Employment Law

Employment Law aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 09:38

Rowena Jones is the Managing Attorney of Southeast Louisiana Legal Service’s Employment & Benefits Unit. Jones previously worked in poverty law practice with New Orleans Legal Assistance, Texas Rural Legal Aid, and Proyecto Libertad, after state district and appellate court clerkships following her graduation from LSU’s Law School. Anyone seeking to become a client of SLLS or reach the author may find contact information at www.slls.org.

Material in this chapter is current through June 29, 2022.

1 Introduction

1 Introduction aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 09:51

The primary purpose of the chapter is to help those unfamiliar with employment law spot common issues, assist when possible, and refer when needed. Issues where you might make a big difference, but that are not as well covered by treatises available elsewhere, are examined in greater depth.

2 Importance of Employment Law Knowledge

2 Importance of Employment Law Knowledge aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 09:52

Low-wage workers are routinely subject to arbitrary termination, wage theft, discrimination, and other abuses. Awareness of possible claims and resources is low. Once employment income is lost, clients usually face other pressing legal needs (e.g., foreclosure or eviction, collection defense or need for bankruptcy, family problems, or need for survival benefits such as food stamps and unemployment compensation). Job-related complaints often reveal underlying issues (e.g., disability, criminal records, credit history problems, misclassification as an independent contractor) that interfere with steady employment.

3 The Employment Relationship

3 The Employment Relationship aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 09:55

Your client naturally wants to focus on the particulars of their complaint, but you also need all relevant background facts. These include not only details about the employer (size, location, type, etc.) and the job (position, length of service, pay, etc.), but also your client’s citizenship/immigration status and the actual nature of the employment relationship.

Misclassification, which occurs when an employer mislabels the employee as an independent contractor to avoid financial obligations or potential liabilities, is common. Misclassification adversely affects workers’ pay rights, workplace protections, and ability to get some post-termination benefits.1  For clients to obtain relief available to employees but not to independent contractors, relevant definitions under particular statutes or controlling case law must be met. If a statute has no specific controlling definition, deciding whether a client is an employee or independent contractor is a factual, case-by-case determination. The most important factor is whether the principal retains the right to control and supervise the work (regardless of the degree to which that right is actually exercised). Other factors include selection and engagement, payment of wages, and power of dismissal.2

Your client’s immigration status might also be a factor relevant to available relief, either from your organization, depending on your funding sources, or under the law(s) that apply to their situation. Local resources usually exist if you need to refer a non-citizen.3

  • 1For more detailed discussion of the consequences of misclassification, see the many publication of the National Employment Law Project on this topic. Misclassification, Nat’l Emp’t L. Project.
  • 2See, e.g., Hillman v. Comm-Care, Inc., 01-1140 (La. 1/15/02), 805 So. 2d 1157.
  • 3Lagniappe Law Lab maintains a list of legal aid organizations in Louisiana. See La. L. Help.

4 Evaluation for Benefits Eligibility

4 Evaluation for Benefits Eligibility aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:02

Clients with employment-related complaints, especially after a job loss, should be screened for benefits eligibility. Even if you don’t handle benefits issues yourself, you can help your clients by recognizing potential eligibility and pointing them in the right direction. Clients can have mistaken ideas about benefits eligibility (e.g., erroneously believing that they can’t apply for unemployment compensation benefits if they quit or don’t have a separation notice—commonly called a “pink slip”). Others, particularly formerly middle-class families who’ve dropped into poverty, are often unaware of what benefits exist or how to apply.

Connect them to, or help them get, any benefits for which they might be eligible. For example, anyone unemployed and looking for work may be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits; anyone with low income and few assets may be eligible for food stamps or other food aid from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS); a client caring for minors might be able to get cash assistance through DCFS, the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the family courts; a client having difficulty sustaining jobs because of health issues may be able to get disability benefits from SSA or through a job-connected disability benefit; a client may need help to stave off eviction or foreclosure or get their subsidized housing costs re-adjusted; etc. You should be able to find the appropriate source of help and eligibility information on the internet (use only government agency or reputable non-profits for information sources). Free legal aid programs typically put a high priority on helping those with benefits and housing issues.

5 Unemployment Compensation Benefits

5 Unemployment Compensation Benefits aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:02

5.1 General Principles

5.1 General Principles aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:03

All states have a regular unemployment compensation (UC) system, which originated in federal relief programs responding to the worldwide depression of the 1930s. States accept federal money for administrative costs and, in return, must comply with minimal federal requirements to avoid financial penalties.1  During periods of high unemployment, those who exhaust their regular claim may also be able to get extended benefits.

Louisiana’s UC programs are run by the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC).2 In addition to the Louisiana Employment Security Law, the LWC’s operations are also controlled by administrative regulations.3  The purpose of the Louisiana Employment Security Law is neither to reward the employee nor to punish the employer, but rather to protect the stability of the state and the family in a time of hardship.4  Thus, the law is remedial in nature and its provisions must be liberally construed in favor of awarding benefits.5  This principle should be an underlying theme in all of your UC advocacy.

All unemployment assistance is time-limited, can take time to arrive even if there’s no dispute, and rarely will replace lost earnings entirely. However, because most low-income families have little or no savings and few have family members able to help out for long, UC is often the only possible source of cash aid for the unemployed. So, do what you can to help your clients apply if they might be eligible, help them overcome barriers along the way by reaching out to agency workers if you can reach them or by appealing if needed, and, if your clients need intervention you can’t provide, connect them with a legal services program able to do so. If you are pursuing another legal claim against a client’s former employer, the pursuit of unemployment benefits might also lead to helpful evidence or information.

On application and throughout the pendency of a claim, the agency may issue negative determinations for a variety of reasons and send separate determination notices on each issue; each notice requires separate timely appeal. Many seeking unemployment benefits experience housing instability or inability to pay phone bills, leading to communication issues. Even if adverse determinations are received, they are often misunderstood because of the way they are written. So, when you are helping a client with an unemployment claim, double check a client’s self-report of issues needing action. You can usually see most claim activity through the agency’s website6  and thus ensure that all negative determinations get a timely response. Even if you enter an appearance as counsel in an appeal, the agency only copies you on notices relating to that particular appeal, so regular checks are usually still needed for some clients.

  • 126 U.S.C. § 3301, et seq.; 42 U.S.C. § 501, et seq.; 26 C.F.R. § 3301, et seq.
  • 2See La. Workforce Comm’n.
  • 3La. R.S. 23:1471, et seq.; LAC 40:IV:101, et seq.
  • 4La. R.S. 23:1471.
  • 5Parker v. Gerace, 354 So. 2d 1022 (La. 1978); Nat’l Gypsum Co. v. Administrator, 313 So. 2d 239 (La. 1975).
  • 6La. Workforce Comm’n.

5.2 Eligibility Generally

5.2 Eligibility Generally aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:10

All UC programs have limited coverage that excludes many workers and job loss situations. For example, regular UC excludes religious, charitable, political, and domestic service jobs as well as “independent contractors” or “gig workers.” These are just examples of the many coverage exclusions. You must carefully read the relevant law and evaluate any possible misclassification of the client’s prior employment.

Federal law mandates some eligibility restrictions and gives states the option to impose others. In Louisiana, a covered unemployed person becomes eligible to receive UC by:

  • making a proper claim;
  • earning enough wages in a look-back “base period;”
  • registering for work with the agency;
  • being able to and available for work and conducting an active search for work;
  • being unemployed for a 1-week waiting period;
  • being a U.S. citizen or a noncitizen lawfully admitted for permanent residence; and
  • being not otherwise disqualified

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Some of these requirements repeatedly cause problems for clients, particularly in light of short appeal periods; the agency’s reliance on internet and overburdened phone systems, with very little help available for non-English speakers; and the agency’s systemic bias toward employers (i.e., if an employer and employee offer conflicting statements, the agency almost always accepts the employer’s version).

5.3 Monetary Eligibility

5.3 Monetary Eligibility aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:14

5.3.1 Requirements

5.3.1 Requirements aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:15

Regular UC is similar to an insurance policy; the worker has to put in enough to draw out later. A claimant must have worked long enough and earned enough within a certain recent period of time, and the earnings must be spread out in certain ways. The “base period” is the first four calendar quarters of the last five complete calendar quarters before the week of benefit application.1  The wages earned during the base period, subject to a statutory maximum, determine a claimant’s weekly benefit amount (WBA).2  The agency issues a Notice of Monetary Determination to the claimant and base-period employers; the Notice can be reconsidered if in error.

There are two state statutory requirements for base-period wage sufficiency: (1) a minimum earnings requirement;3  and (2) total base period wages of at least one and a half times the amount earned in the highest calendar quarter of the base period.4  This “high-quarter ratio” requirement is a historical leftover from earlier statutory revisions. The result is that some workers need only the statutory minimum in the base period to be eligible (if their wages are spread among quarters), but others can be found ineligible for having insufficient wages, even though they earned several times the minimum, because their wages were concentrated in a single quarter. As a result, many with sporadic employment are shut out completely from UC. Unfortunately for a large sector of the working population, the requirement that wages be spread out in the base period has been held constitutional.5

  • 1La. R.S. 23:1472(4), (7).
  • 2La. R.S. 23:1592.
  • 3La. R.S. 23:1592(A).
  • 4La. R.S. 23:1600(5).
  • 5Estelle v. Eysink, 2014-0108 (La. App. 4 Cir. 08/06/14); 147 So. 3d 1136.

5.3.2 Correcting Errors

5.3.2 Correcting Errors aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:23

Monetary determinations are often wrong because a claimant’s earnings may be under-reported or miscalculated. Review the notice with your client. Find out (1) the amount generally earned per pay period both in the base period and since; (2) how many times your client filed for UC during and since the base period and to what end (you can check the client’s online account, too); (3) whether base period wages are truly the client’s and have been correctly calculated; and (4) whether any employers or earned wages have been excluded from the base period.

In the event of errors, there are some possible means to increase the WBA:

  • Supply missing earnings documentation. If earnings were not reported, your client may also want to provide the documentation to the Social Security Administration. If the client does not have any documentation, you can ask the agency to investigate the employer. You can also supply an affidavit or other evidence (e.g., purchase receipts for supplies, texts or other communications indicating work locations or dates, etc.).
  • If it would make a client eligible to count wages when earned rather than when paid, the agency can shift wages from one pay period to another.1  This often shifts a paycheck from one quarter to another because paychecks are usually issued about two weeks after the relevant work period.
  • The client may still be eligible on an earlier claim (e.g., regular benefits were exhausted and the client didn’t file for extended benefits, or the client was previously disqualified on the merits but should now be requalified with new earnings).
  • If the client has recent earnings that are not in the base period, filing a new claim in the next calendar quarter (or even later). This drops the first quarter in the prior claim and adds a new quarter, which may result in monetary eligibility in the future.
  • 1La. R.S. 23:1598.

5.4 Weekly Eligibility Certification

5.4 Weekly Eligibility Certification aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:33

UC claimants must weekly certify their continuing eligibility and affirm that they are still able and available to work, are actively searching for work, have not turned down any suitable work, and have not earned in excess of their WBA.

Registering for work with the LWC and subsequently reporting active job searches make out a prima facie showing that one is able and available for work.1  Claimants unable because of medical or other problems to perform a prior job may still be available for other work and often need help to fight erroneous agency disqualifications on this basis. The agency often seizes on any reference to a health issue, at any stage of a claim, to issue a disqualifying determination that the claimant is not able and available to work. The agency may also illegally disqualify a worker for an entire year rather than week by week. Claimants do not have to accept unsuitable work or work outside of their customary occupation, below the prevailing wage scale, or burdened with unreasonable conditions.

Many claimants erroneously stop filing weekly certifications after being disqualified, even while appealing the disqualification. Your clients may need reminding that, if they are still unemployed, able and available to work, and actively searching for work, they should continue to file weekly or they won’t receive UC for those weeks even if the disqualification is reversed. If they’ve missed too many weeks, they will have to “re-open” their claim before they can resume filing weekly.

The agency will rarely consider retroactive payment for weeks not contemporaneously certified. There is usually little chance of persuading the agency without good evidence of agency misrepresentation or other error (e.g., the agency’s internet claims system, which leaves the printing of its rules optional, allows for claimants unaware of their reporting or other requirements to remain uninformed and likely to make mistakes). However, a written agency refusal to back-date may be appealed like any other adverse determination.

  • 1Chrysler Corp. v. Doyal, 352 So. 2d 322 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1977).

5.5 Job Separation

5.5 Job Separation aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:46

5.5.1 Basic Principles

5.5.1 Basic Principles aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:46

In addition to monetary and other eligibility issues, the LWC reviews the circumstances of job separation (for each job in the base period) and makes a determination of qualification or disqualification. The agency solicits information and documentation from both the claimant and the employer. Some employers will have provided the agency with the separation notice that provides a “full explanation” of the cause of separation.1  A not-uncommon query from clients is whether employers can be held liable for untrue statements made in the UC claim process. The defense of qualified privilege applies to untrue and defamatory statements in this context; an employer is liable only if it can be proven that the employer knew that the statements were false, recklessly disregarded their truth or falsity, or was negligent in failing to ascertain the truth.2

Base-period employers have 10 days to protest a former employee’s UC claim.3  An employer who fails to timely respond is deemed to have abandoned its right to appeal, and the agency is not supposed to consider a late response unless the employer shows good cause. If your client qualifies for UC but the employer appeals, be sure to challenge any untimely employer response.

Once a decision is made—there’s no statutory deadline—the agency issues a Notice of Qualification or Disqualification to the claimant and base-period employer. The Notice must include reasons and may be contested by either party, but by not the agency. Having multiple employers in the base period means multiple notices, each of which, if negative, require separate appeal. Sometimes a claimant’s appeal covers more than one adverse notice but the agency only dockets one appeal; usually the agency’s appeals staff will correct the situation if you ask.

Both federal and state law require that benefits be promptly paid upon any initial determination that UC is payable (whether made by the local office, an ALJ, the Board of Review, or a court), even if the opposition appeals.4  You can contest unreasonable delays or suspension of benefits pending appeals taken against your client.

  • 1La. R.S. 23:1576 asks employers to file with the LWC within three days of a separation.
  • 2See, e.g., Nolan v. Jeff. Par. Hosp. Serv. Dist. No. 2, 11-291 (La. App. 5 Cir. 3/13/12); 90 So. 3d 1178.
  • 3La. R.S. 23:1625.
  • 442 U.S.C. § 503(a)(1); La. R.S. 23:1635; see also Cal. Dep’t of Hum. Res. Dev. v. Java, 402 U.S. 121 (1971).

5.5.2 Termination for Misconduct

5.5.2 Termination for Misconduct aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:52

La. R.S. 23:1601(2) disqualifies a claimant who is found to have been discharged by a base-period or subsequent employer for “misconduct connected with his employment.” The statutory definition of “misconduct,” a list of certain acts or omissions added in 1990, is more restrictive than prior jurisprudential definitions. If taken literally, and applied blindly and by rote, it might effectively preclude most folks from unemployment. Don’t deny help to your client because of it! Remember that the UC law is remedial in nature and must be interpreted in the claimant’s favor.1

Furthermore, the circuits have taken divergent paths when interpreting the present version of the statute. Some expressly interpret the definition of “misconduct” in light of pre-amendment jurisprudence. Others have taken a more restrictive approach. Unless and until the situation is resolved by the Louisiana Supreme Court, be mindful of this issue in deciding whether or not to appeal a district court decision.

Regardless of the circuit, parse the statutory definition carefully because the agency tends to apply it—and tends to encourage the courts to apply it—in an extremely overbroad manner. For example, the statutory definition refers to a “violation of policy,” but only of only certain types of policy; the agency tends to ignore the qualifier and erroneously posit that any policy violation—no matter how trivial or inadvertent—is disqualifying misconduct.

Even if the client’s alleged behavior or omission might meet the statutory definition, the employer has the burden to prove disqualifying misconduct with competent evidence. Thus, even if the agency disqualified your client at application, your client should still win if the employer fails to participate in the subsequent appeal hearing or if the only evidence against your client is incompetent evidence such as hearsay.

Finally, even if you are in an “unfavorable” circuit, when you are parsing the “misconduct” definition in La. R.S. 23:1601(2) and applying it to your client’s facts, successful arguments from prior jurisprudence might still help your client win. The case law is extensive and varied. Be sure to remind any adjudicator of the law’s remedial purpose, while highlighting any favorable circumstances. Some successful arguments or themes that could help if relevant to your client’s facts are:

  • The client did not know or understand that policy alleged to have been violated.
  • The misconduct was not directly connected with the job.
  • The employer’s reason for discharge was something other than the alleged misconduct.
  • The totality of circumstances should be considered.
  • Your client might have acted in good faith, not intending to harm the employer.
  • A single, isolated incident contrasts with your client’s otherwise blameless history.
  • A “hot-headed” response to provocation is excusable.
  • Poor judgment or simple human negligence are not disqualifying.
  • Poor work performance resulted from a simple inability to meet job standards rather than deliberate misconduct.
  • There was a reasonable basis for an action or inaction (e.g., an emergency).
  • Your client was following common practice or a supervisor’s directive.
  • The misconduct was caused by factors beyond a worker’s control (e.g., sickness, childcare failure, transportation emergencies).
  • 1See, e.g., Banks v. Administrator, 393 So. 2d 696 (La. 1991); Charbonnet v. Gerace, 457 So. 2d 676 (La. 1984).

5.5.3 Termination for Substance Abuse

5.5.3 Termination for Substance Abuse aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:13

Substance abuse allegations constitute a special case. For UC to be denied following discharge for substance abuse, the employer must prove behavioral effects of alleged intoxication under usual evidentiary standards. Where discharge is based on allegedly positive drug test results, however, alleged test results cannot be considered unless the testing was done pursuant to a written substance abuse rule or policy and performed under certain conditions.1  Even if the statutory requirements are satisfied, if the employer’s test violated its own policies, the test results should not be considered. Many employers fail to present competent (e.g., non-hearsay) evidence.

Refusal to take a drug test required by a proven employer policy is not necessarily misconduct. Refusal on valid constitutional grounds should not result in disqualification. Finally, if an allegedly positive test result was the reason given for discharge, the agency must apply the standards concerning drug testing and cannot use the general misconduct provision to let the employer off the evidentiary hook.

  • 1La. R.S. 23:1601(10)(a).

5.5.4 Voluntary Quit

5.5.4 Voluntary Quit aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:14

Employees who leave jobs face an uphill battle and usually need your help to get UC benefits.

Employees who leave part-time or interim work to protect full-time or regular employment are protected from disqualification.1  Employees who leave a job with a new employer not yet in the base period, when the job pays less than their UC benefits, can’t be disqualified for quitting.

Otherwise, your client must show “good cause attributable to a substantial change made to the employment by the employer.” In quit cases, claimants have the burden of proof. Because of the agency’s employer bias, it can often help it you can show your client tried to correct a situation before quitting.

In determining “good cause,” a court should use a standard of reasonableness as applied to the average person, not the supersensitive. Dissatisfaction with initially-agreed upon working conditions is not generally considered good cause for leaving. The agency typically construes failure to try to work out job disagreements as unreasonable, so if your client objected before quitting, bring that out or explain why not.

A change in significant work conditions such as work schedules or pay, when imposed unilaterally by the employer, should meet the “good cause” standard unless the employee has agreed to the change. A change in job duties alone is unlikely to meet the standard. It’s the rare person who actually “agrees” to work more hours or receive less pay, but the agency typically construes failure to immediately quit as implied “agreement” with the change. So, bring out any objections made by your client, their limited options, and any other factors negating “agreement” to counter this agency bias.

Discriminatory or unsafe treatment uncorrected by an employer can meet the “good cause” and “substantial change” requirements because an employee is entitled to expect a workplace that complies with applicable legal standards. That your client filed an internal grievance or a complaint with an external agency is helpful but not necessary evidence.

Adverse health reactions resulting from the job or an on-the-job injury don’t necessarily need medical records or proof of causation, but such evidence can help.

  • 1La. R.S. 23:1601(1).

5.5.5 Constructive Discharge

5.5.5 Constructive Discharge aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:16

In the case in which the quit is actually compelled by the employer rather than voluntary (i.e. constructive discharge), the burden of proof shifts to the employer. Employers often send workers home “to be called later,” then falsely claim that they quit. Similarly, an employee who is forced to resign in lieu of discharge or who resigns to avoid being discharged has not voluntarily quit. In these situations, the employer must prove misconduct in order to disqualify the employee.1

  • 1Wood v. La. Dep’t of Emp. Sec., 632 So. 2d 899, 902 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1994).

5.5.6 Temporary Employees

5.5.6 Temporary Employees aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:17

Many workers get jobs through temporary staffing agencies. A temporary employee working for a staffing firm is disqualified (i.e., deemed to have voluntarily quit) if (1) “[a]t the time of hire,” the staffing firm advised the employee to report for reassignment at the conclusion of each assignment and that UC benefits may be denied for failure to do so; and (2) the employee failed, without good cause, to contact the firm for a reassignment at the conclusion of the previous assignment.1

  • 1La. R.S. 23:1601(1)(b).

5.6 Administrative Appeals

5.6 Administrative Appeals aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:17

5.6.1 General Principles

5.6.1 General Principles aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:31

An administrative appeal is heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ) within the Appeals Tribunal.”1  However, the agency may contract with the State’s Division of Administrative Law (DAL) to conduct your client’s hearing or hire an ALJ from elsewhere. After identifying the parties and the evidence, ALJs typically cover a predictable set of questions that depend on the issue noticed for hearing.

  • 1La. R.S. 23:1628, et seq.

5.6.2 Telephone Hearings

5.6.2 Telephone Hearings aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:32

Telephone hearings are now the norm and have their pros and cons relative to in-person hearings. Your client has the right to request an in-person hearing, but such a request is likely to be denied given the agency’s tight budget and resistance to making exceptions. Support any request for an in-person hearing with evidence of a compelling reason. Moreover, missed ALJ hearings easily happen with telephone hearings. Your client can ask for rehearing, but the time to do so is shorter than the appeal period. If appealing, you can also ask for a remand for a new hearing.

5.6.3 Due Process

5.6.3 Due Process aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:33

Claimants’ right to a fair hearing is protected by federal and state law,1  and agency rules setting forth hearing procedures must be followed.2  The traditional elements of constitutional due process must also be provided. Your clients’ rights include the right to adequate notice of the issues, the right to view exhibits before the hearing, the right to subpoena witnesses and evidence, and the right to cross-examine adverse witnesses. You or your client should request a copy of the hearing office file before the hearing; it is free and will be e-mailed upon request. The agency isn’t currently required to mail administrative decisions to a legal representative.

The notice itself may raise due process concerns. Claimants often seek help with hearings at short notice because agency rules don’t require extensive advance notice. You can ask for a postponement and may need to in order to get time to gather and submit evidence for your client. In addition, notices don’t give much detail about the issues to be addressed at the hearing. Because adequate notice of the issue is constitutionally required (though a client may waive inadequacy of notice), lack of detail might give grounds for postponement or for evidentiary objections at the hearing. The ALJ is also precluded from addressing issues not contained in the notice of hearing.3

Additional challenges may arise through the conduct of the hearing itself. At the hearing, strict rules of evidence are not followed, but the ALJ’s decision must be based on sufficient competent evidence.4  Hearsay, though admissible, is not competent evidence.5  Hearsay may be used for corroboration. Make appropriate evidentiary objections on the record. An objection may remind an ALJ that certain evidence may not be relied on, and it should keep a court from finding that you have waived the objection.

Clients who handle hearings pro se often may make poor appeal records. If your client comes to you after the hearing but before further agency appeal or while that appeal is pending, you might be able to intercede in time to get a remand for new hearing. Focus on factors that indicating that your client likely did not have a fair hearing. Limited English proficiency is one such factor. Another might be client assertions that the ALJ excluded or prevented the presentation of relevant documents or witnesses or acted as an advocate for the employer by objecting to the claimant’s evidence or prompting the employer. Because this is a common occurrence, give credence to your client’s statements about such conduct. A detailed affidavit from your client could be good supporting evidence.

  • 142 U.S.C. § 503(a)(3); La. R.S. 23:1629(B); see also Schexnider v. Blache, 504 So. 2d 864 (La. 1987).
  • 2See LAC 40:IV:109, et seq.
  • 3See Daniel v. Wal-Mart Assoc., Inc., 2003-0441 (La. App. 1 Cir. 12/31/03), 868 So. 2d 137; Barber v. Administrator, 95-770 (La. App. 3 Cir. 1995), 664 So. 2d 844; Banks v. Administrator, 393 So. 2d 696, 699 (La. 1981), Murray v. City of New Orleans, 517 So. 2d 1200 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1987); see also Randle v. Administrator, 499 So. 2d 488 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1986) (employer not entitled to remand to prove different reason for discharge).
  • 4Banks, 393 So. 2d 696.
  • 5DeJean v. Adm’r, Off. of Emp. Sec., 04-327 (La. App. 3 Cir. 9/29/04); 883 So. 2d 493; Schlesinger v. Administrator, 583 So. 2d 100 (La. App. 3 Cir. 1991); Cole Oil & Tire Co., Inc. v. Davis, 567 So. 2d 122 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1990); French v. Whitfield, 561 So. 2d 977 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1990) (direct contradictory testimony by employee cannot be overcome by hearsay evidence from another employee).

5.6.4 Board of Review

5.6.4 Board of Review aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:38

After an ALJ decision, claimants have two options: timely request reopening/new hearing or timely appeal to the Board of Review (BOR), a group of political appointees who may not even be lawyers.

Aggrieved employers can also appeal and sometimes send new evidence to supplement their case presented at hearing. Typically, they fail to copy the claimant, and the agency will not give your client a copy of the employer’s appeal or any new evidence turned in by the employer, unless you ask for it. In that situation, object that this violates the law and due process. If the BOR wants to consider new evidence, it is required to have a good reason for reopening (i.e., not just to give the employer a second chance to present a better case) and to have a new hearing for all parties to address this evidence. The BOR decision becomes the final agency decision, which may be appealed to state district court.

5.6.5 Untimely Appeals

5.6.5 Untimely Appeals aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:39

Untimely appeals are a common problem. Clients may fail to update their postal or e-mail address, and their mail may not be delivered even if they do. However, don’t give up just because your client has missed a deadline—determine where the fault lies. The agency’s position will usually be that peremption applies and that the right to appeal is extinguished at the end of the time period for appeal. However, courts have recognized that a claimant may rebut the presumption that a decision was actually mailed on the date it was said to have been mailed or present evidence that a notice was misleading or that the agency committed fraud or was otherwise at fault.1  Your client’s online claim records might show e-mailed notices bounced back or that the LWC has used an address gone stale because your client was no longer filing for benefits. There is no statutory obligation for an claimant to update an address if no active claim is being pursued.

If you are representing a client, make sure that appeals are filed timely, or, for best results, do it yourself. Often multiple appeals need filing at the same time, leading to the possibility of confusion or omission. This often happens when a client had multiple employers in the base period or when a client is hit with overpayment notices. There are various ways to file an appeal, the best being any way you can confirm receipt and timeliness.

  • 1See, e.g., Bailey v. Cajun Insulation, 453 So. 2d 237, 241 (La. 1984); Jones v. Whitfield, 529 So. 2d 885 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1988); Doescher v. Administrator, 353 So. 2d 388 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1977); see also Harding v. Raising Canes USA L.L.C., 10-320 (La. App. 5 Cir. 11/23/10), 55 So. 3d 837; Hughes v. La. Power & Light Co., 98-1007 (La. App. 5 Cir. 3/10/99), 735 So. 2d 44; cf. Duron v. Albertson’s LLC, 560 F.3d 288 (5th Cir. 2009) (presumption of mailing requires sufficient evidence of record that letter actually mailed).

5.7 Judicial Review

5.7 Judicial Review aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:43

La. R.S. 23:1634 gives your client and any involved employer a right to judicial review. Review is limited to whether the facts are supported by sufficient competent evidence and whether the facts justify the decision as a matter of law.1  Venue lies in the parish of your client’s residence or, if the client now lives out of state, in East Baton Rouge or the parish where the claimant lived when he or she originally filed for benefits.2  You only have to serve the agency defendant; if any employer is a named defendant, the agency serves that employer. You only have to include the employer as a defendant if the final decision is on an issue that involved the employer directly (e.g., the job separation determination). The agency’s mistaken naming of an employer on an unrelated issue (e.g., collection of allegedly overpaid benefits) at the administrative level does not mean you have to add the employer as a defendant.

Your client does not have to pay court costs to file for judicial review or to defend against an employer’s petition for judicial review unless, after contradictory hearing, the claim is found to be frivolous.3  This also applies at the appellate level. Courts and sheriff staff are sometimes unaware of this law or mistakenly believe that it only exempts UC claimants as petitioners, not defendants. You might have to intervene to protect your client’s rights on this issue.

Although new evidence can be shown to the court to support anyone’s request for remand, decision is ordinarily limited to the existing record. Just as at the BOR level, an employer may seek remand just to put on a better case; the LWC’s Legal Division, ostensibly involved only to defend the agency’s final decision, may seek remand for the same reason. You want to vigorously oppose such attempts as violating the judicial review statute and as an abuse of the court’s discretion.4

The agency is supposed to file an answer and a copy of the administrative record with the court (and send a copy to the claimant or the claimant’s attorney) within 60 days of being served with the petition. If it fails to do so, a claimant may seek interim benefits if there is “sufficient evidence” on the record to support paying them.5  Since this standard requires the court to base its determination solely on the face of the agency’s final decision, it is rare to have a case in which you can successfully pursue interim relief. However, contacting the Legal Division about the delay or filing a motion for interim relief if the reminder is ignored and the delay egregious may help get the case moving. The agency filing a “motion for extension” of time to answer means nothing; an extension is not authorized by La. R.S. 23:1634.

If a court orders remand and you want to avoid agency delay in processing your client’s case, try to get a reasonable time frame incorporated into the judgment. In a remand situation, you can ask the court to retain jurisdiction or decline to do so (in which case your client would need to go through the administrative and judicial review process again if the agency remand decision is unfavorable). Select the option that seems best for your client.

  • 1Charbonnet v. Gerace, 457 So. 2d 676 (La. 1984).
  • 2 La. R.S. 23:1634(A).
  • 3La. R.S. 23:1692.
  • 4See, e.g., Holmes v. Forster, 2000-0632 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2/14/01), 781 So. 2d 656 (agency’s request for remand to allow employer opportunity to present a better case soundly rejected; court reviews prior remand case law).
  • 5La. R.S. 23:1634(A); see Toney v. Whitfield, 531 So. 2d 445 (La. 1988).

5.8 Overpaid Benefits

5.8 Overpaid Benefits aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:47

5.8.1 General Principles

5.8.1 General Principles aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:47

If your client has ever applied for unemployment benefits, this could be a problem now or a potential problem you can help avoid. As required by federal law, Louisiana has a process to detect, establish, and recover overpaid benefits.1  The agency may find an error on its own, through a federal audit, or through a third-party complaint. The prescriptive period for collection is currently 5 years (10 for fraud), with generous interruptions allowed.2  The U.S. Department of Labor has performance standards for state recovery efforts and requires states to pursue all means of collection. Clients who get a Notice of Overpayment must timely appeal in order to seek waiver of collection when one is available. The Notice should include a total amount and the week(s) overpaid and indicate whether or not the repayment is being sought due to fraud.

  • 1La. R.S. 23:1740, et seq.
  • 2See La. R.S. 23:1713(C)(2); La. R.S. 23:1601(8)(b); LAC 40:IV:369, et seq.

5.8.2 Appealing a Notice of Overpayment

5.8.2 Appealing a Notice of Overpayment aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:49

If an appeal is timely filed and waiver is not expressly prohibited by the law authorizing the original benefits payment, the issue of waiver of collection should be automatically considered at the hearing. The appeals staff may fail to send out the waiver form ahead of a hearing; that failure can be grounds for postponement or remand for new hearings. Clients interested in seeking waiver should also try to document their expenses, obligations, and limited resources. Only agency rules, not the statute, require supporting documentation. If a client’s testimony was undisputed, agency denials for lack of documentation should be challenged. Denial of waiver on that type of technicality is contrary to the remedial purpose of the UC law.

Waiver should be granted when fraud is not involved, the claimant was “without fault,” and recovery would “defeat the purpose” of the benefits already authorized or would “be against equity and good conscience.”1  The agency’s usual tendency is to find claimants at fault in any way possible. Be prepared to vigorously advocate for your client on this issue. ALJs often wrongly fault claimants for the agency’s subsequent reversal of initial qualification decisions or blame claimants for not submitting documentation of expenses when the claimant’s sworn testimony about them is uncontested. Getting debts waived is a huge benefit, so vigorously pursue that relief unless your client admits fraud.

Fraud overpayments, which constitute a very small percentage of overall benefits paid nationally, require the agency to prove intentional misrepresentation or concealment of a material fact. A finding of fraud has more serious consequences for your client. Waiver of repayment and avoidance of penalties are not options. If you are contesting the fraud allegation, submit a completed waiver form and supporting documentation prior to the ALJ hearing.

  • 1See La. R.S. 23:1713(B); LAC 40:IV:371.

5.8.3 Overpayment Collections

5.8.3 Overpayment Collections aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:50

Once a debt is final (i.e., administrative and judicial review have been exhausted or never taken), the agency has several collection options:

  • Offset from future claims payable (which often happens without written notice, to the puzzlement of those who may have forgotten a long-ago overpayment notice or who are the victim of agency error)
  • Civil action
  • Offset from state income tax refunds
  • Treasury Offset Program (offset from federal benefits)

If your client did not get the agency’s original notice of debt through no fault of their own (e.g., the agency sent the Overpayment Account Establishment Notice to a stale postal or e-mail address) and thus had no timely opportunity to contest the alleged debt, your client has been denied due process, which should enable you to get collection suspended and have an opportunity to effectively contest the debt and/or seek waiver.

5.9 Disaster Unemployment Assistance

5.9 Disaster Unemployment Assistance aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:52

In times of disaster, the federal government fully funds disaster unemployment assistance (DUA).1  These programs may contain exceptions to the general rules applicable to UC. DUA is potentially available to unemployed workers and the self-employed who lived, worked, or were scheduled to work in a disaster area and who are not qualified to receive regular UC. However, DUA still excludes those trying to enter the job market but unable to find a job because of the disaster. As we saw with the COVID-19 pandemic, the government may enact new unemployment assistance programs to provide additional temporary relief; these programs may have different eligibility rules from regular UC or DUA programs.2

6 External Barriers to Employment

6 External Barriers to Employment aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:54

6.1 Criminal Records

6.1 Criminal Records aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:54

6.1.1 The Problem

6.1.1 The Problem aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 13:07

Many people are unable to get jobs and occupational licenses due to pervasive discrimination against those with arrest or conviction records. It is often not illegal for employers to ask about or consider someone’s criminal record, even if it’s old or unrelated to the job.1  It is not illegal to fire even a good employee for lying on an application and failing to disclose a record. Some employers are affirmatively required by law to deny jobs or licenses to people with certain criminal records. Given the state’s punishment practices, huge numbers of able-bodied formerly incarcerated annually join the ranks of the unemployed. These systemic practices have a disproportionate impact on people of color. You may be able to help.

  • 1See La. R.S. 23:291.

6.1.2 Potential Legal Challenges

6.1.2 Potential Legal Challenges aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 13:09

Laws on some occupations may explicitly exclude those with certain records, or agencies might unfairly use a general “morality” or “suitability” provision. Depending on the facts of your client’s case, the law or its use against your client may be subject to challenge. La. R.S. 37:2950(A) provides some relief by stating that disqualifications from any licensed (and non-exempt) occupation cannot be based solely on prior criminal record, except for a felony conviction “directly” related to the job. La. R.S. 23:291.2 sets some limits in hiring decisions, mandating that, unless otherwise provided by law, a prospective employer should not consider criminal history that does not end in conviction and, for convictions, make an individual assessment of the relationship between the specific job duties and the criminal record. These might help you find some relief. Occupational restrictions may also be subject to challenge on statutory or constitutional grounds. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recognized that denial of employment solely on the basis of a criminal history has a disparate impact on African Americans and Latinos and may thus be actionable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

6.1.3 Correcting Inaccurate Records

6.1.3 Correcting Inaccurate Records aetrahan Wed, 09/28/2022 - 13:10

La. R.S. 15:588 gives a right to access and seek correction of state criminal history information retained by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information. Tools for helping clients with these problems may also be found in the Fair Credit Reporting Act1  and applicable state law. If the information provider is not a consumer reporting agency or governmental body, you may have to be creative in seeking relief in other ways, e.g., under tort provisions or anti-discrimination laws. Your assistance in correcting reports can help clients find or keep jobs.

  • 115 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq.

6.1.4 Expungement

6.1.4 Expungement aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 09:42

In Louisiana, expungement generally only removes public access to a criminal record, although the record may also be destroyed in some cases. After expungement, most private employers will no longer have access to the record from official sources. However, it usually stays available to law enforcement and criminal justice agencies, as well as to many state boards and agencies. Also, expungement does not automatically remove data available on the internet or maintained by private data collection companies, who must be individually approached to have a record removed. For these reasons, expungement is a limited remedy. Still, it can help some clients get or keep jobs.1

6.1.5 Criminal History on Applications

6.1.5 Criminal History on Applications aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 09:43

Clients with criminal records may ask you what to say on an application or may come to you with problems resulting from their answers. Louisiana currently has no general state law (although there may be local laws) preventing questions about expunged criminal records. Lying about a criminal record may lead to criminal prosecution (e.g., if made to a federal employer) or other adverse consequences, such as denial of unemployment compensation. La. R.S. 44:9(I) provides that a person whose arrest or conviction has been expunged under that law is generally not required to disclose the record or the fact that it has been expunged. However, whether a person may properly decline to disclose the record or the expungement is not always clear, and other laws may be held to take precedence.1

  • 1See, e.g., In re Gavin, 2008-OB-2082 (La. 5/15/09), 8 So. 3d 556 (attorney applicant’s failure to disclose arrests a factor in denying LA license); Twin B. Casinos v. State, 2000 CA 1681 (La. App. 1 Cir. 9/28/01), 809 So. 2d 995 (license denied due to applicant’s failure to answer honestly question about expunged arrest record).

6.2 Occupational Licenses

6.2 Occupational Licenses aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 09:47

The number of regulated professions is unusually high in Louisiana. Many low-income workers rely on occupational licenses or certifications for their preferred employment. They face denial, suspension, termination, or non-renewal for a variety of reasons. They may present initially on a completely different issue and may be unaware that loss of a license could be imminent or that a lawyer may be able to help them to retain it.

This is an area in which you can often offer concrete help. Licensees generally have established appeal, hearing, and judicial review rights under the relevant occupation’s statutory and regulatory provisions. Laws governing most licensing bodies are in Title 37 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes. In addition, the Louisiana Administrative Procedures Act applies to certain actions taken by certain administrative agencies.1

Look for procedural errors in addition to substantive ones; licensing bodies often commit procedural mistakes that may be lead to relief for your client.2  La. R.S. 37:21 provides general time limits on initiating disciplinary and concluding proceedings; special laws may also apply. The standard of judicial review after administrative proceedings are final may be narrower than in civil appeals, but adverse agency actions may still be set aside under La. R.S. 49:964(G). Clients may also be entitled to constitutional protections. Someone who already has a license—a vested property interest—cannot be deprived of it without due process.3  However, even a job applicant may have a claim based on equal protection or some other constitutional grounds.

  • 1La. R.S. 49:950, et seq.
  • 2See, e.g., Schackai v. La. Bd. of Massage Therapy, 99 CA 1957 c/w 99 CA 1958 (La. App. 1 Cir. 9/22/00), 767 So. 2d 955.
  • 3See, e.g., Paillot v. Wooton, 559 So. 2d 758 (La. 1990).

6.3 Driver’s Licenses

6.3 Driver’s Licenses aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:08

Driver’s license problems can interfere with employment. The state must comply with statutory, regulatory, and constitutional requirements when suspending or revoking a license. You may be able to help your client get the action stayed during appeal, reduced, or reversed; you may also be able to help a client suffering financial hardship get a restricted license.1  Special laws may apply depending on the reason for the license suspension.2

6.4 Credit Checks

6.4 Credit Checks aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:11

More and more employers run credit checks on potential employees and use adverse information when making hiring decisions. Generally, this is not illegal, provided employers give appropriate notice and opportunity to respond to incorrect information. A poor credit history, whether caused by identity theft or by clients themselves, can thus interfere with the ability to get and keep a job. Help clients resolve the credit problem if you can or refer them to other sources of help. As with the denial of a job due to a criminal record, if the credit history is not relevant to the job requirements, its use may raise a Title VII disparate impact claim, so you might want to refer your client to the EEOC.

7 “At-will” employment

7 “At-will” employment aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:13

7.1 Basic Principles

7.1 Basic Principles aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:13

You’ve helped connect your client to available survival resources and explored ways to remove possible barriers to employment. If the immediate complaint is the most common one, job termination, check for possible legal claims. In Louisiana, the vast majority of workers have virtually no effective job protection. Because of the doctrine of employment “at will,” arbitrary firing is usually completely un-actionable.1  If there is no specific contract and an employee is hired for an indefinite period, then the employment relationship is terminable at the will of either party.

Complaints about dismissals often focus on unfairness, lack of advance notice, or inaccurate information used as the basis for termination. These are not exceptions to the at-will doctrine. An employer may give a wrong reason or even none at all. Even an employer’s violation of its own policies or a statute may not give rise to an enforceable claim. It can be difficult for an unfairly treated person to accept the current limits of the law, but advising clients about the at-will doctrine may also help end a fruitless and draining search for legal redress or help them deal with future job situations.

Even if your client was an at-will employee, federal, state, or local laws may exist to provide a cause of action. Title 23 of Louisiana’s Revised Statutes, “Labor and Worker’s Compensation,” is where many (but by no means all) state laws may be found. If you lack the resources to pursue a claim, try to at least identify possible claims for your client, refer them to appropriate agencies and to other legal resources, and emphasize the need for timely follow-up. Other lawyers may also see claims you miss.

  • 1See La. C.C. art. 2747.

7.2 Anti-Discrimination Exceptions

7.2 Anti-Discrimination Exceptions aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:15

7.2.1 The EEOC and LCHR

7.2.1 The EEOC and LCHR aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:15

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.1  The EEOC enforces the principal federal statutes prohibiting employment discrimination, usually through investigation of administrative charges brought by individuals who believe they have been discriminated against. The EEOC investigates timely complaints and may help mediate or even sue for a complainant, but most often ends up issuing a “right to sue” letter authorizing the complainant to pursue an action in court, but only within a fairly short period of time.

The EEOC may order various forms of relief including hiring, reinstatement, promotion, back pay, reasonable accommodations, posting of notices, and fees and costs. If intentional discrimination is found, compensatory and punitive damages may be awarded under most EEOC-enforced laws. Claims not addressed in the charge generally may not be raised in subsequent litigation.

All laws enforced by the EEOC, except for the Equal Pay Act and retaliation claims, generally require the timely filing of an EEOC charge before a private lawsuit may be filed in court. Equitable tolling is allowed, but only in limited circumstances. A charge should be filed within 180 days of the alleged unlawful action (300 days if the charge is also covered by a state or, with all laws but the ADEA, local anti-discrimination law).2

After a charge is filed with the EEOC, if the charge is also covered by a state or local law, the EEOC “dual files” the charge with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.3  The EEOC decides how to prioritize the charge and may investigate. While it may dismiss a complaint for lack of merit on its face without conducting an investigation, the EEOC must accept any and all charges of discrimination. If the EEOC dismisses a charge for insufficiency of evidence or was unsuccessful in mediation or settlement, it will issue a “right to sue” letter, which gives the complainant 90 days in which to institute a civil action.

The Louisiana Commission on Human Rights (LCHR) is ostensibly empowered to investigate and enforce complaints about employment practices arising under state antidiscrimination laws. However, a plaintiff under Louisiana’s statutes is not required to file with the LCHR or the EEOC prior to filing a civil lawsuit in state court.4  LCHR’s practical function is merely to extend the EEOC filing deadline. The LCHR does not conduct independent investigations, and there are no field offices in the state. There is no real practical reason to file with the LCHR. If you do so for some reason, the process is essentially the same as with the EEOC, and the time limits for filing are the same. The LCHR will also “dual file” with EEOC any complaint that is also covered by federal law. Any party may seek judicial review of LCHR action in accordance with the Louisiana Administrative Procedure Act (i.e., within 30 days).5

If there is a local law that applies to your client’s case, other deadlines and procedures will apply.

The EEOC website offers extensive guidance on all the laws it enforces;6  this manual addresses most but not all of these laws.

  • 1See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; 29 C.F.R. § 1600 et seq.
  • 2To extend the period for filing a judicial action, the state must also have an agency that enforces the particular state antidiscrimination statute at issue. Louisiana has such an agency, the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.
  • 3See La. R.S. 51:2231, et seq.
  • 4Coutcher v. La. Lottery Corp., 97 0666 (La. App. 1 Cir. 11/7/97), 710 So. 2d 259.
  • 5See La. R.S. 49:964. Complaint forms are available on the LCHR’s website. See La. Comm’n on Hum. Rts.
  • 6See U.S. Equal Emp. Opportunity Comm’n.

7.2.2 Race, Color, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Religion, and National Origin

7.2.2 Race, Color, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Religion, and National Origin aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:24

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination because of a person’s race, color, sex (including sexual orientation), religion or national origin in many aspects of the employment relationship, including pre-hiring procedures, working conditions, performance reviews, post-employment references, harassment on the job, and retaliation. Whether an employer is covered depends on the type of employer and other factors.1  A claim may also be raised under sections 1981 and 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 18662  and the later addition, 42 U.S.C. § 1981a.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII to protect employees and job applicants from discrimination in any aspect of employment based on pregnancy, childbirth, or any related medical condition. In essence, this law prohibits taking adverse employment actions solely because of pregnancy or treating covered workers differently from others with temporary health issues.

Louisiana’s Employment Discrimination Law may also provide a cause of action to your client aggrieved by any of these types of discrimination.3  The law generally covers employment agencies, labor organizations, and public and private employers with 20 or more employees, but there are broad exemptions. There is no provision prohibiting retaliation, and plaintiffs found to have pursued “frivolous” claims may be held liable for damages, costs, and attorney fees. Administration exhaustion is not required, and the 1-year prescriptive period is subject to suspension for limited periods of investigation by the EEOC or LCHR.

In the case of “pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions,” the statute covers public and larger private employers and prohibits employment discrimination because of these conditions unless based on a “bona fide occupational qualification.” It also requires state employers to provide leave for up to four months.

7.2.3 Age

7.2.3 Age aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:26

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination by covered employers (generally, those employing 20 or more workers) against employees 40 and over in any aspect of employment and prohibits retaliation.1  Enforcement lies with the EEOC. If your client’s employer offered a severance package with a claim-waiver provision, it might have run afoul of this law’s waiting period and other requirements designed to help older workers avoid discrimination. Administrative filing is required at least 60 days before filing suit, but a plaintiff need not wait the EEOC’s usual “right to sue” notice to issue before filing suit. Upon issuance, however, the 90-day period to bring a suit begins to run. Louisiana’s Employment Discrimination Law may also provide a cause of action.

  • 129 U.S.C. § 621, et seq.

7.2.4 Disability

7.2.4 Disability aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:30

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination by covered employers (generally, those employing 15 or more) in any aspect of employment against qualified individuals on the basis of a qualified disability.1  A covered individual is one who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires. If a disability and need for accommodation is obvious, an employee need not expressly or formally request accommodation. The law defines in some instances what is or is not reasonable accommodation, but generally it is a highly specific and individualized fact inquiry, focusing on the particular circumstances of the employee and employer. Title I of the ADA is enforced by the EEOC. Private lawsuits are authorized, but administrative exhaustion is required.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 includes provisions similar to the ADA and covers most employers receiving federal assistance.2  Louisiana’s Employment Discrimination Law provides a cause of action that is very similar to that available under the ADA.3

7.2.5 Immigration-Related Discrimination

7.2.5 Immigration-Related Discrimination aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:32

In cases of national origin or race discrimination, certain provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (“IRCA”) may also apply. IRCA prohibits employers from hiring persons who are not legally entitled to work in the U.S. and requires that employers verify employees’ eligibility and identity. IRCA also prohibits covered employers from discriminating in recruiting or referring for a fee, hiring, or firing based on national origin and/or citizenship status against those who may legally work in the United States.1  Protection is given to U.S. citizens and to noncitizens with work authorization. Employer actions that may run afoul of this law include basing employment decisions on appearance, accent, name, or other characteristics suggestive of national origin rather than work-related criteria and treating workers differently in any aspect of the hiring or documentation process. IRCA complaints must be filed with the Department of Justice’s Office of Special Counsel (OSC) (unless brought before the EEOC within the scope of a Title VII charge) within 180 days of the unlawful action. OSC will investigate and decide whether to bring the complaint before a special administrative law judge. If OSC declines, the complainant may do so.

  • 18 U.S.C. § 1324b.

7.3 Other Exceptions

7.3 Other Exceptions aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:33

7.3.1 Labor Union Membership

7.3.1 Labor Union Membership aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:33

Both federal and state statutes prohibit discrimination against workers for belonging to or refusing to belong to a labor union.1  Activities that can be characterized as organizing are also protected.

  • 129 U.S.C. § 141, et seq.; La. R.S. 23:881, et seq.; La. R.S. 23:981, et seq. (“Right to Work” law).

7.3.2 Unionized Employees

7.3.2 Unionized Employees aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:34

Employees in unionized workplaces may have rights enforceable under the union’s collective bargaining agreement, which usually specifies that termination must be for cause and provides a process to challenge adverse employment decisions. Such agreements will usually require arbitration of unresolved grievances. Clients may find legal representation through the union or through the private bar. If your client’s complaints include actions by the union as well as the employer, advise them about the union’s duty of fair representation and perhaps refer the client to the National Labor Relations Board to make a complaint.1

7.3.3 Employees under Individual Contract

7.3.3 Employees under Individual Contract aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:35

In a limited-duration employment contract, the parties agree to be bound for a certain period of time during which neither party may end the relationship without cause and reasonable notice must be given prior to termination.1  These relationships may be found in public as well as private employment. While a contract may be oral or written, any ambiguity will be construed in favor of employment at-will. An unjustly discharged employee may seek recovery of all salaries due for the term’s remainder. An action for discharge has a 10-year prescriptive period.2

  • 1La. C.C. arts. 2746–2750.
  • 2La. C.C. art. 3499.

7.3.4 Violation of Public Policy

7.3.4 Violation of Public Policy aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:36

The public policy expressed in the “Abuse of Right” doctrine has been very occasionally argued in wrongful discharge cases. It has gained no traction in Louisiana, although conceivably in some highly egregious circumstances it might have a chance. Potential ways to argue this exception include: (1) the exercise of rights exclusively for the purpose of harming another or with the predominant motive to cause harm; (2) exercise of rights without serious or legitimate reasons; (3) the use of the right in violation of moral rules, good faith, or fundamental fairness; or (4) the exercise of the right for a purpose other than that for which it was granted.

7.4 Non-compete Agreements

7.4 Non-compete Agreements aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:36

Even at-will employees may sometimes be sued for violation of non-compete agreements.1  Employers are using these more and more to unjustly restrict their workers’ job flexibility. You may encounter a client being sued, or your client may need advice to avoid being sued in future. If your client was recently separated from a job, you might want to find out if they had a valid non-compete agreement. It may not comply with statutory requirements (e.g., specification of geographic scope or a valid time limit). Contracts executed under this law are disfavored as a matter of public policy and are strictly construed.

  • 1La. R.S. 23:921.

7.5 Large Employer Layoffs

7.5 Large Employer Layoffs aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:37

Under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, employers with 100 or more employees should (absent “unforeseeable business circumstances”) provide 60-day written advance notice of mass layoffs or plant closings to employees, the chief local elected official, and the appropriate state agency.1  Noncompliant employers may be sued for back pay for each day of the violation.

  • 129 U.S.C. § 2101, et seq.

8 Public Employment

8 Public Employment aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:38

8.1 Constitutional and Statutory Framework

8.1 Constitutional and Statutory Framework aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:38

8.1.1 General Principles

8.1.1 General Principles aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:38

Public employment is also usually (but not always) an exception to at-will employment. However, certain public employees enjoying some limited job protections. Generally these are employees covered by a federal, state, parish, or municipal civil service system (under which non-policy-forming employees are selected on the basis of merit and can be discharged only for reasons connected to work performance).1  Civil service systems are governed by a general constitutional and statutory framework2  and often have individual governing statutes, rules, or policies. Within such systems employers are generally reference to as Appointing Authorities.

Most civil service systems are governed by commissions or boards, quasi-legislative bodies “vested with broad and general rule-making and subpoena powers for the administration and regulation of the classified service.”3  A director provides the executive and administrative leadership.4  Most if not all systems enact their own rules, which must be published and made available to the public on request. These rules have the effect of law and prevail over contradictory statutory provisions unless the rules are unreasonable or unconstitutional. The interpretation and meaning of civil service rules is purely a question of law.

The unclassified service includes persons in a variety of positions, such as elected officials, registrars of voters, etc.5  Unclassified service members without employment contracts are functionally at-will employees and may usually be discharged without cause.

  • 1Bannister v. Dep’t of Streets, 95-0404 (La. 1/16/96), 666 So. 2d 641, 646.
  • 2La. Const. art. 10; La. R.S. tit. 33.
  • 3La. Const. art. 10, §§ 2, 3, 10; La. R.S. 33:2396–2397.
  • 4La. Const. art. 10, §§ 6–7; La. R.S. 33:2399–2400.
  • 5La. Const. art. 10, § 2(B); La. R.S. 33:2401, et seq.

8.1.2 Due Process

8.1.2 Due Process aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:40

A classified public employee possesses a constitutionally protected property interest, deprivation of which requires due process. The critical elements to procedural due process are notice and an effective opportunity to respond.1  Due process is a flexible standard; what protections are required depends upon the particular situation.2  To satisfy procedural due process, an employment discipline process must start with a written pre-deprivation notice of intended discipline that contains enough information to inform the employee why discipline is intended. Pre-deprivation notice may not be required in emergency situations such as financial exigency, safety concerns, or health hazards. Notice must typically be followed by a basic opportunity to respond to the charges; this opportunity is usually face-to-face, but a response in writing might be permissible depending on the situation. Final notice must give enough information for an employee to prepare a defense in any post-deprivation hearing and include applicable appeal rights. An employee who exercise the right of appeal is afforded a post-deprivation opportunity for a real hearing where witnesses may be called or cross-examined, evidence subpoenaed, etc.

You can often get your client reinstated (even if only temporarily) with back pay restored by finding mistakes that the appointing authority made in the disciplinary process. Don’t assume that the correct procedure was followed. Most civil service systems will allow for summary disposition motions or other pre-adjudication procedures by which to raise procedural defects.

  • 1Cleveland Bd. of Educ. v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532 (1985); Moore v. Ware, 01-3341 (La. 2/25/03); 839 So. 2d 940.
  • 2Gilbert v. Homar, 520 U.S. 924, 930 (1997); Moore, 01-3341, 839 So. 2d 940.

8.2 Key Questions in Civil Service Cases

8.2 Key Questions in Civil Service Cases aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:42

What is the employee’s status? Classified or unclassified? Permanent, temporary, probationary, or other? Don’t assume that either the employer’s or your client’s characterization is correct. Reference to personnel or civil service department records may be needed to resolve the issue. Depending on the system’s rules, even a probationary employee may have a right to appeal in situations of discrimination or retaliation.

How severe is the employee’s loss? Job loss, either through termination or “non-disciplinary” removal, is a severe economic blow, as are long-term suspensions. If you don’t take a case because the loss isn’t severe enough to justify use of limited resources, clients can be advised on how to exercise their rights pro se or be referred elsewhere.

Was the discipline imposed by the appropriate person? If the person who took the action lacked authority, the action is null. If a disciplinary letter is not signed by the agency’s head official, the issue should be raised before hearing, and the employer, the Appointing Authority (“AA”) must present sufficient documentary evidence of appropriate authority (direct or delegated).

Has the AA illegally punished twice for the same conduct? Determine prior disciplinary history and the sequence of events leading to the current charge; check central and departmental personnel files if possible. Suspension pending investigation, followed by termination based upon the same charge, is valid. Punishment twice for the same offense is not valid (even if a civil service rule purports to allow it).1  If discipline is voided due to procedural defects, the same conduct may still be used to support subsequent discipline. In the meantime, the employee must be reinstated and reimbursed for lost wages and emoluments. Raise the issue before hearing if possible.

Are the charges impermissibly stale? The AA is not estopped from discipline on a current act of misconduct just because it has failed to discipline for similar infractions in the past, nor is it required to put an employee on notice that a practice of toleration will be changed. However, the AA should be estopped from using stale charges when the delay is not imputable to the client.2  The AA may also use old misconduct to justify the severity of punishment on a current offense.

Has your client timely and appropriately appealed? Check applicable law for the system to ensure timeliness and that all possible claims are included. For instance, most systems require that allegations of discrimination be specifically pleaded in detail. Make a timely amendment if needed.

Were there constitutional, statutory, or rule violations? Raise any procedural violations before hearing, if possible. If the AA failed to follow applicable procedures, the action should be voided.3  You can recover needed income for your client, even though the AA may start the disciplinary process over.

Can the AA meet its burden of proof? A permanent classified civil service employee may only be disciplined for cause expressed in writing.4  The AA bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of evidence, that the conduct complained of “impairs the efficiency of the public service and bears a real and substantial relation to efficient operation of the public service in which the employee is engaged.”5  There is no presumption of correctness attached to an AA’s action. Furthermore, not every rule violation is sufficient to support disciplinary action. Research case law to find factual situations similar to your client’s. Three common issues are spotlighted below.

  • Drug or alcohol use. Don’t assume the validity of a test request, which may have violated applicable system rules or been constitutionally flawed.6  Refusal to take a test may be justified.7  There may also be another defense or an argument for mitigation.8  Look for flaws in the testing procedure as well. Finally, if a test result is the only basis for discipline, the AA must prove “with great care” the chain of custody and that proper procedures were followed.9  Question your client closely and review documents carefully to see if errors in obtaining or handling a sample may have taken place. The AA may fail to meet its burden of proof.10
  • Criminal conduct. Conduct that violates a criminal statute may constitute cause for dismissal or other discipline.11  The burden of proof is less than in criminal proceedings; although the facts must be clearly established, they need not be established beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Non-disciplinary removals. This can be a subterfuge by an AA seeking to avoid the closer scrutiny given to disciplinary removals. Look carefully at relevant rules. Non-civil service laws may also give your client additional rights.12

Is the punishment appropriate or should it be modified? A civil service commission or board must not only determine whether the AA had legal cause for the action, but also whether the punishment imposed is commensurate with the offense.13  Discipline should be modified if it was arbitrary, capricious, or characterized by an abuse of discretion. Factors to be considered include the nature of the offense, the employee’s work record (e.g., annual performance evaluations), and any prior discipline. Because of its extreme nature, termination is often reduced to a lesser punishment on appeal. For that reason, an appeal should almost always request a reduction in discipline as alternative relief, and you should be sure that relevant evidentiary support gets into the record. Search court decisions and civil service opinions for cases involving conduct similar to your client’s and bring them to the adjudicator’s attention.

Can a non-permanent employee prove a discriminatory or retaliatory reason for the discipline? Your client has the burden of proof in this situation, and it is not often easy to meet. In the case of employees who are temporary, provisional, or probationary, the AA must give the real reason for dismissal or other discipline and that action must be nondiscriminatory and not made in retaliation for exercising a legal right.14  Not all types of discrimination can be raised in the civil service context. The Louisiana Constitution lists the exclusive categories of discrimination listed that may be raised in civil service appeals.15  Employees may pursue other claims in an appropriate judicial forum.16  If you are only taking a civil service appeal but other claims may exist, confirm the limited scope of your representation in writing.

  • 1Bruno v. Jeff. Par. Libr. Dep’t, 04-504 (La. App. 5 Cir. 11/30/04), 890 So. 2d 604; Lundy v. Univ. of New Orleans, 98-0054 (La. App. 1 Cir. 2/19/99), 728 So. 2d 927.
  • 2See, e.g., Bd. of Trs., State Emp. Grp. Benefits Program v. Moncrieff, 93 CA 1393 (La. App. 1 Cir. 1994); 644 So. 2d 679; Lombas v. Dep’t of Police, 467 So. 2d 1273 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1985).
  • 3See, e.g., Perkins v. Sewerage & Water Bd., 95-1031 (La. App. 1 Cir. 2/29/96), 669 So. 2d 726; Shortess v. Dep’t of Pub. Safety & Corr., 2006-2013 (La. App. 1 Cir. 9/14/07), 971 So. 2d 1051 (“non-disciplinary” removal).
  • 4La. Const. art. 10, § 8(A).
  • 5Mathieu v. New Orleans Pub. Libr., 2009-2746 (La. 10/19/10); 50 So. 3d 1259; Shields v. City of Shreveport, 579 So. 2d 961, 964 (La. 1991); Walters v. Dep’t of Police of the City of New Orleans, 454 So. 2d 106, 113 (La. 1984); Leggett v. Nw. State Coll., 140 So. 2d 5 (La. 1962).
  • 6See, e.g., Richard v. Lafayette Fire & Police Civ. Serv. Bd., 2008-1044 (La. 2/6/09), 8 So. 3d 509; Lemoine v. D.O.P.W., 2002-2532 (La. App. 1 Cir. 9/26/03), 857 So. 2d 550.
  • 7See, e.g., Safford v. Dep’t of Fire, 627 So. 2d 708 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1993); cf. Razor v. New Orleans Dep’t of Police, 2004-2002 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2/15/06), 926 So. 2d 1; George v. Dep’t of Fire, 93-2421 (La. App. 4 Cir. 5/17/94), 637 So. 2d 1097 (plaintiffs lost constitutional arguments).
  • 8See, e.g., Small v. Dep’t of Police, 98-0292 (La. App. 4 Cir. 10/21/98), 720 So. 2d 751 (termination reduced to suspension for officer given wrong pain medication by daughter).
  • 9See, e.g., Krupp v. Dep’t of Fire, 2007-1260 (La. App. 4 Cir. 11/19/08), 995 So. 2d 686; Ruddock v. Jeff. Par. Fire Civ. Serv. Bd., 96-831 (La. App. 5 Cir. 1/28/97), 688 So. 2d 112.
  • 10See, e.g., Carroll v. New Orleans Police Dep’t, 04-0122 (La. App. 4 Cir. 9/29/04), 885 So. 2d 636; Blappert v. Dep’t of Police, 94-1284 (La. App. 4 Cir. 12/15/94), 647 So. 2d 1339 (failure to rebut employee testimony that sample mislabeled); cf. Murray v. Dep’t of Police, 97-2650 (La. App. 4 Cir. 5/27/98), 713 So. 2d 838.
  • 11See, e.g., Roy v. Alexandria Civ. Serv. Comm’n, 2007-1458 (La. App. 3 Cir. 4/2/08), 980 So. 2d 225 (appeals court affirmed Commission ruling that battery off-duty not cause to terminate); AFSCME v. State, 01-0422 (La. 6/29/01), 789 So. 2d 1263 (statute mandating felony conviction as cause for termination from service only constitutional vis-a-vis unclassified state employees); Caldwell v. Caddo Levee Dist., 554 So. 2d 1245 (La. App. 1 Cir. 1989) (unjust to dismiss when exonerated of criminal charges).
  • 12See, e.g., Shortess v. Dep’t of Pub. Safety & Corr., 2006-2013 (La. App. 1 Cir. 9/14/07), 971 So. 2d 1051 (non-disciplinary removal under state system subject to the ADA).
  • 13Mathieu v. New Orleans Pub. Libr., 2009-2746 (La. 10/19/10), 50 So. 3d 1259; Walters v. Dep’t of Police, 454 So. 2d 106 (La. 1984).
  • 14La. Const. art. 10, § 8(B); see, e.g., Ray v. City of Bossier City, 37,708 (La. App. 2 Cir. 10/24/03), 859 So. 2d 264 (summary judgment in favor of employer reversed as to employees allegedly fired for exercising First Amendment right to free expression); Preen v. Dep’t of Welfare, 93-1278 (La. App. 4 Cir. 4/28/94), 636 So. 2d 1127 (successful claim of racial discrimination); Dep’t of Pub. Safety & Corr. v. Thornton, 625 So. 2d 713 (La. App. 1 Cir. 1993) (violation of civil service rule found in termination of probationary employee without obtaining input about work performance from immediate supervisor).
  • 15See, e.g., Tennessee v. Dep’t of Police, 2009-1461 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2/24/10), 33 So. 3d 354.
  • 16See La. Dep’t of Agric. & Forestry v. Sumrall, 98-1587 (La. 3/2/99), 728 So. 2d 1254 (finding invalid state civil service rules allowing appeals on additional bases of discrimination); McCain v. City of Lafayette, 98-1902 (La. App. 3 Cir. 5/5/99), 741 So. 2d 720 (district court held to have jurisdiction over age-discrimination plaintiff’s state law claims for general damages and loss of reputation).

8.3 Administrative Appeal

8.3 Administrative Appeal aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:58

Classified employees have the right to appeal disciplinary action to the appropriate commission. The civil service department may have an appeal form or a letter may suffice; check the rules. Disciplinary action must generally be appealed within the time limits and in the manner specified by the applicable statute or rule.1  If the AA is at fault for your client missing the deadline, proof of a rule violation or equitable argument such as contra non valentem may be held to suspend the running of the appeal period.

What to include in an administrative appeal? Review the system’s rules. In some cases a simple statement that the client wants to appeal a particular adverse action could be enough. But clients seeking a reduction in penalty in the alternative should explicitly request it, and clients alleging discrimination or retaliation must usually plead it specifically enough that the AA can prepare a defense.2  Attorney fees can also be requested. Remember that certain claims can’t be raised within a civil service employee appeal. If your client filed an appeal before reaching you, review its adequacy as soon as possible and amend if necessary (and it is still possible to do so).

State and city civil service commissions are constitutionally authorized to appoint referees or hearing examiners to conduct hearings on appeals. Depending on the system, these officers may have the power to make decisions (which may then be appealed to the full commission) or merely the power to make reports and recommendations to the commission (which makes the actual decision). Learn the rules applicable to the system with which you are dealing, as the options available and time limits for exercising them will vary. Whether you’ll want to present your own witnesses or documentary evidence will depend on the facts of your case and who carries the burden of proof. While hearsay and other incompetent evidence may be admissible at hearing, make objections as appropriate. If you fail to make an evidentiary objection at hearing, a court may find it waived.

On reversal or modification of AA action, an employee should be reinstated to the former position; receive back pay, benefits, and emoluments; and have attorney fees awarded if requested. Consult current law to determine which benefits and emoluments can be recovered, but these should include merit-step increases, supplements or bonuses, leave time that would have accrued, pay for overtime that would have reasonably been required, and private health insurance. It is usually acceptable for system rules to set off wages (earned during what would have been your client’s work hours), but check the current law.

  • 1La. R.S. 33:2424.
  • 2La. R.S. 33:2424 et seq. and applicable system rules; Griffen v. Dep’t of Health & Hum. Res., 599 So. 2d 294 (La. 1992).

8.4 Judicial Review

8.4 Judicial Review aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 13:15

Judicial review of any final commission decision may be sought within 30 calendar days.1  Which court has jurisdiction depends on the commission involved. Indigents may prosecute civil service appeals in forma pauperis.2  Absent suspensive appeal by the AA, a commission action reversing disciplinary action must be promptly executed.

  • 1La. Const. art. 10, § 12; La. C.C.P. art. 5059.
  • 2For more information about in forma pauperis procedures in Louisiana, see the chapter on In Forma Pauperis Filings.

9 Employee Benefits

9 Employee Benefits aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:10

10.1 Unpaid Wage Claims

10.1 Unpaid Wage Claims aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:15

10.1.1 General Principles

10.1.1 General Principles aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:17

It’s not uncommon for employers to stiff a terminated employee or at least delay the final paycheck as long as possible. Your help in getting that money for your client could be invaluable and may not take you much time at all.

Most employees separated from a job in Louisiana have a right to prompt payment of “the amount then due under the terms of the employment.”1  Not all workers are covered. Because the statute excludes independent contractors, remember the possibility of misclassification. The law applies to public as well as private employers, but it does not apply to those covered by collective bargaining agreements that provide otherwise. The statute requires that the pay period have been by the “hour, day, week or month” and does not cover pay arrangements lacking such a term. Not all payments are covered; one critical exception is that employer policies may exclude vacation pay. The reason for separation and the workers’ immigration status are immaterial. Payment is due within 15 days or on the next regular payday, whichever comes first

  • 1La. R.S. 23:631 et seq.

9.1 General Principles

9.1 General Principles aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:10

If your client has complaints relating to employment health, retirement, or other job-connected benefits, they may have claims under one of the federal laws primarily enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration1  in addition to possible claims under state or local law or contract. Usually, a client with this type of complaint may be referred to the Department of Labor, which may investigate, bring a civil action to correct violations, and impose criminal penalties on willful violators. Your client may also have the ability to sue for injunctive relief, payment of benefits due, other equitable relief, and attorney’s fees and costs.

These laws include the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA),2  which sets minimum standards in an attempt to ensure that employee benefit plans (e.g., pensions, health care, disability, prepaid legal services, scholarship funds, daycare centers, training benefits) are fairly administered and remain financially sound. The law applies to plans provided by most private employers other than religious entities. ERISA preempts most, but not all, state and local laws relating to employee benefit plans.3

9.2 Health Insurance

9.2 Health Insurance aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:13

Many employers fail to give separated employees notice of their health insurance coverage rights. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA) amended ERISA to provide covered employees and other beneficiaries of employment-related group health care plans provided through employers with 20 or more employees with an opportunity to elect to continue coverage at group plan rates in the event of certain “qualifying events” such as job loss or reduction in hours.1  Qualified beneficiaries are entitled to exercise their rights under the statute even if they are covered under another healthcare plan. The employer is obligated to notify the plan administrator, who must then notify the employee or other beneficiary of the right to elect continuation of coverage. The employee or other beneficiary must make the election within 60 days of the qualifying event. Coverage may be continued for up to 18 months, although the statute allows for longer coverage in certain circumstances. Unfortunately, because COBRA does not require employers to continue to make whatever contribution they were making to an employee’s premiums during the period of employment, many employees can’t afford to pay for continuation of group health coverage.

Subsequent amendments have improved portability and continuity of health insurance. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)2  requires insurers to cover workers who change jobs if their last employer provided insurance. The law also prohibits discrimination in coverage based on certain health status-related factors such as medical history and claims experience. Insurers of departing plan participants must also provide written certificates of coverage. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (colloquially known as “Obamacare”) added additional protections for continuation of coverage and for those with pre-existing conditions.

La. R.S. 22:1045 provides for continuing insurance for older surviving spouses after a worker spouse’s death. The surviving spouse must notify the insurer of the spouse’s exercise of the option within 90 days of the death and meet other statutory requirements.

  • 129 U.S.C. § 1161, et seq.
  • 2 29 U.S.C. § 1181, et seq.

10 Wage Issues

10 Wage Issues aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:19

10.1 Unpaid Wage Claims

10.1 Unpaid Wage Claims aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:20

10.1.1 General Principles

10.1.1 General Principles aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:23

It’s not uncommon for employers to stiff a terminated employee or at least delay the final paycheck as long as possible. Your help in getting that money for your client could be invaluable and may not take you much time at all.

Most employees separated from a job in Louisiana have a right to prompt payment of “the amount then due under the terms of the employment.”1  Not all workers are covered. Because the statute excludes independent contractors, remember the possibility of misclassification. The law applies to public as well as private employers, but it does not apply to those covered by collective bargaining agreements that provide otherwise. The statute requires that the pay period have been by the “hour, day, week or month” and does not cover pay arrangements lacking such a term. Not all payments are covered; one critical exception is that employer policies may exclude vacation pay. The reason for separation and the workers’ immigration status are immaterial. Payment is due within 15 days or on the next regular payday, whichever comes first.

  • 1La. R.S. 23:631, et seq.

10.1.2 Informal Demands

10.1.2 Informal Demands aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:30

You might be able to get your client paid quickly by contacting the employer. Your client may have a manager’s phone number, or you might find a phone number on the internet. Even if the employer refuses to pay, a conversation may provide valuable information for your next step. If calling doesn’t work, put your demand in writing. While in rare circumstances a court might find an oral demand sufficient, it is best to have proof of your demand in writing whenever possible. Most employers will refuse to sign any receipt for your demand, so use whatever other means you have to prove delivery; text, e-mail, or fax is best for purposes of immediacy and proof of delivery. Sufficient demand is necessary to invoke the enforcement and penalty provisions of the statute. If you get no or unsatisfactory response, the final step is to sue in court.

10.1.3 Lawsuits

10.1.3 Lawsuits aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:30

A suit must be filed within 3 years.1  Venue is appropriate in any of the locations authorized by the Code of Civil Procedure and also in the parish where the work was performed.2  If wages were paid but not paid timely, a suit seeking only penalties and attorney fees still states a cause of action. The employer must pay the employee’s reasonable attorney fees if the suit is “well-founded,” which means that a judgment awarding past due wages has been entered in favor of the employee.

The law allows penalties of 90 days’ wages or full wages from demand until payment, whichever is less, to be assessed against an employer who fails or refuses on demand to pay all undisputed amounts.

  • 1La. C.C. art. 3494.
  • 2La. R.S. 23:639.

10.1.4 Defenses

10.1.4 Defenses aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:32

Good faith defenses by an employer will preclude imposition of penalties. The statute is strictly construed, being penal in nature, and its provisions may yield to equitable defenses.1  An employer who shows an equitable defense may avoid penalties, but not attorney fees, if wages are actually due.

Defenses to payment have included:

◦           Prior overpayments that could be offset against wages due

◦           Property loss or damage2

◦           Pre-employment medical exam or drug test costs for an employee who resigns within 90 days of hiring3

Defenses to penalties have included:

◦           Inability to locate an employee

◦           Good faith error (e.g., a true clerical error)

◦           Bona fide dispute about the amount due

◦           Perceived or actual need to offset amounts due from employee

◦           Employment did not end in resignation or termination

Rejected defenses have included:

◦           Poor bookkeeping practices or other negligence

◦           Employee’s abrupt resignation

◦           Employee’s refusal to pick up the check when the employee requested that it be mailed

◦           Employee’s failure to complete tax forms or to sign receipt acknowledging payment

◦           Reliance on unlawful company policy

◦           Reliance on legal advice

◦           Reliance on an illegal post-termination contract to avoid statutory obligations

  • 1Boudreaux v. Hamilton Med. Grp., Inc., 94-0879 (La. 10/17/93), 644 So. 2d 619.
  • 2While La. R.S. 23:635 prohibits an employer from deducting “fines” from wages (e.g., for violating a work rule), this statute does not prevent an employer from withholding wages for willful or negligent damage of employer property.
  • 3La. R.S. 23:634(B).

10.2 Wage-and-Hour Claims

10.2 Wage-and-Hour Claims aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:33

10.2.1 The Fair Labor Standards Act

10.2.1 The Fair Labor Standards Act aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:34

Your client may complain being underpaid by either a current or former employer. The primary1  federal wage and hour law is the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA).2  It sets forth federal requirements for a minimum wage, overtime payments, and record-keeping.3  An employee’s immigration status is irrelevant. FLSA has its own test for determining employee vs. independent contractor status. As a remedial statute, FLSA must be liberally construed. Its provisions cannot be waived.

However, FLSA does not cover all employers and employees. In general, covered employers must have annual sales of at least $500,000 or be engaged in interstate commerce. The law covers private employers as well as federal, state, and local governments. Many workers are explicitly excluded from the statute’s protection regarding either minimum wage, overtime, or both. Statutory exemptions are narrowly construed, and the employer bears the burden of proving that an employee falls within the scope of an exemption.

FLSA covers only time on the job working. Time on call or on standby is covered only if employees cannot use that time as they wish (e.g., they are geographically or otherwise limited). If travel or transportation is necessary to the employment and for the benefit of the employer, the employee must be compensated for that time. Mandatory training of nonexempt employees must also be compensated.

Your client may have a complaint about retaliation for raising a pay violation. It is illegal to discharge or “in any manner discriminate” against an employee because the employee has filed a complaint or instituted any proceeding under FLSA. This anti-retaliation provision protects both written and oral complaints.

FLSA is enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The New Orleans DOL office has jurisdiction over FLSA complaints in Louisiana. DOL may pursue criminal charges for willful violations or a civil lawsuit for back pay, penalties, and injunctive relief on an employee’s behalf. However, DOL backlogs may make a private lawsuit preferable; such a suit may recover lost wages, penalties, attorney’s fees, and costs. There is no exhaustion of administrative remedies requirement. Suit under FLSA must be brought within 2 years of the accrual of a cause of action (3 years in the event of a “willful” violation).

  • 1There are other federal wage payment laws enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor, including the Davis-Bacon and related Acts, which regulate wage payment and fringe benefits on federally financed or assisted construction. A full list and detailed information about all federal wage and hour laws can be found on the website of the Department of Labor.
  • 229 U.S.C. § 201, et seq.
  • 3FLSA also restricts child labor.

10.2.2 Minimum Wage Claims

10.2.2 Minimum Wage Claims aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:38

The federal minimum wage, for covered employees, is still absurdly low. Even lower wage rates are allowed for certain types of workers such as tipped employees, employees under 20 years of age for the first 90 days on the job, student learners, full-time students, and handicapped workers (under certificates issued by the Department of Labor). Nevertheless, your client may have a contract setting a special rate of pay or be in a particular occupation covered by more generous pay laws.

FLSA requires payment in cash or cash equivalent (e.g., food and lodging). The regular rate of pay includes base pay plus premiums, cost of living allowances, bonuses, and fair value of anything the employer provides as part of the pay, so long as the employee voluntarily receives the benefit, it is primarily for the employee’s benefit, and it is not illegal. The rate of pay does not include benefit plan contributions, paid vacations, discretionary bonuses, and so on. Generally, uniforms and essential tools may not be deducted from an employee’s minimum wage.

FLSA does not restrict states or municipalities from establishing a higher minimum wage, but Louisiana has not joined other states that have enacted a higher minimum wage. In fact, in 1997 the Louisiana legislature, responding to attempts in New Orleans to place a referendum for a higher minimum wage on the local ballot, passed La. R.S. 23:642, which prevents local governments from establishing a higher minimum wage.

10.2.3 Overtime Claims

10.2.3 Overtime Claims aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:38

FLSA does not restrict the number of hours an employee may work, unless a worker is under 16. However, it does require that overtime (1 ½ times the regular rate of pay, colloquially referred to as “time and a half”) be paid any covered employee for any hour worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.1  As with the minimum wage, some employees are exempt (e.g., taxi drivers, live-in domestic help, truck drivers). Some employees who work irregular work schedules (e.g., many healthcare workers) may be entitled to overtime even if they work less than 40 hours in a week. Employers do make mistakes on exemptions or by their actions may have forfeited exempt status. For overtime purposes, tips are not counted as part of the regular rate of pay.

There is no generally applicable state law on overtime. However, your client may be covered by a contract or special law.2  Employer policies or customs may also confer enforceable rights.

  • 129 U.S.C. § 207.
  • 2See, e.g., La. R.S. 33:1999 (firefighters).

10.2.4 Compensatory Time

10.2.4 Compensatory Time aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:39

Comp time in lieu of payment is usually not legal.1 Only state or government agencies may give time off in place of wages and only under certain conditions.2

  • 1 29 U.S.C. § 207(o).
  • 2See, e.g., La. R.S. 33:2213.1 (police officers); Knecht v. Bd. of Trs., 591 So. 2d 690 (La. 1991); Jones v. City Par. of E. Baton Rouge, 526 So. 2d 462 (La. App. 1 Cir. 1988); see also Klein v. Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Med. Ctr., 990 F.2d 279 (7th Cir. 1993).

10.3 Gender Inequality in Pay

10.3 Gender Inequality in Pay aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:42

The 1963 passage of the Equal Pay Act (EPA)1  did not remove Louisiana from its usual place near the bottom of the states in terms of gender pay equality. There is no administrative exhaustion requirement to filing a private lawsuit, but it must be initiated within 2 years (3 for a willful violation). Available relief includes backpay, injunctions, liquidated damages, attorney’s fees, and costs. The EEOC can enforce this law, and an unequal pay claim might also be pursued under other federal laws such as Title VII.

The EPA requires that men and women doing “equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, be compensated with equal pay and benefits.” It covers most of the same employers as FLSA, and more employees, but the law is strictly applied.

To establish a prima facie case under the Equal Pay Act, an employee must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the employees being compared are working in the same place, doing equal work, and receiving less pay than employees of the opposite sex. Equal work is work that entails “substantially” equal level of skill, effort, or responsibility and is performed under similar conditions; job titles or descriptions do not control. To prevail, a plaintiff would need to show that any non-discriminatory reason advanced by the employer for the difference in pay is pretextual.

  • 129 U.S.C. § 206(d).

10.4 Family or Medical Leave

10.4 Family or Medical Leave aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:43

10.4.1 General Principles

10.4.1 General Principles aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:43

If severe and long-lasting enough, your client’s health issues might eventually be found disabling by the Social Security Administration. However, many health issues are temporary, and many employers have little tolerance for if a worker’s illness might impact their business. A client might need help to preserve or regain a job, and an employer might respond to your reaching out to explain some illegality. You might need to help your client pursue other remedies or refer them elsewhere. There is no generally applicable state law providing the average at-will employee with paid sick or personal leave. However, even a client with no rights under contract may be in a particular occupation with special statutory rights.1  Employer policies and customs may also provide an employee with enforceable rights. Finally, employees seeking leave because of their own health problems may be able to secure additional leave as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or other legislation.

  • 1See, e.g., La. R.S. 17:46, et seq.; La. R.S. 17:411, et seq. (certain teachers).

10.4.2 Family and Medical Leave Act

10.4.2 Family and Medical Leave Act aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:44

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”) provides covered employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a year’s time for: the birth, adoption, or foster placement of child (within 1 year of child’s arrival); health needs of an employee or immediate family member; or a qualified exigency related to the employee or family member’s duty in the Armed Forces.1  During FMLA leave, an employer must maintain pre-existing employment benefits for the employee. Of course, an employer may provide greater benefits either voluntarily or through contract. Retaliation for exercising (or interference with) FMLA rights is prohibited.

The FMLA covers most employers, but private sector employers must employ at least 50 employees in a 75-mile radius in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year and be engaged in commerce or any activity affecting commerce. Employees must have been employed at the same workplace for 12 months or more and have worked at least 1250 hours (about 24 hours/week) during the year before taking leave. Employers may exempt certain otherwise eligible employees or set conditions on leave for others.

  • 129 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq.

10.4.3 Qualifying Health Conditions

10.4.3 Qualifying Health Conditions aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:45

FMLA leave is limited to “serious” health conditions. This means an illness, injury, impairment, or condition that involves inpatient care or continuing treatment by a recognized health care provider. An employee need not be physically unable to work. An employer may require certification by a health professional, second or even third opinions at the employer’s expense, and re-certifications on a reasonable basis. Leave may be intermittent when medically necessary and not unduly harmful to the employer’s business. Employers may require, or employees may elect, to use up paid leave first.

10.4.4 Required Notice

10.4.4 Required Notice aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:45

An eligible employee seeking to use FMLA leave must provide 30-day advance notice, unless the need for leave was not foreseeable and/or notice was not practicable. While notice need not be in writing, it is well-advised. When requesting leave, FMLA need not be mentioned by name; notice will be sufficient under the act if the employee provides the employer with enough information to put the employer on notice that FMLA-qualifying leave is needed. An employer may place an employee on involuntary FMLA leave if the employee has given notice to the employer of a qualifying reason for absence that would trigger FMLA rights.

10.4.5 Right to Return

10.4.5 Right to Return aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:46

An employee generally—but not always—has the right to return to the same or equivalent position (i.e., terms, conditions, pay, and privileges must be the same). An employee may be fired during FMLA leave if the employer has reasons unrelated to the taking of leave. During the leave, an employer must make the same insurance benefit contributions. However, seniority and pension benefits need not accrue during leave. If an employee does not return to work at the end of approved leave, the employer may recoup health insurance premiums.

10.4.6 Remedies

10.4.6 Remedies aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:46

The U.S. Department of Labor enforces the law. Most federal employees must seek enforcement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. DOL will investigate and may bring suit on its own. A private suit under the act may be brought within 2 years of a violation (3 years if the violation was willful).

10.5 Workers’ Compensation

10.5 Workers’ Compensation aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:46

A client complaining of a work injury may have a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Louisiana’s Workers’ Compensation Law is the general statutory scheme for compensating employees who have suffered a work-related injury, regardless of citizenship status.1  The Louisiana Workforce Commission has some useful information.2  Certain occupations or classes of employees may be covered by special laws.

If your client complains of being fired or not hired after a work injury, there may be a retaliation or discrimination claim. An employer is not precluded from hiring or firing an employee who has made a claim, only from acting “because of” that claim. A discharge is not retaliatory or unlawful if it is based on the employee’s inability to perform the same employment duties because of the injury. An aggrieved plaintiff may sue for penalties up to 1 year’s earnings, reasonable attorney fees, and court costs. The claim is subject to a 1-year prescriptive period.

10.6 Other Louisiana Laws

10.6 Other Louisiana Laws aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:47

Jury duty. Employers cannot discharge employees for taking time off for jury service and must provide at least one day of paid leave (although employer policies or custom may provide more).1  Some occupations may have special statutes relating to jury-duty leave.

Voting. There is no general Louisiana law requiring employers to provide paid leave for voting during work hours. Employer policies or civil service rules may allow it.

Military, Public Service, and Other Protected Groups. Certain employees may have leave and right to return rights under laws relating to their occupation or the reason for needed leave.2

Rest, Meal, and Smoking Breaks. There is no general law requiring employers to set time aside, paid or unpaid, for rest breaks or meals. Employers can restrict workplace smoking, but cannot discriminate against employees because of their status as smokers or nonsmokers.3

Miscellaneous Provisions. Check for particular laws that may apply to your client’s circumstances. The following are only a sample:

◦           Prohibition against employers lending or advancing money to employees at an interest rate greater than 8%4

◦           Garnishments5

◦           Payment of at least 4% interest on employees’ cash performance deposits6

◦           Prohibition on employee payments for fingerprinting, medical exams, drug tests, or furnishing of any records available to or required by the employer7

  • 1La. R.S. 23:965.
  • 2See, e.g., La. R.S. 17:49; La. R.S. 29:38, 410; La. R.S. 42:391, et seq.; see also 38 U.S.C. § 4301, et seq.
  • 3La. R.S. 17:240; La. R.S. 23:966.
  • 4La. R.S. 23:691.
  • 5La. R.S. 23:731.
  • 6La. R.S. 23:891.
  • 7La. R.S. 23:897.

11 Work Conditions

11 Work Conditions aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:51

11.1 Health and Safety

11.1 Health and Safety aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:52

Your client may tell you about unsafe or unhealthy work conditions or have suffered retaliation after filing an external complaint. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires covered employers to maintain a reasonably safe work environment.1  The Act has traditionally been used to address work-related hazards, but may also be used to address problems with worker or domestic violence on the job. Most private employers are covered, but not government employers. The law also imposes certain record-keeping and notice requirements and prohibits retaliation against an employee who complains to the enforcing agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The Act does not provide a private right of action, but proof of violations may be relevant to another cause of action. OSHA may fine the employer or force changes in conditions. Employers may face criminal penalties for record-keeping violations or interfering with a compliance officer. Retaliation complaints must be filed within 30 days.

If your client is or was a seasonal or migrant farm worker, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act addresses many aspects of the employment relationship.2  In addition to requiring contractor registration, written disclosure of terms and conditions of employment, record-keeping, and wage and supply arrangements, the law mandates health and safety standards in housing and transportation. Retaliation is prohibited. The statute is enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, which is authorized to inspect worksites and records, conduct interviews, and pursue civil or criminal actions against violators. Private actions are allowed.

Louisiana does not have an OSHA-approved job safety and health program. However, it does have laws setting forth health and safety provisions for certain occupations.3  It also prohibits retaliation against an employee for testifying about or providing information for the enforcement of labor or environmental laws.4  This statute protects employees who report violations not just by their employer, but also by a third party. This and other similar “whistleblower” statutes require that reports of violations have provided sufficient information to allow the agency to investigate the alleged violation.5

  • 129 U.S.C. § 651, et seq.
  • 229 U.S.C. § 1801, et seq.
  • 3See, e.g., La. R.S. 30:2027, 2351.55; La. R.S. 23:481, et seq.
  • 4La. R.S. 23:964, 967; La. R.S. 30:2027.
  • 5See, e.g., Garrie v. James L. Gray, Inc., 912 F.2d 808 (5th Cir. 1990).

11.2 Children at Work

11.2 Children at Work aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:54

If your client is or was a minor at work, check for employer pay violations or other abuses. The Fair Labor Standards Act1  limits the categories and hours of work for minors, especially on school days. Certain jobs declared hazardous by DOL are entirely off-limits to minors. Violators are subject to civil or criminal action. Louisiana likewise limits the occupations of minors and regulates their employment.2  These laws are enforceable by the state’s labor agency, and violators are subject to certain penalties, including fines, imprisonment, attorney fees, and interest.

  • 129 U.S.C. § 201, et seq.
  • 2La. R.S. 23:151, et seq.; La. R.S. 23:381, et seq.

11.3 Drug and Alcohol Testing

11.3 Drug and Alcohol Testing aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 14:55

Workers frequently lose their jobs due to employers’ fondness for this tool, which side-steps the question of performance. While in most cases employees cannot be forced to pay for testing themselves,1  there is no general state law preventing private employers from testing, and some occupations are covered by laws that affirmatively allow or require it. However, there are certain standards and procedures for employer drug testing, including employees’ right of access to records relating to positive drug test results.2  Whether your client has any legal recourse in the face of a supposed positive test result depends on the position, the employer, and other circumstances. Depending on the type of alleged substance, your client may have time to get independent testing done by a more reputable lab, which might persuade an employer that the first result was flawed. Employees have a very limited cause of action in tort against employers and testing entities for wrongful disclosure of test results.3

Clients working for the government or a private employer acting for the government may have some constitutional protection as well. Drug or alcohol testing is considered a search and seizure covered by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (and its state counterpart).4  Testing must be supported by individualized “reasonable suspicion” unless the employee is in a position of “special needs” such as law enforcement or “safety-sensitive” positions such as railroad workers.5

  • 1La. R.S. 23:897.
  • 2La. R.S. 49:1001, et seq.
  • 3La. R.S. 49:1012.
  • 4Skinner v. Ry. Lab. Execs. Ass’n, 489 U.S. 602 (1989); Nat’l Treasury Emps. Union v. Von Raab, 489 U.S. 656 (1989).
  • 5Skinner, 489 U.S. 602; see Chandler v. Miller, 520 U.S. 305 (1997); United Teachers of New Orleans v. Orleans Par. Sch. Bd., 142 F.3d 853 (5th Cir. 1998).

11.4 Polygraph Testing

11.4 Polygraph Testing aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 15:47

Your client may complain about “lie detector” testing, a less ubiquitous employer tool. The Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) prohibits most—but not all—non-governmental employers from using polygraph tests either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment, with some stated exceptions.1  The law is enforced by the DOL which may seek injunctive relief or penalties. Employees may also bring a private action within 3 years of a violation for back pay, benefits, reinstatement, and other relief. Unlike many other states, Louisiana has no state counterpart and attempts to gain employment relief from negligent or even forced testing have been unsuccessful.

  • 129 U.S.C. § 2001, et seq.

11.5 Interference with Political Rights

11.5 Interference with Political Rights aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 15:49

Employers with 20 or more employees are prohibited from interfering with certain political rights of employees.1  However, the political activities of certain governmental employees can be limited.

  • 1La. R.S. 23:961, et seq.

12 Templates

12 Templates aetrahan Mon, 11/21/2022 - 15:50