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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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29 Oct 2014 Simply Because You Have Been Sued Doesn’t Mean That You Should Sue Back – At Least Not Immediately

  Many employers are shocked when they find out they have been sued by a former employee, and that shock frequently turns to anger. Employers often tell their lawyers that there’s no merit to the employees’ allegations, and they say they want to countersue for “malicious prosecution.” A high profile case that was recently filed in New York state court – Facebook Inc. et al. v. DLA Piper LLP (USA) et al., (Case No. 653183/2014) – provides a brief learning lesson for employers who believe…

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13 Oct 2014 Don’t Mess With Texas…Roadhouse

Being directly in the cross-hairs of the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) can be a daunting experience for any employer. In response to what to what it believes to be overreaching litigation tactics by the EEOC, however, Texas Roadhouse is swinging back. According to Texas Roadhouse, the EEOC – on its own accord and without a single complaint from a job applicant or employee – initiated an investigation of the restaurant’s hiring practices of “front of the house positions,” such as hostesses. The Restaurant asserts…

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02 Oct 2014 There’s No Question – The EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan Is In Full Bloom

  You’ll recall that the EEOC put out a Strategic Enforcement Plan to cover FY 2013-2016. This Plan offered a peek into what the Agency might tackle in the coming years. One of the Agency’s six national priorities was to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, which, in the Agency’s words included “issues associated with significant events, demographic changes, developing theories, new legislation, judicial decisions and administrative interpretations.” Well, based on the Agency’s actions over the past week or so, no one…

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30 Sep 2014 EEOC SUES TWO EMPLOYERS FOR TRANSGENDER DISCRIMINATION

  In June, we wrote about a landmark decision where the EEOC found that discrimination against transgender individuals constitutes sex discrimination in violation of Title VII. Because it has been a while, here is a recap.   The administrative decision stems from a case where Mia Macy, a transgender individual, was denied a job as a ballistics technician by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The facts are straightforward:  Macy previously was a police detective in Phoenix, Arizona. In December 2010, she decided…

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18 Sep 2014 Reminder: Pregnant Employees are a Protected Class

  This should come as no newsflash: Just because you own a company, an organization, a pro basketball team or a pro baseball team, does not mean that you have a license to do or say whatever you want. At least, not without stirring up some trouble.   Donald Sterling, the former owner of the L.A. Clippers was ousted from the NBA after allegedly racist remarks were made public. Last week, we learned that Atlanta Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson self-reported that he sent a…

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02 Sep 2014 NLRB “Likes” Employees’ Facebook Argument

  The NLRB recently ruled that “liking” a Facebook comment is protected, concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Thus, firing an employee for “liking” what the company deemed to be a disparaging remark regarding tax withholdings was unlawful. The decision can be found here.   In short, employees of a bar & grille were not happy when they found out that their employer had miscalculated tax withholdings (meaning they still owed money), so they did what more and more folks seem to…

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25 Aug 2014 The Interactive Process Under the ADA – Are you engaging in it?

  We’ve been seeing a lot of cases lately where employers are finding it difficult to dispose of ADA claims before trial. It’s not what it used to be where you could often show an employee was not disabled under the ADA and likely prevail on summary judgment. With the broader scope (or interpretation of) a disability under the ADA, employers often find themselves arguing over whether an employee with a disability is qualified for a position, or whether an accommodation is truly reasonable.  …

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21 Aug 2014 Back to School for Michigan Employers – Minimum Wage Increase

  As the kiddies get ready to go back to school, employers too should freshen up on a few items that are about to change in Michigan, including the minimum wage. Back on May 28, we reported on this blog that Michigan had passed The Workforce Opportunity Wage Act, by which the minimum wage will increase from $7.40 to $9.25 per hour over the next four years. The first incremental increase takes effect on September 4, when the minimum wage will increase to $8.15 per…

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15 Aug 2014 When “I Love You” May Be Too Much

  Normally, the words “I love you” make a person feel good, happy, confident and host of other emotions. However, in the employment context, saying these three little words can cause a host of potential issues for both employers and employees. Typically, as employment attorneys, we see these words leading to claims of sexual harassment. But, now it appears saying “I love you” (among other things) also can create a claim of religious discrimination.   In June of this year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity…

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14 Aug 2014 Could Corporate Wellness Programs Land A Business in Hot Water?

The EEOC recently filed suit against an employer after it established a self-improvement program based on the “Onionhead” belief system.   The Onionhead belief system is related to the Harnessing Happiness Foundation. The Harnessing Happiness Foundation is a “501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to emotional knowledge and intelligence, conflict resolution and life handling skills for all ages.” The Foundation’s website offers the following description of the belief system: “Onionhead is part of Harnessing Happiness. We used an onion as a medium to express peeling our feelings,…

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