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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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29 Jan 2015 Not So Fast: Parties Cannot Impose Confidentiality Restrictions on Judicially Approved FLSA Settlements

Most employers are familiar with the procedure for resolving complaints filed by employees: draft a settlement agreement, sign off and then file a notice or stipulation formally dismissing the case with the court. Typically, the settlement agreement includes familiar terms, such as a release of all claims and some kind of promise to keep quiet about the settlement.   But, FLSA cases are a different animal. These cases normally require a judge to sign off on settlement terms. Conceptually, this sounds easy enough; all of…

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05 Dec 2014 The Employer Mandate Is Almost Here. Is Your Company Ready?

In less than a month from now, all employers in the United States that employ more than 100 full-time equivalent employees will need to offer affordable coverage to their employees or risk potential fines under the Affordable Care Act.   While employers already should be geared up to address these issues, below is a primer for those employers who have procrastinated or have opted to stick their heads in the sand hoping in vain that this will just go away:   The deadline for large…

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30 Oct 2014 Remember the Basics

A new case from the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals serves as a nice reminder of how prompt and diligent HR work can stamp out an employment litigation claim. The case, Lennox v. Mondelez Global, Inc., involved an employee who filed claims against her employer for sex and race discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Specifically, the employee claimed that during her employment, her co-workers engaged in racially derogatory and sexually offensive comments and actions. These included telling a racially offensive joke in her presence (although…

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27 Oct 2014 Confidentiality & Nondisclosure Agreements Are No Substitute For Noncompetes

Employers that want to ensure key workers do not jump ship to work for the competition have just one realistic option: a non-competition agreement. Given the intense scrutiny that courts have given to noncompetes in recent years, many employers have tried to down-shift to confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements, based on the idea that this will enable them to secure their trade secrets and other sensitive information without having to muck about with the difficulties of enforcing a non-compete. While this seems like a good solution…

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29 Sep 2014 Texas Court Enforces Noncompete Even Though Employee Did Not Physically Sign The Agreement

  As many readers of this blog are aware, enforcing noncompetes can be a tricky business – and this is doubly true in some states. One of those historically difficult states has been Texas. Unlike many states, Texas has a statute – Sections 15.50-15.52 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code – which governs the enforceability of covenants not-to-compete. For many years, Texas courts adhered to a strict view of the statute that resulted in many noncompetes being rejected as unenforceable. This approach has softened…

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17 Sep 2014 What’s In Your RIF? Age Discrimination Decision Highlights Documenting Rationale For A RIF, And That Even as Adults, A Plaintiff Should Not Just Copy Someone Else’s Work . . .

  Consistent with the age-old adage that there is no free ride, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an age discrimination claim of a former employee who based his case on comments allegedly made to another employee.   The case involved a long-time employee of a large financial company who began work in 1988 and survived multiple mergers and restructurings. But, in 2010, his performance was rated in the bottom tier of employee rankings in the company. Coincidentally, his employee conducted a reduction in force (RIF)…

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04 Aug 2014 Federal Appellate Court Rules That Arbitration of Class Action Claims Is An Issue For Courts And Not Arbitrators To Decide

  One of the difficulties associated with alternative dispute resolution procedures, and particularly binding arbitration, is that the process occasionally can become bogged down by questions of procedure: instead of battling over the merits of the dispute itself, the parties spend considerable time and resources on where the dispute should be resolved (in court or in front of an arbitrator). This can be even more taxing when the question is over who gets to decide the issue of whether the claim should be arbitrated (the…

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19 Jun 2014 Revisiting Judicial Approval of Fair Labor Standards Act Settlements

  Over the past few weeks, there have been a slew of reported decisions in which federal judges have struck down proposed settlements of Fair Labor Standards Act claims. As many employers familiar with the FLSA know, court approval has long been recognized as a prerequisite for settling FLSA claims. Typically, court approval is not a difficult process: by the time the parties seek out the court’s blessing, they already have hammered out most of the terms following arm’s length negotiations. In other words, all…

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09 May 2014 EEOC Challenges Another Employer’s Standard Severance Agreement Language

  Employers’ long-trusted standard severance agreements are under fire again by the EEOC.   A few months ago, we told you about the EEOC’s federal lawsuit against a nationwide employer in Illinois, where the EEOC attacked language used in a standard severance agreement. On the heels of that case, the EEOC has filed another lawsuit making similar allegations, this time against CollegeAmerica Denver, Inc. in the District of Colorado.   The new Colorado case involves a campus director who entered into a severance agreement with…

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08 May 2014 Are You Paying Your Employees Frequently Enough?

  One of the biggest challenges for multi-state employers is keeping up to date with the myriad patchwork of laws across the 50 states. What is acceptable in one jurisdiction may get you in trouble in another, or worse yet – could be illegal and result in a lawsuit. One of those minefields is the assorted wage-payment laws regulating how often employees should be paid.   As veteran HR professionals know, there are steep consequences for not timely paying employees in accordance with the local…

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