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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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17 Dec 2013 You May Want To Leave Your Leave Policy Behind

Employers understandably want their employees to miss as little work as possible. This goal may be reflected in their leave of absence policies, which encourage a return to work as soon as they can. While this is not a problematic goal, policies that are overly harsh or inflexible in granting accommodations for disabled workers may result in costly and embarrassing lawsuits. The EEOC recently filed suit against Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, California because it refused an employee’s request for additional medical leave…

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07 Nov 2013 What About the Dads? Does Your Paternity Leave Policy Discriminate?

Paternity leave advocates have found a new poster boy, as CNN reporter Josh Levs has filed an EEOC charge of sex discrimination against CNN’s parent company, Time Warner. Levs, whose wife just had a child, claims that Time Warner’s parental leave policy discriminates against biological fathers. The policy in question grants 10 weeks of paid leave to women who give birth and to both men and women who become parents through adoption or surrogacy. However, the policy only provides two weeks of paid leave to…

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27 Sep 2013 Your Facebook “Like” May Be Constitutionally-Protected Speech

According to a recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, pressing the “like” button on your Facebook page constitutes substantive speech that may be protected by the First Amendment. Six employees of the Hampton, Virginia Sheriff’s Office were dismissed because they showed support for Sheriff B.J. Roberts’ electoral opponent. They filed suit against Sheriff Roberts, claiming in part that their terminations violated the First Amendment. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted summary judgment…

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25 Sep 2013 Social Media Policy Provides Legitimate, Nondiscriminatory Reason for Termination

Much has been written recently about how employers can avoid findings of unfair labor practices in violation of the National Labor Relations Act by having well-written social media policies. It turns out that a good social media policy also can act as a winning defense in discrimination actions. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently upheld a victory for Sam’s Club on an employee’s discrimination claim. Former employee Virginia Rodriguez sued under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act claiming that…

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15 Aug 2013 Second Circuit Rules that Class Action Waivers are Allowed Under the FLSA

Employers recently won a major victory in the Second Circuit with the release of Sutherland v. Ernst & Young, LLP, in which the court held that class action waivers are not prohibited under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Consequently, arbitration agreements with employees that require them to arbitrate their claims individually are lawful in the Second Circuit. The court previously had invalidated class action waivers in arbitration agreements in In re American Express Merchants’ Litigation (AmEx I) on the theory that plaintiffs would face…

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