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Firm News Archive: News Items 2005-2008

THOMPSON TO SPEAK ON NEW AMENDMENTS TO AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

On December 15, 2008, John Thompson will speak on the recently enacted amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Mr. Thompson’s speech will be part of the Minnesota CLE’s program on The New ADA to be held in Minneapolis, MN.  The text of Mr. Thompson’s materials can be found HERE.

 


THE BEST LAWYERS IN AMERICA® SELECTS THOMPSON IN 2009 EDITION IN SPECIALTY OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT LAW

Once again, John Thompson has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America®.  John is included in the 2009 edition in the specialty of Labor and Employment Law.  John is one of a distinguished group of attorneys who have been listed in Best Lawyers® for a decade or longer.  Selection to Best Lawyers® is based upon an exhaustive and rigorous peer-review survey comprising more than 2.5 million confidential evaluations by the top attorneys in the country.

THOMPSON NAMED 2008 SUPER LAWYERS

Oberman Thompson is proud to announce that John Thompson has been selected as a 2008 Super Lawyer by Minnesota Law & Politics, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business. This honor, which is given to only 5% of Minnesota attorneys, is based upon peer nominations, a panel review process and independent research of candidates.  John has been named a Super Lawyer several times in the past.

OBERMAN TO CHAIR DECEMBER 2008 VIDEO EMPLOYMENT LAW SERIES

In December 2008, Jeff Oberman will chair a live – feed video conference series that is being sponsored by Minnesota CLE. There will be four 2-hour sessions over the month of December.  Each session will involve leading Minnesota employment lawyers, who will   have in depth, informal discussions of important current employment law topics.  The audience will be able to watch, listen and submit questions without having to leave their computers. Watch for more details from Minnesota CLE or this Web Site.

JAMIE FORMAN CO-AUTHORS CHAPTER ON FINANCIAL INSTITUTION LITIGATION

For third year in a row, Jamie Forman co-authors chapter on Financial Institution Litigation. Jamie recently co-authored the chapter entitled:  “Financial Institution Litigation” in the Annual Review of Developments in Business and Corporate Litigation, 2008 Edition , ABA Section of Business Law, Committee on Business and Corporate Litigation.

OBERMAN PRESENTS TWICE AT 2008 EMPLOYMENT LAW INSTITUTE

Jeff Oberman presented twice at the May 29-30, 2008 Annual Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, which was co-sponsored by Minnesota CLE, the Employment Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association and the Twin Cities Human Resource Association. Jeff presented on  “Hiring an Employee with a Non-compete, Confidentiality and Non-solicitation Agreement” Suggestions to Help Analyze Your Client’s Exposure, Accomplish its Goals and Minimize its Risks” and also on “High Risk Terminations”.

 

FORMAN AGAIN CO-PRESENTS MINNESOTA CLE WEBCAST ENTITLED: “TAKING CHARGE OF A BUISNESS CRISIS.”

On May 22, 2008  Jamie Forman co-presented a CLE entitled: “Taking Charge of a Business Crisis.”  The program focused on responding to and managing the “business crisis” from legal and communication/reputation perspectives. Forman’s portion of the CLE focused on the legal perspective. He also focused on some of the ethical issues related to the legal perspective of handling the business crisis.

OBERMAN PRESENTS AT 2008 BUSINESS LAW INSTITUTE ON REPRESENTING EXECUTIVES IN MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS

Jeff Oberman presented at the April 28-29, 2008 Business Law Institute on “What about Bob? – Handling Issues and Agreements for Executives in M & A Transactions”.  This is the second year that Jeff has presented at the Business Law Institute. In 2007, he presented on “Executives and Other Key Employees: 10 Legal Areas you need to know if you work with, for or against them”.

THOMPSON WINS FEDERAL WHISTLEBOWER APPEAL

On August 17, 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a decision of the Minnesota federal district court in favor of John Thompson’s client in a Minnesota Whistleblower Act case.  Judge Tunheim had granted Thompson’s motion for summary judgment at the district court level, and the Eighth Circuit affirmed.
The case, JoAnn Buytendorp v. Extendicare Health Services, Inc., involved a nursing home administrator terminated for performance.  The appeals court discussed, but did not decide, whether the employee had made a “good faith report” of illegal activity.  Instead, the appeals court ruled that the nursing home had proffered legitimate reasons for the employee’s termination — a failure to control labor costs, maintain facility census, and meet state safety standards – and the employee had presented insufficient evidence to create a jury question as to whether these proffered reasons were merely pretexts for a retaliatory intent.

OBERMAN AND THOMPSON NAMED AS 2007 SUPER LAWYERS

Oberman Thompson is proud to announce that Jeff Oberman and John Thompson have been selected as 2007 Super Lawyers by Minnesota Law & Politics, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business. This honor is given only to  5% of Minnesota attorneys, and is based upon peer nominations, a panel review process and independent research of candidates.  Both Jeff and John have received this award numerous times in the past.

CHAMBERS USA 2007 SELECTS THOMPSON AS TOP EMPLOYMENT LAWYER

Once again, John Thompson has been selected by Chambers USA in 2007 for inclusion in America’s Leadings Lawyers for Business as a “Leading Individual” in the Labor & Employment field in Minnesota.  Chambers notes that John “primarily represents management, although he also regularly assists executives in employment matters; he handles litigation but also has a substantial preventive counseling and training practice.”  John is described as an “excellent writers and solid and competent lawyer.”

FORMAN CO-PRESENTS MINNESOTA CLE WEBCAST ENTITLED: “TAKING CHARGE OF A BUISNESS CRISIS.”

On October 24, 2007 Jamie Forman co-presented a CLE entitled: “Taking Charge of a Business Crisis.”  The program focused on responding to and managing the “business crisis” from legal and communication/reputation perspectives. Forman’s portion of the CLE focused on the legal perspective. He also focused on some of the ethical issues related to the legal perspective.

FORMAN SPOKE TO TWIN CITIES ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT SOCIETY

On September 27, 2007, Jamie Forman led a lively discussion of noncompetes and confidential information at the TwinCities Engineering and Management Society.

FORMAN SPOKE ON BOW TIES AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION

On August 9, 2007 Jamie Forman presented to the Twin Cities Entrepreneurs on the topic of : “Bow Ties and Confidential Information.”

NEW FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE POSTER REQUIREMENT REQUIRED JULY 24, 2007
By John D. Thompson

All workplaces subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage provisions are required by law to display the new minimum wage rates in a conspicuous location beginning July 24, 2007.

The U.S. Department of Labor has created a poster that satisfies this legal requirement.  Copies of the poster are available at the following web address: http://www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/posters/flsa.htm.

This is the first increase in the Federal minimum wage since 1997.  The timetable for phasing in the new rate of $7.25 per hour is as follows:

·         $5.85 per hour, effective July 24, 2007
·         $6.55 per hour, effective July 24, 2008
·         $7.25 per hour, effective July 24, 2009

Of course, Minnesota employers have to comply with a number of federal and state laws mandating posters in the workplace.  Feel free to contact any of us at OTS for further information.

THOMPSON PRESENTED A MINNESOTA CLE WEBCAST REGARDING THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT AND THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT

On January 31, 2007, John Thompson presented a Minnesota CLE webcast regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.  John discussed the requirements of the ADA and FMLA, how the two laws interact, and how employers can be sure to comply with both the ADA and the FMLA.

OBERMAN PRESENTED TWICE AT ADVANCED EXECUTIVE LAW SEMINAR

Jeff Oberman was on the Planning Committee and presented twice at the February 8, 2007 MSBA/CLE Advanced Executive (and Key Employee) Law Seminar. He spoke on “The Making of a Great Executive Employment Agreement” and “Protecting the Company’s Intellectual Property – Noncompetes, Restrictive Covenants and Trade Secrets.”

THOMPSON CO-CHAIRED RETALIATION & WHISTLEBLOWER CLE

On January 17, 2007, John Thompson co-chaired an advanced Minnesota CLE course in Minneapolis discussing employment whistleblower and retaliation law.  In addition, Thompson presented on “Retaliation Claims and the Burlington Northern decision.”  He also reviewed the decisions that have come down since Burlington Northern, and how they affect traditional retaliation and whistleblower law.

For further information, refer to www.MinnCLE.org.

THOMPSON LED A CONFERENCE BOARD WEBCAST ON INVESTIGATIONS

On October 31, 2006, John Thompson lead a Webcast sponsored by The Conference Board on Legal Investigatons for Non-Security Professionals.  The link to further information about this Webcast is at http://www.conference-board.org/Webcasts/upcomingWebcast.cfm?ID=1344.

The Webcast follows a Podcast that John recently did for The Conference Board on the same subject, which you can access HERE.

The seminar discussed many of the issues John discusses in the book he authored on investigations.  Further information about the book is at http://www.obermanthompson.com/resourses/jtbook.html.

OBERMAN TO CONTINUE TEACHING BUSINESS LAWYERS IN 2007

In addition to his ongoing commitments to provide training to employment lawyers, Jeff Oberman has been asked to continue presenting to business attorneys in 2007. He will present  at the February 8, 2007 MSBA/CLE Advanced Executive (and Key Employee) Law Seminar, on “The Making of a Great Executive Employment Agreement” and “Protecting the Company’s Intellectual Property – Noncompetes, Restrictive Covenants and Trade Secrets.”  He will present at the May 16, 2007 MSBA/CLE Upper Midwest Business Law Institute, on “Executives:  10 Legal Areas You Need To Know If You Work With, For Or Against Them.”  He will also present at the August 16, 2007 MSBA Business Law 102 and October 9, 2007 Business Law 103 seminars on topics yet to be determined.

OBERMAN APPOINTED TO JCRC BOARD

Jeff Oberman has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, which is based in Minneapolis.

BREAKING NEWS – COURT OF APPEALS DECISION IMPACTS VACATION PAY TO TERMINATING EMPLOYEES

UPDATE TO FOLLOWING NEWS ITEM: On October 18, 2006, the Minnesota Supreme Court granted review of the decision that is discussed below.  We will post updates here regarding further developments in the case and, of course, the Supreme Court’s decision when it is handed down.

On August 8, 2006, the Minnesota Court of Appeals decided a case that affects the payment of unused vacation time at the time of an employee’s termination.  In light of this decision, employers should review their policies and practices regarding the payment of accrued but unused vacation at the time of an employee’s departure from the company.

Pursuant to Minnesota Statute Section 181.13, an employer must pay a discharged employee all earned and unpaid wages and commissions at the time of discharge.  If the employer does not pay the employee’s earned wages and commissions within 24 hours after a demand, the employee is entitled to his/her wages and commissions, plus a penalty of up to 15 days of the employee’s average daily earnings, plus costs and attorneys’ fees.

In its decision, the Court of Appeals invalidated an employee handbook provision that stated that employees terminated for misconduct would forfeit their accrued but unused vacation.  The Court held that such a policy violates Section 181.13.

This decision could have broader implications for employers:  The court noted that Section 181.13 does not contain an exception to the payout rule for employees discharged for misconduct.  In fact, Section 181.13 and its companion, Section 181.14 (which requires payment of earned wages and commissions upon an employee’s resignation), do not contain any exceptions to the payout rule.  Therefore, employers may need to pay all accrued but unused vacation to any employee leaving the company for any reason.

In light of this decision, employers should consider limiting the amount of vacation that employees may accumulate such that once an employee accumulates the maximum amount, no further vacation time may accumulate until the employee uses some of his/her accrued vacation.  By so doing, employers should be able to reduce the potential for having to pay a substantial (and sometimes unexpected) amount of vacation pay to a departing employee.

OBERMAN THOMPSON IS TWO FOR TWO IN 2006 – TWO SUPER LAWYERS!

Oberman Thompson is proud to announce that John Thompson and Jeff Oberman have been selected to receive 2006 honors by Minnesota Law & Politics, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business. Jeff Oberman and John Thompson were named 2006 Minnesota Super Lawyers. This honor is given only to  5% of Minnesota attorneys, and is based upon peer nominations, a panel review process and independent research of candidates.

THOMPSON WINS THIRD FEDERAL WHISTLEBLOWER LAWSUIT IN 2006

On July 26, 2006, U.S. Federal District Court Judge Michael J. Davis granted summary judgment in favor of John Thompson’s client Extendicare Health Services, Inc., and dismissed a whistleblower lawsuit brought by Extendicare’s former employee Jessica Carlson.  Carlson was a Health Unit Coordinator for Extendicare in the Twin Cities until she resigned in February 2005.  Carlson’s lawsuit claimed that she was constructively terminated in violation of Minnesota’s Whistleblower Act.
Judge Davis ruled that Carlson was not constructively discharged.  Carlson could not claim that her working conditions were intolerable based upon alleged conditions that were common to all employees.  Further, the conditions were not objectively intolerable.  Finally, Carlson did not give the Company a chance to cure the allegedly intolerable conditions.
Thompson now has obtained summary judgment in three federal whistleblower lawsuits this year.  The previous two are currently on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

THOMPSON WINS ANOTHER WHISTLEBLOWER LAWSUIT

On May 1, 2006, U.S. Federal District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle granted summary judgment in favor of John Thompson’s client Extendicare Health Services, Inc., and dismissed a whistleblower lawsuit brought by Extendicare’s former employee Carol Skare.  Skare was a Regional Nurse Consultant for Extendicare in the Twin Cities until she resigned in early 2005.  Skare’s lawsuit claimed that she was terminated in violation of Minnesota’s Whistleblower Act.

Judge Kyle ruled that Skare had no claim related to her resignation or related to any alleged harassment.  Further, Judge Kyle ruled that Skare was not protected under the Whistleblower Act because she did not make a “report” of illegal conduct under the law in large measure because she was merely doing her job when she raised concerns with her supervisors.

This decision is believed to be the first in Minnesota to address the health care provision of the Whistleblower Act. Enacted in 1997, this provision specifically protects health care employees who report, in good faith, a situation in which a health care facility, organization or provider violates a standard established by federal or state law or a professionally recognized national clinical or ethical standard and potentially places the public at risk of harm.  Minnesota Statute Section 181.932, subdivision 1(d).  Judge Kyle used the same analysis for this provision as courts have used for the original, general whistleblower provision under the Act.

OBERMAN NAMED TO 2005-2006 MADISON WHO’S WHO OF EXECUTIVES AND PROFESSIONALS

Oberman Thompson is proud to announce that Jeff Oberman has been selected as a 2006 “Madison Who’s Who of Executives and Professionals.”

OBERMAN PRESENTED TWICE AT 2006 EMPLOYMENT LAW INSTITUTE

Jeff Oberman presented twice at the May 22-23, 2006 Annual Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, which was co-sponsored by Minnesota CLE, the Employment Law Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association and the Twin Cities Human Resource Association. Jeff chaired and presented at a panel discussion on  ” Advanced Practice and Strategies: Solving Tough Noncompetition, Confidentiality, and Trade Secret Problems”, and also will present on ” Executives and Other Key Employees: 10 Areas You Need to Know if You Work With, For or Against Them”.

THOMPSON PRESENTED AT 2006 EMPLOYMENT LAW INSTITUTE

John Thompson spoke at the May 22-23, 2006 Annual Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute on whistleblowing law.  This was a very timely topic given the huge increase in such cases over the last several years.  John’s topic is An In-Depth Analysis of the Minnesota Whistleblower Act:  Recent Case Law and Trends.  John has spoken at the Institute virtually every year since the late 1980s.  John spoke twice on this topic with a co-presenter from another firm.

 

THOMPSON SPOKE IN HUNTINGTON BEACH AT SECURITY CONFERENCE

On March 21, 2006, John Thompson spoke at the 2006 CSO Perspectives Conference (www.csoonline.com) in Huntington Beach, California.  This conference was the premier conference for senior security executives.  Thompson’s topic was Security Counsel:  Investigations for Non-Security Professionals.

Thompson is General Counsel and Managing Partner of Business Security Advisory Group (www.bsag-cso.com), a national security consulting firm.  Thompson also is on the faculty of The CSO Executive Council, a professional organization for CSOs (Chief Security Officers) and CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers).  The Council membership is by invitation only and currently represents 18 industry sectors whose companies average sales of $20 billion (www.csoexecutivecouncil.com).

THOMPSON’S CLIENT OBTAINS SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN
FEDERAL WHISTLEBLOWER LAWSUIT

On February 9, 2006, U.S. Federal District Court Judge John R. Tunheim granted summary judgment in favor of John Thompson’s client Extendicare Health Services, Inc., and dismissed a whistleblower lawsuit brought by Extendicare’s former employee JoAnn Buytendorp.  Buytendorp was the administrator of one of Extendicare’s Minnesota nursing home facilities and was terminated in 2004 for performance reasons.  Buytendorp’s lawsuit claimed that she was terminated in violation of Minnesota’s Whistleblower Act and also asserted a claim for negligent supervision.

Judge Tunheim held that Buytendorp was not a protected individual under the Whistleblower Act because she did not make a “report” of illegal conduct under the law and did not engage in any “refusal” to engage in illegal conduct.  Judge Tunheim also rejected the negligent supervision claim because Buytendorp did not claim to have suffered any physical or bodily harm, an essential element of that claim.

THOMPSON SPOKE MARCH 14 ON HARASSMENT ISSUES

On March 14, 2006, John Thompson spoke on recent legal developments in harassment law and harassment training for the American Council of Engineering Companies of Minnesota (www.acecmn.org).  Thompson co-presented with Kate Harri, Vice President of Operations at Behavioral Medical Interventions (www.behavioralmedical.com).

THOMPSON NAMED TO 2005-2006 “BEST LAWYERS IN AMERICA” LIST

Oberman Thompson is proud to announce that John Thompson has been named to the 2005-2006 “Best Lawyers in America” list.  Woodward White, Inc. publishes this list.  Thompson has been selected for this prestigious honor since 2003.

THOMPSON’S CLIENT PREVAILS IN DAKOTA COUNTY TRIAL

On Valentine’s Day 2006, Dakota County Judge Kathryn D. Messerich gave John Thompson’s client an overwhelming victory in a case tried before the Court in August 2005.  The former President and Vice President of a truck driver training school in Eagan, Minnesota sued the school and its owner for breach of contract and several other theories after the school terminated them for cause in 2002, each seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The Court dismissed the owner prior to trial, and Judge Messerich dismissed the breach of contract claims, finding that the school had good cause to fire the Plaintiffs.  The Court also dismissed a number of other claims that the Plaintiffs brought.      The only recovery awarded the Plaintiffs was $750 each for the school’s failure (prior to Thompson’s involvement) to provide the reasons for Plaintiffs’ termination within the 5 days that is required under Minnesota law.

Moreover, Thompson was successful in obtaining a $20,000 judgment for the owner against the Plaintiffs on a defamation counterclaim.  The Plaintiffs had falsely stated to other employees of the school that the owner had stolen money from his own company.

 

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