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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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03 Jun 2016 EEOC Plows Ahead on Obama’s Initiatives. Next Up: National Origin Discrimination

As President Obama’s second term heads toward the finish line, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) unveiled its latest initiative on June 2 – this time focusing on employment protections for victims of national origin discrimination.   According to the EEOC, national origin discrimination, more than any other protected class, overlaps with other forms of discrimination, particularly race, color and religion. These intertwined factors create sticky legal issues for employers where, for example, Title VII requires employers to accommodate certain religious practices but there is…

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18 May 2016 Applications Are Welcome; Drugs Are Not

It’s an oft-heard refrain from many of our clients: “We need good employees.” Not just any employees, but employees who know how to show up for work – consistently and on time. Employees who do good work. And, by the way, who also can pass a drug test.   Maybe it’s the lag effects of legalizing marijuana, or the crippling epidemic of opioids invading our workforce. Regardless, communities and business are seeking (with mixed success) drug-free employees. These challenges are outlined, in small part, in an…

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19 Apr 2016 11th Hour Questions about DOL’s Overtime Rules

As the DOL’s final proposal nears reality, the expected economic impact is making some members of Congress very nervous.   Even supporters of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) upcoming overtime regulations (anticipated to be released in final form sometime soon)  are raising last-minute concerns about the regulations’ potentially adverse impact on businesses– small businesses in particular.   The expected revised DOL regulations on overtime will affect the exempt status of an estimated five million white-collar employees.  The DOL has proposed a salary threshold of $970 per…

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14 Aug 2015 Clarity from the 9th Circuit: The ADA Does Not Require Employer to Keep a Potentially Violent Employee

A recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms our faith in the federal courts on issues of workplace violence. In the case of Mayo v. PCC Structurals, Inc., the plaintiff/employee argued that he was a victim of disability discrimination under Oregon law after he was fired for threatening his co-workers. (The court notes Oregon’s disability law is similar to and similarly analyzed as the Americans with Disabilities Act.)   The employee had a history of major depressive disorder, and after making threats…

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02 Jun 2015 Abercrombie Decision: What’s next for employers?

The Supreme Court scored a victory for the EEOC yesterday, and, notably, for religion. The court’s majority decision emphasized that religion is a protected class that requires “favored treatment.” The decision also underscores that religious practices are equivalent to one’s religious beliefs, and are accorded the same protection.   Although the court could have limited its decision to the facts of this particular case (as did Justice Alito in his concurring opinion), it rejected the employer’s view that disparate treatment requires an employee to prove…

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