Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus

“Unpaid” Interns Can Cost You $6.4 million

Last week, thousands of former interns reached a $6.4 million settlement in their class-action wage and hour lawsuit against NBC Universal filed in federal court. The interns, who worked on shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” alleged that NBC Universal improperly classified them as “non-employee interns” and did not pay them minimum wage or at all for their internships, which involved work that would ordinarily be done by paid employees. These actions, the interns claimed, violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the equivalent state laws of New York, Connecticut, and California. Read the rest of this entry »

Rejection of Arbitration Clause in Nursing Home Admission Agreement

Berks County Judge Jeffrey Sprecher recently ruled against a nursing home’s efforts to require that a negligence claim for personal injuries be litigated through the National Arbitration Forum. The judge found that certain provisions of the admission document were very confusing to an elderly individual without legal training and that the agreement violated public policy in Pennsylvania for requiring nursing home residents to waive a right to a jury trial without any explanation as to what this waiver meant. This was particularly troublesome for the court because the arbitration clause did not adequately note that future negligence claims for personal injury would bar presentation of injury claims to a jury.

The judge did recognize that in commercial contracts between businesses, it is quite proper for the parties to agree to waive all rights to court and jury when the issues are focused on financial issues among businesses but not for future unknown injury claims potentially caused by intentional conduct or gross negligence, where punitive damages may be available for a resident through a jury award.

In many of our firm’s commercial contracts, we favor arbitration for dispute resolution in the right circumstances because the discovery process is very limited, decision making by a neutral arbitrator is relatively swift and the outcome can be controlled by removing a litigant’s right to appeal, hence preventing a litigant from driving the cost of litigation up substantially and delaying a final outcome.

If you have any questions about this post, or a related matter, please contact me at sallinson@nmmlaw.com.

EEOC Guidance Expands Protections for Pregnant Workers

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently issued new enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination that greatly expands protections for workers. This sweeping document provides the EEOC’s position on numerous issues that directly affect employers, including: Read the rest of this entry »

FMLA Return to Work Standard

In its recent opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit provided guidance to Pennsylvania and New Jersey employers on a Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) issue that it had not previously addressed. Specifically, the court’s decision in Budhun v. Reading Hospital and Medical Center set the standard for when an employee’s right to return to work is triggered following a leave of absence under the FMLA. Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Concert Series – September

Wrap up the Live at Riverside Summer Concert Series and enjoy a great night of jump blues and swing with the Slicked-Up 9′s – performing on Friday, September 5, at 7:30 p.m. at the Live at Riverside Summer Concert Series at Riverside Park, Easton.  Norris McLaughlin is a proud sponsor of this great community event!

Barbara L. Hollenbach and Richard Brent Somach Named Among Best Lawyers

Barbara L. Hollenbach and Richard Brent Somach, of the Firm’s Pennsylvania office, are among the 32 Members of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A. listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2015, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession.

Barbara is listed for Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers and Richard is listed for Real Estate Law. Barbara was first listed in Best Lawyers in 2012.  She is certified as a specialist in the practice of workers’ compensation law by the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Section on Workers’ Compensation Law as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This is Rich’s first listing in Best Lawyers. He practices in almost every facet of real estate law – from real estate development and management to foreclosures and commercial workouts to zoning matters.

For a complete list of NMM’s Best Lawyers, click here.

Workplace Bullying

Whether it is on the playground as children or in the workplace as adults, nobody likes to be bullied. Recent studies show that workplace bullying is prevalent, on the rise, and brings significant negative outcomes for both employers and targeted employees. Employees subjected to such behavior can suffer from anxiety, humiliation, and depression. Workplace bullying can also result in reduced productivity and morale as well as higher turnover and absenteeism rates. Read the rest of this entry »

Update on Cellphone Use While Driving

In a recent article, the consequences of driving while on a cellphone and causing an automobile accident were discussed.  Left open at the time of that article was the issue of whether mere use of a cell phone at the time of an accident would give rise to valid claims for punitive damages against the offending driver. Read the rest of this entry »

PA Supreme Court Holds that a Murder/Suicide in a Home is a Purely Psychological Stigma and Not a Material Defect Requiring Disclosure by Seller

On July 21, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held in Milliken v. Jacono, 2014 WL 3579791 (Pa., July 21, 2014, No. 48 MAP 2013), that purely psychological stigmas are not material defects of property that sellers must disclose to buyers.  The Court found that a murder/suicide on the premises was a purely psychological stigma and not a material defect requiring disclosure by the seller.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Tactic Emerges to Reduce Frivolous Shareholder Lawsuits

In the wake of greater shareholder activism, companies, private and public, are continuously searching for ways to curb frivolous shareholder lawsuits.  Recently, a few companies have explored the idea of incorporating “loser pays” provisions into their bylaws.  These “loser pays” provisions would require a shareholder who loses a shareholder lawsuit to pay for all of the company’s legal fees and costs in defending the action.  In the U.S., both parties usually pay their own legal costs. Read the rest of this entry »