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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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30 Mar 2018 When Paying Less Can Cost You More: Pay Inequality

What do three New York City lawyers, the Queen of England, a preschool teacher, a service center manager and a township accountant all have in common?  Here’s a hint:  we are fast-approaching the April 4 date that symbolically marks how much longer full-time female workers need to work in order to equal the pay earned by their male counterparts the year before. The answer to the question of course, is that each of the “employees” listed above play starring roles in the midst of a…

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12 Mar 2018 Sixth Circuit Holds Transgender Status Protected Under Title VII

  On March 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit weighed in on the continuing debate surrounding the scope of Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination. In a landmark decision, the court ruled that Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of transgender and transitioning status and further held that bare compliance with Title VII presents no substantial burden upon an employer’s sincerely held religious beliefs, precluding a defense under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”).   In EEOC v. R.G. &…

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27 Feb 2018 Another Court Reverses Course: Second Circuit Holds Title VII Forbids Sexual Orientation Discrimination

  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an opinion on Monday of this week and explicitly held that Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.   In the closely watched case, Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., a full panel of the Second Circuit revisited the question of sexual orientation coverage under Title VII.  In its decision, the Court cited the history and intent behind the passage of Title VII – namely, that it was intended to be a…

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12 Feb 2018 Rigorous RIF Process Defeats Discrimination Claims

  A recent federal trial court decision underscores the importance of the effective use of a rigorous reduction-in-force (RIF) selection process.   In Ameti v. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Sikorsky beat back multiple discrimination claims asserted by a former engineer selected as one of 17 of his peers in a reduction in force.  No. 3:14-cv-1223 (VLB) (U.S. Dist. Ct. Conn. February 6, 2018).  Sikorsky utilized an Employee Assessment Matrix to determine “the ability of the employee to perform under current and projected business conditions.”  The assessments…

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08 Feb 2018 Ohio Bill Protecting LGBTQ Rights Receives Widespread Support at Committee Hearing

  In October we detailed a new bill in the Ohio legislature aimed at banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. As an update, House Bill 160, dubbed the Ohio Fairness Act, is currently before Ohio’s House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee.   On January 31, 2018, the committee held a public hearing and provided an opportunity for proponent testimony. It was the first time in nine years that a bill protecting LGBTQ individuals was…

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08 Jan 2018 Goals for the New Year: Prevent and Better Defend Employment Claims

  As sure as the calendar turns to a new year, there is no doubt that employers will see new employment discrimination charges and employment lawsuits filed.  So now is a good time for a check-up to see if you are well-positioned to minimize the risks of such claims in 2018.  Here are three quick, general pointers:   Clear Expectations. We’ve all seen it, in one form or another – the employee who, when faced with termination, will say: “I didn’t know that could get…

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29 Dec 2017 As Predicted, DOL Proposes Changes to Tip Pool Rule

As predicted in an earlier post, the U.S. Department of Labor has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which would alter its 2011 rule on tip pooling.  The 2011 rule prevented employers from requiring tipped employees from sharing their tips with traditionally non-tipped workers.  Under the proposed rule, employers who directly pay tipped employees the full minimum wage may require those employees to pool their tips with traditionally non-tipped employees.   The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) generally requires employers to pay employees the minimum…

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28 Dec 2017 Nursing Mothers Protected under Discrimination Laws, says Connecticut Federal Court

  As we’ve recently outlined, the Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act and Illinois Human Rights Act mandates that employers must be prepared to accommodate pregnant employees and nursing mothers. A recent ruling in Connecticut federal court should stand as a reminder to employers that Illinois is not the only state where the rights of pregnant employees and nursing mothers are protected.   Jill Grewcock was a nursing mother who sued her employer, Yale-New Haven Health Services Corporation, for sex discrimination and retaliation in…

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28 Nov 2017 Part 2: Sex, Power, and the Workplace – Preventing the Backlash

  Are workplaces at risk for a backlash? How do we preserve and continue to advance opportunities for women when their male coworkers are worried? Worried about exactly where the line is between friendliness and sexual harassment at work? A recent New York Times article raised this question with men at work, who wondered about their own behavior, and also raise concern for their female coworkers.   In general, although women at work acknowledge the recent conversation about sexual harassment is overdue, they now worry…

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28 Nov 2017 OSHA Extends Electronic Recordkeeping Submission Deadline to Dec. 15

  As we have covered in a prior post, the electronic recordkeeping deadline was moved from July 1, 2017, to Dec. 1, 2017, after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) filed a notice of proposed rulemaking. After the two-week debacle in August, where OSHA was forced to take down its own electronic portal for submission of OSHA records due to a potential compromise of user information, the final rule postponed the deadline for two more weeks until Dec. 15, 2017. OSHA states that this…

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