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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law

29 Aug Seventh Circuit Discards Well-Worn Standard for Discrimination Cases Does this Herald the End of the Golden Age of Summary Judgment for Employers?

  Late last week, the often employer-friendly Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out the basis upon which discrimination claims have been analyzed for almost a generation. The decision, Ortiz v. Werner Enterprises (Case No. 15-2574), foreshadows dramatic and huge repercussions for employers in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.   Background on Direct and Indirect Tests   For more than 20 years, courts in the Seventh Circuit have recognized two avenues of proving discrimination: the direct and indirect methods. Before last week, a plaintiff-employee in the…

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23 Aug Bathroom Chronicles: Texas Judge Stops Government From Imposing Transgender Student Guidelines on Schools

  While many of us watched the conclusion of the Rio Olympics this weekend, a federal judge in Texas was issuing a nationwide injunction – stopping the federal government from enforcing guidelines for the country’s public schools regarding the accessibility of bathrooms for transgender students.   On Aug. 22, 2016, Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a 38-page decision in response to a petition from 13 states and two school districts that collectively disputed the government’s…

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15 Aug Fifth Circuit Triples Down on the Legality of Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements

  On August 10, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals – for the third time – rejected the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) position that class action waivers in arbitration agreements are invalid under the National Labor Relations Act. In a short opinion, the Circuit said it was bound by its two previous published opinions directly addressing this issue and ruling that such waivers are valid pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act.    The ruling last Wednesday was the first time the Fifth Circuit has…

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12 Aug Seventh Circuit Addresses EEOC’s Stance that Sexual Orientation is Protected by Title VII

  In a recent opinion, the Seventh Circuit held that a plaintiff who claimed she was discriminated against on the basis of her sexual orientation had failed to state a claim under Title VII, reaffirming the Seventh Circuit’s stance that sexual orientation is not a protected classification. However, Judge Rovner’s opinion presents a more nuanced opinion than the Court has taken on the issue in the past, acknowledging logical difficulties in the state of the law.   The plaintiff was a former community college employee…

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22 Jul North Carolina Governor Keeps ‘Bathroom Bill’ Mostly Intact, Pending Court Review

  As a follow-up to my previous post about transgender bathroom access in the workplace, earlier this week, on July 18, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed into law a revised ‘bathroom bill’ that leaves intact the provisions that sparked national controversy by limiting protections for transgender people.   The bill was revised to restore workers’ ability to use state law, and not just federal law, to sue for employment discrimination. However, it leaves intact the provisions that require transgender people to use public bathrooms…

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