Many of the cases we talk about here on Suits by Suits are breach of contract cases brought by executives against their former employers. Sometimes, however, the employer turns the tables, bringing an action against a former executive for breaching its confidences. When that happens, the executive can find himself owing the company a lot of money, rather than the other way around.
Such was the fate of a former lawyer for Toyota named Dimitrios Biller, the subject of the Ninth Circuit’s recent opinion in Biller v. Toyota Motor Corp., 668 F.3d 655 (9th Cir. 2012).
We previously covered former Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson, who may have cost himself $10 million by inflating his credentials in a resume. Resume problems are not a one-off in the world of Suits by Suits.
One way in which untruths on resumes can come to light is through a defense called the after-acquired evidence doctrine, which employers can assert in response to wrongful termination or discrimination claims.
It feels like most of Suits by Suits' home city of Washington has gone on vacation this week. Perhaps, then, it's no coincidence that news about employee travel expenses has filled the Inbox.
We start this trip with news of a four-star Army general, William "Kip" Ward -- who until recently commanded the Army's operations in Africa -- facing demotion for unauthorized and extravagant travel. Maybe he should have followed Hannibal's lead and gone by elephant -- or George Washington's example of travel by rowboat.
At the same time, some Republican lawmakers are questioning Attorney General Eric Holder's use of FBI planes for what they claim is personal and inapproriate travel.
Also, here's an interesting article in the New York Times, noting that top candidates for some jobs are negotiating for exemptions from company travel policies as part of their employment agreements. No Motel 6 for these folks.
For the second time during this quiet week in late August, pregnancy is in the headlines.
The first time, of course, involved Rep. Todd Akin, a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Missouri who claimed – and then swiftly retracted – that women who are “legitimately raped” don’t get pregnant. That’s led pregnancy – and abortion politics – to dominate news coverage.
But here’s another story with pregnancy at its core: this week, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that a former buyer for fashion house Gucci can move forward with her case alleging that the luxury-goods company fired her after she became pregnant.
I need to start off with a confession: my name is Bill and I’m an insurance lawyer. (“Welcome, Bill”). I’m going to be writing about insurance as it applies to employment-related disputes. Even though you may think insurance is a very dry subject, I promise to make it as interesting as I can – although there will be no dancing green lizards in any of these posts. And, if you work for (or defend) a company that can face suits by employees, you may find these posts very helpful when it comes to protecting your corporate bottom line from those suits.
Many of the other folks who write on this blog are able to tell great tales of high-profile fights between executives and their companies. Those are important stories and they are at the core of what this blog is about. My perspective on employment disputes is somewhat different: I look at whether a company’s insurance policies can provide the company with a defense against an action brought by an employee (or reimbursement for fees and costs when a company defends itself), and whether those policies will cover a judgment or settlement of the case. It can be a little esoteric at times, and I spend a lot of time thinking about the meaning of individual words in an insurance policy.
A hullabaloo. A brouhaha. Even, perhaps, a ruckus, if you will.
Those words describe what’s been happening with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) board – the entity that oversees our two main airports in this region, Washington-Dulles and National (formally “Ronald Reagan National,” but National to us Washingtonians who have lived in the area more than ten years). The airports themselves are running fairly well.
The problem is with another thing the MWAA board is overseeing – construction of the Silver Line, a $6.8 billion, 29-mile extension of the Washington subway out to the Washington-Dulles airport. The Silver Line has been a fierce battleground for all of the parties involved – Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia (which partly finance the project through their funding of the subway system), taxpayers along the route of the line (who add more money), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (which contributes the largest share). Those parties, and others, fight nearly continuously on all sorts of issues – from whether the last station should be in the Dulles terminal or outside of it, through the composition of the labor force building it, and where it should go. And, of course, their respective shares of the cost of the project.
This week in suits by suits:
We continue our examination of the many things today's CEOs need to keep in mind -- things they may not have taught in business school. Today, it's the sometimes hot-button issue of the role of religion in the workplace, this time with a look at a recently-filed lawsuit that’s drawn considerable public attention. (See also here and here.)
Now, most businesses have some sort of dress code, including Zuckerman Spaeder. When a company’s employees routinely interact with customers and the public – say, a retail store or restaurant – many employers go beyond a simple dress code in an effort to establish a company-wide uniform “look.” Perhaps no place on earth goes quite as far as Disneyland, where employees are considered “cast members” and – even when not dressed as a giant cartoon mouse – are asked to reflect certain “themes” throughout the park.
So what happens when one of those “cast members,” a young Muslim woman working as a hostess at a Disney café, requests the right to wear a hijab, the traditional Muslim headscarf?
Sexual discrimination claims continue to be big news in the world of suits by suits. We’ve previously commented at some length regarding the novel issues raised in the sexual harassment lawsuit brought by former Kleiner Perkins partner Ellen Pao.
Today, we turn to a related and equally unique issue: a sexual orientation claim brought under the auspices of the Americans With Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1201 et seq. Although there is no federal statute that protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation generally, Brian Anthony Martinez, the former international managing director of television for Bloomberg Media, brought a lawsuit against his former employer in 2011, alleging that he was terminated after Bloomberg discovered that he had undergone therapy for domestic abuse from his male partner, thus (arguably) bringing his claims under the ADA.
This week's latest news in suits by suits:
As the regulatory and business environments in which our clients operate grow increasingly complex, we identify and offer perspectives on significant legal developments affecting businesses, organizations, and individuals. Each post aims to address timely issues and trends by evaluating impactful decisions, sharing observations of key enforcement changes, or distilling best practices drawn from experience. InsightZS also features personal interest pieces about the impact of our legal work in our communities and about associate life at Zuckerman Spaeder.
Information provided on InsightZS should not be considered legal advice and expressed views are those of the authors alone. Readers should seek specific legal guidance before acting in any particular circumstance.