On June 28 the 11th circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Magnuson’s July 17, 2009 ruling declaring that the waters of Lake Lanier were off-limits for water supply purposes. In doing so the 11th Circuit restores what Georgians knew all along, that Lake Lanier was intended to be a primary source of water. Summarizing the decision, the Court of Appeals determined: 1.     The District Court erred in finding that it had jurisdiction to hear the lower court cases because the US Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) had not taken final agency action, and those cases must be remanded to the Corps in order for it to take such action. 2.     The District Court and the Corps erred in concluding that water supply was not an authorized purpose of Lake Lanier under the Rivers and Harbors Act (“RHA”). 3.     The Corps’ denial of Georgia’s 2000 water supply request is not entitled…       Read More

            On June 20, 2011 the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wal-Mart in one of the biggest class action lawsuits ever.  In Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes[1], the Supreme Court was faced with a class of about one and a half million plaintiffs, all current and former female employees of Wal-Mart who alleged the company discriminated against them on the basis of their sex by denying them equal pay or promotions, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.              The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had approved the certification of a plaintiff class consisting of “all women employed at any Wal-Mart domestic retail store at any time since December 26, 1998, who have been or may be subjected to Wal-Mart’s challenged pay and  management track promotions policies and practices.”  The Supreme Court ruling reversed this decision.  The crux of the case was commonality.  The…       Read More

The Miami Herald reports the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services may increase its requirements for low flows in the Apalachicola River to maintain habitat for the federally protected three ridge mussel and the purple bankclimber mussel.  The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services is not scheduled to release the report until August 1,  but if the news report is true, what implications would that have for the amount of water that Georgians and Alabamans could be permitted to withdraw from the Chattahoochee River for residential, industrial and agricultural purposes? It’s logical to conclude that if the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services requires more than the 5,000 cubic feet per second it said was satisfactory in 2008, there would be less water to withdraw from Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River in the future.  So how will Georgians react?  In the same manner Georgians have always reacted.   As existing water sources become…       Read More

Georgia now has a new Illegal Immigration Reform and /Enforcement Act of 2011 that will require private employers with 500 or more employees to begin using E-Verify to check the employment authorization of newly-hired employees by January 1, 2012. Employers with 100 or more employees must begin E-Verify confirmation for new hires by July 1, 2012.  Employers with 11 or more employees have until July 2013 to begin compliance. Only full-time employees who work 35 hours or more a week are included in the definition of “employee.” Employers will be required to complete an affidavit confirming compliance with the E-Verify provision in connection with securing a new or renewed business license. E-Verify is an Internet-based resource operated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services where employers can confirm employee-provided I-9 information against records contained in Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration databases.  The new penalties for non-compliance…       Read More

On May 19, 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor launched its first application for smartphones. Available in English and Spanish, the application helps employees conveniently track regular work hours, break time and any overtime hours for one or more employers. It also provides a calculation of gross pay and overtime pay. DOL promises updated versions that will allow tracking of tip income, bonuses, deductions from pay, holiday pay, shift differentials, and paid time off. New versions will work not only on iPhone and iPod Touch, but also Blackberry and Android-based smartphones. According to the DOL, “This new technology is significant because, instead of relying on their employers’ records, workers now can keep their own records.”   This is important in two respects: First, the FLSA requires employers to maintain accurate records of hours worked by nonexempt employees, and failure to maintain records is a violation of the FLSA in itself, even…       Read More