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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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26 May 2017 Second Circuit Takes Second Look at Sexual Orientation Discrimination Under Title VII

  The issue of whether Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is in the hot seat once again, this time being considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as part of an en banc rehearing granted in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc. d/b/a Skydive Long Island. The grant of the rehearing, to include all active judges and those senior judges involved in the original appeal, comes after the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New…

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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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01 May 2017 Lessons Learned: Job Descriptions Do Matter

  When was the last time you reviewed the job descriptions of your employees?  At the time of the review, did you ask supervisors to review the job descriptions to see if they were accurate?  What about the employees – did you have each employee review and sign the applicable job description, acknowledging that it accurately described the job duties as performed by the employee?  While there is no legal requirement to regularly update job descriptions (or even to have them), the 11th Circuit’s decision…

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19 Apr 2017 Court Tells Skydiver’s Estate It Won’t Reconsider Title VII Claim

  On April 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declined to reconsider the estate of deceased skydiver Donald Zarda’s Title VII claim against former employer Altitude Express. Zarda filed suit claiming his employment was terminated because of his sexual orientation. Although his New York state law claim was explicitly based on sexual orientation, his Title VII claim was characterized as a sex discrimination claim.   The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted summary judgment to Altitude…

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13 Apr 2017 Minnesota Human Rights Act’s Statute of Limitations Tolls When Employer Investigates Discrimination Complaints

  The Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) requires an individual to either commence a civil action or file a charge with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) within one year after the occurrence of an unlawful discriminatory act. However, that one year time period is suspended when the individual and the employer voluntarily engage in a dispute resolution process. The statute states that a “dispute resolution process” can include arbitration, conciliation, mediation or grievance procedures.   Most employers have believed the statute of limitations…

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03 Apr 2017 Employer’s ‘Stirring Up’ Testimony Allows Plaintiff to Pursue Section 504 and ADA Claims

  A case out of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee provides a useful reminder that employers must exercise caution when responding to reports of potential protected activities. The case, Hicks v. Benton County Board of Education, involved a special education aide who spoke to special education parents about services their students failed to receive. Upon learning this information, the principal instructed the plaintiff to cease talking directly to parents concerning what was going on in the program and to instead…

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17 Mar 2017 Does Same-Sex Harassment Support Gender Discrimination Claims? Texas Supreme Court to Decide

  The Texas Supreme Court agreed to determine whether a school teacher’s allegations of a hostile work environment by her same-sex superiors can support a claim of gender discrimination in violation of the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA). The court will also decide whether the circumstantial evidence presented to prove the teacher’s retaliation claim is sufficient to support a violation of the TCHRA.   The teacher alleged that a fellow coach began to sexually harass by allegedly making comments about the teacher’s body…

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16 Mar 2017 Mugshots Gone Viral: Internet Clickbait is a Hiring Manager’s Minefield

  While “that hot mugshot guy” launched a modeling career – including a recent New York Fashion Week runway appearance – based on his improbably good-looking booking photo, most arrestees are not so lucky.   It seems the Internet-browsing public can’t resist clicking around for such photos — from celebrities to the average joe — and thus media sites routinely post such photos to attract page views. Mugshots are nearly unavoidable on the Internet and they remain posted long after any news value has faded away. There are even commercial…

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09 Mar 2017 Unwise Old Sayings? Watch Out For Stereotypes That Might Trigger An Age Discrimination Lawsuit

  By this point, most employers know not to make explicit ageist remarks such as calling an employee Grandpa, saying an employee is old, or inquiring about when an employee will retire. However, employers should also be mindful that less explicit remarks, even if not intended to be ageist, can evoke certain stereotypes and result in allegations of age discrimination.   In a recent Eighth Circuit case, an employee sued for age discrimination after his termination. His supervisor had noted that tasks requiring “physical skill…

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08 Mar 2017 Transgender Bathroom Case Sent Back to Lower Courts by Supreme Court

  On March 6, 2017, the Supreme Court canceled scheduled arguments in a case involving the bathroom rights of transgender students in public schools. The Court sent the case back to the 4th Circuit to reconsider the issue in light of the Department of Justice and Department of Education rescinding Obama-era guidance clarifying protections for transgender students.   The case, Gloucestor County School Board v. G.G., involved a transgender high school student seeking to use the boys’ restrooms at his high school. The plaintiff –…

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