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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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10 Nov 2014 Five Distinctive Things About Ohio and Employment Law LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

As an employer lawyer in Columbus, I have to make this week’s letter O be for Ohio. Here are five distinctive things that help define Ohio employment law: Ohio is a very pro-enforcement noncompete state. Two key variations in state laws largely shape the enforceability of noncompetes in a state. One, will courts modify an overly broad noncompete to “make it enforceable?” Two, is continuing employment sufficient consideration to support a noncompete (as opposed to some additional consideration being required)? Ohio has given an unambiguous…

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03 Nov 2014 Nassar A Year Later: Pennsylvania ADA Retaliation Case Considers Impact of Supreme Court’s Decision LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

Readers will recall a flurry of U.S. Supreme Court decisions as the Court’s term ended in mid-2013. One of these decisions was University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar – this week’s letter of the law is N for Nassar. In Nassar, the Court held that Title VII retaliation claims should be decided under a “but for” rather than “motivating factor” causation test.  This is one of those decisions where almost anybody but an employment lawyer thinks, “That’s nice – what’s that mean?”  Generally…

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31 Oct 2014 EEOC Part of Increasing Focus on LGBT Issues

We seem clearly to be in the midst of a shift towards greater employment protections for LGBT employees, evidenced both by discrimination legislation largely at a state and local level and less directly in the legal environment by developments such as greater acceptance of gay marriage including the Supreme Court’s recent refusal to consider lower court decisions invalidating state statutes prohibiting gay marriage.   EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum recently released this interesting summary of the EEOC’s activities and positions on LGBT issues. Highlights include:   Title…

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27 Oct 2014 Municipalities Driving More Employment Law Developments (with some good maps) LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

I have noted here before the increasing important to employers of city ordinances on employers’ obligations. More and more it seems, change is taking place on a micro level. See, for example, this list of 200 cities and counties prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity. These nifty maps showing those laws in one map and maps prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the other show the patchwork that employers may deal with even with one state. Ohio, Florida, and…

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03 Oct 2014 Watch Your Language in the Workplace: Timeless Challenge for Employers LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  Some employment law issues, employers can address or at least manage with the appropriate proactive steps. Just scan through recent BT Currents posts for some examples – lawfully managing an employee’s request for accommodation, whether it be for religious or health reasons, or documenting the reasons for a RIF.  Potentially hard issues to be sure, but ones over which employers and their lawyers have some degree of control.   Much harder to manage, however, are the problems that occasionally arise from (excuse the technical…

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26 Sep 2014 Kentucky Decision Requiring Arbitration Shows A Little Language Makes a Big Difference LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  K is for this week’s Kentucky decision on the subject of the enforceability of class action waivers, a continuing hot topic we have reported on here and here. The Western District of Kentucky’s decision in Coram v. Shepherd Communications, Inc. highlights that seemingly small bits of contractual language can be decisive. This decision seemingly turned on contractual language providing that an arbitrator would have the authority to allocate the costs and fees of a matter on a case by case basis.   The lawsuit involved…

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19 Sep 2014 Jehovah’s Witness’s Claims Highlight Employer Need to Manage Workplace Religion Issues LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  A “split decision” on a Jehovah’s Witness’s claims against his university employer serves as a good refresher for employers on the issues they must be aware of in dealing with employee religious issues.  For this week’s letter of the law, J is for Bernard Westbrook, the Jehovah’s Witness who brought these claims.  The decision from a federal district court in North Carolina can be found here.   Bernard Westbrook was first employed by North Carolina A&T University in 1994, and first began working for…

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05 Sep 2014 Indiana Follows Illinois in Key Noncompete Decisions from the Heartland LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  With apologies to Iowa, home to the somewhat famous (infamous?) case of the dental assistant fired for being irresistible and Idaho (not yet featured in BT Currents), Letter of the Law this week features two of the “I states” for some of the more noteworthy noncompete decisions of the last year. As readers know, the key driver in noncompete drafting and enforcement often is the dynamic of varying state laws. Employers and practitioners need to keep tabs on developments outside their own state because, try as…

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22 Aug 2014 Home Sweet Home? Employers and Employees Are Just Scratching the Surface of How Work and Home Fit Together LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  Employers and their lawyers spend a lot of time focused on current developments and medium term trends, as they must. But after you have worked in employment law for a while, it is interesting to stop and reflect every now and then on the inexorable long term trends that shape our workplaces. (And that is actually pretty useful in effectively addressing shorter term issues.)  Two stand out for me:   1. Regardless of how one spins year to year blips, private sector unions have…

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15 Aug 2014 It Depends: The Top 3 Inherently Gray Areas of Employment Law LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

Fact-specific.   Case by case.   These are just two of the terms that stand for one of the frustrating (for employers) truths of many areas of employment law:  there are few black and white answers. There are endless shades of gray, and in honor of this week’s letter of the law (G), we recognize three common gray areas and some specific questions that must be asked when addressing situations under each. The fact that there are so many questions that need to be answered…

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