10% for the second year in a row. There were 70,312 pending charges and the end of the FY. The EEOC recovered $365.4 million through the administrative process. Only 122 lawsuits were filed in 2012, while 254 lawsuits were resolved for a total of $44.2 million. In total, the EEOC recovered over $400 million for the 2012 FY.
State of Lady Gaga. On January 5, 2012, I posted an entry addressing an overtime lawsuit filed against Lady Gaga. Ms. O'Neill, her personal assistant, who was paid an annual salary of $75,000, claimed that she was entitled to an additional $380,000 in overtime because she was on call 24/7. The New York Post got a hold of Ms. Gaga's deposition, and the ABA Journal published an article about what she said. Among other things, Ms. Gaga testified that: "This whole case is bull---t and you know it"; She thinks she's just like the queen of the universe...And, you what, she didn't want to be a slave to one, because in my work and what I do, I'm the queen of the universe every day"; and "You don't get a schedule that is like you punch in and you can play f---ing Tetris at your desk for four hours and then you punch out at the end of the day...This is--when I need you, you're available". Her testimony has made it difficult for her to win the case. And as much as I would like to, I am glad I am not representing her in this matter.
Practice Pointer. Whether you are an employee or employer, it is important to listen to your legal counsel when preparing for your deposition. Oftentimes, the deposition can determine the outcome of a case. Here, Ms. Gaga comes across as a conceited, pompous, spoiled rich brat, and the jury, if it ever gets that far, will probably view it that way too.