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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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22 Jan 2015 Supreme Court Agrees To Review Same-Sex Marriage Bans

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether state law bans against same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee are unconstitutional. This has been a long-awaited by both sides of this debate and will finally resolve this controversial and hard-fought civil rights battle.   The Supreme Court’s decision to review the Sixth Circuit’s order upholding the state law bans on same-sex marriage was expected as it created a conflict with four other circuit court decisions. The Fourth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth circuits have…

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20 Jan 2015 Be Careful What They Wish For

Effectively confirming the worst Sixth Circuit employment law decision of 2014 (maybe ever?), the United States Supreme Court let stand a ruling that an employee who asks for a job transfer, then gets that job transfer and works in that new position for 10 months, can nonetheless still claim that the transfer constituted an adverse employment action in support of his claim of discrimination.   After 25 years with the Kalamazoo County Road Commission, Robert Deleon applied for an open job as an equipment and…

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14 Jan 2015 Pregnancy Non-Discrimination Poster Now Required in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Human Rights has just published its “Pregnancy and Your Rights in the Workplace” poster for employers to use in order to comply with recent amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act. Effective Jan. 1, 2015, Illinois now requires employers of one or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, or medical or common conditions associated with pregnancy. The Illinois Human Rights Act amendments also included a requirement for employers to post a notice issued by the Illinois Department of…

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