• Posts by Cathie Fields
    Partner

    Cathie Fields represents school districts, community college districts, and other educational agencies in labor and employment matters, general education issues, and governance matters. She advises clients on employment ...

A federal district court in Massachusetts recently ruled against Harvard University in an ongoing lawsuit filed on behalf of disabled individuals challenging the accessibility of online video content on the university’s websites. (National Association of the Deaf v. Harvard University (D. Mass. March 28, 2019) 2019 WL 1409302, No. 3:15-cv-30023-KAR.) On the same day, the court issued a similar ruling in a companion lawsuit against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, relying on the rationale from the Harvard University decision. (National Association of the Deaf v. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (D. Mass. March 28, 2019) 2019 WL 1409301, No. 3:15-cv-30024-KAR.)

Categories: School District

As the #MeToo Movement placed a glaring spotlight on the continuing problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown signed several bills aimed at curbing harassment. All of them impact California employers, both public and private.

Ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, continue to grow in popularity and use. The services are cost-effective, convenient, and require no exchange of cash. A ride can be ordered remotely for someone else. It is no surprise, then, that parents are turning to such services as a means to transport their children to and from school and various extra-curricular activities. Parents order a ride using a mobile app and the driver picks up and transports the child to the preset destination. Except for specialty services aimed at transporting minors (e.g., HopSkipDrive), most ridesharing services, including Uber and Lyft, have policies prohibiting drivers from transporting minors without an adult present. Nevertheless, in a ratings-driven work environment, ridesharing drivers might disregard such policies to avoid a negative rating.

This summer, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2282, which resolves ambiguities created by earlier pay equity legislation in AB 1676 (2016) and AB 168 (2017). As you may recall, AB 168 prohibits questions about salary history on employment applications and during interviews. The law also requires employers to provide a pay scale to applicants on demand.  

Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched an investigation to determine whether the popular vaporizer/e-cigarette company Juul intentionally marketed its devices to young people. As part of that inquiry, the FDA ordered Juul to produce the company’s research and marketing documents, including information on focus groups and toxicology reports. The attorney general of Massachusetts is also conducting an investigation of the company to review Juul’s efforts to audit its own website and other online retailers that sell its products to determine how effective they are at preventing minors from accessing Juul devices.

California’s public education system is vital to the state’s future and success. However, there is currently no comprehensive method to track student progress throughout students’ educations and entry into the workforce. Recently, the Legislature has noted increased support for a system linking educational agencies’ databases in an effort to prioritize transparency and student welfare and success.

How could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream? — Percy Bysshe Shelley

Streaming school or college events live over the Internet allows anyone in the world — relatives, friends, and sundry interested parties — access to student choir concerts, plays, sporting events, or graduations. It’s almost like being there! But live streaming these events raises a variety of legal concerns. Before deciding to stream an event online, districts should carefully consider these issues.

Tags: Streaming

On April 18, 2018, six leading public health and medical organizations insisted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take immediate action to address the rise in teenage usage of Juul electronic cigarettes. (See our April 10, 2018 blog entry about Juul devices here.) The groups cited recent research conducted by the Truth Initiative and published in the journal Tobacco Control, which revealed that 63 percent of current Juul users aged 15-24 did not know the product contains nicotine. Additionally, the research indicated that 25 percent of users may not even realize the product is an e-cigarette or tobacco product.

Given the plummeting cost of digital storage, many educational agencies scan permanent records into electronic format and destroy the hard copy originals. The Education Code and Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations permit educational agencies to destroy paper records in certain circumstances — after their usefulness ceases, after they have been classified as “disposable,” or after they have been copied into an electronic storage medium. But even when the destruction is permitted by law, it may have negative repercussions if the agency knew or should have known the documents would be relevant to current or potential litigation.

Use of the best-selling e-cigarette on the market is spreading quickly throughout middle and high schools. The nicotine vaporizer, called Juul, looks like a flash drive; it can even be charged in a USB port. By the end of 2017, Juul sales made up a third of the e-cigarette market.

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