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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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20 Sep 2017 Pregnancy Discrimination Act Requires Employers to Accommodate Breastfeeding Employees

  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently affirmed a district court decision in favor of a police officer who argued that her employer failed to accommodate her so she could breastfeed.   In Hicks v. City of Tuscaloosa, officer Hicks requested an alternative duty upon her return from maternity leave. Normally, she was required to wear a bulletproof vest, but her doctor said that wearing the vest could cause infection and prevent her from breastfeeding. Hicks requested a duty that would…

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08 Jul 2016 Court Provides Roadmap for Managing ‘Intolerable’ Behavior From Employee with Disabilities

  What is an employer to do when a long-standing employee with a known anxiety disorder engages in a public display of suicidal gestures and disruptive behavior? Don’t act in haste, but if careful consideration of the situation leads to a termination, the decision-making process may withstand scrutiny in court.   That’s the outcome in a recent ruling from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Felix v. Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation, which provides a thorough and detailed analysis of a challenging situation involving an employee…

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24 Jun 2016 Minneapolis Employers Brace for Paid Sick Leave

At the end of May, the Minneapolis City Council passed a controversial ordinance that will require all employers with at least one employee working in the city of Minneapolis to provide sick leave. The ordinance will become effective on July 1, 2017.  Highlights of the ordinance include:   Eligibility:   – Eligible employees include any employee who works within the geographical boundaries of the City and works at least 80 hours in a year.  Eligible employees include full-time, part-time, and temporary employees so long as…

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24 Jun 2016 Chicago Workers to Earn Paid Sick Leave as Trend Continues in Big U.S. Cities

Employers who have a Chicago-based workforce will need to begin preparations for their employees to earn and use up to five paid sick days per year now that the Chicago City Council has taken action to require sick time benefits.   The new requirement, scheduled to go into effect July 2017, will allow workers within the city to earn one hour of sick time for every 40 hours of work, up to a maximum of five paid days per 12-month period.  Workers also will be…

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14 Jun 2016 Flex-Time and Telecommuting Requests: Potential Traps for the Unwary Employer

Imagine this nightmare scenario for an employer: employee requests a “flexible schedule” where she could start and end her workday up to an hour later than usual and to take extra breaks (up to three per day) during the day following panic attacks. She says she will need this schedule “indefinitely.” You have no idea when your employee will come to work or how long she will work during the day and there is no end in sight to this accommodation. What do you do? The depression…

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07 Jun 2016 Telecommuting as an ADA Accommodation

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: an employee calls in to work, states she has a medical condition and can’t come in to work but says she can still do her job from home.   You have your doubts about how much work will get done from home. But you know that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) obliges an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation for a qualified, disabled employee that will enable her to perform the essential functions of the job. And…

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09 May 2016 Survey Says: Smoke-Free Campuses a Minority, But Employers Addressing E-Cigarettes

This month’s survey results from our friends at Employers’ Resource Association look at employer tobacco policies.  Here are some of the interesting results:   Only 28 percent of respondents have a smoke-free campus (Not included in the survey is how many companies won’t even hire smokers – undoubtedly a much smaller number) 86 percent prohibit smoking while driving a company-owned vehicle 70 percent address e-cigarettes in their policies and 61 percent prohibit smokeless tobacco   The complete infographic can be viewed here. Bill NolanWilliam A….

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07 Apr 2016 Morbid Obesity Not Necessarily a Disability Under Americans with Disabilities Act

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held this week that obesity in and of itself is not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Instead, obesity generally is a physical characteristic and “qualifies as a physical impairment (and thus would be covered under the ADA) only if it falls outside the normal range and it occurs as the result of a physiological disorder.” (Emphasis added.)  Even morbid obesity has to have physiological underpinnings to qualify as a disability, ruled the Eighth Circuit.  Such disorders…

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03 Dec 2015 EEOC Issues Additional Guidance on Job Rights for Employees with HIV

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued two separate guidance documents this week addressing employees with HIV. The first of the two documents, “Living with HIV Infection: Your Legal Rights in the Workplace Under the ADA,” is aimed at employees with HIV.  The document assures employees that, for the most part, they have the right to keep their condition confidential, but that they might have to disclose the condition if they are seeking reasonable accommodation, are being evaluated for eligibility for certain employee benefits or…

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25 Nov 2015 Holiday Pay and the Family Medical Leave Act

  As we enter into the holiday season, questions often arise regarding an employer’s obligation to pay an employee on FMLA leave for holidays. Surprisingly, the answer is relatively straightforward: treat that employee in the same manner you would treat an employee on a non-FMLA leave. According to the FMLA Regulations:   [a]n employee’s entitlement to benefits other than group health benefits during a period of FMLA leave (e.g., holiday pay) is determined by the employer’s policy for providing such benefits when the employee is…

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