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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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31 Aug 2017 Lessons Learned: As Flu Shot Season Approaches, Inflexible Rules Can Cause Accommodation Headaches

  It’s the end of summer. Our children are returning to school, the evenings are turning a bit cool and hospitals are educating their workforces on mandatory flu vaccination programs.   Each year at about this time, we look to recent court decisions for guidance on how best to balance a hospital’s interest in protecting its patients (among other things) with a healthcare worker’s sincerely held religious belief that conflicts with the hospital’s requirement that its employees  get the flu vaccine.   Last summer, I…

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30 Aug 2017 OMB Immediately Stays Revised EEO-1 Form, Including Pay Data Collection

  In a move that affects every U.S. business with 100 or more employees (and federal contractors with 50 or more employees), the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has leveraged the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) to direct the EEOC to immediately stay the effectiveness of the EEO-1 form issued Sept. 29, 2016, that included new data requests for wages and hours worked.   For fiscal year 2017, businesses will use the previously approved EEO-1 form to comply with reporting obligations that track race/ethnicity…

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17 Aug 2017 Seventh Circuit Says EEOC May Press on With Enforcement Efforts After Right-to-Sue

  In a matter of first impression for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (which covers Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana), the Court considered whether the EEOC’s authority terminates upon its issuance of a “right to sue” letter or the dismissal of a subsequent lawsuit on the merits. The Court’s decision in EEOC v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., arose out of the EEOC’s efforts to enforce a subpoena in a matter in which a “right to sue” letter had been issued (after the…

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22 Jun 2017 Fourth Circuit Upholds ‘Mark of the Beast’ Jury Verdict

  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit unanimously upheld a West Virginia’s jury verdict of nearly $600,000 in favor of the EEOC on behalf of an employee who alleged the company failed to accommodate his religious belief. The employee believed that using the company’s biometric hand-scanning time clock would affix the “Mark of the Beast” as described in the book of Revelation in the Bible. By using the hand scanner, the employee believed he would be marked as a follower of the…

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08 Jun 2017 The Age Discrimination in Employment Act Turns 50

  Put 50 candles on the cake. In 1967, the U.S. Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) with the stated purpose “to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment; (and) to help employers and workers find ways of meeting problems arising from the impact of age on employment.”   Now 50 years later, as baby boomers are moving through the workforce and reaching retirement, the ADEA retains its relevance even…

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30 May 2017 Another Review of the EEOC’s Subpoena for ‘Pedigree Information’

  In a prolonged battle over the issue of whether an employer must respond to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) subpoena for “pedigree information” in connection with its investigation of a sex discrimination charge, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered the District Court in Arizona to review the matter again.   In 2013, former employee Damiana Ocho filed a charge of discrimination against McLane Company, alleging that the company discriminated on the basis of sex when it fired her…

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25 May 2017 Need to Check an Employee’s Criminal Background? Tread Carefully

  Federal laws do not prohibit employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history. But equal employment opportunity (EEO) and federal laws prevent employers from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of this information. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has guidelines that establish the following rules:   Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from treating people with similar criminal records differently because of their race, national origin, color, sex or religion Title VII also prohibits employers from using policies…

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19 May 2017 Current Administration Considers EEOC and Labor Department Subagency Merger

  The Trump administration is reportedly considering a potential merger between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and a Labor Department subagency that enforces nondiscrimination requirements and affirmative action on government contractors.   The recommendation to merge the two entities originated from The Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative research think tank. In its report, “Blueprint for Reform: A Comprehensive Policy Agenda for a New Administration in 2017,” The Heritage Foundation previously called for a complete phasing out of the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal…

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17 May 2017 Hiring Teenagers This Summer? Here are 3 Key Considerations

  School’s out for the summer. If you do business in recreation, restaurants, or retail, chances are you will be employing teen workers this season. So now is a good time to learn from a few real-world examples of legal issues involving teen workers.   The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will not hesitate to come to the aid of young workers if it believes they have been subjected to sexual harassment. You can read the EEOC’s descriptions of several of its cases involving harassment…

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11 Apr 2017 Suspending Employee Who Hit Boss With Vehicle Not Retaliation

  In a rather unusual case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Court ruled that the U.S. Postal Service (“Postal Service”) did not retaliate against an employee when it suspended him for two days after he hit his supervisor with a postal vehicle.   Javier Cabral, a letter carrier for the Postal Service, filed three different Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) complaints and several union grievances alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Cabral ultimately sued the Postal Service, alleging hostile work environment, harassment,…

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