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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law

07 May Pitfalls in Citing “Advice of Counsel” in Decision Making

A case decided in April underscores the risks and unanticipated consequences of referring to “advice of counsel” in defending adverse employment actions. A former hospital employee sued in federal court for alleged sexual harassment, assault, retaliation and FMLA violations. In discovery, both the hospital’s CEO and its human resources manager testified not only that they sought the advice of the hospital’s employment attorney when considering whether to place the employee on extended probation, but also that the hospital’s counsel recommended the specific action taken. The…

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06 May Legislators in House and Senate Propose Gradual Increase in Minimum Wage to $12

On May 1, a group of 200 Democratic lawmakers introduced the “Raise the Wage Act,” a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage to $8 per hour on Jan. 1, 2016, and by $1 in every succeeding year. Under the bill, the federal minimum wage would reach $12 per hour in 2020. Sponsors of the bill include 32 Senators and 160 members of the House of Representatives. Supporters of the legislation indicated that the wages of 38 million workers would increase by more than…

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01 May Reference Searches Through Social Media Do Not Create FCRA Claims

In their recruitment efforts, many employers will utilize social media to find suitable candidates for job openings. And, often employers will use the social media tools available to perform reference checks and/or verify a candidate’s employment history, experience and education history. Recently in California, a group of individuals challenged these social media background searches by suing the professional social media website, LinkedIn Corporation, because the information gleaned about these persons allegedly violated their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).   In Sweet v….

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01 May Breaking News: Employees Are Still Posting Inappropriate Content On Facebook. So Let’s Just Learn From Their Lack of Judgment

A Texas veterinarian recently posted a horrific image of herself on Facebook holding a cat killed by an arrow through its head.  Along with the image (too graphic to include here), the employee posted the following:   “My first bow kill lol.  The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s (sic) head!  Vet of the year award… gladly accepted. “And no I did not lose my job.  Psshh.  Like someone would get rid of me.  I’m awesome.” Well, she was wrong. …

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30 Apr Alleged Victim of Sex Discrimination Recovers $13 Million

Earlier this month, in the case Robertson v. Hunter Panels LLC et al., a Pennsylvania federal jury awarded a female employee $13 million after finding that she had been a victim of harassment and gender discrimination.  During the six-day trial, members of the jury heard evidence that the plaintiff had earned significantly less than the male who previously occupied her position. There was also evidence that the plaintiff’s supervisors had belittled her in front of other employees. Finally, there was evidence that when the plaintiff…

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