Articles

August 26, 2020

“Y’all Politics” Publishes Article by Ritchie

Mississippi political news site Y’all Politics published a short article written by FormanWatkins attorney Spencer Ritchie on the difference between “voting by mail” and voting by absentee ballot.

June 30, 2020

Trademark Law Update: Supreme Court Decides Fate of Booking.com’s Trademark Applications

The Supreme Court issued its slip opinion in the matter of United States Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com on June 30, 2020.[i]  Justice Ginsburg wrote the opinion for the Court, and Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh joined.  Justice Sotomayor wrote a concurring opinion, and Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion.

June 24, 2020

Trademark Law Update

On May 4, 2020, the United States Supreme Court made an unprecedented move and broadcast an oral argument live for the first time.[i] The case pits the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) against Booking.com.[ii] The matter is before the Supreme Court as a result of the USPTO’s denial of Booking.com’s trademark applications. Lately, the average number of days between oral argument and getting to an opinion is around 90 days. So, we are expecting an opinion potentially in early August 2020. While we wait, here is a brief overview of the case.

April 9, 2020

COVID-19: Do I Have a Business Interruption Insurance Claim?

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic drags on, businesses large and small continue to feel the impacts in a variety of ways. In recent days and weeks, in a necessary effort to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 diagnoses, state and municipal governments across the country have issued shelter-in-place or safe-at-home orders that have forced closures of businesses deemed “non-essential,” altered hours or operations for almost all restaurants, and limited potential customer movement to only essential activities and travel. For example, Mississippi’s Shelter-in-Place Order, explained here, took effect last Friday.

April 6, 2020

COVID-19: Applying the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

With the recent implementation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), small business owners have more questions than answers applying the law in real time as shelter-in-place orders go into effect in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Department of Labor (DOL) has answered several questions in its Q&A sheets to assist employers on their responsibilities under the Act.  The following is a recap of the DOL’s answers to some of the more pertinent questions:

October 8, 2019

Employment Law Update: Arbitration Clauses in Employment Agreements – October 2019

Arbitration Clauses in Employment Agreements:  Keeping Them Enforceable  By:  Malissa Wilson Mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts reduce the possibility that legal action will be taken against employers.  Wrongful termination, wage and discrimination claims can all be resolved in a private process before a disinterested third person, rather than publicly in court before twelve jurors. While enforceable, arbitration clauses in employment agreements must still comply with basic principles of contract formation.  For instance, an employee can still raise misrepresentation, mistake, and undue influence as defenses to the enforcement of an employment agreement containing an arbitration clause.  In drafting arbitration clauses, it is important that the language is written in a way that is not confusing (use of terms that are vague or not commonly understood) or hard to read (font size is too small).  It is also important that the clause is fair by not placing more of the cost to arbitrate on the employee or placing unreasonable limitations on damages or the proceedings themselves. The arbitration clause should name the arbitration organization, such as the American Arbitration Association, where the claim will be filed and whose rules will be followed. When presenting an arbitration clause to potential and current employees, human resource personnel should go over the clause with the employee; answer any questions an employee may have; and, not rush or pressure the employee into signing the agreement.  Last, the agreement must be signed indicating an understanding that the employee is waiving the right to pursue employment-related claims […]

June 6, 2019

Employment Law Update: Failure to File Charge of Discrimination Is Not The Death Knell For A Discrimination Lawsuit

In a recent decision, the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for employees to bypass filing a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before filing suit.  The Court unanimously decided, in Fort Bend County v. Davis, that Title VII’s charge-filing requirement is procedural and not jurisdictional. By making this finding, the Court for the first time made clear that federal courts have the authority to hear Title VII claims that are not the subject of a Charge of Discrimination, and that the charge-filing requirement could be waived by employers for failure to timely assert it as a defense.

March 12, 2019

Employment Law Update: Spring Has Sprung Proposed Overtime Rule and Confusion Over Wellness Incentives

The seasons have changed from Winter to Spring, but the EEOC’s position regarding wellness incentives remains the same. This year’s stalemate over employee wellness programs has increasingly caused employers to ask: have wellness incentives become more trouble than they are worth? In a dramatic shift from its former endorsement of wellness incentives, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) has invalidated the incentive provisions of its wellness program regulations. The result: since January 1, 2019, when the EEOC regulations became ineffective, employers have been in limbo when it comes to implementing their employee wellness programs, with no guidance from the EEOC to speak of.