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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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13 Apr 2015 Did California Just Fire No-Employment Provisions From Settlement Agreements?

Many employers who negotiate settlements to end a hard-fought battle with a former employee prefer an agreement that the employee will never work for them again. After all, it is perfectly understandable that after a company spends untold thousands in legal bills and severance wishes for complete closure on a difficult chapter, as well as some certainty that they won’t have to worry about the possibility that the employee – now armed with settlement funds – would try another lawsuit based on a failure to…

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25 Feb 2015 Choose Your Expert Wisely: Fourth Circuit Rejects EEOC’s Choice on Background Checks

Fans of the Indiana Jones series will remember the scene near the end of the Last Crusade where our hero is looking over a multitude of chalices to select the one true grail, and the ancient knight beside him warns: “Choose wisely.” When the bad guy pushes his way forward to pick out a pretty – but ultimately incorrect – cup, we find out the grisly consequences of choosing poorly. The knight’s admonition to “choose wisely” not only is good advice for selecting grails, but…

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10 Feb 2015 The Tweet Heard Round the World

From the “I can’t say I blame him” or “I can’t take it anymore” column comes small business owner Robert Waple of Jet’s Pizza in Mansfield, Texas. He hired a teenager named “Cella” to work in his restaurant. Sadly, while the moon might hit your eye like a big pizza pie, she wasn’t in love with the job. The day before she was set to start, she tweeted her friends: “Ew I start this f*** a** job tomorrow.” Unlucky for her, one of Waple’s employees…

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04 Feb 2015 2014: Free Fallin’ EEOC Charges?

Earlier this morning, the EEOC released their charge filing statistics for 2014. For the fourth consecutive year, the number of EEOC charges has dropped – from 93,727 to 88,778. The chart below illustrates the decline and puts the numbers into perspective heading back to the good ol’ days of the 20th Century:     Does it feel like 2007? Well, that’s about where we stand with respect to the overall number of charges filed in the last year. The reason for the decline is unclear,…

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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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