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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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05 Oct 2015 Nearly 40 Percent of Mandatory Reports to OSHA Lead to Inspection

As we previously noted in late 2014, OSHA implemented a new mandatory reporting requirement which would require employers to report to OSHA within 24 hours if a single employee was hospitalized overnight. Previously, an employer was only required to report this if three (3) or more employees were hospitalized overnight. The new regulations also required the mandatory reporting of any amputation or loss of an eye within 24 hours. As before, workplace fatalities have to be reported within eight hours. These new regulations became effective…

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24 Aug 2015 DOL TO CONSIDER RULE ON PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICES OUTSIDE OF WORKING HOURS

Perhaps in anticipation of the greater number of non-exempt employees as a result of the proposed increase in salary for exempt employees, the Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that it will be seeking public input on the question of employees’ use of portable technology outside their workplace and normal working hours. This was introduced as a part of the DOL’s Spring 2015 regulatory agenda and it is anticipated that they will issue this public request for information by the end of the month.  …

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13 Jul 2015 “Perceived as” Religious Bias Claims? – A Federal Court in Michigan Says “Yes”

Recently, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Michigan denied a company’s motion for summary judgment that Title VII and Michigan state law do not prohibit discrimination on the basis of perceived religion. Kallabat v. Michigan Bell Tele. Co.¸2015 BL 194351, E.D. Mich., No. 2:12-cv-15470. Despite the citation of other six federal district court decisions from other states (IL, KS, NC, NY, OH and TN) holding that Title VII does not cover a perceived religion claim, the court held that they would not bar…

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29 May 2015 Are You Ready for OSHA’s Revised Hazard Communication Deadline – June 1, 2015?

  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) compliance deadline of Monday, June 1, 2015, is fast approaching. The revised standard was effective in 2012, but it has staggered compliance deadlines for various aspects of the regulations over the years.   Employers were required to train their employees on the new labeling elements as well as the new standardized safety data sheets by Dec. 1, 2013. The deadline for chemical manufacturers, importers and distributors to comply with new hazard classifications…

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28 May 2015 Transgender Status in the Workplace – First an EEOC Issue and Now an OSHA Issue?

Transgender status has been all over the news lately. As many of you saw on 20/20, Bruce Jenner publicly announced his gender transition to a woman in late April. We have also covered the various cases that have addressed transgender discrimination in lawsuits brought by the EEOC as well as individuals since late 2014. Most recently Saks & Company settled a controversial transgender discrimination case back in March. We are aware of EEOC’s position on this issue – that gender identity discrimination is covered by…

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17 Apr 2015 THE SEC JOINS THE NLRB IN ATTACKING EMPLOYEE CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENTS

Recently, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fined an employer $130,000 for making employees sign confidentiality agreements during an investigation. The agreement stated that the employees could be terminated if they discussed the investigation with anyone outside the company without prior approval of the company’s legal department. The SEC charged the company with violating whistleblower protection Rule 21F-17 enacted under the Dodd-Frank Act, which prohibits companies from taking any action to impede whistleblowers from reporting possible securities violations to the SEC.  This case is…

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09 Mar 2015 Saks Settles Controversial Transgender Discrimination Case

As a reminder to employers that the threat of transgender discrimination lawsuits is alive and well, Saks & Company recently settled a controversial claim of discrimination where a former salesperson claimed she had been harassed and retaliated against on the basis of her transgender identity.  Saks previously argued in a Motion to Dismiss that transgender individuals were not covered by Title VII, which then sparked outrage from gender rights activists as well as both state and federal regulators.  As we have previously noted in a…

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23 Jan 2015 Man Claiming Hand Scanning Time Clock Causes “Mark of the Beast” Wins Religious Discrimination Suit

Last week, a federal jury in West Virginia found in favor of a plaintiff claiming that his coal mining employer discriminated against him based on his religious beliefs by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation for his religious objection to the company’s use of a biometric hand-scanning time clock. The plaintiff was an evangelical Christian who believed that the use of the hand scanner was discussed in the Book of Revelation in the Bible when it described the Antichrist as causing all to have a…

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22 Jan 2015 Supreme Court Agrees To Review Same-Sex Marriage Bans

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether state law bans against same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee are unconstitutional. This has been a long-awaited by both sides of this debate and will finally resolve this controversial and hard-fought civil rights battle.   The Supreme Court’s decision to review the Sixth Circuit’s order upholding the state law bans on same-sex marriage was expected as it created a conflict with four other circuit court decisions. The Fourth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth circuits have…

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04 Nov 2014 Ebola – How Should Employers Respond?

With the constant news coverage of Ebola quarantines and the CSI-like tracking of the potential whereabouts of potentially infected healthcare workers, it is understandable if employers are concerned about their legal obligations regarding Ebola exposure or quarantine issues. Generally, Ebola is only transmitted by close contact with bodily fluids of an infected individual. However, the virulent nature of the disease as well as the high mortality rate (between 50-90 percent) has caused a media frenzy regarding the potential for an epidemic once the first case…

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