Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Price is Right Model-Suit Update

We previously reported about the $7.7 Million verdict won by former "Price is Right" Model, Brandi Cochran, in her pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.  (See http://themploymentlaw.blogspot.com/2012/12/price-is-right-model-wins-77-mil-in.html) However, according to the Hollywood Reporter (see link below), that $7.7 Million verdict in favor of Ms. Cochran, has been set aside, and a new trial ordered.

After Cochran won her trial, the California Supreme Court made a decision about jury instructions in a mixed motive discrimination case. In Harris v. City of Santa Monica, No. S181004 (Cal. Feb. 7, 2013), the Supreme Court held that to establish liability in “mixed motive” employment discrimination cases under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the employee must show that unlawful discrimination was a substantial factor motivating the adverse employment decision. Thus, per Harris, Judges need to instruct the jury that discrimination is not just a "motivating factor/reason" for termination but a "substantial motivation factor/reason." 

In the Cochran case, Judge Kevin Brazile failed to issue this "substantial" guidance despite a request from the defendants. Judge Brazile was then asked by the defense to set aside the verdict and dismiss the case.  Judge Brazile rejected this argument, noting that  "the evidence established that Defendants discriminated against Plaintiff, terminating her on the grounds of her prior pregnancy and complications ... the evidence is sufficient to support the verdict." However, given the decision in Harris, Judge Brazile said the "instruction error cannot be considered harmless," and was compelled to grant a new trial. 

New (Required) I-9 Forms for New Employees

On March 8, 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a revised Form I-9, which employers should begin using for all new hires (and those being "re-verified").  Under the new rules,  after May 7, 2013, employers must only use the revised Form I-9 dated 03/08/13 for all new hires and reverifications.  Employers are not required to complete the new Form I-9 for current employees if a properly completed Form I-9 is already on file, and employers may continue to use previously accepted revisions (I-9 Forms dated 02/02/09 and 08/07/09) until May 7, 2013. 
The revised Form I-9 includes new fields in Section 1 for employees to provide their email address, telephone number.  It also includes new sections for aliens, requesting additional information about their work status. 
The revised Form I-9 also contains six pages of instructions rather than three, which the USCIS hopes will provide clearer directions to both the employee and the employer about how to complete the Form I-9.
To get the new form, you can click on the following link: http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf