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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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02 May 2014 Flextime consideration is now law in some places

  The pros and cons of implementing “flextime” policies have long been debated. Two laws – one state and one municipal – went into effect at the beginning of this year, however, that made it mandatory for some employers in those jurisdictions to consider flexible working arrangements for their eligible employees.   Vermont passed a “flexible working arrangements” law, which grants employees the right to request a flexible working arrangement for any reason and requires employers to discuss and consider such requests at least twice…

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30 Apr 2014 Michigan’s Whistleblower Protection Act Does Not Extend to Contract Employee seeking New Term of Employment

  On April 25, the Michigan Supreme Court, in a matter of first impression, held that Michigan’s Whistleblower Protection Act (the WPA), MCL 15.362, does not provide a cause of action for a contract employee seeking a new term of employment, even if that employee alleges his or her contract was not renewed because of the employee’s whistleblowing activities.   In Wurtz v. Beecher Metropolitan District, the plaintiff, an administrator for a metropolitan district, was hired under a fixed, 10-year contract. Eight years into his…

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30 Apr 2014 Severe Obesity May Be An ADA-covered Disability, Court Rules

  A terminated employee sufficiently alleged that his employer unlawfully terminated his employment for “severe obesity” for his claims to move forward under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal judge has ruled. In Whittaker v. America’s Cart-Mart, Inc., No. 1:13CV108SNLJ (Apr. 24, 2014)),  a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri rejected the employer-defendant’s motion to dismiss, allowing the obesity-as-a-disability lawsuit to continue.   In the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint, it argued that obesity is not…

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21 Apr 2014 Fifth Circuit Denies NLRB’s Rehearing Request on Class Action Waivers; NLRB Likely to Continue Ignoring Fifth (and Other) Circuit Court Rulings

  In an April 16, 2014 one-paragraph opinion, the Fifth Circuit rejected the NLRB’s rehearing petition in D.R. Horton v. NLRB, which sought reconsideration of the Court’s December 2013 decision upholding class action waivers in mandatory arbitration agreements under the Federal Arbitration Act.  Stating that no one on the original three-member panel that decided the case, nor any judge in active service on the Circuit bench requested that the case be reheard en banc, the Fifth Circuit closed the door to any further circuit-level proceedings,…

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21 Apr 2014 Florida Supreme Court Resolves Split in Lower Court – Pregnancy Is a Protected Class under Florida Civil Rights Act

    On April 17, the Florida Supreme Court held that even though the Florida Civil Rights Act does not list pregnancy among the list of protected classes, pregnancy discrimination is prohibited under the Act because “the capacity to become pregnant is one of the most significant and obvious distinctions between the female and male sexes.”  Prior to this holding, there was a split in the lower state courts as to whether pregnancy was covered under the Act’s prohibition on sex discrimination.  That split has…

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16 Apr 2014 FMLA Medical Certifications – A few reminders to avoid getting lost in the FMLA maze

    Making your way through the FMLA regulations may often feel like weaving your way through a complicated maze. And, as with anyone facing such a maze, you’re just hoping you don’t get lost and find yourself at a dead end with no way to retrace your steps.  Don’t fret.  The regulations are not as complicated as they seem.  You can make your way through if you just focus on one step at a time.   Step 1 – Providing the eligibility notice –…

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15 Apr 2014 Minnesota Increases Minimum Wage

  Yesterday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed legislation which will increase Minnesota’s minimum wage to $8.00 per hour for “large” employers and $6.50 per hour for “small” employers. These increases will be effective August 1, 2014.  This minimum wage will increase on August 1, 2015, to $9.00 per hour for “large” employers and $7.25 per hour for “small” employers and, again, on August 1, 2016, to $9.50 per hour for “large” employers and $7.75 per hour for “small” employers.  Beginning in 2017, the minimum wage will…

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14 Apr 2014 It’s Tax Time . . . . What Does That Mean For Settling Employment Claims?

    Last summer, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a Memorandum regarding the reporting requirements for attorney’s fees paid to settle an employment claim.  The Memorandum makes it clear that the manner in which the settlement agreement is drafted and payments are made could impact tax liabilities for both the employee and the employer.   According to the IRS Memorandum, all payments for employment claims, including the specific allocation to attorney’s fees, must be included in the individual’s income, even if the fees are…

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10 Apr 2014 Inconsistent Statements Can Be Costly For Employers

  The United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma recently denied an employer’s motion for summary judgment on a former employee’s FMLA interference claim. While litigating the matter, the employer argued that the employee never truly was eligible to receive benefits under the FMLA (despite previously granting the employee leave under the Act). In response, the employee presented evidence that a supervisor had assured her while she was out on leave that her job was secure.  According to the court, this assurance…

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10 Apr 2014 Top Tech Companies Headed to Trial in Talent Poaching Conspiracy Case

  Several top tech companies are headed to trial on claims that they engaged in a talent poaching conspiracy involving agreements not to solicit each other’s employees.  Trial is set to begin next month in the Northern District of California federal court.   On Friday, March 28, 2014, in the class action case titled In re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, Judge Lucy Koh decided to send several tech companies to trial when she rejected their summary judgment motions by finding that the plaintiffs, a class…

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