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A decision out of a federal court in Pennsylvania last week is being heralded as a landmark ruling for the transgender community. Traditionally, transgender individuals have been excluded from protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act because being transgender is not a disability. However, this meant that certain medical conditions that are prominent in the transgender community, such as gender dysphoria, were also being excluded from protection under the ADA.

The Pennsylvania judge distinguished between these two exact issues when ruling that a transgender employee at a Cabela's could proceed under her ADA claim. While the case still needs to proceed with fact-finding, more motions, and potentially a trial, last week's ruling is groundbreaking. However, individuals should be careful to not regard transgender individuals as disabled unless the person actually has a disability.

A recent decision by the California Supreme Court settled a question of state labor law that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals needed resolved in order to rule on a pending federal appeal that turns on the application of state law.

The case stems from the labor disputes of two Nordstrom employees that allege the company violated California's Labor Code sections 551, 552, and 556 which govern the guaranteed "day of rest" each week to full time employees. The employees asserted that they had been forced to work more than 7 consecutive days without being provided the "rest day."

A lower federal court interpreted the California code sections to exempt employees if they work less than six hours on any one day of the week, which knocked out the case in the lower court. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court requested the state Supreme Court clarify the state law.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a National Labor Relations Board decision in favor of a wrongfully discharged employee. The story is making headlines due to the fact that the fired employee used a few choice phrases to describe his supervisor in a public Facebook post. Those choice phrases are of the type that most office workers would expect to result in immediate termination.

However, thanks to the laws prohibiting retaliation against employees engaged in pro-union activities, and the common sense of the NLRB and the court, the opprobrious comment qualified as protected pro-union speech. Though most of the Facebook post exclaimed profanities about this supervisor, there was a legitimate criticism and a call to action for people to vote to unionize. Thank goodness for this prolific employee that Facebook doesn't have a 140 character limit.

The Federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued an important ruling regarding a hotly contested issue: federal discrimination protections for LGBT employees. While many states already provide legal protections for LGBT employees who suffer discrimination based upon their sexual orientation, it is not a settled issue whether Title VII provides any protection.

The Seventh Circuit's ruling found that the protections for sex discrimination listed in Title VII do protect LGBT employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. While other courts have agreed with this interpretation of Title VII, several have not despite the fact that the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has considered LGBT individuals to be protected since 2015.

A common trend amongst the sharing economy employers is to avoid the legal complications of having a regular workforce. However, avoiding legal complications often results in legal battles. Fortunately, for Instacart, the class action that could have potentially reclassified their workforce from independent contractors to employees has settled without upsetting the burgeoning app's status quo.

The Instacart workers were seeking relief for numerous alleged violations of labor codes, including a failure to reimburse expenses, tip pooling, and a lack of a grievance procedure when a worker is deactivated. Under the settlement, the three lead plaintiffs will each receive $5,000, while other workers in the class will receive $500 to $1000 each.

Domino's has decent enough pizza, if you're in a pinch. What it doesn't have is an accurate payroll system. And that's a big problem when you need to adhere to state minimum wage and overtime laws. A New York Attorney General's Office investigation into Domino's computer payment system discovered that "over a two-year period, 78% of New York franchisees listed rates for at least some employees below the required minimum wage, and 86% listed rates below the required overtime rate."

NY AG Eric Schneiderman has filed numerous lawsuits against the pizza chain, and today announced a $480,000 settlement with three franchisees. Here's a look.

A little more than 3 months after DreamWorks and other animation studios settled out of the massive animator class action anti-poaching lawsuit, Disney is settling the claims against it for a reported $100 million. Like the other animation studios, it was alleged that Disney had a reciprocal agreement with the other companies to not hire their competitors' animators and studio employees, and to artificially keep down animator and other studio employee wages.

Of the animation studios sued in the class action, Disney is by far the largest and most active. DreamWorks settled for $50 million, while Sony and BlueSky settled for a combined $19 million. For the over 10,000 potential members of the class, that's a total of $169 million.

If your boss tells you that you can take a 10-minute break, but you have to be ready to jump back into action the whole time, that hardly feels like a break, right? That's what some residential and commercial security guards argued when they sued their employers over "on-call" and "on-duty" rest periods. After winning $90 million judgment, the award was overturned on appeal, and the guards took their case to the California Supreme Court.

Here's what the court said:

Walmart has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by thousands of employees claiming the retail behemoth denied health insurance benefits to same-sex spouses of employees. While the lawsuit was filed by one former employee, Jacqueline A. Cote, the settlement will apply to thousands of employees who weren't able to obtain health insurance coverage for their same-sex spouses from 2011 to 2013.

Under the terms of the settlement, which still must be approved by the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, Walmart admits no wrongdoing, and contends it is paying plaintiffs "in the interest of resolving this dispute between the parties without the significant expense, delay and inconvenience of further litigation."

A Federal judge in Texas is making a big impact from coast to coast on businesses that have salaried employees making less than $45K per year. The overtime pay rules that were slated to go into effect on December 1st have been put on an indefinite hold as the court figures out whether the new rules are legal. The indefinite hold is the result of an emergency preliminary injunction that was ordered at the request of 21 states that have joined together to block the new rules from taking effect.

The challengers to the new rules assert that the Department of Labor overstepped their authority in revising the overtime rules. The new rules would have effectively made all employees who are currently salaried and make less than about $45K per year eligible for overtime pay. Currently, the overtime pay rule applies only if a person's salary is less than approximately $23K per year or $455 per week.