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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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11 Sep 2017 U.S. Supreme Court is Asked to Answer the Question: What Do You Mean by ‘Sex’?

  We knew this question would be asked. On Sept. 7, a petition was filed in this country’s highest court, asking it to settle the ongoing debate of whether Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination includes discrimination based on sexual orientation.   The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit case, Jameka K. Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, et al., involves a gay female security guard at a Georgia hospital who was allegedly harassed and not promoted because of her sexual orientation. She sued the hospital…

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26 Jul 2017 DOL Invites Public Input: Rethinking the Stalled Questions on Overtime

  Perhaps lost amidst other issues in Washington, D.C., the Department of Labor (DOL) announced on July 25 that it is tackling the long-awaited questions about overtime regulations.   The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is publishing a formal Request for Information that asks for public feedback on the Obama administration’s overtime rule. Once the RFI is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to submit comments. You’ll remember that the overtime regulations, which doubled the minimum salary levels for…

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28 Mar 2017 Update on Trump’s Line-Up for DOL and Supreme Court

  Regulation-weary employers excitedly anticipated the new Trump Administration – and its promises that ranged from repealing the Affordable Care Act to appointing a friendly U.S. Supreme Court Justice to abolishing the fiduciary and overtime regulations. But, change often comes slowly in government, and employer expectations have been frustratingly delayed by some unexpected upsets on Capitol Hill. Apart from the last-minute decision to withdraw the GOP healthcare bill, here’s a quick update on two key Trump nominees.   Secretary of Labor   The ill-fated nomination…

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13 Feb 2017 Blog Update: North Carolina Business that Fired Pregnant Employee Agrees to Three-Year Consent Decree with EEOC

  If there’s anything worse than government regulation, perhaps it’s the government breathing down your neck for the next three years. That is what a North Carolina furniture company is facing after it was sued for pregnancy discrimination last summer by the EEOC.   You might remember our blog post last summer about the EEOC’s lawsuit against RTG Furniture Corp. of Georgia d/b/a Rooms to Go (RTG) that fired a pregnant employee who was working with potentially dangerous chemicals. The EEOC had accused RTG of…

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15 Nov 2016 The World According to Trump: Trump’s Impact on Traditional Labor

  The NLRB has been a quintessential symbol of organized labor in the United States. Under President Obama, the NLRB’s resurgent influence under President Obama breathed new life into unions, and extended its reach of employee-friendly policies into non-union businesses. What can we expect under President Donald Trump?   It is worth noting that the election statistics show President-elect Trump’s success stemmed, in part, from uncharacteristic support of union households, who were apparently determined to regain protections for the working class. Now that Trump emerged…

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14 Nov 2016 The World According to Trump: A Prologue

  What happens now? How will the election of Donald Trump affect labor and employment policy across this country? What will happen to the DOL, EEOC, NLRB, and OFCCP? If the hallmark of the Obama Administration has been Executive Branch activism, what will happen under the Trump Administration? And, what can we expect from a President Trump whose early post-election decisions appear, at least in some measure, less dramatic than his campaign rhetoric?   This week, the Barnes & Thornburg blog team will consider the…

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07 Oct 2016 Sexual Harassment Retaliation Claim Nets Million-Dollar Verdict

  A Chicago-area hospital was hit with a seven-figure jury verdict this week in a whistleblower claim filed by an emergency room doctor, who complained the hospital fired him after he repeatedly warned that one of his E.R. colleagues was sexually harassing subordinates.   The plaintiff – the doctor who is now practicing elsewhere – filed a retaliatory discharge complaint against the hospital, alleging it was common practice for doctors to warn new resident physicians about his colleague—whom he reportedly called a “sexual predator.” He…

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23 Aug 2016 Bathroom Chronicles: Texas Judge Stops Government From Imposing Transgender Student Guidelines on Schools

  While many of us watched the conclusion of the Rio Olympics this weekend, a federal judge in Texas was issuing a nationwide injunction – stopping the federal government from enforcing guidelines for the country’s public schools regarding the accessibility of bathrooms for transgender students.   On Aug. 22, 2016, Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a 38-page decision in response to a petition from 13 states and two school districts that collectively disputed the government’s…

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04 Aug 2016 Five Lessons from Fox News on Sexual Harassment

  The recent accusations of sexual harassment against Roger Ailes at Fox News, and the response of a high-profile candidate for public office about how women should respond to sexual harassment have crystallized into an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others.   Since the mid-1980s, we’ve all read about sexual harassment and been trained on it. For the last 25 years, I’ve studied it, investigated it, seen it, taught about it, warned about it, developed policies to guard against it, and defended companies…

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20 Jul 2016 Classic Conundrum: Protecting Employees from Themselves

Last week, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against a furniture company in North Carolina for firing a pregnant employee, allegedly because her job involved using potentially dangerous chemicals.   According to the EEOC’s regional attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, “pregnant women have the right to make their own decisions about working while pregnant, including the risks they are willing to assume. Companies must not impose paternalistic notions on pregnant women, as doing so can result in unlawful discrimination.”   In the case filed against RTG…

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