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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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02 Dec 2013 “Using Social Media to Discriminate”: Please Read the Fine Print

A recent study of how hiring managers respond to phony social media accounts has been featured in some outlets with bold headlines along the lines of “Employers May Use Social Media to Discriminate.” Here is what the study, by researchers at Carnegie Mellon, really concluded:  The study involved sending dummy resumes to employers and creating dummy social media accounts to accompany those resumes. (While the subject matter of the research is undeniably important, is anybody else furrowing their brows a little about, um, lying to employers for purposes…

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26 Nov 2013 Behind the Numbers: Employment Discrimination Cases at the Federal Level Decline, But Why?

Readers who enjoy a little data may want to download (free) Professor Theodore Eisenberg’s recent study of federal civil rights legislation data, including federal employment discrimination cases (available here). While certainly longer than a blog post, the article is quick and interesting reading. With respect to federal employment cases, Professor Eisenberg notes the following: 1. As a percent of the federal court docket, employment discrimination cases have steadily declined (though still a substantial portion). 2. There has been an increase in the settlement rate of…

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18 Nov 2013 Reference to Employee’s “Shelf Life” Not Enough to Prove Age Discrimination

No area of discrimination law presents as many opportunities for the interpretation (or misinterpretation) of workplace remarks as age discrimination. Google “old farts” and “age discrimination.” Seriously. There are many cases and situations where that expression is part of an age discrimination analysis. A reference by a supervisor to an employee’s “shelf life” would not seem to be as likely to indicate discriminatory animus (and “old fart” itself is far from a guarantee of success for an age plaintiff), but it was an importance part of George Roberts’…

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22 Oct 2013 Coast-to-Coast Noncompete Dispute Highlights 3 Key Enforcement Strategies

We have written here before about the importance of differences in state laws in the enforcement of noncompete agreements. A Miami court’s decision last week in a dispute between language education companies Rosetta Stone and Open English highlights this difference, as well as strategic points all companies should consider in their noncompete programs. Nicole Wilson was employed by Open English in Florida. She signed an agreement including an agreement not to compete for 6 months after her employment with Open English and not to disclose…

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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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