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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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07 Oct 2014 Supreme Court Lets Gay Marriage Stand In Five States

Supporters of gay marriage won another victory this week as the Supreme Court let stand lower court rulings that struck same-sex marriage bans in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. The decision upholds a decision from the Seventh Circuit, which intensely scrutinized Indiana and Wisconsin representatives who argued in favor of maintaining those states’ gay marriage bans, as well as rulings from the Fourth and Tenth Circuits that struck gay marriage bans in Virginia, Oklahoma and Utah.   The Supreme Court’s decision not to review…

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28 Aug 2014 Seventh Circuit Judges Grill State Attorneys on Gay Marriage

  On August 26, state officials from Wisconsin and Indiana faced blistering scrutiny from a panel of Seventh Circuit judges as they argued in favor of reinstating laws in each state banning gay marriage. Judges Posner, Hamilton and Williams pushed them to their limits and asked a number of pointed questions regarding their arguments.   Judge Posner took the attorneys to task regarding the interests of children, quickly interrupting Indiana’s Solicitor General Thomas Fisher and asking if children wouldn’t want their parents to be married…

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15 Jul 2014 New EEOC Guidance – Pregnant Employees May Now Be Entitled To Accommodations

  On July 14, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued its first new comprehensive enforcement guidance regarding the Pregnancy Discrimination Act since 1983, significantly expanding protection for pregnant employees. The EEOC’s guidance goes so far as to state that pregnant employees may be entitled to accommodations even if they do not have pregnancy-related disabilities.   The Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires employers to treat pregnant employees in the same manner as other workers who are not pregnant, but are similar in their ability or inability to…

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07 Jul 2014 Outlier…or NLRB Shift on Social Media Policies?

  The National Labor Relations Board has spent the past few years attacking social media policies as overbroad, but perhaps a shift in that policy is at hand. Last week, an NLRB administrative law judge ruled that Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and its parent company, Landry’s Inc., did not violate employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act with their social media policy. Former Bubba Gump employee Sophia Flores claimed that the Landry’s Inc.’s social media policy from its employee handbook had a chilling effect…

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04 Jun 2014 Apple Employees Survive Summary Judgment in FLSA Bag Check Class Action

  Last week, in Frlekin v. Apple Inc., the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied Apple’s motion for summary judgment in a Fair Labor Standards Act case filed by a class of its employees working in Apple Stores around the country. A class of current and former non-exempt specialists, managers, and Genius Bar employees claim Apple requires its hourly employees to undergo unpaid security checks each time they go off the clock for a meal break or at the end of…

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23 Apr 2014 Technological Advances Make Telecommuting A More Reasonable Accommodation

  On April 22, the Sixth Circuit reversed the Eastern District of Michigan in a case that may pave the way for more employees to work at home as a reasonable accommodation. Jane Harris worked as a resale steel buyer for Ford. Her job duties included interacting with steel suppliers and members of the Ford team to ensure that there is no gap in the auto maker’s steel supply. Although managers believed that these interactions were best conducted face to face, Harris suffers from debilitating…

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13 Mar 2014 EEOC and FTC Team up to Offer Guidance on Employee Background Checks

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the U.S. Fair Trade Commission (“FTC,” the commission responsible for enforcing the Fair Credit Reporting Act) have co-published two technical assistance publications – one aimed at employers and one aimed at employees and applicants – explaining how their rules apply to background checks used for hiring, retention, promotion, or reassignment purposes.   The EEOC confirmed that it is legal to ask questions about an applicant’s background as long as the questions do not discriminate on the basis of…

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30 Jan 2014 Keep Your Nude Photos At Home, or They May End Up In Court

Last week, a New York state court directed a defendant to produce a disc of nude photos that are at the middle of a sexual harassment lawsuit. Danielle Pecile and Cristina Culicea both were employed by Titan Capital Group. According to Pecile and Culicea, Titan principal Russell Abrams gave each of them a CD of photos and asked them to take them to the drug store to develop the photos at the photo machine. Unbeknownst to each woman at the time, each CD allegedly contained…

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29 Jan 2014 Supreme Court Rules That Donning And Doffing Time May Not Be Compensable

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in Sandifer v. U.S. Steel, unanimously holding that employees’ time spent donning and doffing protective gear was not compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act because that time had been excluded from compensation in a collective bargaining agreement. A class of current and former U.S. Steel employees filed suit under the FLSA for back pay for time spent donning and doffing protective gear that U.S. Steel required them to wear. U.S. Steel claimed the time was not compensable under…

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