close

For more than four decades, Fenwick & West LLP has helped some of the world’s most recognized companies become, and remain, market leaders. From emerging enterprises to large public corporations, our clients are leaders in the technology, life sciences and cleantech sectors and are fundamentally changing the world through rapid innovation.  MORE >

Fenwick & West was founded in 1972 in the heart of Silicon Valley—before “Silicon Valley” existed—by four visionary lawyers who left a top-tier New York law firm to pursue their shared belief that technology would revolutionize the business world and to pioneer the legal work for those technological innovations. In order to be most effective, they decided they needed to move to a location close to primary research and technology development. These four attorneys opened their first office in downtown Palo Alto, and Fenwick became one of the first technology law firms in the world.  MORE >

From our founding in 1972, Fenwick has been committed to promoting diversity and inclusion both within our firm and throughout the legal profession. For almost four decades, the firm has actively promoted an open and inclusive work environment and committed significant resources towards improving our diversity efforts at every level.  MORE >

At Fenwick, we are proud of our commitment to the community and to our culture of making a difference in the lives of individuals and organizations in the communities where we live and work. We recognize that providing legal services is not only an essential part of our professional responsibility, but also an excellent opportunity for our attorneys to gain valuable practical experience, learn new areas of the law and contribute to the community.  MORE >

Year after year, Fenwick & West is honored for excellence in the legal profession. Many of our attorneys are recognized as leaders in their respective fields, and our Corporate, Tax, Litigation and Intellectual Property Practice Groups consistently receive top national and international rankings, including:

  • Named Technology Group of the Year by Law360
  • Ranked #1 in the Americas for number of technology deals in 2015 by Mergermarket
  • Nearly 20 percent of Fenwick partners are ranked by Chambers
  • Consistently ranked among the top 10 law firms in the U.S. for diversity
  • Recognized as having top mentoring and pro bono programs by Euromoney

MORE >

We take sustainability very seriously at Fenwick. Like many of our clients, we are adopting policies that reduce consumption and waste, and improve efficiency. By using technologies developed by a number of our cleantech clients, we are at the forefront of implementing sustainable policies and practices that minimize environmental impact. In fact, Fenwick has earned recognition in several areas as one of the top US law firms for implementing sustainable business practices.  MORE >

At Fenwick, we have a passion for excellence and innovation that mirrors our client base. Our firm is making revolutionary changes to the practice of law through substantial investments in proprietary technology tools and processes—allowing us to deliver best-in-class legal services more effectively.   MORE >

Mountain View Office
Silicon Valley Center
801 California Street
Mountain View, CA 94041
650.988.8500

San Francisco Office
555 California Street
13th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104
415.875.2300

Seattle Office
1191 Second Avenue
10th Floor
Seattle, WA 98101
206.389.4510

New York Office
1211 Avenue of the Americas
32nd Floor
New York, NY 10036
212.921.2001

Shanghai Office
Unit 908, 9/F, Kerry Parkside Office
No. 1155 Fang Dian Road
Pudong New Area, Shanghai 201204
P.R. China
+86 21 8017 1200


Fenwick Employment Brief - November 22, 2005

Changing Into and Out Of Protective Gear is Work Time that Must Be Paid

Inadequacy of Doctor's Note Not a Bar to Employee's Reinstatement from FMLA Leave

NEWS BITES

Employer Properly Did Not Investigate Complaint of Sexual Harassment

Employee, Terminated for Lying in Official Investigation, Wins Retaliation Claim

Defamed Employer Receives Over $1 Million Jury Award

Changing Into and Out Of Protective Gear is Work Time that Must Be Paid

The U.S. Supreme Court held in IBP v. Alvarez that, under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, an employee's work time at a meat packing plant included time spent walking to an employee's workstation after changing into protective gear. The employer argued that such time was not compensable work time but time spent preparing to start work. However, the Court concluded that the employees' compensable work time started when they commenced donning protective gear and ended when they completed taking off the gear. Conversely, in a companion case, Tum v. Barber Foods, the Supreme Court clarified that the employees' time spent waiting in line at the employer to pick up protective gear was not work time. Employers who have employees change into protective gear and/or uniforms at the worksite should ensure that their pay practices comply with these new cases.

Inadequacy of Doctor's Note Not a Bar to Employee's Reinstatement from FMLA Leave

The federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee) recently expanded an employee's right to reinstatement following a medical leave of absence in Brumbalough v. Camelot Care Centers, Inc. There, the employee's doctor sent the employer a letter, which stated in its entirety "[Linda Brumbalough, the employee] may return to work on 8/13/01. She should only work a 40-45 hour work week and limit her out of town travel to 1 day per week." The employer argued that the employee had no right to reinstatement under FMLA because the letter did not specify that the employee could perform the essential functions of the job. The court disagreed and explained that the regulations merely require the employee to provide a statement from her doctor that the employee can return to work. According to the court, though the employer may require more information from the employee and the employee's doctor, the employer cannot delay the employee's reinstatement once such a note is received. In general, if the emp'oyer reasonably believes the employee presents a threat to health or safety, the employer may lawfully refuse to reinstate until the danger is resolved. Conversely, where there is no health or safety threat but where the employer reasonably doubts the employee's ability to perform the essential job functions, the employer should reinstate the employee and require him/her to provide the required information and/or submit to a medical examination by the employer's doctor.

NEWS BITES

Employer Properly Did Not Investigate Complaint of Sexual Harassment

In a favorable decision for employers, the Ninth Circuit recently explained that an employer does not always need to conduct an investigation in response to a complaint of sexual harassment under Title VII. Hardage v. CBS Broadcasting. The court opined that though an employer is often obligated to conduct an investigation, the employer was under no duty to investigate because the employee, a male, made only vague assertions about sexual harassment by a female manager.

Employee, Terminated for Lying in Official Investigation, Wins Retaliation Claim

The Fourth Circuit affirmed a jury verdict in favor of an employee who was improperly terminated under Title VII after participating in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a co-worker. Martin v. Mecklenburg. Though the employee was terminated for admittedly lying during the harassment investigation, the court ruled that a reasonable jury could find that retaliation at least partly motivated the employer's actions.

Defamed Employer Receives Over $1 Million Jury Award

An employer Roger Hughes, the owner of a construction company, successfully alleged that the Northern California Carpenters union defamed him during an organizing campaign by mailing flyers to residents and businesses in Sonoma County that included a police report filed against him. The jury awarded Hughes damages, including $1,000,000 in punitive damages.


This Fenwick Employment Brief is intended by Fenwick & West LLP to summarize recent developments in the law. It is not intended, and should not be regarded, as advertising, solicitation, legal advice or opinion. Readers who have particular questions about these issues should seek advice of counsel.

©2012 Fenwick & West LLP. All Rights Reserved.