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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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12 Jul 2013 Employers Must Take Care to Avoid Individual Liability Under the FLSA

In Irizarry v. Catsimatidis, No. 11-4035, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a partial summary judgment for a class of current and former employees from Gristede’s supermarkets who sued the corporation and several individuals for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The class successfully obtained a ruling that owner, president, and chief executive officer John Catsimatidis was an “employer” under the FLSA and could be held personally liable for Gristede’s failure to pay proper overtime compensation to its eligible employees. The…

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23 May 2013 NLRB Offers Further Clarification Regarding Expression of Employees’ Section 7 Rights on Social Media

On May 8, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued an advice memorandum that further clarified its position regarding employees’ use of social media to make cybergripes pursuant to their Section 7 Rights. In In re: Tasker Healthcare Group, d/b/a/ Skinsmart Dermatology, no. 04-CA-094222, Charging Party and a group of nine other current and former employees participated in a private Facebook group message.  While the discussion started off as purely social, the tone changed when Charging Party referenced with disapproval a former employee who was…

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11 Apr 2013 Washington State Legislators Withdraw Bill Allowing Employers to Access Social Media Accounts During Investigations

A proposed bill amendment in Washington’s state legislature that could have allowed employers the right to demand access to employees’ social media accounts during company investigations has been withdrawn this week. In January, state senators introduced S.B. 5211 to prevent employers from asking current and prospective employees to provide their social media passwords. The House Labor Committee proposed a controversial amendment that would have granted employers the right not just to request, but also the right to demand, access to employees’ and applicants’ Facebook, Twitter,…

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