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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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30 Jul 2015 The South May Rise Again Someday, But Not In Your Workplace

The recent debate over the South Carolina State House’s flying of the Confederate flag has stirred up a great deal of controversy. Most Americans believe the flag is a symbol of bigotry and oppression and demanded the immediate removal of the symbol of the Confederacy. A small vocal minority of Americans, however, have rallied around the Stars and Bars, claiming it stands not for racism, but instead for Southern heritage and pride. Many in this group of supporters, both in the South and around the…

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18 Jun 2015 Zoo Fires Employee For Social Media Comment About Serving “Rude A** White People”

In suburban Chicago, the Brookfield Zoo has fired one of its employees for complaining in a social media post about having to serve “rude a** white people.”  The employee posted an Instagram selfie, which she then shared to Facebook, in which she is wearing her Brookfield Zoo uniform and in which she tagged the location as the Brookfield Zoo.   The post went viral, being shared over 6,000 times and receiving approximately 20,000 likes.  Hundreds of customers complained to the zoo and called for the…

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06 May 2015 Employers Won’t “Like” Ruling Allowing Class Action Notifications via Social Media

A New York federal court recently approved a proposal that would allow potential class members to be notified of a collective action via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. In Mark v. Gawker Media LLC, a class of former unpaid interns claims Gawker violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York State Labor Law. The plaintiffs are unaware of any mail or email address for 55 of the former Gawker interns who are potential class members, so they proposed reaching out to the potential class…

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01 Apr 2015 No Girls Allowed Isn’t Allowed: Even Roughnecks Have To Follow The Law

Even in the “manliest” of jobs, employers must be careful not to discriminate against female applicants, or it will cost them. On March 24, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma denied an employer’s motion for summary judgment against the EEOC in EEOC v. Unit Drilling Company, finding issues of fact regarding female applicants’ discriminatory failure to hire claims.   Unit Drilling Company operates oil drilling rigs and was hiring for the position of floor-hand, an entry-level job that requires no…

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25 Mar 2015 The Church of a Good Night’s Sleep? One Court Says No.

There is a growing philosophical debate in some circles about whether atheism is itself a religion. At least one California appellate court has now weighed in with an answer.  In Copple v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Marshel Copple founded his own branch of atheism called Sun Worshipping Atheism, a religion of which he is the sole member.  The central beliefs of Sun Worshipping Atheism are sleeping eight or more hours a day, getting fresh air daily, exercising frequently, having a job, being social…

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09 Feb 2015 This Message Will Self Destruct in 10 Seconds: Snapchat, Confide and the Implications of Disappearing Content on Your Business

When I was a kid, I remember reading books in which people would write each other messages in disappearing ink so they could read them, but then the content would be lost on the rest of the world forever. At the time, this seemed like pure fantasy, but new technology has made this a reality.   The cool kids have been using Snapchat for a couple of years now. For the uninitiated, Snapchat is a social media app that allows users to send their friends…

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29 Dec 2014 The Year in Social Media: Four Big Developments from 2014

As social networking has become entrenched as a tool for doing business and not just a pastime of our social lives, employers, government agencies, and even academia have taken big steps in 2014 to define how social media can and cannot, or should and should not, be used. Below is a summary of some of the big developments in social media in the workplace this year.   The EEOC Turns Its Attention to Social Media The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has turned its attention toward…

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19 Nov 2014 Don’t Disregard Your Employees’ Rights, Even If They’re Strippers

On Nov. 14, a New York federal judge granted summary judgment and awarded $10,866,035.00 to a class of exotic dancers from Rick’s Cabaret after finding that the gentlemen’s club had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law. The court previously found that Rick’s Cabaret had impermissibly classified its dancers as independent contractors instead of employees to skirt minimum wage laws. In fact, the plaintiffs should have been classified as employees based on the control Rick’s Cabaret exercised over them. The…

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