Around the Blawgosphere: 'Vaporizing' Labor Law Statutes; Is Being an 'Evil Empire' Really So Bad?

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Last Friday at Overlawyered, Cato Institute senior fellow Walter Olson posed this question: “If I could press a button and instantly vaporize one sector of employment law …” noting that he explains how he himself would answer that question on a symposium at Reason.com.

What would he vaporize? Age discrimination. “Its beneficiaries are among those needing least assistance. The main cash-and-carry effect of age-bias law is to confer legal leverage on older male holders of desirable jobs, such as managers, pilots, and college professors, who by threatening to raise the issue can extract ampler severance packets than might otherwise be offered them.”

Cleveland lawyer Jonathan Hyman also took the bait and wrote at Ohio Employer’s Law Blog that he’d vaporize the Fair Labor Standards Act. “Compliance is impossible,” he writes. The law, first enacted during the Great Depression, has evolved via complex regulations and interpretations into something impossible to comply with. “I would bet any employer in this country a free wage and hour audit that I can find an FLSA violation in your pay practices,” Hyman wrote.

Hartford, Conn., lawyer Daniel Schwartz wrote at Connecticut Employment Law Blog that he would tackle the various “leave” laws employers must consider when workers are absent.

“Not all employers qualify because each statute has a different threshold depending on the number of employees it has and the type of work the employer does, Schwartz wrote. “These laws also have differing (and sometimes conflicting) applications as well. Trying to figure those out shouldn’t take a law degree, and yet, they do.”

An Insult, or Infringement?

Admitted New York Yankees fan Mike Masnick writes at Techdirt that his team should make up its mind: Does merchandise (created by and for Boston Red Sox fans) calling the Yankees an “Evil Empire” and depicting the team’s logo with added devils and pitchforks disparage the brand or infringe its trademark? “Even as [the team says that ‘Evil Empire’ has] a negative connotation, they claim they’re also worried that people will think it’s legitimate Yankee merchandise,” Masnick wrote. “I really don’t see how that’s possible, though.”

Deadspin links to the prosecution history in a case against the owners of the Baseball’s Evil Empire website that started with a November 2009 notice of opposition from the Yankees making this assertion; the deadline for both sides to submit evidence in the case is next month.

Riot Blame Game

Pink Tape blogger “Familoo,” based in Bristol, England, noted an article in the Independent about the eviction of a woman whose son is suspected of being involved in riots in London. Familoo thinks this is not going to be an isolated reaction. “Quite apart from the question of this mother’s culpability, her son’s culpability has not yet even been established,” she writes. “I struggle to see how this kind of approach can be anything but counterproductive (if it is successful, which remains to be seen). Instead of one socially disengaged youngster, you end up with a whole family which is homeless, resentful, and probably a greater burden on society in the long run. The leader of Wandsworth Council, Ravi Govindia, essentially adopted a ‘not my problem, mate’ approach to questions about the consequences of making this family intentionally homeless. … But it will be somebody’s problem, and somebody will have to pick up the tab.”

A Sarcasm Solution

Ryan McClead, Fulbright & Jaworski’s knowledge systems administrator, laments at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog that his sarcastic sense of humor does not translate well online, particularly on Twitter. “The number of times that I have typed a response to a tweet with a brilliant quick-witted reply, only to delete it when I realize that I can’t say that in 140 characters without sounding cruel, is only surpassed by the number of times I’ve hit the Tweet button before I realized it.” One of his tweeps recently appended the hashtag #DoINeedToSaySarcasm? to his own tongue-in-cheek tweet, but McClead doesn’t see this 20-character option as a solution. “That’s a seventh of my allotted space,” he writes. Ideas for a designated sarcasm emoticon were proffered and discarded. The solution? “I’m calling for online amnesty for sarcastic people everywhere. We need to create a Sarcasm Day. One day per year when I can just be myself and type furiously, witty responses, to every stupid thing I read online without worrying about how I’ll be perceived.”

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