Posts from July 2009
Recent revelations regarding a Washington, D.C. Metrobus driver’s criminal history are raising disturbing questions about employer’s obligations to investigate a potential employee’s criminal record, and exposure to liability if a third party is injured. A Metrobus driver, who was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer after the driver allegedly attempted to rob the officer at gunpoint, had a long and sordid criminal history. He had been hired by Metro soon after completing a ten-year prison sentence for robbing two men at gunpoint. Also in his criminal past – a voluntary manslaughter charge for fatally shooting a man during an argument; felony murder charges when an accomplice in an armed robbery shot a man to death; and drug and gun possession charges. No ordinary bus driver….
We have come to expect bidding wars over 20-game winners and clean up hitters in baseball, but the competition for high-level talent has extended into an unlikely field: suits. Yes, that suits as in men’s clothes. In a drama that sounds more like a made-for-tv reality show than a courtroom case, two high-end clothiers at Tyson’s Galleria Mall in McLean, Virginia engaged in a battle royal over a popular suit salesman who was generating nearly $1 million in annual revenue from suit sales.
In a recent decision with significant ramifications for civil discovery in the state, the Supreme Court of Virginia articulated new standards governing waiver of privilege for inadvertently produced documents, and reemphasized the need for careful and thorough pre-production review of discovery materials. In Walton v. Mid-Atlantic Spine Specialists, P.C., 694 S.E.2d 545 (Va. 2010), plaintiff suffered a workplace injury and subsequently filed a medical malpractice action against her treating physician and his practice group. During discovery, a subpoena duces tecum was issued to the surgeon, who retained a third-party vendor to gather responsive documents. Among the documents ultimately produced was a letter from the treating surgeon to his attorney, in which he made several critical admissions which bolstered plaintiff’s case.
An interesting First Circuit Court of Appeals case recently addressed whether an employer must allow an employee to display her facial piercing at work based on her claim of religious protection. What religion, you ask? The Church of Body Modification, of course. That’s right, according to the employee, as a card-carrying member of the Church of Body Modification, she was required to display all of her piercings at all times, including her eyebrow piercing. As such, she claimed that she was not required to obey company dress code rules that expressly prohibit facial piercing. But, the First Circuit determined that the employer could not reasonably accommodate the plaintiff without suffering undue hardship and granted it summary judgment. The employee’s termination was upheld.
The Supreme Court of the United States, in 14 Penn Plaza LLC v. Pyett, 129 S. Ct. 1456 (2009), recently held that a provision in a collective bargaining agreement that clearly requires employees to submit their Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”) claims to arbitration is enforceable.