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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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22 Sep 2016 War Over Sexual Orientation and Title VII Rages On

  Advocates for a federal ban on sexual orientation discrimination are waging a war on multiple fronts, fighting their battles in courts across the country and seeking rulings that Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, even if the statute does not specifically reference it as a protected class.   Last week in a high-profile Second Circuit case, Christiansen v. Omnicom Group, Inc., No. 16-748, defendant-appellee ad agency DDB Worldwide filed its brief claiming the court’s precedent that Title VII does not cover sexual…

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12 Aug 2016 Seventh Circuit Addresses EEOC’s Stance that Sexual Orientation is Protected by Title VII

  In a recent opinion, the Seventh Circuit held that a plaintiff who claimed she was discriminated against on the basis of her sexual orientation had failed to state a claim under Title VII, reaffirming the Seventh Circuit’s stance that sexual orientation is not a protected classification. However, Judge Rovner’s opinion presents a more nuanced opinion than the Court has taken on the issue in the past, acknowledging logical difficulties in the state of the law.   The plaintiff was a former community college employee…

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27 Jun 2016 What Ohio Employers Need to Know About Medical Marijuana

  Earlier this month, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 523 into law, making Ohio the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana.  Those with HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, or one of several other medical conditions may qualify for medical marijuana with their doctor’s recommendation.  Many employers may be concerned that come September when the law goes into effect, employees will start coming into work under the influence, affecting both safety and productivity in the process.  They likely don’t need to worry, though –…

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16 May 2016 Ohio Pregnancy Accommodation Bill Much More “Accommodating” to Employees Than ADA

A bill named the Pregnancy Reasonable Accommodation Act was recently introduced in the Ohio Senate (S.B. 301). Although the bill is only in its infancy, it has bipartisan support in the Senate and could quickly be ratified. If the bill becomes law, it could dramatically increase the rights of pregnant employees and place additional unwanted burdens on employers.   The bill would require employers to grant pregnant employees a reasonable accommodation, which could include:   modifying equipment, seating or uniforms providing assistance with manual labor…

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06 Apr 2016 Don’t Call a Transgender Employee “It”

By now, most people know enough about the law to know that you can’t discriminate against a worker because of characteristics like race, sex, age and disability. Those are pretty obvious and those laws have been in place for as long as most of us can remember. However, society and laws are constantly evolving, and there are always new issues employers need to watch for, both to ensure all of their employees are protected from discrimination and to make sure they are protecting themselves from…

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25 Feb 2016 Bill Proposes to Streamline Ohio’s Outdated Antidiscrimination Statutes

  Ohio’s antidiscrimination statutes are currently some of the least friendly in the country to employers. There are long statutes of limitations, individual liability for managers, and uncapped damages. Not to mention, the laws can be incredibly confusing – there are four different ways to file an age discrimination claim and they have different statutes of limitations, remedies and jurisdictions.   Hopefully for employers, this system will soon be corrected. Senator Bill Seitz has introduced Senate Bill 268, the Employment Law Uniformity Act. If the…

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12 Jan 2016 Is Sexual Orientation Discrimination Really Sex Discrimination? The EEOC Wants Courts To Think So

  Although sexual orientation is not specifically listed as a protected class under Title VII, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is fighting to expand the law through judicial interpretation to protect sexual orientation. The EEOC’s latest efforts came in an amicus brief filed in Burrows v. College of Central Florida, an Eleventh Circuit case in which the plaintiff claims she lost her job because she is a lesbian.   The EEOC makes the following arguments in its attempt to persuade the court that sexual…

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03 Dec 2015 EEOC Issues Additional Guidance on Job Rights for Employees with HIV

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued two separate guidance documents this week addressing employees with HIV. The first of the two documents, “Living with HIV Infection: Your Legal Rights in the Workplace Under the ADA,” is aimed at employees with HIV.  The document assures employees that, for the most part, they have the right to keep their condition confidential, but that they might have to disclose the condition if they are seeking reasonable accommodation, are being evaluated for eligibility for certain employee benefits or…

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22 Oct 2015 EEOC Defends “Mark of The Beast” Ruling – Religious Beliefs Don’t Have To Make Sense To Be Protected

In August 2015, the EEOC prevailed in a religious discrimination lawsuit against Consol Energy and was awarded in excess of $500,000.00.  Former Consol mine worker Beverly Butcher, who had been with the company for over 35 years, refused to use Consol’s new biometric hand scanners that were installed to track employee time and attendance.  He explained that he believed that scanners would leave the “mark of the beast” and would be a sign for the antichrist.  Consol required Butcher to use the scanners and refused…

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11 Sep 2015 Teacher’s Online Rants About Students Are Not Protected By First Amendment

In Munroe v. Central Bucks School District, the Third Circuit recently upheld summary judgment for a school district, high school and superintendent in a First Amendment retaliation case filed by a former teacher. Natalie Munroe, a former English teacher at Central Bucks East High School near Philadelphia, maintained a personal blog. Although most of her posts focused on uncontroversial topics such as recipes and vacations, several of her posts were highly critical of her students and coworkers.   Munroe opined that she wished she could…

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