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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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30 Jun 2017 ‘Bona Fide Relationships’ Under Trump’s New Travel Ban: Who’s In and Who’s Out?

  The U.S. Supreme Court made headlines on June 26 when it partially mandated aspects of Trump’s notorious “travel ban” barring immigrants from select countries from entering the United States. In a lengthy opinion, the court provided that people seeking visas from six restricted countries – namely Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – would be temporarily barred from entering the United States unless they can claim a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States. This uncertain description of…

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28 Jun 2017 Content of Doctors’ Notes May Help Plaintiffs Establish Evidence of Disability Discrimination

  How often do you scrutinize doctors’ notes turned in by employees for signs of a claimed disability? A recent California case, Parker v. Comcast Cable Commc’ns Mgmt., LLC, serves as a reminder that the content of doctor’s notes can serve as strong evidence that an employer has constructive knowledge of one’s disability. Such a showing can therefore make it easier to establish and bring claims of disability discrimination against employers.   In order to be liable for a disability discrimination claim under California’s Fair…

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05 Jun 2017 ‘Hey Boss, F*@& You!’ Profanity-Laced Facebook Tirade Not Enough to Get the Axe

  A recent case out of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals demonstrates yet again the perils of firing an employee based on a seemingly inexcusable Facebook tirade. The matter involved an employee for a catering company who was upset that his supervisor admonished him and others in a “raised, harsh tone” about “chitchatting” with co-workers as guests arrived at a catered event. In response, the employee used his cell phone to make a public post on Facebook that said: “Bob is such a NASTY…

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02 Jun 2017 Trump-Era Immigration Worksite Raid Threats May Bring New Requirements for California Employers

  Amidst fears of increased workplace immigration raids during Trump’s presidency, California’s legislature recently introduced a bill that, if passed, would ban employers from providing workplace access to immigration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials without a warrant. This bill could have enormous affects for California, where more than 2.6 million undocumented workers reside. Notably, almost one in every 10 California workers is undocumented, and undocumented workers make up almost half of California’s agricultural workforce.   The measure, AB 450, called the Immigrant…

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30 May 2017 Another Review of the EEOC’s Subpoena for ‘Pedigree Information’

  In a prolonged battle over the issue of whether an employer must respond to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) subpoena for “pedigree information” in connection with its investigation of a sex discrimination charge, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered the District Court in Arizona to review the matter again.   In 2013, former employee Damiana Ocho filed a charge of discrimination against McLane Company, alleging that the company discriminated on the basis of sex when it fired her…

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25 May 2017 Need to Check an Employee’s Criminal Background? Tread Carefully

  Federal laws do not prohibit employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history. But equal employment opportunity (EEO) and federal laws prevent employers from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of this information. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has guidelines that establish the following rules:   Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from treating people with similar criminal records differently because of their race, national origin, color, sex or religion Title VII also prohibits employers from using policies…

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24 May 2017 Trump’s Proposed Paid Family Leave

  In his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018, President Donald Trump allocated $20 billion to establish a “Federal-state paid parental leave program” within the unemployment insurance program. The paid family leave program would provide six weeks of paid leave benefits for mothers, fathers and adoptive parents. The program would begin in 2020.   Exact details on how this program would be run, however, were not provided in the proposed budget. However, the budget plan explained that states would have “broad latitude” in designing and…

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24 Apr 2017 California Supreme Court Throws Down the Gauntlet on Arbitration Waivers

  The California Supreme Court is no stranger to invalidating mandatory arbitration provisions. Recently, however, the court lay down yet another challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion case, holding that an arbitration agreement that waives the right to public injunctive relief is unenforceable under California law.   In the case, McGill v. Citibank, N.A., Sharon McGill alleged that Citbank engaged in illegal and deceptive practices in marketing a credit insurance plan she purchased. She filed a class action suit under…

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13 Apr 2017 Minnesota Human Rights Act’s Statute of Limitations Tolls When Employer Investigates Discrimination Complaints

  The Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) requires an individual to either commence a civil action or file a charge with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) within one year after the occurrence of an unlawful discriminatory act. However, that one year time period is suspended when the individual and the employer voluntarily engage in a dispute resolution process. The statute states that a “dispute resolution process” can include arbitration, conciliation, mediation or grievance procedures.   Most employers have believed the statute of limitations…

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11 Apr 2017 Suspending Employee Who Hit Boss With Vehicle Not Retaliation

  In a rather unusual case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Court ruled that the U.S. Postal Service (“Postal Service”) did not retaliate against an employee when it suspended him for two days after he hit his supervisor with a postal vehicle.   Javier Cabral, a letter carrier for the Postal Service, filed three different Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) complaints and several union grievances alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Cabral ultimately sued the Postal Service, alleging hostile work environment, harassment,…

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