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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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17 Aug 2017 Seventh Circuit Says EEOC May Press on With Enforcement Efforts After Right-to-Sue

  In a matter of first impression for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (which covers Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana), the Court considered whether the EEOC’s authority terminates upon its issuance of a “right to sue” letter or the dismissal of a subsequent lawsuit on the merits. The Court’s decision in EEOC v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., arose out of the EEOC’s efforts to enforce a subpoena in a matter in which a “right to sue” letter had been issued (after the…

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15 Aug 2017 Single Use of Racial Slur Sufficient to Assert Harassment Claim

  In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that a single use of a derogatory term can sustain a workplace harassment claim. In Castleberry v. STI Group and Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the parties disputed whether or not a single use of a racial slur could be “severe” enough to support the plaintiff’s claim of harassment and survive a motion to dismiss.   The plaintiffs, two African-American employees, brought claims for harassment, discrimination, and retaliation after they were terminated…

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11 Aug 2017 Survey Says: Almost All Employers Use Background Checks (and Other Notes on Pre-Employment Testing)

    As we sometimes do, we turn our attention to one of the monthly surveys from the Ohio-based Employers Resource Association (ERA). This survey focuses on a number of interesting questions about hiring trends as practices, such as who interviews applicants (24 percent of respondents have peers interview applicants) and what resources are used to find candidates (not surprisingly, online job boards leads at 89 percent).   More on the employment law side, I thought the question showing what percent of employers use various kinds…

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08 Aug 2017 Sexual Orientation: DOJ and EEOC Take Opposite Positions in Amicus Briefs Filed in Same Case

  In a bizarre twist, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) have each filed amicus briefs on opposite sides of a sexual orientation discrimination case involving Title VII. Since 2013, the EEOC has consistently taken the position that Title VII prohibits sexual orientation discrimination.   As we have covered in past posts, there have been a number of recent decisions regarding whether Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In particular, the…

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03 Aug 2017 What’s Mine Is Not Yours! School Districts Reminded of FERPA’s Sole Possession Exception

  Many school districts throughout this upcoming school year will likely be faced with requests for student records from various sources. Student records are protected by one of the strongest privacy protection laws in the nation, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). All educational institutions that are recipients of federal education funds are required to adhere to FERPA’s strict regulations prohibiting the release of student information. While FERPA safeguards the release of student education records, parents essentially have an unhindered right to inspect…

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26 Jul 2017 DOL Invites Public Input: Rethinking the Stalled Questions on Overtime

  Perhaps lost amidst other issues in Washington, D.C., the Department of Labor (DOL) announced on July 25 that it is tackling the long-awaited questions about overtime regulations.   The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is publishing a formal Request for Information that asks for public feedback on the Obama administration’s overtime rule. Once the RFI is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to submit comments. You’ll remember that the overtime regulations, which doubled the minimum salary levels for…

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20 Jul 2017 The Color of Your Shoes and At-Will Employment

  At-will. At-shmill.   It bears repeating: At-will. At-shmill.   (I checked on my decidedly non-lawyer like tendency to deride something by repeating it with “shm-’ added. Turns out it’s really a thing.)   That’s what I think to myself when (hypothetically speaking) an employer sued by a recently terminated employee sits down and proclaims some variation of the following: “We can’t lose this case because she was an ‘at-will’ employee.” The statement is made as if the presence of a handbook statement and an…

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19 Jul 2017 Third Circuit Addresses Application of Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine

  For an employer seeking to protect its trade secrets, the inevitable disclosure doctrine – when recognized – provides a sound basis for obtaining injunctive relief. This doctrine typically applies when a former employee, with knowledge of the former employer’s confidential or trade secret information, accepts a similar role with a competitor. Oftentimes, such an employee cannot “unlearn” the information provided by the former employer and will inevitably use it to the former employer’s competitive disadvantage.  Utilisave, LLC v. Miele, 2015 WL 5458960 (Del. Ch….

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18 Jul 2017 Sticks and Stones: When Texts and Emails Will Hurt You

  Sticks and stones may break my bones But words will never hurt me   Recent legal decisions painfully remind us that words, specifically words in a text, instant message or email, can derail an employer’s position or defense.  The informality of these electronic communications tends to create the mindset that they are less subject to exposure or scrutiny than a formal written letter or memorandum.   In a recent case, Martin v. Tall Brown Dog, LLC, the plaintiff was a recently hired leadership/business development…

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11 Jul 2017 U.S. Department of Labor Abandons Obama Overtime Rule

  On June 30, the U.S. Department of Labor told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that it intends to abandon the Obama overtime rule, but pursue new rule-making to set a more reasonable salary level. The department asked the Fifth Circuit to confirm is ability to set a minimum salary level through rulemaking. The department told the Fifth Circuit it would not initiate new rulemaking until the court affirms its right to set a minimum salary level – so timing remains uncertain.  …

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