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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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19 Feb 2015 Minnesota Proposed Family Paid Leave Battle Begins

Earlier this month, proposed legislation – House File 580 – was introduced in both the State House and Senate that, among other things, would provide for paid family leave in Minnesota. This proposed legislation has gained the support of several public interest groups and trade unions and objections from most employers.   If passed, Minnesota would join California, New Jersey and Rhode Island in providing for some form of compensation to eligible employees for parental or family caregiving leave. House File 580 would require both…

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12 Feb 2015 The World Is Not Enough … But Maybe It’s Too Much for Noncompetes

While many companies agree with this James Bond family motto (taken from the epitaph of Alexander the Great) when it comes to noncompetes, such untethered restrictive covenants can be vulnerable to savvy plaintiffs (or their lawyers), as the Eighth Circuit recently reminded us in NanoMech, Inc. v. Suresh.   In NanoMech, the company specialized in nanotechnology products related to lubrication, energy, biomedical coatings, and strategic military applications. One is hard-pressed to think of technology more worthy of protection by a covenant not to compete. The…

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11 Feb 2015 Court Triples Time to Bring a Minnesota Whistleblower Claim

In the recently decided case Ford v. Minnesota Public Schools, the Minnesota Court of Appeals rebuffed long-standing precedent by holding that plaintiffs have six years to file a claim under Minnesota’s whistleblower statute. This decision effectively reversed Larson v. New Richland Center, a case that had been good law since 1995. Since Larson, and until Ford, courts had reasoned that because whistleblower claims constituted “torts resulting in personal injury,” they were subject to Minn. Stat. § 541.07(1)’s two-year statute of limitations.   The decision and…

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10 Feb 2015 Minimum Wage Continues to Rise

  Effective at the beginning of 2105, the laws of 29 states and the District of Columbia require minimum wages in private employment that are higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Despite already requiring higher wages than the federal minimum wage, the majority of those states experienced an increase in the state-mandated minimum wage effective in 2015, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.   In four states, voters approved minimum wage increases through ballot measures in the 2014 general…

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05 Feb 2015 Paid Sick Leave: Coming Soon to a City Near You?

President Obama reincarnated paid sick leave as a possible federal law right in his recent State of the Union address. “Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave,” Obama said. “It’s the right thing to do.” Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees of covered employers currently have rights to as much as twelve weeks of unpaid medical leave per year. In addition, thousands of employers of every size voluntarily provide some…

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30 Jan 2015 Supervisor’s Statement Precludes Summary Judgment

Business jargon permeates the workplace. For many of us, not a day goes by without hearing phrases such as: “hit the ground running,” “Let’s take this offline,” “paradigm shift,” “lots of moving parts,” “tenure,” etc. Some business lingo, however, may have the potential to cause trouble down the line.   A recent age discrimination case out of Louisiana illustrates this point perfectly. In this case, a manager allegedly made numerous references to hiring “new blood” for the workforce. The federal court ultimately denied the employer’s…

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30 Jan 2015 Are You Relying on Electronic Signatures for Employment Documents?

The California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, in Ruiz v. Moss Bros. Auto Group, Inc., recently affirmed an order denying a petition to compel arbitration where the employer failed to present sufficient evidence that the employee electronically signed an arbitration agreement. In Ruiz, Plaintiff Ernesto Ruiz filed a putative class action complaint alleging various wage and hour violations by his employer, Moss Bros. The company filed a petition to compel arbitration of Mr. Ruiz’s individual claims based on an arbitration agreement the Company claimed he electronically…

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23 Jan 2015 Supreme Court Leaves California’s Carve-Out for PAGA Wage-and-Hour Representative Actions Intact

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied certification of a petition challenging the California Supreme Court’s ruling in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal. 4th 348 (2014) that representative Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims cannot be waived in employment arbitration agreements. As a result, California’s carve-out exempting PAGA claims from arbitration agreements remains intact, and employees can continue to bring PAGA representative actions even if they have signed arbitration agreements with class and representative action waivers. California employers should brace for the…

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15 Jan 2015 Hope For Employers: Some Courts Are Requiring The EEOC To Thoroughly Investigate Allegations Before Siding With Employees

The EEOC, in theory, is supposed to be neutral. It is supposed to collect complaints from individuals who believe that their employers have wronged them, provide the employers with an opportunity to respond, investigate the complaints further if the circumstances warrant it, and provide the parties with an opportunity to conciliate their disputes short of litigation. Many employers feel that the EEOC is hardly neutral, however. They say that, rather than acting as an unbiased third party, the EEOC sees itself as a pro-employee agency…

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09 Jan 2015 On Break, But Still on Call: “On Call” Rest Breaks are Permissible Under California Law

On Dec. 31, 2014, the California Court of Appeal, Second District reversed a $94 million judgment in a wage-and-hour class action against ABM Industries Incorporated (ABM) in Augustus et al. v. ABM Security Services Inc.  The judgment was initially granted by a California trial court in 2012. ABM appealed the damages award, which was granted on summary judgment in a set of consolidated class actions alleging ABM’s policy of requiring security guards to carry a radio during their breaks effectively put them “on call” during…

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