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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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27 Jun 2018 Will There Be An Epic Backlash?

By now, most have heard about the U.S. Supreme Court’s May 21, 2018 opinion in Epic Systems Corporation v. Lewis. Epic actually decided a trio of consolidated cases before the high court and held, as a matter of law, that class action waivers within arbitration agreements are enforceable, that is, arbitration agreements between an employee and employer may prohibit the employee from participating in most claims against the employer other than through one-on-one arbitration.   Workers’ advocates are echoing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s stinging dissent,…

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30 Mar 2018 When Paying Less Can Cost You More: Pay Inequality

What do three New York City lawyers, the Queen of England, a preschool teacher, a service center manager and a township accountant all have in common?  Here’s a hint:  we are fast-approaching the April 4 date that symbolically marks how much longer full-time female workers need to work in order to equal the pay earned by their male counterparts the year before. The answer to the question of course, is that each of the “employees” listed above play starring roles in the midst of a…

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16 Jan 2018 What’s Old Is New Again: DOL Resurrects Advisory Opinion Letters

  Employers can expect to benefit from real-life answers to some real-employer wage-and-hour questions now that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reinstituted 17 Advisory Opinion Letters that had been originally issued in 2009, but subsequently withdrawn during the Obama administration.   Such opinion letters provide formal, detailed analysis and answers to employers who pose FLSA compliance questions to the DOL. The opinion letters are published on the DOL website, thus any employer who happens to have the same or a similar compliance issue can…

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19 Dec 2017 Tax Deduction to be Curtailed for Some Settlements of Sex Harassment Claims

  The federal tax bill published late on Dec. 15 has a number of provisions that, if enacted, would deny an employer’s ability to deduct payments made in settlement of employee claims. If the tax bill passes, the negotiation of both the nature of settlement payments/court awards and reporting to the IRS will become even more critical given its impact on the deductibility of settlement payments. Get your tax lawyer involved early in the negotiation to help you document your preferred tax reporting position.  …

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20 Jul 2017 The Color of Your Shoes and At-Will Employment

  At-will. At-shmill.   It bears repeating: At-will. At-shmill.   (I checked on my decidedly non-lawyer like tendency to deride something by repeating it with “shm-’ added. Turns out it’s really a thing.)   That’s what I think to myself when (hypothetically speaking) an employer sued by a recently terminated employee sits down and proclaims some variation of the following: “We can’t lose this case because she was an ‘at-will’ employee.” The statement is made as if the presence of a handbook statement and an…

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18 Jul 2017 Sticks and Stones: When Texts and Emails Will Hurt You

  Sticks and stones may break my bones But words will never hurt me   Recent legal decisions painfully remind us that words, specifically words in a text, instant message or email, can derail an employer’s position or defense.  The informality of these electronic communications tends to create the mindset that they are less subject to exposure or scrutiny than a formal written letter or memorandum.   In a recent case, Martin v. Tall Brown Dog, LLC, the plaintiff was a recently hired leadership/business development…

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23 Jun 2016 OSHA’s New Mandatory Electronic Recordkeeping Rule The Hidden Requirements for Anti-Retaliation and Discrimination Require Action Before Aug. 10, 2016

As you may be aware, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a new final rule revising the recordkeeping and reporting requirements. OSHA’s summary of its new final rule can be found here and the full text of the recordkeeping regulations can be found here.   While a lot of buzz is occurring around the new electronic submission requirements that become effective Jan. 1, 2017, there are significant developments which are not explicitly referenced in the regulations which require action by Aug. 10,…

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08 Jun 2016 What Employers must know about the Americans with Disabilities Act

A few weeks ago, we posted a blog concerning the aggressive, suit-filing tactics by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against employers and the expensive and public consent decrees that follow.   One of the EEOC consent decrees discussed was with Rock Tenn, a paper and packaging manufacturer with a facility located in Battle Creek, Michigan. The consent decree required Rock Tenn to pay $187,000 in settlement of the EEOC lawsuit to provide training to its employees and submit to EEOC oversight of the manufacturer’s…

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07 Jun 2016 Telecommuting as an ADA Accommodation

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: an employee calls in to work, states she has a medical condition and can’t come in to work but says she can still do her job from home.   You have your doubts about how much work will get done from home. But you know that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) obliges an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation for a qualified, disabled employee that will enable her to perform the essential functions of the job. And…

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26 Apr 2016 Is There a Silver Lining in the EEOC’s Continuing Quest to Make Employees Untouchable?

At this point, it’s all over but the shouting. In January, the EEOC issued its proposed enforcement guidance on retaliation charges filed by employees. The public comment period for the proposed guidance is now closed. (If you haven’t gone through it yet, settle in, make yourself comfortable and read the 73-page proposed guidance found here).   The proposed guidance will likely be adopted soon and it will likely affect almost half of the EEOC charges filed by employees. That’s because a retaliation charge is either the…

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