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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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24 Jul 2013 Unpaid Interns Strike Back – Lawsuits on the Rise Alleging Unpaid Wages

  There has been a recent rash of lawsuits filed by unpaid interns against their former employers alleging that they should have been paid minimum wages and overtime. Unfortunately for employers, the plaintiffs have been successful and the lawsuits are escalating both individually and on a class basis.   It all began with a lawsuit by unpaid interns against Fox Searchlight. These interns worked on the film “Black Swan.” On June 11, 2013, a Federal District Court Judge sided with the interns in his decision…

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18 Jun 2013 OSHA’S Revised Hazard Communications Standard Imposes New Training Requirements by Dec. 1, 2013

OSHA’s revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires sweeping mandatory training for most employers across the country on the new requirements for chemical labeling as well as the new Safety Data Sheets by Dec. 1, 2013. It was revised to align it with the internationally accepted Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Any employer that uses hazardous chemicals in its workplace is subject to the communication and training requirements of the HCS. OSHA estimates that this revised standard will affect more than…

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30 Apr 2013 OSHA Interpretation Letter Allows Non-Union Employees to Designate Union Personnel as “Representative” During OSHA Inspection

In a recently released Interpretation letter (dated Feb. 21, 2013 but not released to the public until April 5, 2013), OSHA has stated that anyone may be designated by workers at a non-union facility as their “representative” during an OSHA inspection, even a union representative. While OSHA claims that this is just a policy clarification of current regulations, this represents a significant departure from previous interpretations in the past. While permitting a union representative at a union facility to accompany an OSHA inspector during the…

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22 Mar 2013 ADA Reasonable Accommodations and Wellness Programs

As a means of dealing with ever increasing healthcare premiums, many employers have chosen to implement wellness programs to improve the health of their workforce, thereby reducing claims. The EEOC has recently issued an interpretation letter stating that employers have an obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation for their employees who are participating in a health contingent wellness program. These types of wellness programs require an employee to meet certain standards related to a health factor (i.e. reducing blood pressure or losing weight, etc.) to achieve a…

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11 Feb 2013 OSHA – Regulatory and Enforcement Update

With four more years of the Obama administration, expect increased enforcement efforts from OSHA as we have seen in the past four years. As noted last year, even without formal statutory reform, OSHA managed to double the average fines given to employers through an internal administrative penalty bulletin and the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). The outlook for 2013 appears to be more of the same. The scope of enforcement activities of OSHA may expand as well with the creation of the Whistleblower Protection Advisory…

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28 Dec 2012 REMINDER – FCRA Changes Effective Jan. 1, 2013

Employers who routinely use third party credit reporting agencies for their pre-employment background screening are familiar with the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Effective Jan. 1, 2013, employers that utilize background checks must use a new “Summary of Consumer Rights” form to notify job applicants and employees of their rights under the FCRA. Under the new changes to the regulations, employers must make clear that the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and not the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), is the agency…

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04 Oct 2012 NLRB Social Media Decisions Leave Questions for Employers

The NLRB issued its first decision on a social media policy on Sept. 7, 2012 (Costco Wholesale Corp.) finding the employer’s policy of preventing employees from posting statements that “damage the Company, defame any individual or damage any person’s reputation” as being unlawful.  This was to be expected given the ever expanding interpretations of the NLRB’s General Counsel set forth in his three prior Guidance Memoranda on social media policies.  However, on Sept. 28, 2012, the NLRB ruled on its first social media termination case and…

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04 Oct 2012 California Passes Law to Regulate Access to Employees’ Social Media Accounts

California has become the third state to pass a law restricting an employer’s right to require access to applicant’s or employee’s social media accounts as a term and condition of employment. Maryland and Illinois passed similar laws earlier this year. The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2013. The law does provide that an employer still has the right to require that an employee disclose such passwords if it is relevant to an investigation into employee misconduct or violation of applicable laws.  While most employers do not have…

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10 Jul 2012 What Does the Supreme Court’s Ruling Mean to Indiana Employers?

While the Supreme Court held that several provisions of AZ’s immigration law were preempted by federal law in the landmark decision of Arizona v. United States, employers should not be misled into believing that all state law immigration laws have been invalidated. The provisions of the law which were struck down were those of a criminal nature (i.e., making it a misdemeanor for unauthorized aliens to apply for work, to fail to carry valid immigration documents as well as a provision for warrantless arrests of…

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