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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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19 May 2014 Lessons from the Big Apple

  Last Wednesday’s announcement that The New York Times had abruptly fired its first female executive editor, Jill Abramson, outraged feminists and journalists, fueling debate about equal pay, sexism and double-standards. Regardless of Abramson’s conduct or the Times’s reasons for short-circuiting Abramson’s tenure, this high-profile drama has created a teachable moment for employers.   To briefly summarize, The New Yorker published a now-disputed account that the Times had conceded “Abramson’s decision to hire lawyers to protest her salary ‘was a contributing factor’ to her termination, because…

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12 May 2014 Ouch! Fourth Circuit reminds North Carolina company of its responsibility to protect employees—even from its customers

  As lawyers, we regularly train our clients (and their employees) about anti-harassment, anti-discrimination laws—emphasizing their responsibility to protect employees even from the bad behavior of vendors, contractors and customers. Last week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals drove home the lesson of third-party harassment.  In other words, we really mean it.   The North Carolina-based case of Freeman v. Dal-Tile Corp., et al., (4th Cir. 2014) involves a plaintiff employee who claimed years of sexual and racial harassment by an independent contractor of Dal-Tile. …

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09 Jan 2014 NLRB “Gives Up the Ghost” On Posting Rule Fight

Over on our labor and employment companion blog (www.btlaborrelations.com) one of my colleagues, Dave Pryzbylski, writes an excellent post that examines the NLRB’s fight over its posting rule. It’s a fight that the NLRB has recently given up the ghost on, and it impacts what employers have to post on the bulletin board at your office, hidden in the corner behind the door. You can check out Dave’s post by clicking on the link below. BT Labor Relations – NLRB Fails to File Appeal to the Supreme Court for Review of…

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25 Nov 2013 FMLA Does Not Trump Common Sense

The situation is a familiar one to many employers: on the cusp of termination, an under-performing employee suddenly takes FMLA leave. What then? Do we fire the employee upon returning from FMLA leave? Doesn’t that look bad? The short answer is “Yes.” It looks bad. At the very least, it raises eyebrows. But that does not mean the tough decision should not be made. Earlier this month, a federal judge in Tennessee issued what appears to be a reasonable, even-handed decision in a case involving…

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05 Sep 2013 New Final Rules Require Federal Contractors to Increase Efforts to Hire Veterans and Disabled Individuals

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) recently issued much-anticipated Final Rules that will require federal contractors to engage in specific and measurable recruitment efforts to hire veterans and persons with disabilities. These Final Rules formally take effect 180 days after being published in the Federal Register. The new regulations make significant changes to the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment and Assistance Act (VEVRAA) and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For additional information on the Final Rules and…

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03 Sep 2013 Reason for Separation? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Reason! (Or, do we?)

Client: “I want to fire my employee.”Attorney: “Why?”Client: “Because I’ve had it. I can’t deal with this employee anymore.”Attorney: “I understand, but why?” Client: “Why? Why?! Because I’ve had it. I’ve just had it. Besides, this is an at-will state and I can fire someone at my will…” (Client’s voice rises) “I don’t need a reason!” The lessons embedded in this dialogue amount to a full-day seminar, but for purposes of this blog, let’s focus on the “reasons” for firing employees. First, in general, we…

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18 Jun 2013 EEOC Makes Good On Its Promise To Rekindle Disparate Impact Claims: Files Lawsuits Against Dollar General and BMW

You can’t say that we didn’t warn you.  Last week, the EEOC made good on its promise to protect those adversely affected because of criminal background checks. The EEOC filed two lawsuits – one in federal court in Chicago against the national small-box retailer, Dollar General; and another in South Carolina against BMW. These lawsuits appear to be the first lawsuits filed by the EEOC since it issued its criminal background check enforcement guidance in April of 2012 – and the first since issuing its…

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25 Apr 2013 A Supreme Court Update: Notes on Wednesday’s Oral Argument About Title VII Retaliation Claims

Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court heard the final oral argument of its term – and the argument surrounds an employment retaliation case born in the State of Texas. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar (U.S. No. 12-484). The underlying case involves a doctor who complained of discrimination and was not hired, but candidly, that’s not part of the discussion anymore. The real battle is over what employees should have to prove to win a case of retaliation. The crux of the debate focuses…

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24 Apr 2013 Testing the Supreme Court (again) on Retaliation Claims

Today, (Wed., April 24th), the Supreme Court hears oral argument in a closely watched employment retaliation case from the Fifth Circuit: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar (U.S. No. 12-484). The ruling in this case, whatever the outcome, is likely to significantly impact employers and their ability to defend themselves against the ever-increasing number of retaliation claims. Here is a quick overview of the issues at hand. The central question in the Nassar case is what is the appropriate standard of proof for…

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18 Mar 2013 Employee Retaliation Claims: Will the Supreme Court Stem the Tide?

It was no surprise for practitioners and their clients alike to learn that, statistically, retaliation claims remain the largest number of claims brought before the EEOC (in 2012, almost 38,000 charges alleged retaliation—38.1% of all charges). Worse, retaliation claims are expensive to defend. This point is painfully highlighted in this week’s submissions with the U.S. Supreme Court. Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (along with the Retail Litigation Center) filed with the Supreme Court an amici curiae brief in a case in which retaliation…

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