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February 2015 Archives

Jury Finds in Favor of Family in Risperdal Lawsuit

Drug makers are required to list potential side effects on labels and take the necessary and reasonable steps to ensure that prescribing doctors are aware of any risks to patients. Unfortunately, a mistake at any point, whether in the testing, packaging or taking a drug to market, can have a negative impact on consumers, who may then have to sue the drug company for product liability.

Whistleblower to Receive $250,000 in Medicare Fraud Lawsuit

Since the mid-1980s, the federal False Claims Act has been the government's primary tool for fighting fraud against government programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. The law's qui tam provisions allow whistleblowers to bring lawsuits against companies and individuals that defraud the government, and whistleblowers have collectively received billions of dollars in rewards for blowing the whistle on fraud.

Airline Mechanic Wins Whistleblower Suit After Reporting Cracks in Plane

Dozens of federal and state laws offer protections to whistleblowers in a variety of industries. The False Claims Act, the Dodd-Frank Act and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) are just a few of those laws that allow for whistleblowers to receive a significant portion of any money recovered by the Department of Justice through settlement or judgment.

Customers File Class-Action Suit Against Anthem Over Data Breach

News stories about large-scale hacking operations are becoming so numerous that the term "data breach" is now a regular part of the American lexicon. In the past couple years, retailers like Target and Home Depot have allowed hackers to obtain credit card numbers and other sensitive data from millions of customers.

Purple Communications, Inc. and Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO

At the heart of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") is an employee's Section 7 right to participate in concerted activity and communicate with fellow employees regarding conditions of employment. Prior to the ruling of the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB" or "the Board") in Purple Communications, Inc. and Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO ("Purple Communications"), email communication between employees exercising Section 7 rights could be lawfully banned by an employer so long as it was not done so in a discriminating way. In Purple Communications, the Board modified its stance on email communication to adapt to the changing nature of the workplace.1 The issue in Purple Communications was whether Section 7 of the NLRA extended to email communication between employees. In Purple Communications, the Board held that employees, that have access to the company's email, are allowed to use it for concerted activity during non-working time. Prior to the decision in Purple Communications, the NLRB broadly restricted employees' activity under the ruling in Guard Publ. Co. v. NLRB ("Register Guard".)2 Register Guard weighed employees' Section 7 rights against the employer's property right and held that an employer could restrict employee usage of its email services without justification, so long as it did not discriminate against union activity. In other words, the employer's property right over its email system weighs more heavily than an employee's Section 7 rights. The Board's decision in Register Guard was motivated by an archaic view of email technology. The Board updated its antiquated view in Purple Communications. The decision outlined the importance email has in a changing work environment and it shows that email usage has increased over time and has become the "natural gathering place3" of the modern work site. Conversely, Register Guard incorrectly compared email to modes of communication like bulletin boards and telephones. In Purple Communications, the Board demonstrated the importance of email to the modern workplace and found that there is no reasonable protection of concerted activity when the primary mode of communication is broadly restricted. With there previously being such broad restrictions placed on Section 7 rights by Register Guard, Purple Communications contains a new analytical framework to govern the use of an employer's email in concerted activity. Purple Communications only applies, however, to email communications between employees that have been given access to the company's email and the employer can still monitor those communications in a non-discriminatory manner. In addition, Purple Communications changes the weighing mechanism from the owner's property rights to management's interests. That is to say that Section 7 rights should instead be compared to an employer's managerial interest in production and discipline. The change to "managerial interest" means that the employer cannot restrict email usage without showing that email communication in some way hurts the company in a critical business aspect, such as productivity or production. Keep in mind, however, that the change does not mean that every employee is entitled to be granted access to an email account on the company's network. In other words, the decision protects the content an employee might send, but it does not necessarily mean each employee gets an email account. The aim of the new framework is to enhance Section 7 rights at the heart of the NLRA. What You Can Do If You Have A Company Email Account