Category: Employment Law


Fourth Circuit announces new “joint employer” FLSA test

January 31, 2017 | by: George A. Somerville | Leave a Comment

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has issued a pair of decisions establishing a new test for identifying “joint employers” under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  No. 151915.P, Salinas v. Commercial Interiors, Inc., and No. 151857.P, Hall v. DIRECTV, LLC, both decided January 25, 2017.  All federal District Courts in the Fourth Circuit – Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Maryland – must now apply what we will call the Salinas test. Joint employer questions typically arise in contractor-subcontractor, parent-subsidiary, and employment referral agency contexts, among others.  A finding that a company is a joint employer of … Continue reading

Supreme Court of Virginia Upholds Sovereign Immunity and Fortifies At-Will Employment Doctrine

June 17, 2016 | by: HCCW | Leave a Comment

On June 2, 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia decided two important cases for local governments and employers.  George Somerville, of Harman Claytor, filed amicus briefs in support of the prevailing parties – one upholding a plea of public employee sovereign immunity and the other rejecting an argument that an employer must provide an employee advance notice of termination. In Pike v. Hagaman, Record No. 151193, the Supreme Court held that a nurse employed by VCU was entitled to sovereign immunity.  The defendant, Hagaman, is a nurse in the Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit at VCU Medical Center.  The plaintiff “underwent … Continue reading

Fourth Circuit Holds That The Accidental Disclosure of Medical Records on the Internet Triggered Duty to Defend

April 14, 2016 | by: Rob Friedman | Leave a Comment

In Travelers Indemnity Company of America v. Portal Healthcare Solutions, LLC, the Fourth Circuit recently affirmed a federal district court’s determination that a class action lawsuit arising out of a medical records safekeeping firm’s alleged failure to safeguard confidential medical records triggered an insurer’s duty to defend under a policy that afforded coverage for damages arising out of “electronic publication of material that… gives unreasonable publicity to a person’s private life” or the “electronic publication of material that… discloses information about a person’s private life” (the specific policy language changed at renewal, but the court found them materially identical). In the … Continue reading

Do we have a special relationship or not?

April 9, 2015 | by: Scott Fisher | Leave a Comment

The Supreme Court of Virginia recently declined to extend the special relationship doctrine to the duty to warn against third party criminal acts.  The Court, however, again left open the possibility that a special relationship could arise at any time depending on the facts of any particular case. In Brown v. Jacobs, a private investigator was shot and killed while attempting to serve divorce papers.  The Supreme Court of Virginia held that the Rockingham County Circuit Court did not err in dismissing the wrongful death claim at the pleading stage.  768 S.E.2d 421, 423 (2015).  The Complaint alleged that the … Continue reading

4th Circuit: Two Comments in Two Days too Isolated to Support Hostile Work Environment Claim

May 19, 2014 | by: Lisa H. Leiner | Leave a Comment

Reya C. Boyer-Liberto (“Liberto”), an African-American woman, filed suit against her former employer, the Fountainebleau Corporation (“Clarion Resort”), in Ocean City, Maryland and its owner, for racial discrimination and retaliation, in violation of Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981.  Liberto alleged she was subject to a hostile work environment when a co-worker called Liberto a derogatory name on two occasions over a two day period.  Liberto claimed she was then terminated in retaliation for complaining about the statements.  The district court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the conduct was too isolated to support … Continue reading

Is the Demurrer Officially Dead In Negligence Cases?

January 14, 2014 | by: HCCW | Leave a Comment

It is increasingly difficult for defendants to win at the demurrer stage in negligence cases in Virginia.  A recent Virginia Supreme Court decision further eviscerated the power of the demurrer and confirmed the Court’s apparent change in direction on this issue, away from the requirement that Plaintiffs must allege proximate cause and toward an interpretation of Rule 3:18 that allows facts tantamount to res ipsa loquitur to survive demurrer. In Patel v. Williamsburg Indoor Sports Complex, LLC et. al., Record No. 130237, November 22, 2013, the Supreme Court of Virginia reversed the trial court’s grant of the defendant’s demurrer without … Continue reading

Recent HCCW Presentations

October 18, 2013 | by: HCCW | Leave a Comment

Lynne Jones Blain and Danielle Giroux were panel members at The Richmond Metropolitan Area Local and Specialty Bar Associations’ 22nd Annual Bench-Bar Conference in Richmond, Virginia, on October 17, 2013.  Ms. Blain presented the Top 10 Bankruptcy Pitfalls Every Civil Litigator Should Avoid, educating attorneys on the issues that may arise in litigation based on a party’s bankruptcy filings.  Ms. Giroux presented on the topic of Effective and Ethical Use of Social Media in Litigation, discussing the emerging trends and challenges of using social media in discovery and at trial. On October 3, 2013, Jeremy Capps and Lisa Leiner, presented … Continue reading