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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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19 Oct 2015 Employee Fired for Facebook Selfie

A Georgia employee was recently terminated from his position at a marketing firm as a result of a disgraceful Facebook “selfie.” In this case, the employee took a “selfie” with a co-worker’s African American son and uploaded the image as his profile picture. The employee’s picture resulted in a number of Facebook “friends” making derogatory, racist, and disgraceful remarks about the child (we won’t be posting them here). In response to some of the remarks, the employee described the child as “feral.” Not surprisingly, the…

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15 Oct 2015 California Employee Arbitration Bill Vetoed

In a move that has left employers relieved, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill (AB 465) that would have prohibited employers from implementing arbitration agreements with its employees unless those employees had counsel and negotiated the arbitration agreement. The bill also would impose a $10,000 fine on employers for each violation.   In his veto message earlier this week, Governor Brown explained that the bill imposed a “blanket ban on mandatory arbitration agreements” and this ban “has been consistently struck down in other states…

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12 Oct 2015 Employee Who Threatened to Shoot His Colleagues with a Shotgun Not a “Qualified Individual” For the Purposes of Oregon’s Disability Statute, Says Ninth Circuit

The inherent tension between employee mental illness and workplace disability discrimination laws has become a hot topic over the last few years. Yet, legal opinions addressing this issue have often led to more questions than answers. For instance, what happens if an employee’s mental illness causes him or her to violate company rules? Can the employer discipline such an employee without running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Or, in the most extreme situation, what disciplinary actions may an employer take against an…

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08 Oct 2015 Altering Arbitration: Sakkab v. Luxottica Retail North America

Overtime claims that a former LensCrafters employee brought against a California franchise led the Ninth Circuit to once again tweak arbitration rules. The divided 9th Circuit panel reversed the district court’s order granting defendant Luxottica Retail North America, Inc.’s motion to compel arbitration of claims and dismissing plaintiff’ Shukri Sakkab’s  first amended complaint, in a putative class action raising class employment-related claims and a non-class representative claim for civil penalties under the Private Attorney General Act.   Mr. Sakkab filed the complaint in San Diego against defendant,…

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14 Sep 2015 Rollercoaster Week for EEOC Regarding Background Checks

Last week started poorly for the agency often criticized as overly aggressive, as a federal judge in Maryland ordered the EEOC to pay attorneys’ fees of nearly a million dollars for overplaying its hand. In EEOC v. Freeman, the agency sued a corporate events company for its background check policies, charging that those checks had a disparate impact on minorities. The problem arose when the EEOC brazenly pushed ahead with its case even after its alleged statistics expert’s report was thoroughly debunked by Fourth Circuit…

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11 Sep 2015 Obama Executive Order Mandates Broadly Defined Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors

On Sept. 7, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order directing that all new federal procurement contracts contain a clause specifying that all employees whom perform work under a federal contract or subcontract shall earn not less than 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Significantly, the Executive Order also contains a broader definition of “paid sick leave” than employers customarily have provided.   Under the Executive Order, paid sick leave includes not only absences due to physical or mental illness,…

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03 Sep 2015 Choose Your Words Wisely

In Figueroa v. Village of Melrose Park, a former female probationary officer filed a lawsuit alleging gender and race discrimination. Of relevance to this post, the plaintiff’s police chief expressed concern that she would be a liability because the plaintiff would be unable to defend herself in a confrontation with a “200-pound man.” In denying summary judgment, the district court held that this remark amounted to direct evidence of gender discrimination. While some may argue that the remark was nothing more than a “real world”…

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01 Sep 2015 Comment Period for Controversial Overtime Rule Closes Soon

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will not extend the comment period for its controversial proposed Overtime Rule, which was formally published on July 6, 2015. As a result, the comment period will close Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. Comments can be submitted on the proposed Overtime Rule at www.regulations.gov.   The proposed Overtime Rule sparked controversy as it would extend overtime protections to persons currently falling within the exempt status definition under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Currently, to qualify as exempt from the…

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01 Sep 2015 Hiring Advertisements May Help Avoid Claims Under the ADA

Employers should carefully consider what their hiring advertisements say and include language regarding the essential functions of the positions for which they are hiring; such wording may assist in a discrimination claim.  In Kilcrease v. Domenico Transp. Co., Court No. 13-cv-03193-WYD-MJW (D. Colo. Aug. 28, 2015), the employer successfully defended claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended and such success was based, in large part, upon the company’s job advertisement which clearly outlined the essential functions of the position.   Mark Kilcrease…

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31 Aug 2015 Pay Attention to Those Doctor’s Notes

It should be obvious to most that an employee seeking FMLA leave must provide some type of notice to his or her employer. The question that often arises, however, is what type of notice suffices to confer an employee with FMLA protection? The FMLA regulations themselves offer little help in answering this question. Pursuant to these regulations, a notice will confer FMLA protection if it:   Is “sufficient” to make the employer aware that the employee needs FMLA-qualifying leave; and Provides the anticipated timing and…

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