In Ehling v. Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corp., No. 2:11-cv-03305-WJM-MF (D.N.J. Aug. 20, 2013), a registered nurse was fired after her employer viewed several of her controversial private Facebook posts. In a matter of first impression, the New Jersey District Court held that such private Facebook posts are protected by the federal Stored Communications Act (SCA), a law that prohibits unauthorized access to non-public wire or electronic communications. However, the court further noted that the SCA contains two important exceptions: (1) it does not apply to conduct authorized by the provider of the services (Facebook can access its users’ private content); and (2) it does not apply to an authorized user of the service to whom the communication was intended (e.g., your Facebook friends can see your private posts). In this case the second exception applied—the employer was innocently provided screenshots of the posts by an authorized user to whom the posts were directed (the plaintiff’s Facebook friend). Because the plaintiff’s Facebook friend voluntarily showed his employer the plaintiff’s private posts—without any coercion or duress—the employer’s conduct did not violate the SCA. There likely would have been a different result if the employer coerced or strong-armed the co-worker into turning over his friend’s private posts, or if the employer somehow obtained the plaintiff’s Facebook password and accessed the posts itself.
Before an individual may file a lawsuit under Title VII or the ADEA, he or she is required to file (or cross-file) a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. The charge is legally sufficient only if it describes with particularity the parties and the actions or practices of which the individual is complaining. The scope of a plaintiff’s right to file a federal lawsuit is determined by the contents of that charge; that is, the lawsuit must be based upon the claims described in the charge, or reasonably related to those described in the charge.
The state prevailing wage threshold for total work done for a municipality or on property or premises owned by a municipality will increase from $14,187 to $15,444 beginning July 1, 2014. If the work is being done for any other public entity (like a board of education or municipal utility authority) the current $2,000 threshold still applies.
A recently released report shows that the E-Verify system has improved, yet there are still significant problems with identifying legally authorized workers. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) commissioned an external company (Westat) to review E-Verify, the electronic employment eligibility verification system operated by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).