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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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26 Mar 2014 Have You Double-Checked The Language Of Your Non-Compete Lately? If Not, You Need To…

A recent decision of the Indiana Court of Appeals could drive a stake through the heart of many non-compete agreements.  The case, Clark’s Sales and Service, Inc. v. Smith and Ferguson Enterprises, involved a long-time salesman for an appliance retailer.  Mid-way through his 14-year employment tenure (and after a key colleague went to go work for one of the company’s competitors), his employer required him to sign a non-compete agreement. The key provisions of the non-compete should be familiar to most employers.   For two…

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11 Feb 2014 Obamacare Employer Mandate Delayed Again For Mid-Size Employers

The Employer Mandate of the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA” or its more commonly known sobriquet “Obamacare”) originally was slated to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. Last year employers were given a reprieve when the government pushed the mandate back until the start of 2015. Yesterday, the government pushed back the employer mandate for one more year until 2016. However, there is a significant catch that could trap unwary employers: the change applies only to those employers with between 50 and 99 full-time…

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10 Feb 2014 EEOC Charges Drop In 2013, But Wait, There’s More!

The EEOC has disclosed the number of charges filed last year and the overall trend for employers is positive. For the third year in a row, the number of charges dropped – to 93,727 down from 99,412 in 2012 and the record high of 99,947 in 2011. The chart below illustrates the drop and puts the numbers into perspective back to 1997. As illustrated, the good news is that the number of charges are down; the bad news is that the number of charges essentially…

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03 Jan 2014 The Importance and Limitations of Internal Investigations

Many companies pride themselves on maintaining and rigorously enforcing equal employment opportunity (EEO) policies. From a business perspective, EEO policies help ensure a company is regarded as a fair place to work – improving employee morale and productivity. From a legal perspective, strong EEO policies (a) help protect the company from discrimination, harassment or retaliation claims by identifying and (hopefully) resolving problems ahead of costly litigation; (b) force the company to create a record of its position with respect to an employee’s claims and the…

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03 Jan 2014 Different Strokes for Different Folks (or Red, Blue, and Purple-Pencil America): How The 50 States Differ On Revising Non-Competes

Employers with multistate operations who utilize non-compete covenants to protect their businesses frequently run into questions about whether those agreements will be enforceable across state lines.  While many states (fortunately) tend to view restrictive covenants somewhat similarly, there are some critical – and perhaps surprising – exceptions.  For example, North Dakota will not enforce non-compete agreements by statute, and while Oklahoma may enforce a non-compete, the terms spelled out by that’s states law are extraordinarily more restrictive than in other jurisdictions.   One key distinction…

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26 Nov 2013 GINA: Much Ado About Nothing?

Earlier this year it was reported that the EEOC had filed two lawsuits against employers, one in New York and the other in Oklahoma, for violating the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) by requesting family medical information from employees.  GINA, which became law over five years ago, prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information, and specifically makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate, refuse to hire or discharge any employee because of the employee’s genetic information. After GINA went into effect, there was…

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