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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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30 Jul 2015 Silencing the Lion King

By now you may have heard of Dr. Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist/hunter who has risen to global infamy for allegedly shooting Cecil the Lion. What you may not have heard is the recent revelation in the news that he was sued by a former employee for sexual harassment and that he settled out of court for $127,500. According to news reports, the good (or not so good depending on your point of view) doctor is reputed to have settled the case to resolve it…

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15 Jul 2015 DOL Cracks Down on Definition of Independent Contractors

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), most workers are “employees,” not independent contractors.   After years of watching more contract workers fall outside the categories of “employees,” this morning, the DOL issued an Administrator’s Interpretation regarding the alleged “misclassification” of workers as independent contractors, and broadly includes most workers as employees.   The DOL’s guidance responds to the skyrocketing usage of contract labor in the wake of increased government regulation, including the Affordable Care Act. Bucking this trend, agencies like the DOL have increased…

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27 May 2015 Getting What You Don’t Ask For – The Perils Of ADA Accommodation By Inference

A case out of the federal court of Maine provides a useful reminder that employers cannot put blinders on when it comes to the ADA and requests for accommodation. The case, Heath v. Brennan (Case No. 2:13-cv-386-JDL), involved a long-time postal employee who developed tendinitis in the early 1990s, forcing him to wear arm braces at work. His co-workers teased him about the arm braces, which ranged from the mild (“gave him a hard time”) to the salacious (“he needed the braces because he had…

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