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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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04 Dec 2017 Holiday Road – Avoiding Potholes in Holiday Parties

  Well, it’s already December (where did the year go?) and we’re all thinking about the most wonderful time of year – cutting out early and going to office parties! Parties are a great way to reward staff, celebrate accomplishments, foster teamwork, and create the foundation for another great year. What could possibly go wrong?   The annual holiday party is rife with traps for the unwary:   What’s in a Name?   For starters, what do you call the event? How about a “Christmas…

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24 Oct 2017 Dawn of a New ICE Age: Are You Ready for Immigration & Customs Enforcement?

  Last week, in a speech at the conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, the Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that his agency is aggressively stepping up worksite enforcement on two major fronts. His announcement raises the question: is your company ready?   ICE Acting Director Tom Homan told attendees that the Homeland Security Investigations agency will increase – by four to five times – the worksite enforcement actions in the coming year. Quintupling the number of worksite enforcement actions certainly sounds…

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12 Sep 2017 California Dreaming: Court Upholds Restrictions in Employment Agreement, Bars Use of Confidential Information

  As most multi-state employers already know, California is inimical to employer-employee non-compete agreements; indeed, the state even has a statute saying as much. Consequently, many employers tend to surrender before imposing any restrictions on departing workers in California. But, there’s hope. A recent decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Fidelity Brokerage Services, LLC v. Brett Rocine, Case No. 17-cv-4993-PJH) provides some solace for businesses trying to fend off competition from faithless employees in the Golden State.   The…

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25 Aug 2017 Get a Room! Rethink Conducting Employee Reviews Over Lunch

  The other day while visiting my dentist, the oral hygienist told me about her prior job, where her supervisor took her out to lunch to discuss her performance review – and frequently did the same with other employees. She thought this was great, especially since the supervisor had a penchant for really good, high-priced seafood.   While that all sounds tasty, one has to question how effective a performance review can be when attempting to crack open crab legs. This brings me back to…

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15 Jun 2017 ‘You’re Doing a Great Job Brownie, er Comey . . . and You’re Fired!’ Avoiding Unforced Errors in Employment Terminations

  Last week, former FBI director James Comey testified before a Senate Committee in front of a packed house and with millions more watching on television (the event even was live-streamed in some D.C.-area bars). During the hearing, Comey expressed confusion over being fired for poor performance because before his termination, the president allegedly told him that he was doing a “good job.”   Comey’s testimony is reminiscent of the firing of another government official – Michael Brown. You may remember that Brown was the…

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05 May 2017 Avoiding the Danegeld (Part 2)

  As a follow up to my post on avoiding the Danegeld and limiting knowledge of employment settlements to those who have a need to know, here is an example of getting it right.   Recently, conservative pundit Glenn Beck and his media outlet, TheBlaze, Inc., were hit with a lawsuit from Tomi Lahren, a terminated on-air commentator. Lahren claimed that her firing was a violation of her employment agreement, arguing that the given reason – expressing an opinion that Beck disliked – was not…

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Settlement
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05 May 2017 Avoiding the Danegeld: Discouraging Me-Too Claims Following a Settlement

  A thousand years ago, Viking warriors would invade a town and threaten to destroy it if the townsfolk did not pay a tax called a “Danegeld” (meaning to pay the Dane gold). Of course, once the town paid the Danegeld tax, the Vikings saw the town as an easy mark – one to which they would return to and demand payment all over again. Essentially, this was the Middle Ages equivalent of a mobster shakedown: promising to “protect” your property to make sure nothing…

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24 Mar 2017 Easy Come, Easy Go: Appeals Court Reverses $2.6 Million Award in ADA Case

    In a helpful case for employers, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a $2.6 million jury verdict in Stevens v. Rite-Aid Corporation (Case No. 15-277), holding that the employer could not reasonably accommodate a pharmacist’s fear of needles.   The case began in 2011, when Rite-Aid started requiring that all of its pharmacists be able to administer immunization injections to customers. But, the new job requirement presented a problem for Rite-Aid pharmacist Christopher Stevens; he suffers from the fear of needles, known…

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13 Feb 2017 Hotel California Checks Out of State Forum Selection Clauses You can file your lawsuit any time you like, but you can never leave . . .

  Multistate employers know that the state of California is hostile to restrictive covenants and generally regard non-compete agreements as unenforceable. Over time, some multistate employers have developed a two-step process (one of which has been scrapped by a newly adopted law) to protect their interests in California and sidestep the state’s roadblocks:   Require employees to sign confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements so that even if unfaithful employees subsequently leave to work for a competitor, the employer still has some recourse to limit the damage…

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08 Feb 2017 2016: EEOC Charges Keep Climbing

  Well, it’s February already and the EEOC charge filing statistics for 2016 are out. Last year, we were looking at the total number of charges filed against employers beginning to tick up again. One year later, we have a definite trend beginning to build:     The above chart tracks the number of annual EEOC charges going back 20 years. As you can see, the overall number of charges tends to ebb and flow with the general nature of the economy – when a…

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