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Baton Rouge Business and Commercial Law Blog

Who is an immediate family member under FMLA?

As the United States begins to place greater focus on granting employees more rights to take time off for a variety of reasons, it is important for employers in Louisiana to have a grasp of how certain laws will affect their operations. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants covered employees the right to take a limited amount of unpaid time off without fear of losing their jobs. However, employers also have rights under FMLA. That can easily be forgotten, if there are allegations of wrongdoing from employees. Employers must bear in mind that they too are shielded by employment law. One such case is calling into question when an employee's circumstances qualify to receive leave under FMLA.

FMLA grants employees the right to time off -- up to 12 work weeks in a 12-month period -- for certain reasons. When the time off is being requested to care for an "immediate family member" who has a serious health condition, it only applies to a spouse, a parent and a son or daughter. These individuals might be easy to define, but it is important for employers to know that there are certain criteria to determine whether the loved one fits into this category and the employee can use FMLA.

Sexual harassment claims continue against restaurant group

When a business in Louisiana becomes successful, there are certain strategies that must be taken to protect from lawsuits. One issue that is becoming more and more prevalent in today's world is allegations of sexual harassment. While these assertions should be taken seriously, there can be a fine line as to what is a violation of employment law and what is not. Focus is frequently on the accuser and rarely on the accused even if there is a gray area or an explanation for what might have occurred. Every business that is confronted with allegations of sexual harassment must protect itself with a qualified law firm.

A litany of accusations is piling up against the Louisiana-based celebrity chef John Besh. Two new women have stated that sexual harassment took place at the restaurant group led by Besh. A report asserts that there was a continuous environment that fostered sexual harassment. Thus far, 25 women have stated that there were various forms of harassing behaviors taking place.

Two large companies seek to achieve business goals with merger

For Louisiana businesses of all sizes, benefit can be gained by considering mergers and acquisitions with other companies. There are multiple reasons to consider this option, but what is vital is to have all the important legal matters for such a decision organized. It does no good to have defined business goals if the attempted deal does not account for the inevitable regulatory issues. Having a law firm that is well-versed in all aspects of business in and out of the state is invaluable to getting things done and doing so in a timely fashion.

McDermott International, a company that specializes in engineering, construction and installation among other things is merging with a company that provides similar services, CB&I. In the merger, said to be worth $6 billion, an onshore and offshore company will be created. It will be based in Houston. The deal is an all-stock transaction.

Protect from lawsuits with an experienced business law firm

In Louisiana and across the nation, it is impossible to ignore the growing number of allegations against individuals and companies that sexual harassment and other employment law violations have taken place. While these assertions should be taken very seriously and if the parties are found to have committed the acts they should be penalized for them, that does not eliminate a company's rights to formulate a defense against charges that are unfounded or unproven. This is especially true if there an absence of evidence or there are other issues at play.

Having legal assistance from a law firm that is experienced in helping companies protect from lawsuits is vital to the success of the business. Part of that is formulating a defense against a litany of charges. When the words "sexual harassment" are said, it denotes ill treatment in a variety of ways. Perhaps a person was coerced to being in a relationship. It might have been untoward comments, a certain look, aggressive behaviors, unwanted touching and more. However, companies in the public and private sector should not automatically be declared guilty simply due to an accusation. The employer might be cast as the villain when these allegations are presented, but it does not immediately mean it is true.

Workers are not guaranteed reinstatement after FMLA

Employees in Louisiana who choose to exercise their right to take time off and have their job status protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are often uninformed about certain underlying laws that are part of FMLA. Employers have rights just as employees do, and it is essential to understand these lesser-known parts of the law. One is the limitations on an employee's right to being reinstated in the job.

Whether the employee was taking FMLA time off or not, the law does not provide protection from employment if factors that might have arisen if the worker was working. For example, if the employer decides to downsize and dismiss the employee, it is legal so long as the employer was planning the layoff anyway.

Former deputy alleges various employment law violations

Given the current number of people in the news who are facing sexual harassment allegations these days, it is no surprise that many of these cases are resulting in legal filings. Employment law violations should be dealt with, but simply because accusations are made does not make them true. Just as an alleged victim deserves to have a chance to seek compensation in a legal case, the accused and an employer - in the public or private sector - also has the right to formulate a strong defense against the allegations.

A federal lawsuit has been filed by a former deputy in Louisiana. According to his claim, he was dismissed from his job due to sexual harassment and age discrimination. The man says that another deputy was making negative comments about the man's age - 49 - and called him an old man. The complainant was demoted to the radio room and was no longer placed on patrol. While there, he claims to have been subjected to vulgarities from female employees talking about sex.

Former school softball coach denies employment law violations

Allegations of violations of employment law and sexual harassment are taken very seriously in Louisiana with any job. Those who are alleged to have taken part in violations will invariably issue a denial and try to protect their jobs and reputations. However, employers must also protect themselves. This is particularly true when it is a school of higher learning that is embroiled in the situation. Any public entity that is dealing with employees having allegations of violating employment law must ensure they are protected by having a law firm that is experienced in helping with protecting their interests.

A former college softball coach is alleged to have committed numerous violations while on the job. A report by the school states that the coach violated school policies related to harassment, sexual misconduct and battery. It also says that he tried to create a code of silence within the team to prevent outsiders from finding out the inner workings of the team. That included parents and school administrators.

How can employers determine the 12-month period for FMLA?

Louisiana workers who would like to take time off based on the Family and Medical Leave Act can do so if they are covered under the law. An issue that might come up, however, is how the employer will determine the 12-month period under which the employee can have the time off. Employees have the right to use FMLA for job-protected - though unpaid - leave for family or medical reasons. It is essential that employers and employees are aware of the different ways to establish the 12-month period in which the employee will be using FMLA.

There are four different alternatives that the employer will be able to apply. First, the employer can use the calendar year. This covers the 12 months from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. The employer can also use any fixed 12-months. This is a 12-month period from one date to another. It might be the fiscal year; it might be the date at which the employee began working.

What are qualifying exigency categories under FMLA?

Louisiana employers must be cognizant of the Family and Medical Leave Act when it comes to all the various situations in which it arises. One issue that must be understood by employers and employees is qualifying exigency leave under FMLA. With FMLA, workers who are eligible can get 12 workweeks off within a 12-month period. But there must be a "qualifying exigency" based on a loved one being deployed. The loved one must be a close relative or a next-of-kin meaning that it will be a spouse, a son, a daughter or a parent.

When the loved one is a member of the Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves and is on active duty or is set to be called for active duty or covered active duty, the employee can use FMLA. There are certain categories for qualifying exigency. The employee can use FMLA for a military member being on short-term deployment - within seven days' notice or less - for seven days from the time the notice of deployment is received. If there is a military event, is allowable to use FMLA. With childcare and activities related to it, the worker can take time off with FMLA - the child does not have to be related to the employee.

Business law and fraudulent misrepresentation

Louisiana businesses must be aware of the various pitfalls that they can face as they run their operations. Trusting others to behave within the law and follow through on agreements as they are laid out is a mistake that can be costly in the short and long-term. One issue that businesses must be cognizant of is fraudulent misrepresentation. When there is an agreement between parties, it should be done with a contract. Both parties are expected to act in good faith. However, if one says something that is false or misleading to get the other to agree to the contract and does harm, there could be the basis for a legal filing due to fraudulent misrepresentation.

All parties must agree to the terms of the contract for it to be considered valid. If there are terms that are inaccurate, then any agreement within the contract will be based on a false premise and therefore invalid. If there are false statements made in any way, it will be considered false representation. There can also be negligent misrepresentation if a party did not ensure the accuracy of that which was represented. Innocent representation is not negligent nor fraudulent.

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