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Caroline Burnett is a Professional Support Lawyer in Baker McKenzie’s North America Employment & Compensation Group. Caroline is passionate about analyzing trends in US and global employment law and developing innovative solutions to help multinationals stay ahead of the curve. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie in 2016, she had a broad employment law practice at a full-service, national firm. Caroline holds a J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law (2008) and a B.A. from Brown University (2002).

Since January 1, 2018, California law has prohibited employers from asking applicants about their salary history. Earlier this month, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2282 into law to clarify several aspects of the salary history ban.

Continue Reading California Clarifies Its Salary History Ban, Making It Easier For Employers To Comply

Last week, in Troester v. Starbucks Corporation (Case No. S234969), the California Supreme Court weighed in for the first time on the viability of a de minimis defense to California wage and hour claims.

Many commentators have since rushed to declare that “de minimis” is dead. Not so.

Continue Reading California Supreme Court Leaves Open The Possibility Of A De Minimis Defense For Wage And Hour Claims – But Not Under The Facts Of This Case

On June 11, the UK Government released a draft statutory instrument (The Companies (Miscellaneous Reporting) Regulations 2018) and accompanying FAQs, which, subject only to Parliamentary approval, will require additional disclosures to be made in the Annual Reports of Listed PLCs* for financial years beginning on or after January 1, 2019. These changes will be implemented via amendments to the Large & Medium-sized Companies and Groups (Accounts & Reports) Regulations 2008.

These new reporting requirements are part of the Government’s wider package of corporate governance reforms announced in August 2017 (for further information on the wider package of reforms, click here, for further information on the UK Corporate Governance Code developments, click here, and for further information on the reforms affecting large private companies and unlisted PLCs, click here).

Summary of the Additional Disclosures Required in the Annual Report

Subject to meeting the relevant thresholds described below, Listed PLCs* will be required to make additional disclosures regarding, among other things:

  • The ratio of the CEO’s pay (the single total figure of remuneration) to the median (50th), 25th and 75th percentile full-time equivalent remuneration of their UK employees;
  • The impact of the future share price on executive pay; and
  • How the directors have engaged with employees.

To read the entire Alert, click here. Thanks to Stephen Ratcliffe and our UK colleagues for sharing.

* A Listed PLC, otherwise referred to as a “quoted company”, is a UK incorporated PLC with equity shares listed on the FCA’s Official List, or on NASDAQ, the NYSE, or a recognised stock exchange in the EEA. It does not include AIM listed companies.

Originally published by Bloomberg Law.

Pay equity is a hot button issue for employers in the United States for a number of reasons—reputational concerns are triggered with increasing shareholder demands for transparency; activist investor groups are pushing companies, particularly in the financial services and technology industries, to disclose gender pay data; and, in the wake of pay equity in the news, employees are asking more questions about the issue.

Compounding the pressure, the gender pay gap also can impact talent acquisition. A recent Glassdoor survey found that 67% of US employees say they would not apply for jobs at employers where they believe a gender pay gap exists. The impact is magnified when looking at millennials. Approximately 80% of millennials, as noted in the Glassdoor survey, say they would not even apply for a job if they believed the company had a gender pay gap, which drives home the point that focusing on equality is, among other things, essential for a positive employer brand in the US market.

Click here to read on.

On June 20, our partners Bill Dugan and Meredith Kaufman presented to the New York City chapter of the ACC on Minding the (Gender Pay) Gap. Along with two in-house counsel panelists, Meredith and Bill discussed strategies for complying with equal pay protections under state and local laws and narrowing the pay gap.

One clear theme of the panel discussion was that pay equity cannot be viewed in a vacuum. As Meredith explained:

With equal pay protections expanding, it’s a critical time for clients to identify and rectify unjustified pay disparities between men and women. An effective remediation plan may include salary increases, but employers also need to address systemic bias and harassment to root out pay inequality.

Another takeaway was the importance of maintaining the attorney-client privilege when conducting pay audits. Bill noted:

We regularly undertake pay audits, including an in-house analysis of data, for our clients.  Conducting these audits under privilege allows us to identify potential exposure and advise on strategies to reduce legal risk, while protecting the analysis from disclosure as much as possible.

For more on how Baker McKenzie is assisting clients with their gender pay and pay equity compliance, please visit our Gender Pay Gap webpage.

In a narrow ruling on June 4, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a couple celebrating a same-sex wedding on the basis of his religious opposition to same-sex marriages. (Same-sex marriages were not legal in Colorado at the time.) After the baker rebuffed the couple in 2012, they filed a charge with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission pursuant to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in a “place of business engaged in any sales to the public and any place offering services . . . to the public.”

Continue Reading SCOTUS Narrowly Rules In Favor Of Baker In Same-Sex Confectionery Controversy In Fact-Specific Decision

(Many thanks to George Avraam and Susan MacMillan for sharing this insight with us.)

Despite the longstanding nature of equal pay and pay equity legislation in Canada, on average, women still earn less than men. The Ontario Government and the Federal Government recently took steps aimed at improving women’s equality in the workforce and addressing the gender pay gap in these jurisdictions.

Click  here to download the full report, which includes helpful information on how employers can prepare for Ontario’s upcoming Pay Transparency Act.

Welcome news for employers: companies can require their workers go through arbitration to pursue any legal claims against their employers, rather than go to court or join together in class lawsuits or grievances, the US Supreme Court held today in a 5-4 vote.

Writing for the majority in three consolidated cases (Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, NLRB v.  Murphy Oil  USA, Inc., and Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris), Justice Neil Gorsuch said the Federal Arbitration Act sets a strong policy favoring the enforcement of arbitration agreements, and employees of the three companies failed to show they had any right to disregard the arbitration agreements they signed.

The policy may be debatable but the law is clear: Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be enforced as written. While Congress is of course always free to amend this judgment, we see nothing suggesting it did so in the NLRA — much less that it manifested a clear intention to displace the Arbitration Act. Because we can easily read Congress’s statutes to work in harmony, that is where our duty lies.

The ruling means that companies can enforce their class action waiver agreements and their employees will have to pursue their claims in individual arbitration proceedings. Please stay tuned for more to come from us on the actions employers should take now in response to this important decision.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

May 13 is Mother’s Day in the US, Australia and Canada. As such, it feels apropos to recognize the latest initiatives in the US and around the world aimed at increasing opportunities at work for working mothers (and caregivers more generally). Government-mandated maternity, paternity and parental leave and benefits, as well as robust childcare and eldercare infrastructure are among the most effective public policy investments for promoting gender parity in the workforce. As employers strive to retain working parents and increase female representation in corporate leadership roles, this article highlights how parental leave rights and related benefits are changing to reduce the burden of work-family conflicts on women and encourage men (and even grandparents!) to avail themselves of paternity leave and/or parental leave.

While the intended effects of new legislation in this area are of course positive, it can be challenging for US and multinational employers to navigate the patchwork of statutory requirements that offer varying entitlements based on differing circumstances. Even beyond managing simple compliance, many multinational employers also feel the pressure to stay competitive in the war for talent and to create human resources policies that can be managed centrally in a streamlined fashion, while also locally compliant in jurisdictions outside of the US.

Please click HERE to read our article. We focus on recent entitlements and related benefits made available to employees who manage caregiving responsibilities outside of work and share the updates multinationals need to know.

For more details, please contact your Baker McKenzie lawyer.