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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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24 Feb 2015 FMLA Final Rule: ‘Spouse’ Means Same-Sex Spouse (Even in Alabama)

Even for HR veterans, administering the FMLA still triggers occasional anxiety attacks. Within the last two weeks, I was asked, “How should we treat same-sex spouses under the FMLA?” On at least this cause for nervousness, the Department of Labor has finally issued clear guidance.   On Feb. 23, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez announced, in essence, that under the FMLA, “spouse” means “spouse,” even if you are living in a state that does not recognize same sex marriages.   The DOL’s Final Rule announced…

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16 Jan 2015 Will the EEOC Get its Wings Clipped? Mach Mining’s Challenge to the EEOC before the Supreme Court

  On Jan. 13, during oral argument, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia echoed businesses’ skepticism about the EEOC’s pre-suit settlement strategy, saying  “there is considerable incentive on the EEOC to fail in conciliation so that it can bring a big­deal lawsuit and get a lot of press and put a lot of pressure on this employer and on other employers. There are real incentives to have conciliation fail.”   Justice Scalia made his comments in the case of Mach Mining L.L.C. v. Equal Employment…

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24 Sep 2014 SEC Awards Whistleblower Largest Bounty Ever

  The Securities & Exchange Commission announced Monday that it is awarding more than $30 million dollars to a confidential whistleblower who led federal officials to an internal fraud that officials say would otherwise have gone undetected.   The Dodd-Frank Act, enacted in 2010, established a bounty program to reward employees who report wrongdoing to the SEC.  You can read more about the details of this latest award (and the other developments under Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley) in the blog post by our colleague, B&T litigation…

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15 Sep 2014 FMLA Certifications: When “Unknown” and “Probably” Aren’t Enough

  The words on the FMLA Certification jump out at us: “Unknown.” “Unpredictable.” “Probably.” Instead of the certainty we were looking for, we have more questions.   The DOL regulations require that the FMLA Certifications not only be “complete,” but also “sufficient.” What is “sufficient?” In looking at this issue recently, we found no DOL advisory opinions, although there are some court rulings to guide us.   As an initial matter, rely on the regulations: a medical certification is incomplete if information requested is not provided,…

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20 Jun 2014 FMLA Protections Should Include Same-Sex Spouses Everywhere, says DOL

  Same-sex spouses everywhere in the United States–even if they live in states that don’t recognize their marriages—should be entitled to the benefits and protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), according to a proposal announced earlier today  by Labor Secretary Thomas Perez.   This announcement is consistent with the Obama Administration’s aggressive use of the powers of the Executive Branch and with the Supreme Court’s decision last summer in United States v. Windsor, which struck down key provisions of the “Defense of…

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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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