Thursday, August 26, 2004

Tasteless T-shirts, part II

Abercrombie & Fitch is at it again. CNN.com reports that A&F is now selling a T-shirt that reads "West Virginia: No Lifeguard at the Gene Pool."

Gov. Wise called the slogan "cruel" and vowed to fight back. Go get 'em, Governor.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Help in understanding new FLSA overtime exemptions

The U.S. Department of Labor has posted several documents to assist employer with understanding the new overtime exemptions that went into effect Monday. One of the more helpful documents is a side-by-side comparison of the old vs. new regulations.

Steve Minor (SW Va. Law Blog) also points out this FLSA "cheatsheet" (pdf) produced by a private law firm.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Fourth Circuit rules employer's inconsistent statements did not create triable issue of retaliation

In Price v. Thompson, No. 03-2184 (4th Cir. Aug. 18, 2004) (PDF), the Fourth Circuit ruled in a retaliatory failure-to-hire case that an employer’s inconsistent statements were not enough to create a triable issue, given the weakness of the plaintiff’s prima facie case.

The plaintiff, William Price, applied for a position with the National Institutes of Health in 1995, but was turned down. Feeling that he was more qualified than one of the candidates who was hired, he filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging discrimination. Several months later, he applied for a different position with the same employer. Again, he was turned down, and he filed a subsequent EEOC claim and lawsuit alleging retaliation. The District Court concluded that Price could not prove his prima facie case because Price was unable to demonstrate that the selecting official knew he had filed the EEOC complaint and, even assuming the existence of a prima facie case, because Price was unable to show the electing official’s reasons for not selecting him were pretextual.

The Fourth Circuit found that, although nine to ten months had passed between the filing of the EEOC complaint and the second failure to hire, Price had established a prima facie case of discrimination (albeit a weak one). However, in weighing the proffered legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons of the employer, the court found that Price’s pretext case was not sufficiently strong to create a jury question.

Specifically, the court found that the selecting official’s justification for not choosing Price was based on four factors. Price could only show that one of the four factors was false. Applying the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133 (2000), the Fourth Circuit held that “while ‘it is permissible for the trier of fact to infer the ultimate fact of [retaliation] from the falsity of the employer’s explanation,’ Reeves, 530 U.S. 147, it is axiomatic that the plaintiff must in fact provide sufficient evidence from which a reasonable trier of fact could find falsity.” In this case, Price failed to come forward with that sort of evidence.

In the final footnote, the court emphasized that although Reeves allows the plaintiff to survive summary judgment without presenting independent evidence of discrimination, it permits this only where the other evidence of discrimination is sufficiently strong to ensure that the employer is held liable for unlawful discrimination and not merely for inconsistent statements.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

New West Virginia law blog

Yesterday, I learned of a new legal weblog by a West Virginia practitioner: Health Care BlogLaw. The blog covers health care legal issues, HIPAA privacy and security, technology and other legal odds and ends that impact West Virginia. It is authored by Bob Coffield, a member of Flaherty, Sensabaugh & Bonasso. Click on over and check it out!

Justice McGraw endorses Joe Manchin for Governor?

If what this article says is true, it is truly an embarassment. Judicial candidates are prohibited from publicly endorsing other candidates for public office. Canon 5.A.(1)(b) of the Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits a judicial candidate from "publicly endors[ing] or publicly oppos[ing] another candidate for public office." Saying "I am not allowed to endorse a candidate for governor, but if I did, I would endorse Joe Manchin," or words to that effect, if spoken in public, clearly violates this Canon. But why let the ethics rules stand in the way of victory?

The article notes that Republican officials are considering filing an ethics charge. Unlike McGraw, Republican candidate Brent Benjamin wants to keep politics out of the race as much as possible, given the partisan nature of our judicial election process.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Internet is now just the "internet"

When I was in law school working on the law review and the West Virginia Journal of Law & Technology, we looked to Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age (HardWired, 1996) to guide us through the various style conundrums. The terms "internet," "web" and "net" were all capitalized.

Looking through the archives of this blog, I notice that I still, to this day, capitalize Internet. Well, not anymore.

According to this article in Wired News, internet, web and net will no longer be capitalized after August 16, 2004. The reason is a good one: "... because there is no earthly reason to capitalize any of these words." I always liked Wired's straightforward explanations.

Sounds good to me. That's fewer keystrokes in my daily typing.

Simple PDF animations

Need to make a simple animated illustration for use at trial? Here's a great tip from the Yclipse Tech Journal on how to Use a multipage PDF for animations.

The slide show feature of Acrobat 6 is great for making basic PowerPoint-style presentations at trial. If your exhibits are already in PDF, it's simple to arrange the pages into a single PDF, add a few page transitions, display in full-screen mode (CTRL+L) and come out with a presentation that looks very polished.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Labor Dept. Website Announces Topical E-Mail Updates

Via BeSpacific

Labor Dept. Website Announces Topical E-Mail Updates
"The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) today announced a new effort to expand website usage with the introduction of an e-mail subscription management system...The department will be rolling out the system in phases with the first including several major agencies in addition to the Office of the Secretary and other information available from the DOL homepage. Initially, there will be 99 initial subscription options across 15 categories." [Link]
Department of Labor updates by e-mail

Wouldn't it be nice if all of the government agencies did something like this?