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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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03 Jul 2014 Supreme Court Sides with Hobby Lobby in Contraception Case

  On June 30, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties could claim a religious exemption to the requirement that they provide health insurance for contraceptives. At issue in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell, was a provision of the Affordable Care Act which required companies with more than 50 employees to cover the costs associated with various types of contraceptives. The owners of these entities challenged this mandate saying it forced…

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01 Jul 2014 New California Employment Laws Take Effect on July 1, 2014—Increased Minimum Wage, Expanded Paid Family Leave and Further Limits on Background Checks

  California employers should be prepared to comply with several new laws that take effect on July 1, 2014. These new laws will increase California’s minimum wage from $8.00 to $9.00 per hour, expand the list of family members for whose care employees are eligible to receive Paid Family Leave wage-replacement benefits and further limit the background checks that state and local agencies can perform.  A more complete description of the new laws taking effect on July 1, 2014, can be found here.     BT CurrentsBT…

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09 Jun 2014 ADA Requires Reasonable Accommodation, Not Employee’s Preferred Accommodation

  With the EEOC presently pushing an enforcement agenda focusing, in part, on claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is important to keep in mind an often-underutilized legal principle when facing a failure-to-accommodate claim:  the law requires only a reasonable accommodation, which is not necessarily the accommodation requested or preferred by the employee.   In the recent 7th Circuit decision in Bunn v. Khoury Enters, Inc., a legally blind Dairy Queen employee sued his employer for allegedly failing to accommodate his visual…

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04 Jun 2014 Illinois legislature recognizes payroll cards as method of wage payment

  The Illinois legislature has passed House Bill 5622, which amends the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA) to expressly recognize payroll cards as a method of wage payment in Illinois. HB 5622 is currently awaiting signature by Governor Quinn.  Once signed, the new law will take effect on January 1, 2015.   At present, the IWPCA only expressly recognizes cash, check, or direct deposit as valid methods of wage payment in Illinois; the Act is silent regarding payroll cards.  Last year, however, the…

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30 May 2014 FMLA Compliance – Will you be ready if the DOL comes knocking on your door?

  Well, there you are, opening the mail and what do you see?  A letter from the U.S. Department of Labor notifying you that an investigator will be dropping by on some date certain in the next two weeks to review your FMLA policy and the forms used for administering FMLA leave for your employees. Or, perhaps the letter is more specific in that it mentions a particular employee and requests a review of all documents related to that employee’s request for leave?  In either…

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28 May 2014 No, it’s Not Groundhog Day – another state raises its minimum wage

  Yesterday, we reported on this blog that Hawaii had recently enacted legislation to raise its minimum wage to $10.10 per hour on an incremental basis. Hawaii was just one of several states that have adopted increases to its minimum wage in recent months. Well, here we go again. No, it’s not Groundhog Day, but it sure feels like it. Late yesterday, the Michigan legislature passed a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage and the Governor quickly signed it last night. The new law…

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27 May 2014 Another State Increasing Its Minimum Wage

  On May 23, 2014, Hawaii became the third state in the country to enact legislation that will incrementally increase its minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Connecticut and Maryland adopted similar legislation. Twenty-one other states and the District of Columbia currently have minimum wage laws that are above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.   Under the law, Hawaii will incrementally increase the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 by January 2018.  Employers of tipped workers also will be eligible…

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23 May 2014 Working Through Lunch: An Update on the Legal Risks

  Regular readers of this blog know that we’ve previously alerted you to the risks of using timekeeping software that automatically deducts the lunch hour from employees’ paychecks.  As we’ve explained before, such software can expose employers to liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act because, for one reason or another, employees sometimes work through lunch. And, even if an employer has a system in place for employees to request pay for lunchtime work, that is no “get out of jail free card,” because employees…

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22 May 2014 A California Cautionary Tale against Settlements that are Silent on Costs

  In a recent opinion, a California Court of Appeal held that a settlement payment constituted a “net monetary recovery” under California Code of Civil Procedure section 1032, making the plaintiff the prevailing party entitled to mandatory costs. The case of Desaulles v. Community Hosp. of Monterey Penninsula, Cal. App. 2d No. B244832 (2014) (“Desaulles”), ended without a trial on the merits, and while the employer did not obtain a favorable dismissal, it did obtain a judgment denying the employee relief.  In order to obtain…

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07 May 2014 Michigan Supreme Court Holds No Preemption When WPA Claim is Based on Reporting Alleged Criminal Conduct

  The Michigan Supreme Court has issued yet another opinion regarding the scope of Michigan’s Whistleblower Protection Act, MCL 15.361, et seq. (the WPA). This time, the Court considered whether certain claims asserted under the WPA are preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). In Henry v. Laborers’ Local 1191 (No. 145631, 5/5/14), the Court held that when an employee asserts a WPA claim premised on his/her reporting of suspected criminal activity, that claim is not…

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