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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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31 Mar 2016 University of Iowa Wins Trial Against Immigration Lawyer Claiming Age Discrimination

  A unanimous jury recently determined that the University of Iowa’s (UI) decision not to hire a 55-year-old man did not amount to age discrimination. In 2010, Donald Dobkin applied for a teaching position at UI’s College of Law. When Mr. Dobkin was not chosen for the position, he brought a lawsuit, claiming he was passed over because of his age. He also asserted that UI hired a less experienced person for the job because she was younger. Following a full trial, a jury returned…

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30 Mar 2016 Minnesota Lawmakers Consider Paid Family Leave Bill

  Earlier this month, a group of Minnesota DFL State Representatives introduced a bill that would create a paid family leave program for employees working for private employers. The bill, H.F. No. 2963, would allow eligible employees to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave each year under the following circumstances:   Serious health condition of the employee that renders him or her unable to perform the function of his or her position with the employer; Prenatal care or incapacity due to pregnancy, childbirth…

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18 Mar 2016 New York City Cares – “Caregivers” Become Protected Employees

  New York City is protecting those who care for others. Effective May 4, an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law will make “caregivers” protected employees. Under the amended law, New York City employers with four or more employees will be prohibited from taking adverse employment actions, including firing or refusing to hire, as well as from discriminating against an individual because of actual or perceived “caregiver status.”   The amended law is expansive for a number of reasons, in particular the…

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09 Mar 2016 EEOC Continues Visible Stance on Sexual Orientation Discrimination Protection

  As predicted by many, 2016 will likely be a year the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will continue its push for the expansion of the rights afforded pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.   This month, the EEOC filed its first two lawsuits accusing employers of gender bias for discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation. Specifically, both cases allege employee harassment on the basis of sexual orientation, in addition to retaliation. There are many local and…

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29 Feb 2016 Seventh Circuit to Review Wellness Program Under Americans with Disabilities Act

  Employers with incentivized wellness programs should keep a close eye on the Seventh Circuit’s treatment under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of a plastic-maker’s policy that requires medical exams as part of its voluntary wellness program. Previously, a federal court in Wisconsin ruled that the employer’s policy – which required enrolled employees to answer medical history questions, have blood drawn, and have their blood pressure measured – came within the ADA’s “safe harbor” provision because the employees were not at risk of losing…

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17 Feb 2016 How to Minimize Retaliation Claims During the Termination Process

Last week, the EEOC recently released its enforcement data for Fiscal Year 2015. Unsurprisingly, retaliation claims continue to rise and made up nearly 45 percent of all charges filed. This statistic is unsurprising given the relative ease it is for an employee to assert a claim.   In most jurisdictions, the employee must only show he or she made a good faith complaint about an employment practice such as discrimination or harassment and, shortly thereafter, the employee suffered some form of adverse employment action such…

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16 Feb 2016 Refusal to Exempt Employee from “Mark of the Beast” Hand Scanner Proves Damning for Company

  This week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) scored a victory on behalf of a man who claimed that his former employer failed to accommodate his religious beliefs. Beverly Butcher, an Evangelical Christian who had worked at a mine operated by Consolidation Coal Co. for 35 years, feared that a biometric hand scanner used to clock employees in and out of work was really a mechanism that affixed upon its users the “Mark of the Beast,” as described in the Biblical Revelations. Butcher, who…

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15 Jan 2016 HR Note to Self: Accommodate Obvious Disabilities

  A recent case out of Connecticut federal court serves as a fine reminder that a good dose of common sense can be indispensable for staying out of trouble under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In the case in question, a call center employee was a top performer, consistently receiving sterling performance evaluations and even a special award for outstanding service. Unfortunately, a car accident led to disabling spine, hip, elbow, shoulder, and knee injuries. The employee’s performance suffered as her injuries made it…

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08 Jan 2016 Permanent Lifting Restrictions and the ADA

  Permanent lifting restrictions can be a headache for employers when navigating through the accommodation process under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In determining the reasonableness of accommodating these restrictions, employers should review the essential functions of the position, whether it has provided similar accommodations, and whether such an accommodation could be provided permanently. All of this can be time consuming and difficult and can result in litigation if done wrong. However, a recent decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals provides some…

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05 Jan 2016 New Year, New Laws: Welcome to 2016 in California

  In true California fashion, new measures that took effect on Jan. 1 will benefit millions of workers while posing additional challenges for employers. Some are broad, while others have a narrower focus. Below is a round-up of the notable New Year’s laws:   Minimum Wage The state minimum wage increased to $10 perhour. The $10 rate is the highest minimum in the nation—don’t worry Californians, Massachusetts also adopted this rate. For some comparison, the federal minimum is $7.25 perhour. Keep in mind that with the…

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