Tuesday, September 11, 2012

MD Courts Moving Toward Offers of Judgment?

Beyond the issues that we just raised in Barufaldi, the decision may also have important implications for employers trying to decide whether and when to make a settlement offer—and for how much.

MD Appeals Court Addresses Wage Payment, Attorney Fees

A recent case involving the award of attorney fees for claims brought under the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL)-- captioned Barufaldi v. Ocean City, Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the opinion for which can be found here --bears close examination. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals reiterated that while attorneys’ fees are not automatic, they should be liberally awarded to employees, and that factors such as the degree of the employer’s bad faith and its ability to pay are not relevant. The WPCL is a favorite of attorneys representing employees and one that all employers should know about. Often the projected attorneys’ fees are much larger than the amount of wages due in WPCL cases. In other words, the tail wags the dog.

Employers’ Social Media “Friends” May Be Trade Secrets

For the first time, a federal court has concluded that an employer’s MySpace “friends” list meets the initial requirements to be considered a trade secret. The Colorado District Court’s decision in Christou v. Beatport, LLC (full opinion here), adds another consideration for employers attempting to navigate the rapidly expanding intersection of employment law and social networking. This case is of particular local relevance because the Colorado statute at issue is nearly identical to its counterparts in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia since all four jurisdictions have adopted the same Uniform Trade Secrets Act.