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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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21 Mar 2016 2015: EEOC Charges Rebound

  The EEOC charge filing statistics for 2015 are out. Last year at this time, we were looking at the trend of charges continuing to drop from their peak in 2010 and were hoping the trend would continue. Unfortunately, the drop in the overall number of charges stopped and troublingly is going back up:     As you can see, the chart tracks the number of filed EEOC charges going back to the late 1990s. For the most part, the number of charges ebbs and…

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29 Jan 2016 Hold Your Horses: A Plaintiff’s Long Rap Sheet Might Not Get You to the Finish Line

With each case, employers defending discrimination claims know at least these three things: litigation can be expensive, litigation is time-consuming, and the outcome is never a sure thing.   Still, every once in a while, information is revealed that makes the case more thrilling, and little is more exciting than discovering a plaintiff’s criminal past, such as an ADA plaintiff who illegally sold prescription pain medications and also may have engaged in shoplifting.  Sounds like great evidence that should torpedo the plaintiff’s claims, right?  Not…

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23 Dec 2015 A Tale of Two Crews – Companies Failing to Keep Proper Time Records Risk Having Employees Fill the Void

Employees who claim they are entitled to unpaid overtime wages bear the burden of proving that they performed the work for which they were not properly compensated.  However, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) also requires employers to make, keep and preserve records regarding the total hours that their non-exempt employees work during a workweek. When an employer’s records are not sufficient, a court may “relax” the employee’s burden and allow them to demonstrate overtime compensation through other means – notably through their own testimony…

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22 Dec 2015 Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Incorporate In Carolina . . .

If anyone needs another lesson in the benefits of incorporating a company, consider a decision from earlier this week out of the Western District of North Carolina: Magaha v. W&B Trucking Co., et al.   The underlying story is a fairly typical age discrimination claim: longtime worker for company sues after she is permanently laid off at age 67. During her employment, her hours allegedly were cut for no reason and she repeatedly was the subject of age-based jokes and harassment for which she complained,…

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07 Nov 2015 Noncompete Roundup – Florida Lack Of Evidence Regarding Long-Standing Or Exclusive Relationships With Customers Invalidates Noncompete Injunction On Appeal

Florida historically has taken a tough stand toward enforcing noncompetes, as a recent state-court appellate case illustrates. For those unfamiliar with Sunshine State law on noncompetes, Florida has a statute that requires noncompete agreements to be (a) in writing, (b) signed by the employee, (c) reasonable in terms of time and geography and (d) reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate business interests of the employer. While protecting customer relationships is considered to be a legitimate business interest worthy of protection, this normally does not extend…

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06 Nov 2015 Noncompete Roundup – Oklahoma Fifth Circuit Rejects Contractual Attempts To Bypass Strict Oklahoma Law Against Restrictive Covenants

Many employers would be surprised to learn that Oklahoma has some of the country’s toughest standards when it comes to enforcing restrictive covenants.  The sharp contrast between the laws of the Sooner State and its peers, such as Texas, was recently highlighted in by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cardoni v. Prosperity Bank (Case No. 14-20682).   As background, Oklahoma expressly provides that any restraints on a lawful profession, trade or business are void, unless it meets one of a handful of narrow…

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13 Oct 2015 Noncompetes In Mexico

I recently had occasion to look into Mexican law regarding non-competition agreements. For those who are unfamiliar with Mexican noncompete law, it can be summarized succinctly: see California. Like the Golden State, Mexico takes a dim view toward non-competition agreements.  In fact, the unenforceability of restrictive covenants is not even a matter of Mexican statute, it’s actually embedded into the country’s Constitution.   Specifically, Article 5 of the Mexican Constitution provides that “the State cannot permit the execution of any contract, covenant, or agreement having…

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28 Sep 2015 Enforcing The Phantom Noncompete: Michigan Court Allows Employer To Pursue Noncompete Claim In The Absence Of A Written Document Signed By Employee

It is commonly accepted that to enforce a noncompete agreement against an unfaithful employee, the employer first needs to have a signed, written agreement with that employee. However, a new decision from a federal court in the Western District of Michigan, Stryker Corporation v. Ridgeway, has splashed some cold water on that notion.   The employer in Stryker sued a former employee for breach of his noncompete agreement. Unfortunately for the company, it had no signed version of the noncompete. Jumping on this opportunity, the…

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19 Aug 2015 Not All Good Deeds Are Punished: A Paid Suspension Is Not An Adverse Employment Action For Title VII

Chalk up a victory for logic.   Addressing an issue of first impression, the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania), recently held that an employee’s suspension with pay is not an adverse employment action for purposes of Title VII. In doing so, the Third Circuit has joined several of its sister Circuits across the country, including the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Circuits.   The case, Jones v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority involved an employee who was…

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18 Aug 2015 Federal Court Allows Arbitration After Employer’s Nine-Month Delay

  At first glance, a recent decision from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania appears to throw cold water on the generally accepted rule that an employer who waits too long to enforce its right to arbitrate employment disputes waives that right.  The case, Serine v. Marshall, Dennehy, Warner & Goggin, et al., involved an employee who sued her former employer – a law firm – in federal court and the firm waited more than nine months before seeking to pursue arbitration.   The law firm…

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