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Is this deja vu, or deja deja deja vu?

Back in April, Senate Republicans rejected the Paycheck Fairness Act of 2014. At the time, The Washington Post noted that it was the third attempt in recent years to pass the wage equality legislation. But hey, maybe the fourth time would be a charm?

No. Not at all. This time, according to The Hill, Wednesday's vote was 52-40, short of the 60-vote procedural hurdle needed to advance. The vote seems like more of a political move than an actual attempt to pass legislation -- it's not like a handful of senators swapped party affiliation since the 53-44 vote in the spring, after all. But more importantly, for businesses, this should cause more than a few GCs to utter a sigh of relief.

Gay marriage is a pretty divisive issue in this country, though it is becoming less so as more states legalize same-sex nuptials. And corporations, typically, steer far away from controversial topics, for obvious reasons.

It is refreshing then, to see Ben & Jerry's join 29 other companies in an "Employers' Amicus Brief" filed in support of same-sex marriage. The brief urges the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case, and to establish a uniform national rule that respects the rights of same-sex couples to tie the knot.

Who else joined them on the brief? And will there be any negative business consequences?

You've probably heard about the inevitable development of the Ray Rice saga. The NFL Pro Bowl running back, who was cut by the Ravens yesterday, was previously suspended for two games after he was charged with felony domestic violence. A video of the aftermath of the incident -- Ray dragging his unconscious fiancé (now wife) out of an elevator -- emerged, creating quite the public relations nightmare, but little in the way of actual consequences.

Ray Rice copped a plea for a pre-trial deterrence program, the NFL suspended him for two games, and the Ravens stood behind him -- until yesterday, when TMZ leaked a video of Ray beating Janay Rice inside the elevator. The incident has created a number of issues: public relations nightmares and collective bargaining/labor law questions.

The date is set. The witnesses are being prepped. And the lawyers are under more pressure than ever to come up with a reasonable settlement.

Have you been missing out on the real-life Silicon Valley drama (as opposed to the hilarious HBO dramedy)? Apple, Intel, Google, and Adobe allegedly agreed to not poach each others' talent, creating the sort of anticompetitive agreement that depresses salaries.

Though initial estimates of the companies' exposure were in the billions range, the companies settled for ... $324 million, a number that made us get our eyes checked, caused one plaintiff to file a formal rejection, and which U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh soundly rejected.

Will we see another settlement, or will his head to trial in early January?

Over the Labor Day Weekend, The New York Times published a front-page piece on the rise in "wage theft" claims.

As companies try to cut costs, some employees are being illegally encouraged -- or forced -- to alter their timesheets to reflect fewer hours worked. Such actions violate state and federal labor laws, and though some companies have engaged in the practice as a matter of course, believing that enforcement was scant, enforcement appears to be on the rise.

What should you know if you want to keep your company in compliance and out of court?

Independent contractor or actual employee? An employee gets Fair Labor Standards Act protections, including overtime and benefits. Independent contractors get, well, their salary. The appeal of contractors then, is obvious for big companies like FedEx.

Unfortunately, as FedEx just learned, often it's not the label that matters -- it's the substance of the relationship. The Ninth Circuit just held that FedEx drivers, which are labeled "independent contractors," aren't independent at all. FedEx determines their route, the color of their van, their uniform, and even their appearance -- a relationship that, in practice, looks a lot more like an employer-employee arrangement.

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act says employers can't prohibit employees from talking about unions, working conditions, or pay. Section 8 prevents employers from punishing employees for these activities.

Employees of Triple Play Sports Bar and Grille in Watertown, Connecticut, took to Facebook to complain that Triple Play's co-owner and accountant, Ralph DelBuono, incorrectly calculated the employees' state tax withholding, and as a result, they owed the state money. Two days later, all the employees who participated in the conversation were fired.

In a decision from the National Labor Relations Board, two panel members found that employees were engaging in protected activities and were wrongly terminated in violation of the Act.

Last week, Major League Baseball had its first protest upheld in more than two decades. The San Francisco Giants protested a called game, which the Chicago Cubs won 2-0 after five innings of play, thanks to a rain-out due to the Cubs' grounds crew's inability to pull the tarp over the field in time. (The Giants still lost, 2-1, when the rest of the game was made up.)

To television viewers, and the hometown Cubs fans who booed the grounds crew, it appeared that they were short-handed. And despite Major League Baseball itself stating that the tarp malfunction was caused by "the failure to properly wrap and spool the tarp after its last use," an alternate cause soon emerged after a local paper spoke with club insiders: Obamacare.

Last week, we looked at a Gallup study that looked at the effects of "stay[ing] connected to the workplace outside of their normal working hours" and found that it was a "somewhat or strongly positive development," according to 79 percent of employees surveyed.

However, when the Harvard Business Review read those results in the context of an earlier Gallup report, "State of the American Workplace," HBR concluded that "workers will view their company's policy about mobile technology through the filter of their own engagement."

So that got us thinking, how can your company increase employee engagement? And, does it need a Chief Happiness Officer to effectuate that change? Let's find out.

Cisco Systems -- the company that makes all the networking equipment -- announced plans this week to lay off 6,000 employees, Fortune reports. This comes a scant month after Microsoft announced it would lay off 18,000 employees over the next year.

Companies lay off employees all the time, but mass layoffs at once carry with them both legal and PR challenges. All of these recommendations amount to something in-house counsel already know: Do your homework and plan ahead.

Here are five things to remember when your company considers mass layoffs: