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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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08 Apr 2014 Act One in Unpaid Intern Appeal Has Begun

  Act One has begun in the appeal of the unpaid movie and publishing interns.  The scene starts with adversaries finding themselves in the unusual position of playing the role of the appellant at the same time.  Cut to a flashback when last year, two New York federal district court judges reached contrary conclusions in the two separate cases that had been filed, with one judge granting and the other denying class certification.  Fast forward past the court’s granting interlocutory appeals in both cases and…

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01 Apr 2014 This Should Go Without Saying: An Employee Who Is Only Potentially Qualified for FMLA Leave Is Not Actually Qualified For Leave

Under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), a qualified employee is permitted to take up to 12 weeks of leave in order to seek treatment for “a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position of such employee.”  Additionally, the FMLA prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who have given notice of their need to take qualifying leave.  What happens, though, when an employee simply gives notice of his need to take potentially qualifying leave at some point…

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17 Mar 2014 Second Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Untimely Filed State Law Claims from Title VII Harassment Suit

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that filing a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not toll the limitations periods for filing state law tort claims, even if the state law claims arise out of the same factual circumstances as the discrimination alleged in the EEOC Charge. Castagna v. Luceno, No. 13-076-cv, 2014 WL 840964 (2d Cir. March 5, 2014). This issue has not yet been decided in most of the federal appeals courts, but the Second Circuit…

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14 Mar 2014 USERRA – Don’t Forget about Service Members on Military Leave During Your Asset Sale

USERRA is one of those laws that may affect very few members of your workforce, but if it does, you better know what your obligations are. A recent decision issued by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals serves as a good reminder to employers of some of those obligations.   In Dorris v. TXD Services, LP (8th Cir. Feb. 27, 2014), the Eighth Circuit reversed a district court’s order granting summary judgment to an employer who failed to include a service member’s name on a list…

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06 Mar 2014 No Exposure to Allergens in the Workplace – Is there a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA?

It’s common for employers to receive complaints from employees about allergens in the workplace. But what is an employer obligated to do when an employee’s physician explicitly restricts that employee from having any exposure to an allergen that cannot be eliminated from the workplace? Well, let’s put on our ADA hat. What are employers obligated to do? Oh yes, that’s right – engage in the interactive process! Here’s a real life example that may have some practical applications to situations you’re currently facing. In Horn…

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27 Feb 2014 How much can a Facebook post cost you? About $80K

Patrick Snay was an instructor at a Florida educational institution. After the school declined to renew his contract, Snay filed a lawsuit alleging age discrimination and retaliation. The parties ultimately settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount … well, until Snay’s daughter jumped on Facebook and posted the following: “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver,’ she wrote to her more than 1,200 friends. ‘Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” Snay never saw a penny…

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27 Feb 2014 Workplace Bullying may Amount to Actionable Discrimination

A recent court of appeals decision highlights the risks associated with failing to address allegations of workplace “harassment” or “bullying.” In Woods v. Boh Brothers (5th Cir. 2013), Kerry Woods was employed by Boh Brothers as welder. In this capacity, Woods was supervised by Chuck Wolfe. Woods claimed that during his employment, Wolfe subjected him to almost-daily verbal and physical harassment: – Wolfe directed very foul language and locker room talk at Woods; – Wolfe referred to Woods by graphically derogatory names many of which…

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14 Feb 2014 “Too Cute” New York Yoga Instructor To Join “Irresistible” Iowa Dental Assistant?

Just in time for Valentine’s Day…. The regular readers of this blog might remember a case that the Iowa Supreme Court handed down last summer, Nelson v. Knight (Case No. 11-1857). It revolved around a dentist’s decision to fire his assistant because he felt that she was a threat to his marriage. As you might recall, his assistant was not romantically interested in him. He found her to be “irresistible,” though, and he was afraid of what might happen if he continued to employ her….

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07 Feb 2014 EEOC Releases Detailed FY 2013 Statistics Showing Highest Monetary Recovery in Agency History

As we previously reported, the EEOC issued its Performance and Accountability Report for FY 2013 in December, which in part summarized the agency’s activity from October 2012 through September 2013. As promised in December, the agency has released more detailed charge and litigation statistics for its FY 2013 activity, providing better insight into what is on its radar (and what employees are complaining about). Data tables provide detailed breakdowns for intake and resolution of charges, in addition to initiated and resolved litigation. A summary of…

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31 Jan 2014 FMLA Leave for Vacation? Yes, Under the Right Circumstances!

As any HR department will confirm, navigating the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can be a tricky thing.  More than a few clients have lamented the never-ending struggle to curb FMLA abuse. That being said, a good dose of common sense and good employment counsel can go a long way in preventing future lawsuits. In the recent case of Ballard v. Chi. Park Dist. (found here), the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s ruling refusing to grant the CPD summary judgment on…

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