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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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11 Jan 2013 Wage and Hour Division Seeks Comments to Proposed Information Collection for Worker Classification Survey

Earlier this week, the Wage and Hour Division for the Department of Labor (DOL) published a Request for Comments on its proposed information collection for worker classification survey. According to the DOL, the purpose of this survey is to “collect information about employment experiences and worker’s knowledge of basic employment laws and rules so as to better understand employees’ experiences with worker misclassification.”  The DOL’s collection effort will “gather information about workers’ employment and pay arrangements and will measure workers’ knowledge about their current job…

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11 Jan 2013 Department of Labor Secretary Solis Resigns

Earlier this week, Secretary Hilda Solis announced that she is leaving the Department of Labor (DOL), creating a vacancy for President Obama to fill. In her letter to DOL employees, Solis stated that she submitted her resignation to President Obama earlier in the day after “much discussion with family and close friends” over the holiday season.  Solis’ letter praised the enforcement efforts of the DOL, noting that last year the largest number of investigations were conducted “in recent memory, collecting the most back wages in…

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09 Jan 2013 OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting Program for 2013 Announced

On Jan. 8, 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that at least 1,260 randomly selected establishments will be inspected by OSHA as part of its Site-Specific Targeting (SST) Program. The initial focus will be on workplaces with above-average injury and illness rates in high-hazard industries. Although the Program was named Site-Specific Targeting 2012 (SST-12), it became effective on Jan. 4, 2013 and is anticipated to continue through January 2014. According to OSHA, the SST-12 Program is aimed at preventing injuries and illnesses…

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09 Jan 2013 8th Circuit Upholds Class Waivers in FLSA Cases

On Jan. 7, 2013, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision, holding that nothing in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prohibits enforcement of an arbitration agreement that includes a class waiver. In Owen v. Bristol Care, Inc., former employee, Sharon Owen, brought several claims against Bristol Care, Inc. (“Bristol Care”) under the FLSA and attempted to seek class certification.  Bristol Care argued that Owen had waived all class claims when she executed the Mandatory Arbitration Agreement (Agreement) with the company.  Bristol…

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07 Jan 2013 Texas Legislature Will Consider Employers’ Ability to Access Social Media Passwords

Tomorrow, the Texas Legislature will convene and on the agenda is a bill regarding employers’ ability to require employees to provide their social networking passwords. The bill, HB 318, introduced on Dec. 21, 2012 by Re. Heleln Giddings (D), would make it illegal for employers to require, or even request, that applicants and current employees disclose their usernames and passwords for social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. Many experts have stated that the bill, as currently written, needs to be modified before…

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03 Jan 2013 The EEOC’s Plan of Attack

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently approved its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) to establish national enforcement priorities. The SEP is an outgrowth of the EEOC’s Strategic Plan for 2012-2016. The purpose of the SEP is to coordinate the EEOC’s resources to have a “sustainable impact” on reducing discriminatory practices in the workplace. To that end, the SEP identifies six national enforcement priorities, which include: ·         Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring:  The EEOC will target class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against…

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28 Dec 2012 Iowa Supreme Court Rules that Employer Lawfully Terminated “Irresistible” Employee

Can an employer lawfully terminate a female employee because the employer’s wife is concerned about the nature of the relationship between the employer and the employee?  You bet (at least in Iowa). Dr. James Knight hired Melissa Nelson in 1999 to work as an assistant in his dental office. In the months leading up to Nelson’s termination, Dr. Knight and Nelson began texting each other regarding both work related and personal matters. While most of the texts were innocuous, Dr. Knight did send several messages that were…

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27 Dec 2012 Social Security: Record Deficit; Record Number of Disabled Workers

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Social Security program ran a $47.8 billion dollar deficit in 2012. Additionally, the number of disabled workers hit an all time high in December, totaling 8,827,795. The full story from cnsnews.com can be found here. BT CurrentsBT Currents is managed by the attorneys in Barnes & Thornburg’s Labor & Employment Law Department. It’s designed to be your resource on employment law developments across the country. BT Currents will help employers across all industries stay aware of and respond…

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21 Dec 2012 No ADA Protection for Termination Due to Fear of Swine Flu

Earlier this month, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota rejected a former employee’s “respectable argument” that his termination was unlawful under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)  because it was premised on the employer’s fear the plaintiff had been exposed to the swine-flu virus while in Mexico. Specifically, in Valdez v. Minnesota Quarries, Inc., the District Court examined the “interesting question of whether someone who is regarded as having an impairment that…is no more serious than seasonal flu…is “disabled for purposes of the…

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21 Dec 2012 Employees’ Requested Religious Accommodations Must Be Reasonable

An employee whose religion prohibits or prevents him from performing certain job duties may ask his employer to provide an accommodation. So says Title VII. However, simply because an employee makes a particular request does not mean that the employer must grant it. The request must be reasonable. This important proviso was recently demonstrated in EEOC v. Thompson Contracting, Grading, Paving & Utilities, No. 11-1897, 2012 WL 6217612 (4th Cir. Dec. 14, 2012).  There, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued a construction contractor on behalf a Hebrew Israelite…

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