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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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09 Jun 2014 ADA Requires Reasonable Accommodation, Not Employee’s Preferred Accommodation

  With the EEOC presently pushing an enforcement agenda focusing, in part, on claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is important to keep in mind an often-underutilized legal principle when facing a failure-to-accommodate claim:  the law requires only a reasonable accommodation, which is not necessarily the accommodation requested or preferred by the employee.   In the recent 7th Circuit decision in Bunn v. Khoury Enters, Inc., a legally blind Dairy Queen employee sued his employer for allegedly failing to accommodate his visual…

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20 May 2014 EEOC Files ADA Claim Against Employer Due To “No Fault” Attendance Policy

  On May 9, 2014, the EEOC filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against AutoZone Inc. for discrimination, retaliation and failure to accommodate under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The EEOC recently issued a press release discussing this lawsuit. The EEOC alleges that AutoZone had a “no fault’ attendance policy under which employees received points for absences, even if those absences occurred for reasons relating to disabilities. The EEOC also alleges that AutoZone failed to accommodate an…

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09 May 2014 EEOC Challenges Another Employer’s Standard Severance Agreement Language

  Employers’ long-trusted standard severance agreements are under fire again by the EEOC.   A few months ago, we told you about the EEOC’s federal lawsuit against a nationwide employer in Illinois, where the EEOC attacked language used in a standard severance agreement. On the heels of that case, the EEOC has filed another lawsuit making similar allegations, this time against CollegeAmerica Denver, Inc. in the District of Colorado.   The new Colorado case involves a campus director who entered into a severance agreement with…

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23 Apr 2014 Technological Advances Make Telecommuting A More Reasonable Accommodation

  On April 22, the Sixth Circuit reversed the Eastern District of Michigan in a case that may pave the way for more employees to work at home as a reasonable accommodation. Jane Harris worked as a resale steel buyer for Ford. Her job duties included interacting with steel suppliers and members of the Ford team to ensure that there is no gap in the auto maker’s steel supply. Although managers believed that these interactions were best conducted face to face, Harris suffers from debilitating…

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09 Apr 2014 Ends and Means: Federal Appeals Judge Reflects on Attorney Fee Award Against EEOC

  The EEOC has been more aggressive in the last few years than at any time during my 25 years of practice. It seems a fair question whether its high publicity focus on things like social media and, what I think most plaintiffs’ employment lawyers would agree are routine, release agreements are the best use of its resources – compared, for example, to efficiently doing its less sexy day-to-day work of promptly processing the charges that are brought before it.   This recent post from the…

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20 Mar 2014 EEOC turns its focus to the impact of social media in employment litigation

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is concerned that efforts to access “private” social media communications through discovery in employment discrimination litigation could have “a chilling effect” on people seeking to “exercise their rights under federal anti-discrimination laws,” according to EEOC’s own summary of a recent meeting on the topic of social media in the workplace.   The EEOC held a Social Media Commission meeting at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. on March 12 to gather information about the use of social media in the…

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17 Mar 2014 Second Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Untimely Filed State Law Claims from Title VII Harassment Suit

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that filing a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not toll the limitations periods for filing state law tort claims, even if the state law claims arise out of the same factual circumstances as the discrimination alleged in the EEOC Charge. Castagna v. Luceno, No. 13-076-cv, 2014 WL 840964 (2d Cir. March 5, 2014). This issue has not yet been decided in most of the federal appeals courts, but the Second Circuit…

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13 Mar 2014 EEOC and FTC Team up to Offer Guidance on Employee Background Checks

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the U.S. Fair Trade Commission (“FTC,” the commission responsible for enforcing the Fair Credit Reporting Act) have co-published two technical assistance publications – one aimed at employers and one aimed at employees and applicants – explaining how their rules apply to background checks used for hiring, retention, promotion, or reassignment purposes.   The EEOC confirmed that it is legal to ask questions about an applicant’s background as long as the questions do not discriminate on the basis of…

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19 Feb 2014 EEOC Challenges Standard Severance Agreement Language

  A new EEOC lawsuit could have repercussions on employers’ standard severance agreements. At issue in the lawsuit, which was filed last week in the Northern District of Illinois, is the language of a standard severance agreement which – according to the EEOC – unlawfully prevents employees from communicating with the agency or filing discrimination claims.   As many employers know, general principles of contract law allow an employee who enters into a severance agreement to waive the right to file a legal claim seeking…

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10 Feb 2014 EEOC Charges Drop In 2013, But Wait, There’s More!

The EEOC has disclosed the number of charges filed last year and the overall trend for employers is positive. For the third year in a row, the number of charges dropped – to 93,727 down from 99,412 in 2012 and the record high of 99,947 in 2011. The chart below illustrates the drop and puts the numbers into perspective back to 1997. As illustrated, the good news is that the number of charges are down; the bad news is that the number of charges essentially…

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