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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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22 Sep 2016 War Over Sexual Orientation and Title VII Rages On

  Advocates for a federal ban on sexual orientation discrimination are waging a war on multiple fronts, fighting their battles in courts across the country and seeking rulings that Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, even if the statute does not specifically reference it as a protected class.   Last week in a high-profile Second Circuit case, Christiansen v. Omnicom Group, Inc., No. 16-748, defendant-appellee ad agency DDB Worldwide filed its brief claiming the court’s precedent that Title VII does not cover sexual…

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21 Sep 2016 The Battle Is Joined: Two New Entrants in the Fight Over New Overtime Rules

  Two new sets of allied combatants have joined the fray looking to overturn the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new overtime regulations and halt the imminent effective date. The DOL’s new rules more than double the salary threshold (to $47,476) for workers to even be considered for the so-called “white collar” exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) overtime premium requirements and are currently scheduled to take effect Dec. 1.   On Sept. 20, two complaints were filed in the Eastern District of Texas:…

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21 Sep 2016 Loose Lips Sink Ships

  Late last week, a political firestorm brewed over the hacking of various email accounts belonging to politicians and national security officials. It was reported that the hack revealed that Colin Powell, the almost universally well-liked and well-regarded retired general, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary of State, had some less than kind things to say about the current crop of presidential candidates. Powell’s emails, for example, reportedly used provocative words like “national disgrace” in one instance and “greedy” and “unbridled ambition” in…

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19 Sep 2016 Does New Illinois Law Signify A Third Frontier of Noncompete State-by-State Variations?

  Recently, Jennifer Cerven wrote on Currents about a new Illinois law that prohibits noncompete agreements for low wage workers, i.e. those making less than $13/hour. There has been heightened dialogue about such restrictions since the publicity surrounding the Jimmy John’s noncompete requirement for some of its sandwich makers. I have suggested here before that most courts I know would be discinlined to enforce a noncompete with such an employee anyway, though as one parent of a summer camp counselor appropriately pointed out to me after that post,…

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16 Sep 2016 Oklahoma and U.S. DOL Agree to Tag-Team Worker Misclassification Initiatives

  As the effort to stamp-out worker misclassification under the Fair Labor Standards Act continues to run strong, Oklahoma is the latest state to join the U.S. Department of Labor’s Misclassification Initiative. Specifically, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission entered into a three-year Common Interest Agreement with the U.S. DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, under which the agencies agree to share data, exchange information, and coordinate investigations and other enforcement actions within Oklahoma. As part of this collaboration each agency will be responsible for designating a…

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12 Sep 2016 Employee Misclassification as Independent Contractor We Knew about the DOL and IRS Issues - Now the NLRB Says it May be an Unfair Labor Practice

  As we have noted in prior blog posts, the Department of Labor (DOL) has increasingly taken the position that employers more often than not are misclassifying statutory “employees” as independent contractors. Misclassifications such as this can result in back-pay, liquidated damages and attorney’s fees for individuals as well as potential civil penalties. This is in addition to the IRS penalties that may be imposed for failing to pay back payroll taxes for individuals who are actually employees and not independent contractors. As noted on…

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08 Sep 2016 EEOC Issues Anti-Retaliation Guidance First Guidance in Nearly Two Decades Puts Employers on Notice of EEOC’s Workplace Retaliation View

  On Aug. 29, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) issued its much awaited Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues – its first enforcement guidance on workplace retaliation in more than 18 years. In addition to retaliation, this guidance also addresses the “interference” provision under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits threats, coercion or other actions that inhibit the exercise of ADA rights.   This guidance was highly anticipated as “retaliation is asserted in nearly 45 percent of all charges [received]…

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07 Sep 2016 Illinois Cracks Down on Noncompetes for Low-Wage Workers

  Should the teenage workers who make your deli sandwich (or bus tables or perform other routine entry-level work) be able to move from one job to another without running afoul of a noncompete? The court of public opinion thought so, as evidenced by the controversy that erupted over the Jimmy Johns sandwich chain’s much-publicized business plan that even low-level workers should be subjected to post-employment restrictions, as we reported here.   Now the Illinois General Assembly has stepped in with the new Illinois Freedom…

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Close up on a file tab with the word employees plus a note with the text sick leaves, blur effect at the background. Concept image for illustration of sick leave entilement.
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02 Sep 2016 Illinois Employers Who Provide Sick Leave Must Allow Workers to Use It for Children and Family Members

  Employers who provide sick leave benefits for employees in Illinois will soon have to allow employees to use their accrued paid sick time to care for their children and other family members and not just for their own illnesses.   Starting January 1, 2017, any Illinois worker who is entitled to sick leave will be able to use it for absences due to an illness, injury, or medical appointment for a child, spouse, or certain other family members on the same terms as sick…

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31 Aug 2016 EEOC: Drug Testing Policies Must Allow for Reasonable Accommodation

  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed suit against a car dealership alleging that its drug testing policy did not contain exceptions for qualified persons with disabilities. The lawsuit, EEOC v. Bell Leasing, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:16-cv-02848, was filed on August 25, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. The EEOC alleges the employer made a job offer to an applicant contingent upon a successful drug test.  When the applicant tested positive for a prohibited substance, the employer rescinded…

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