Louisiana Enacts Reforms During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Limits on Liability, Damages, and Changes to Evidentiary Rules

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards recently signed into law Act 336 of the 2020 Regular Session, which was filed in the Louisiana State Legislature as House Bill 826. The new act limits the liability to which Louisiana businesses and employers could be exposed due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency. Specifically, the law creates two statutes—La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2800.25 and La. Rev. Stat. § 29:773—that limit the potential liability of businesses and employers operating in Louisiana for COVID-19 contractions and related injuries.

A Budding Challenge for Employers? Louisiana Expands Access to Medical Marijuana

In 2015, Louisiana passed a law authorizing the prescription of marijuana for the treatment of certain qualifying medical conditions, such as glaucoma, cancer, and spastic quadriplegia. In 2018, the statutory list of conditions was amended to include post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, and chronic pain. In the same amendment, the legislature designated the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to oversee the production of medical marijuana. Since then, employers with operations and employees in Louisiana have been preparing for the new reality of managing marijuana in the workplace. These preparations are set to become even more challenging for Louisiana’s employers in light of new workplace realities and changes to the state’s medical marijuana law set to take effect in August 2020.

Louisiana Governor Edwards Issues Stay at Home Order

On March 22, 2020, the State of Louisiana issued a “stay at home” order directing all residents to stay home, except for essential activities, essential government functions, or to participate in the certain permitted “essential critical” businesses. Louisiana’s order allows more businesses to continue operations than other “stay at home” orders that other states had issued.

Fifth Circuit Rules that Courts, Not Arbitrators, Decide “Gateway Issue” of Class Arbitrability

In 20/20 Communications, Inc. v. Crawford, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently ruled that the question of whether a dispute can be arbitrated on a class-wide basis is a threshold issue that is presumptively for a court, not an arbitrator, to decide. This is the latest in a series of decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States and courts of appeals in favor of arbitration agreements that waive class procedures.

Louisiana Court Finds Nonsolicitation/Noncompetition Agreement Is Enforceable

When Jay Baker, the vice president of Causin, L.L.C., quit to create a competing business, Causin sued to enforce Baker’s nonsolicitation/noncompetition agreement. Baker defended the claim in part by arguing the agreement’s use of a flexible addendum to list numerous parishes/counties did not satisfy the requirements of Louisiana’s noncompetition statute (La. R.S. 23:921), the inclusion of Causin’s “subsidiaries” and “affiliates” rendered the agreement overbroad, and the severability clause was ineffective.

Fifth Circuit Rules Employers Are Not Always Protected From Liability Resulting From Harassment by Nonemployees With Diminished Capacity

Courts have ruled that employees who work with clients with diminished capacity present different challenges when establishing whether the nonemployee’s alleged harassment affected the terms and conditions of the employee’s employment. But where is the line on what can constitute actionable harassment when the alleged harasser is a nonemployee with diminished capacity?

Louisiana #MeToo Law Requires Sexual Harassment Policies, Training, and Reporting for State Agencies

Less than a year after the #MeToo movement began in earnest, it continues to impact boardrooms and statehouses. In May of 2018, Louisiana became the latest state to take action in support of the #MeToo movement, with its lawmakers unanimously approving a statewide anti-sexual harassment policy—though they limited the law to state agencies and their employees for the time being. 

Louisiana Supreme Court Rejects Governor’s Appeal of LGBT Executive Order Ruling

On March 23, 2018, in a 4–3 decision, the Louisiana Supreme Court refused to consider Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards’s appeal of the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal’s November 1, 2017, decision holding that Governor Edwards lacked the constitutional authority to issue an executive order protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) state employees from discrimination.

Fifth Circuit Emphasizes Narrowed Liability for Employee Transfer Under the Louisiana Whistleblower Statute

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana’s grant of summary judgment under the Louisiana whistleblower law, Louisiana Revised Statutes section 23:967, in favor of an employer that transferred an employee to a less desirable location after revealing concerns about her employer’s handling of a diabetic student.

Louisiana Governor Appeals LGBT Executive Order Ruling to State Supreme Court

On December 1, 2017, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) appealed a state appellate court decision holding that Executive Order JBE 2016 – 11, which seeks to protect the rights of lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender individuals, and other protected classes from discrimination by Louisiana agencies, departments and contractors was unconstitutional.

Louisiana Court Finds Executive Order Extending Protections to LGBT Employees of State Contractors Unconstitutional

In April of 2016, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed Executive Order JBE 2016 – 11, which sought to protect lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender individuals, among other protected classes, from discrimination practiced by state contractors. Months later, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and others challenged the order in a lawsuit filed in East Baton Rouge Parish that sought a permanent injunction, as well as a declaratory judgment that the executive order violated state law.

The Not-So-Elusive 12(b)(6) Dismissal: Fifth Circuit Shoots Down Retaliation Claim Based on Single Text Message

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed the dismissal of a Title VII retaliation claim under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim where the plaintiff premised her retaliation claim on her earlier filing of an internal complaint of harassment based on a single allegedly offensive text message.