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Blog: Opinions & Observations

Same or Equivalent: Placing Employees Returning from FMLA Leave

May 22, 2017

On May 16, 2017, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a written opinion addressing two issues regarding the placement of returning employees.  The Court held that employers have a choice on whether to restore an employee returning from FMLA leave to the employee’s old position or to assign the employee to an “equivalent” one, which may give employers more flexibility in making staffing decisions. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), employees who take leave...

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Legal Remedies Available to Persons Who Are Injured or Whose Property Is Damaged by 94,000 Gallons of Aviation Fuel Released at Naval Air Station Oceana on May 11, 2017

May 12, 2017

On May 11, 2017 the Navy announced that approximately 94,000 gallons of jet fuel (JP-5) were released from a bulk “fuel farm” at Naval Air Station Oceana.  The spilled fuel leaked into a waterway that carried the JP-5 into the surrounding community where it reached nearby residential properties.  A multi-agency government team is working to contain and then clean up the spill.  The federal laws that force the spiller to clean up the spill are the Resource, Conservation and...

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Can I File Suit if I Don’t Have a Signed or Written Contract?

May 08, 2017

Work is often performed without a signed contract.  What happens when one party breaches a contract when there is nothing in writing or when a written contract is not signed?  Agreements in these situations can still be breached and the court can award damages resulting from these contracts.     Verbal Contracts The most common scenario is when there is nothing in writing.  When there is no document at all, the parties have agreed to an oral contract.  Oral contracts that do...

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Supreme Court of Virginia Shifts Jurisdiction of Some Actions of Unlawful Detainer

April 04, 2017

In June of 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia decided Parrish v. Fannie Mae, setting a new precedent for the way in which some types of unlawful detainer actions are tried in Virginia courts.  This case is significant to purchasers of foreclosed properties that are still occupied by the former owners, making litigation to gain possession more complex, time-consuming and costly.  When a bank puts a property up for foreclosure sale, the previous occupants sometimes refuse to...

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New SBA Rules Allow Greater Use of Joint Ventures by Both Small and Large Businesses for Participation in Small Business Set Asides

March 10, 2017

For businesses who are interested in contracting with a federal agency under one of the Small Business Administration’s set aside programs, two changes in the rules and regulations in 2016 governing the SBA’s small business programs have opened a crack in the door for greater participation in one of the SBA’s small business programs by small businesses, and by large business “mentors,” through a greater use of joint ventures.  In May, 2016, the SBA’s Small Business Size...

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Avoiding the Employee Retaliation Trap

March 07, 2017

Employers can be liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 without ever actually discriminating against an employee.  For example, a Roanoke hair stylist recently brought suit against her former employer alleging that it subjected her to a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII because she was a Caucasian woman dating an African-American man and that the salon terminated her in retaliation for complaining about harassing statements made to her about...

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“Making America Great Again” – An Immigration Attorney’s Perspective

January 31, 2017

Since November 8, 2016 – the date on which the United States voted Republican candidate Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States – I have received numerous inquiries about what a Donald Trump presidency would mean for U.S. immigration policy and the immigrants and nonimmigrants living in the United States. The questions have stemmed from curiosity, concern, and sometimes outright fear. While no one can predict exactly what will happen over the next four years,...

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Grounds for Divorce in Virginia

October 24, 2016

Whether one is contemplating a divorce or is going through a separation, amicable or hostile, it is important to note what the law requires in order to move forward with a divorce action.  In Virginia, there are three fault grounds for an absolute divorce: (1) adultery, sodomy, or buggery committed outside the marriage[1]; (2) conviction of a felony subsequent to the marriage[2]; and (3) cruelty and desertion after a period of one year form the date of the act.[3]  Adultery...

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Unmarked Cemeteries and Gravesites in ROW Projects

October 19, 2016

Of honour'd bones indeed. What should be said? All’s Well That Ends Well (2.3.1042). Valar morghulis. Valar dohaeris. A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3, Chapter 74, Arya XIII. Despite the best-laid plans of right-of-way professionals, previously forgotten cemeteries or graveyards are sometimes discovered during the course of right-of-way projects. The words “cemetery” and “graveyard” bring with them images of ordered rows of graves with headstones or markers. There is no...

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Virginia Supreme Court Holds Teaming Agreement Unenforceable

September 28, 2016

In January 2016, I posted an Opinions & Observations column, Teaming Agreements in Virginia: Are They Enforceable?, dealing with the subject matter of whether teaming agreements are enforceable in Virginia. In that  column I mentioned that there was only one Virginia Supreme Court case dealing with this issue, W. J. Shafer Assocs. v. Cordant, Inc., 254 Va. 514, 493 S.E. 2d 512 (1997). Nevertheless, the reasoning of the Supreme Court in Shafer was followed by the United...

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