. . . that Apple  and Google will pay $415 million to settle a hiring conspiracy lawsuit? In re High-Tech Employees Antitrust Litigation (N.D. Cal. Sept. 2, 2015). The case arose out of a practice of Apple and Google to refrain from hiring each other’s employees. The Court rejected the original settlement agreement of $324.5 million dollars as inadequate. The Court also awarded $40 million dollars (that’s not a typo) to the employees’ attorneys. The case included email communications between the leadership teams of both companies, apologizing for violating their “no poaching” agreement.

. . . that Target is purchasing Fitbits for its 335,000 employees? Target announced on September 15 that in an effort to promote better employee health and reduce employer and employee health costs, it was purchasing Fitbits for everyone. Target’s CEO stated that, the “cost of a Fitbit device and the associated services is very small compared to the savings from a healthier employee population.” According to Fitbit’s corporate services department, other employers that have purchased Fitbits for their workforce have shown a reduction in healthcare costs and in employee medical related absenteeism. Target also announced that it will provide employees with a discount to purchase healthful foods.

. . . that Delta employees will receive a 14.5 % pay raise? Delta, known as an acronym for “Don’t Expect Luggage To Arrive,” is reaping the benefits of reduced capacity, uncomfortable full flights, and lower fuel costs. On September 16, Delta announced that 70,000 employees will receive the pay raise on December 1. Delta also announced that it is increasing its employee 401k match from 5% to 6%. Delta will adjust its profit sharing formula where employees will receive a higher percentage of profits in a poor year then a good year.

. . . that the Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act will provide a private right of action for a National Labor Relations Act violation? Introduced on September 16th by Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-Virginia), the bill would provide employees the right to file a federal court lawsuit  against  their  employer  for  a  violation  of  the  National Labor Relations Act. The bill would permit an employee to recover treble damages, require civil penalties of up to $50,000 for employers who commit unfair labor practices and $10,000 a day in fines for employers that fail to comply with NLRB orders. This bill has no chance of passing. The bill reflects organized labor’s “wish list” for action by the time President Obama leaves office.

. . . that an Olympic Gold Medalist did not have “extraordinary ability” to qualify for an EB-1 visa? Integrity Gymnastics & Pure Power Cheerleading, LLC v. US Citizenship Immigration and Service (S.D. Ohio, Sept. 14, 2015). An EB-1 visa is considered the top priority employment visa, generally reserved for those individuals who are preeminent in their field and who enter the U.S. to work in that field. The very nature of the visa application requires evidence that the individual has “extraordinary ability.” Natalia Laschenova was a gold medal gymnastics winner at the 1988 Olympics. In 1999, she came to the U.S. as an H-1B guest worker to coach gymnastics. Her visa was extended, but then she was denied an EB-1 visa which would have extended her stay in the U.S. Her employer, Integrity, sued, claiming that Laschenova’s record as a gold medal winner certainly substantiated her “extraordinary ability.” In rejecting the claim, the Court noted that although she reached an extraordinary level as an athlete, the visa was  based upon her role as a coach, and “competitive athletics and coaching are not in the same area of expertise.” The court stated that the evidence was insufficient to establish that her extraordinary achievements as an athlete were matched by extraordinary achievements as a coach. The EB-1 visas are among the most difficult to obtain and require a talent at the highest echelon of science, medicine, education or athletics. As a coach, she did not qualify.