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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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14 Oct 2013 Employment Law Legislative Agenda in Ohio Mirrors National Scene

As the Ohio General Assembly swings back into action this fall, there are several pieces of employment related legislation that mirror areas getting attention nationally: 1. Ohio passed a concealed carry law in 2006, but the law specifically allows employers to prohibit weapons on the employer’s premises.  The most controversial aspect of this law with gun rights advocates is that employees may be prohibited from storing weapons in their vehicles.  There is some legislative support to taking away the employer’s ability to impose this restriction. …

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07 Oct 2013 Courage and HR’s “Seat at the Table” in Your Company

  Last week I heard Johnny Taylor give a keynote address to the American Association of School Personnel Administrators annual meeting in San Antonio. Mr. Taylor is a young but very accomplished (e.g. former President of SHRM) human resources professional as well as a lawyer (not to mention a very high energy and engaging speaker). He spoke to the group about a common and much-discussed question among HR professionals – how does HR get the respect it deserves, a  seat at the top executives’ table? And he was appropriately very…

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30 Sep 2013 Does the DOL’s Letter on Law Students Signal a Broader Acceptance of Intern Arrangements?

The subject of unpaid interns doing productive work has become a hot button in recent months. High profile lawsuits have been filed, and it has become a reflex response among informed employers not to entertain the possibility of unpaid interns. Undoubtedly the subject in part has taken center stage because of the difficulty young professionals have in obtaining paid jobs. They understandably want to build their resumes, and many would be quite willing to work for free if the alternative is no work at all. In the…

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16 Sep 2013 Governor Would Like Massachusetts to Join California As a Non-Noncompete State

Not long ago, Mark Scudder wrote here about the enforcement of a five-year noncompete by an Indiana state court. At the other end of the spectrum of this highly state-specific issue, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick made news this week by announcing that he is in favor of making noncompetes unenforceable in Massachusetts.  There is a significant school of thought in Massachusetts that it is disadvantaged in recruiting high-tech talent by the fact that chief rival California, in effect, prohibits employers from using noncompetes.  That talent,…

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09 Sep 2013 Decision Reminds Employers: Minimalist Medical Inquiries Are a Must

Employers need input from employees’ doctors in order to determine their and their employees’ respective rights and obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family and Medical Leave Act, disability plans, and workers’ compensation statutes. Yet employers potentially violate the ADA’s restrictions on medical inquiries if they ask for too much medical information about employees. A decision last week from the U.S. District for the District of Colorado underscores this tension, and reminds all employer to ensure that their forms for obtaining medical information…

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03 Sep 2013 State Lines May Not Be When It Comes to Noncompetes

  Hans Murphy’s post here last week on the recent Texas noncompete decision is just the latest reminder that state laws vary dramatically when it comes to the enforcement of noncompete agreements.  Employers often think that if they specify in their noncompete agreements that the law of their home state will be applied, then they will avoid the difficulties encountered in enforcing agreements in Texas and other less enforcement-friendly states. In fact, courts will often disregard choice of law clauses if their effect would be to negate…

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26 Aug 2013 You May Have More Employees Than You Think (Part II)

Following on last week’s post about a Sixth Circuit case counting certain volunteers as employees for purposes of determining whether an employer has the requisite number of employees to be covered by the FMLA, recent guidance from the EEOC cautions employers that individuals designated as “partners” or other owner-type positions may in fact be employees for purposes of determining eligibility under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). These two involve different laws and different groups of potential employees, but share the important takeaway for employers –…

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20 Aug 2013 Back to School: Time to Focus on Takeaways from Supreme Court Flurry

The end of the U.S. Supreme Court term in June included an extraordinary number of important decisions, in employment law and otherwise. Sometimes it is hard to take it all in as the new stories and alerts fly, so we thought it was a good idea now that the dust has settled to review the three key employment cases and their implications. If you missed our webinar on the topic last week a quick summary follows.   Tina Syring-Petrocchi began by reviewing Vance v. Ball…

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12 Aug 2013 Sixth Circuit: No Way to Agree to Shorten FLSA Statute of Limitations

In 2004, a Sixth Circuit decision, Thurman v. DaimlerChrysler, drew much attention by upholding in the context of a Title VII and state law discrimination claim a provision on the employer’s employment application that read: I agree that any claim or lawsuit relating to my service with [DaimlerChrysler] or any of its subsidiaries must be filed no more than six (6) months after the date of the employment action that is the subject of the claim or lawsuit. I waive any statute of limitations to…

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25 Jul 2013 Associational Discrimination: Perfectly Healthy Employee Can Have Disability Claim

A recent Massachusetts Supreme Court decision highlights a form of discrimination that employers may not always remember – associational discrimination. Associational discrimination is workplace discrimination against one for his relationship with another, and is expressly recognized in the Americans with Disabilities Act. In this case, the court recognized such a claim under a counterpart state law. In Flagg v. Alimed, Inc., a long-time employee’s wife had surgery for a brain tumor and the employee needed extra time to care for his children. The employee’s manager told him “to…

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