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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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22 Jun 2012 Court Rules Participation in Post-Lawsuit Internal Investigation is Protected Activity

Although not particularly surprising, the Northern District of Illinois recently held that an employee who participated in an “internal investigation” regarding a former co-worker who had recently filed a race discrimination lawsuit was engaging in protected activity under Title VII.  The employee was therefore allowed to move forward with his retaliation claim after he himself was terminated several months later.  The opinion, Gomez v. Restaurant One Limited Partnership, may be found here. The case is noteworthy because the Seventh Circuit has previously held that participating…

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18 Jun 2012 Obama Directive Offers Relief to Certain Unauthorized Immigrants

Under a new directive from President Obama, unauthorized immigrants who meet specific criteria will not be subject to deportation, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization immediately. To be eligible for relief, individuals must show, on a case-by-case basis, that they: – came to the United States under the age of 16; – have continuously lived in the U.S. for at least five years (before June 15) and are now present in the U.S.; – are currently in school, have graduated from high…

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18 Jun 2012 DOL Decision Supports Expansion of SOX Whistleblower Protections To Contractors of Publicly Traded Companies

The Administrative Review Board (Board) for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a decision, expanding the scope of the whistleblower protections under Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX). In Spinner v. David Landau and Associates, LLC., the Board specifically rejected an earlier decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and, instead, found that SOX’s whistleblower protections extend to the employees of contractors and subcontractors of publicly traded companies. In the Spinner case, Thomas Spinner was a Certified Public Accountant,…

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11 Jun 2012 Business Groups Join In Request For EEOC To Pay For Title VII Case

In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Peoplemark, Inc., Case No. 11-2582, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Equal Employment Advisory Council and the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center recently joined Peoplemark, Inc., in its request that Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals uphold the lower court’s award of $752,000 in attorney’s fees and costs awarded to the temporary employment agency after a voluntarily dismissed discrimination action by the U.S. Equal Employment Commission. The lower court’s award of fees and costs to Peoplemark…

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06 Jun 2012 Are Your Summer Interns Covered By Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws?

Several months ago the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued an informal discussion letter addressing whether interns (paid and unpaid) are covered by the anti-discrimination laws enforced by the agency (e.g. Title VII, GINA).  The Commission’s letter can be found here. With the summer months upon us, we thought it would be helpful to revisit the issue. The analysis for paid and unpaid interns will differ.  For unpaid interns, coverage likely will turn on whether the intern receives “significant remuneration” for his or her services (e.g. workers’ compensation benefits or access…

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04 Jun 2012 A Complete Overview of the NLRB’s Memorandum Regarding Social Media Policies in the Workplace

A.      Executive Summary. On May 30, 2012, the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon issued a memorandum regarding social media policies in the workplace, the third such memorandum in recent months. The memorandum provides numerous examples of employer policies that ran afoul of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), and a few examples where employers “got it right.” While it remains to be seen whether the NLRB’s interpretations are supported by the courts, employers should recognize that these policies are a…

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04 Jun 2012 EEOC Finds that Transgender Workers Are Protected by Title VII

In a landmark decision, the EEOC recently found that discrimination against transgender individuals constitutes sex discrimination in violation of Title VII. The administrative decision stems from a case where Mia Macy, a transgender individual, was denied a job as a ballistics technician by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The facts are straightforward: Macy previously was a police detective in Phoenix, Arizona. In December 2010, she decided to relocate to San Francisco. During this time frame, Macy was informed that the Bureau was…

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22 May 2012 Indiana Ranks 13th In EEOC Charges Received by State

For the first time ever, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released a state-by-state analysis of charges received.  The statistics cover 2009-2011 and the link can found here.  The top five states receiving the most charges were, in order, Texas (9952), Florida (8088), California (7166), Illinois (6098), and Georgia (5599). Commentators have noted these states’ large populations generally, as well as high numbers of individuals most vulnerable to discrimination, as contributing to the charge numbers.  Indiana ranked 13th in the number of charges filed…

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22 May 2012 Entertainers, Facebook Messages and the Work-Product Doctrine?

A federal district court in New York recently ruled that Facebook messages sent by plaintiffs in anticipation of litigation were eligible for qualified protection under the “work-product” doctrine (meaning they would be shielded from disclosure). Plaintiffs were former entertainers at the Penthouse Executive Club, and brought a collective action alleging the defendants failed to pay minimum wages and overtime compensation. The messages, sent to potential class members, reflected conversations with plaintiffs’ counsel regarding litigation strategy. The communications also included responses to specific questions about the lawsuit. However, reply messages from nonparties…

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