Follow Us
twittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutube
Subscribe to the BT Currents Blog

By signing up, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Recent Posts
The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
0 0

17 Mar 2015 A Single “Heil Hitler” Not Hostile Enough, Says the Fifth Circuit

No reasonable employee could believe that a single “Heil Hitler” creates a hostile work environment. Or at least that’s what the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently determined in its March 3, 2015, decision Satterwhite v. City of Houston. In Satterwhite, Courtney Satterwhite, an employee for the City of Houston, reported his co-worker Harry Singh for allegedly using the phrase “Heil Hitler” during a meeting. After later becoming Satterwhite’s supervisor, Singh recommended that Satterwhite be demoted and the City ultimately agreed. Following his demotion, Satterwhite…

READ MORE
0 0

09 Mar 2015 Saks Settles Controversial Transgender Discrimination Case

As a reminder to employers that the threat of transgender discrimination lawsuits is alive and well, Saks & Company recently settled a controversial claim of discrimination where a former salesperson claimed she had been harassed and retaliated against on the basis of her transgender identity.  Saks previously argued in a Motion to Dismiss that transgender individuals were not covered by Title VII, which then sparked outrage from gender rights activists as well as both state and federal regulators.  As we have previously noted in a…

READ MORE
0 0

26 Feb 2015 Who Knew? U.S. Supreme Court Justices Offer Employment Tips

It was Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor who offered the first tip: “So why can’t the employer just simply say, ‘We have a Look Policy that doesn’t permit beards? Can you comply with that policy?’”   Justice Samuel Alito refined the suggestion; instead of asking whether an applicant can comply, he said, “Just say ‘Do you have any problem with that?’”   These surprisingly practical strategies might be the best take-away from the legal battle of EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, the case where dress…

READ MORE
0 0

24 Feb 2015 FMLA Final Rule: ‘Spouse’ Means Same-Sex Spouse (Even in Alabama)

Even for HR veterans, administering the FMLA still triggers occasional anxiety attacks. Within the last two weeks, I was asked, “How should we treat same-sex spouses under the FMLA?” On at least this cause for nervousness, the Department of Labor has finally issued clear guidance.   On Feb. 23, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez announced, in essence, that under the FMLA, “spouse” means “spouse,” even if you are living in a state that does not recognize same sex marriages.   The DOL’s Final Rule announced…

READ MORE
0 0

19 Feb 2015 Putting Out a Welcome Mat for Disabled Workers: Government Guide Provides Tips for Hiring and Retention

In a continuing effort to bolster employment prospects for individuals with disabilities, a number of federal agencies have joined forces to produce a guide that encourages employers to open their doors to more disabled workers.   The publication, entitled “Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining, and Promoting People with Disabilities: A Resource Guide for Employers,” was published online earlier this month via the whitehouse.gov site.   The guide has a number of useful pointers and links for hiring managers and supervisors who work with individuals with disabilities.  In…

READ MORE
0 0

11 Feb 2015 Court Triples Time to Bring a Minnesota Whistleblower Claim

In the recently decided case Ford v. Minnesota Public Schools, the Minnesota Court of Appeals rebuffed long-standing precedent by holding that plaintiffs have six years to file a claim under Minnesota’s whistleblower statute. This decision effectively reversed Larson v. New Richland Center, a case that had been good law since 1995. Since Larson, and until Ford, courts had reasoned that because whistleblower claims constituted “torts resulting in personal injury,” they were subject to Minn. Stat. § 541.07(1)’s two-year statute of limitations.   The decision and…

READ MORE
0 0

30 Jan 2015 Supervisor’s Statement Precludes Summary Judgment

Business jargon permeates the workplace. For many of us, not a day goes by without hearing phrases such as: “hit the ground running,” “Let’s take this offline,” “paradigm shift,” “lots of moving parts,” “tenure,” etc. Some business lingo, however, may have the potential to cause trouble down the line.   A recent age discrimination case out of Louisiana illustrates this point perfectly. In this case, a manager allegedly made numerous references to hiring “new blood” for the workforce. The federal court ultimately denied the employer’s…

READ MORE
0 0

30 Jan 2015 Are You Relying on Electronic Signatures for Employment Documents?

The California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, in Ruiz v. Moss Bros. Auto Group, Inc., recently affirmed an order denying a petition to compel arbitration where the employer failed to present sufficient evidence that the employee electronically signed an arbitration agreement. In Ruiz, Plaintiff Ernesto Ruiz filed a putative class action complaint alleging various wage and hour violations by his employer, Moss Bros. The company filed a petition to compel arbitration of Mr. Ruiz’s individual claims based on an arbitration agreement the Company claimed he electronically…

READ MORE
0 0

23 Jan 2015 Supreme Court Leaves California’s Carve-Out for PAGA Wage-and-Hour Representative Actions Intact

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied certification of a petition challenging the California Supreme Court’s ruling in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal. 4th 348 (2014) that representative Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims cannot be waived in employment arbitration agreements. As a result, California’s carve-out exempting PAGA claims from arbitration agreements remains intact, and employees can continue to bring PAGA representative actions even if they have signed arbitration agreements with class and representative action waivers. California employers should brace for the…

READ MORE
0 0

23 Jan 2015 Man Claiming Hand Scanning Time Clock Causes “Mark of the Beast” Wins Religious Discrimination Suit

Last week, a federal jury in West Virginia found in favor of a plaintiff claiming that his coal mining employer discriminated against him based on his religious beliefs by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation for his religious objection to the company’s use of a biometric hand-scanning time clock. The plaintiff was an evangelical Christian who believed that the use of the hand scanner was discussed in the Book of Revelation in the Bible when it described the Antichrist as causing all to have a…

READ MORE