Labor / Employment

It’s a tough month for Mike Bloomberg. First his vaunted stop-and-frisk program is gutted and, despite his protestations that it was necessary, serious crime has dropped. And now a key component of his old company that he worked so hard to keep inhospitable to organized labor may be unionizing.

At least he has a few billion dollars to keep him from getting too sad.

But in the meantime, the process of setting up a union continues at Bloomberg Law. Can lawyers really unionize? What might this mean for the profession as a whole?

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It’s got to be annoying for judges when lawmakers write laws that are designed to be so freaking vague that courts will be forced to fix them once the inevitable lawsuits come around.

Florida lawmakers are trying to make your Facebook account safe from your boss who wants to get his or her Orwellian hands all up in your personal business. The legislation prohibits employers from demanding your social media passwords as a condition of employment.

BUT… the business lobby has been able to force an amendment that still allows employers to demand your passwords if your account is used for a “business purpose.” What’s a “business purpose”? Nobody knows. It’s probably going to be whatever your boss says a “business purpose” is. Then, they’ll fire you, you’ll sue, and a judge will have to figure it all out, because the legislature couldn’t get its act together….

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“Lane Dean, Jr., with his green rubber pinkie finger, sat at his Tingle table in his chalk’s row in the rotes group’s wiggle room and did two more returns, then another one, then flexed his buttocks and held to a count of ten and imagined a warm pretty beach with mellow surf, as instructed in orientation the previous month.”– David Foster Wallace

“The thing that makes ‘Dirty Jobs’ different is that it’s one of the few shows that portrays work in a way that doesn’t highlight the drudgery. Instead, it highlights the humor.”– Mike Rowe

Yesterday was like any other. I stared at my computer screen and tried to appear as if I were doing work. I went to the bathroom three times even though there was no there there. At one point, I was asked to wear a name tag. If there is any humor at all in what I do, it is of a type so dark and weird, it could only be appreciated in Germany. I graduated from a pretty good, very expensive law school and I was asked to wear a name tag yesterday. Yesterday was like any other.

I don’t know why the hell I whine like this. Like Cherry Valance said, it’s rough all over. And besides, everyone else is trying to get through their day, name tag or no. There was an old lady with five plastic bags next to her on the train yesterday morning. Each bag was filled with more plastic bags. And on and on. You want to know sadness, check out this old lady’s Matryoshka bags that keep her company throughout the day.

But you want to know who really has it bad? Minor league baseball players and Bengals cheerleaders.

Let’s talk employment lawsuits…

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So… stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Man sues staffing agency and Biglaw firm for overtime — because document review isn’t really legal work. Man then applies to the EXACT SAME STAFFING AGENCY for more document review work — touting all his legal experience reviewing documents.

Staffing agency then requests sanctions.

Maybe it isn’t the classic tale of boy meets girl, but it is pretty entertaining. Though it’s not as convoluted as it may sound. Find out all the details, and which Biglaw firm was dragged into this suit after the jump…

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Ascension to Biglaw partnership demands, obviously and above all, an enormous amount of first-rate legal work, in addition to political savvy, endurance, timing, and luck. A would-be partner’s chosen practice area also undoubtedly plays no small role. If firm leadership believes that there will be a spate of major Chapter 11 filings or trademark litigations on the horizon, obviously that will redound to the benefit of the potential bankruptcy or IP partners (although, as recent news reflects, partnership isn’t necessarily the lucrative, secure lifetime position it once was).

Late last year, ATL took a close look at the newly minted partner classes for the Vault 10 firms. Despite the great profitability and prestige of this select group, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the general direction of the legal market from the composition of these partnership classes. First of all, this is a small sample size. Second, we are witnessing an important shift in the allocation of the business within the market. A recent AdvanceLaw survey of general counsel at major global corporations found that three-quarters of general counsel were inclined to engage “less-pedigreed” firms (e.g., outside the Vault 10 or Magic Circle) for “high stakes” legal work. This survey of GCs (including those from Google, Nike, 3M, Unilever and Deutsche Bank) indicated their willingness to engage firms lower down the Biglaw totem pole.

Because of the apparent diminishment of the brand value of the most historically prestigious firms, as well as the broader trends toward disaggregation and unbundling of legal services, one must account for a larger set of law firms in order to see the fullest picture of the market for high-end legal services. With that in mind, today we look at the practice areas of the entire Biglaw partnership class of 2013….

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Three years ago, the eminent civil rights historian Taylor Branch wrote a scathing essay in The Atlantic that compared college athletics to slavery. In that piece, he wrote that college sports carried with it “the unmistakeable whiff of the plantation.” Comparisons to slavery cannot be brought lightly, of course. This is not Kristallnacht after all.

Three years later, the plantation house still stands. As if we are taking a remedial class taught by Howard Zinn, we now arrive at organized labor. This week, it was reported that members of Northwestern University’s football team had filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board in order to be recognized as a labor union. If successful, communism.

Whether you believe that college football players should be granted fifteen minute smoke breaks every four hours or not, I think it’s safe to say that we all fervently pray for the day that the NCAA perishes after a long, yet valiant, struggle with butt cancer. Because of that, there were very few outright denunciations of Northwestern University’s actions in the media this week. Still, let’s get a lay of the land, shall we?

Let’s talk Samuel Gompers. Let’s talk Hoffa. Let’s talk sports….

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Alexandra Marchuk

“Discovery is going to be FUN in this case.” That’s what we previously predicted about Marchuk v. Faruqi & Faruqi, the high-profile lawsuit filed by plaintiff Alexandra Marchuk against her former firm and one of its most prominent partners, Juan Monteverde.

Why did we expect fireworks from discovery? Because of the lurid nature of Marchuk’s allegations, including severe sexual harassment and (effectively) sexual assault, and because of the Faruqi firm’s aggressive response, which included suing Marchuk for defamation and claiming that it was Marchuk who was obsessed with Monteverde.

But it wasn’t just another “he said, she said” type of situation. Both sides claimed that third-party witnesses and contemporaneous documents would corroborate their respective and conflicting accounts.

Discovery is now underway in the case. Witnesses have been deposed, and documents have been produced. What kind of portrait do they paint?

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I love the Raiders and I love being a Raiderette, but someone has to stand up for all of the women of the NFL who work so hard for the fans and the teams. I hope cheerleaders across the NFL will step forward to join me in demanding respect and fair compensation.

– Lacy T., a cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders, commenting on her proposed wage-and-hour class action lawsuit against the team. Lacy alleges that when all cheer squad commitments are taken into consideration, including time spent rehearsing, performing, and appearing at required events, she makes $5 per hour, which is less than the California state minimum wage of $8 per hour.

The law firm of Seyfarth Shaw, known for its labor and employment expertise, just released its tenth annual Workplace Class Action Litigation Report. The report details the important trends in workplace litigation going into 2014 and analyzes “1,123 class action rulings on a circuit-by-circuit and state-by-state basis.”

The verdict, in a nutshell, is that the Supreme Court has bent over backward to protect businesses from these suits, but they still come up… and one category of workplace suit is even growing exponentially. Any guesses?

So what are businesses going to face out there this year?

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* Mayor Bloomberg is filing suit to overturn New York’s Living Wage law, because wasting a bunch of money pursuing a lawsuit for the last two weeks of his term is the kind of efficiency he brings to the table as a biznessmun. [DNAInfo]

* Judge Richard Leon puts the NSA metadata surveillance program on ice. Looks like someone’s going to get bugged. [Slate]

* Someone’s asking for a fake college transcript in Baton Rouge. Pretty sure LSU’s athletic department could give you a hand. [Law and More]

* Considering the polygamy ruling in Utah, here’s an interesting analysis of the constitutionality of bestiality laws. This seems like an appropriate place to link this song about a guy who broke into the Lincoln Park zoo in Chicago. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Here’s a fun game: replace the name of the school and the course of study and marvel at how easily it could pass for an article Elie wrote. [Huffington Post]

* These folks got smacked with a cybersquatting charge because they used a logical domain name to publicize an ongoing dispute. It’s a lot easier to sue people than to build a solid home. [IT-Lex]

* In sad news, the victim in a recent carjacking-related killing was Dustin Friedland, a Syracuse law grad whose wife Jamie, also a lawyer, worked with Adam Leitman Bailey. Our thoughts are with the Friedland family. [NY Daily News]

* The Beastie Boys are suing GoldieBlox over the latter’s viral ad set to a parody of “Girls.” Unlike GoldieBlox, NYU Law professor Chris Sprigman doesn’t need an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine to burst the Beastie Boys’ bubble. Video embedded after the jump… [Bloomberg Law via YouTube]

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