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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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20 Mar 2014 EEOC turns its focus to the impact of social media in employment litigation

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is concerned that efforts to access “private” social media communications through discovery in employment discrimination litigation could have “a chilling effect” on people seeking to “exercise their rights under federal anti-discrimination laws,” according to EEOC’s own summary of a recent meeting on the topic of social media in the workplace.   The EEOC held a Social Media Commission meeting at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. on March 12 to gather information about the use of social media in the…

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17 Mar 2014 Second Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Untimely Filed State Law Claims from Title VII Harassment Suit

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that filing a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not toll the limitations periods for filing state law tort claims, even if the state law claims arise out of the same factual circumstances as the discrimination alleged in the EEOC Charge. Castagna v. Luceno, No. 13-076-cv, 2014 WL 840964 (2d Cir. March 5, 2014). This issue has not yet been decided in most of the federal appeals courts, but the Second Circuit…

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14 Mar 2014 USERRA – Don’t Forget about Service Members on Military Leave During Your Asset Sale

USERRA is one of those laws that may affect very few members of your workforce, but if it does, you better know what your obligations are. A recent decision issued by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals serves as a good reminder to employers of some of those obligations.   In Dorris v. TXD Services, LP (8th Cir. Feb. 27, 2014), the Eighth Circuit reversed a district court’s order granting summary judgment to an employer who failed to include a service member’s name on a list…

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04 Mar 2014 Employers Be Warned- Look at the Big Picture When Considering Harassment Allegations

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin has issued notice to employers that they must not view employee complaints in a bubble, but rather should take into account similar co-worker complaints in assessing whether they are being placed on notice of possible harassment. Further, the Court has indicated that even remote employees can potentially establish viable hostile work environment claims based on their limited contact with an alleged harasser, if such conduct is severe or pervasive enough. In Dahlke v. Mitchell Bank,…

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27 Feb 2014 Workplace Bullying may Amount to Actionable Discrimination

A recent court of appeals decision highlights the risks associated with failing to address allegations of workplace “harassment” or “bullying.” In Woods v. Boh Brothers (5th Cir. 2013), Kerry Woods was employed by Boh Brothers as welder. In this capacity, Woods was supervised by Chuck Wolfe. Woods claimed that during his employment, Wolfe subjected him to almost-daily verbal and physical harassment: – Wolfe directed very foul language and locker room talk at Woods; – Wolfe referred to Woods by graphically derogatory names many of which…

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24 Feb 2014 Witness Files: Catching Up On the Characters That We See Over and Over in Workplace Investigations

Last June I authored a blog post about a series of articles that I had started on the i-sight.com blog. The series highlights the various “characters” that employers and their lawyers seem to encounter repeatedly in workplace investigations. I am now up to eight composite witnesses types and counting, most recently focusing on the complainant who has a lawyer. This particular article provides the reader with some considerations to keep in mind in that scenario. A ninth article, which focuses on the employee who for the first time raises harassment or other workplace…

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14 Feb 2014 “Too Cute” New York Yoga Instructor To Join “Irresistible” Iowa Dental Assistant?

Just in time for Valentine’s Day…. The regular readers of this blog might remember a case that the Iowa Supreme Court handed down last summer, Nelson v. Knight (Case No. 11-1857). It revolved around a dentist’s decision to fire his assistant because he felt that she was a threat to his marriage. As you might recall, his assistant was not romantically interested in him. He found her to be “irresistible,” though, and he was afraid of what might happen if he continued to employ her….

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30 Jan 2014 Keep Your Nude Photos At Home, or They May End Up In Court

Last week, a New York state court directed a defendant to produce a disc of nude photos that are at the middle of a sexual harassment lawsuit. Danielle Pecile and Cristina Culicea both were employed by Titan Capital Group. According to Pecile and Culicea, Titan principal Russell Abrams gave each of them a CD of photos and asked them to take them to the drug store to develop the photos at the photo machine. Unbeknownst to each woman at the time, each CD allegedly contained…

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24 Jan 2014 Third Circuit Rejects Plaintiff’s Claims That Entity To Whom She Provided Consulting Services Was Her “Employer” Under Title VII or the NJLAD

The Third Circuit has provided useful guidance to employers with respect to key factors to consider in implementing consulting relationships without generating an employment relationship under the law. Specifically, in Plaso v. IJKG, LLC et. al, found here, the Third Circuit accepted the holdings of the District Court for the District of New Jersey that the defendant did not constitute an “employer” for liability purposes under Title VII or the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD.) Though the opinion is deemed not precedential by the…

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22 Jan 2014 Supreme Court to Examine First Amendment Retaliation Claim

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a First Amendment retaliation claim brought by a public employee against his former employer following his termination after testifying against a state legislator. In Lane v. Central Alabama Community College, Steve Franks, Dr., the petitioner, Edward Lane, previously worked as the Director of the Central Alabama Community College’s Community Intensive Training for Youth Program (“Program”).  Shortly after joining as the Director, Lane audited the Program’s finances and discovered then-Alabama state representative, Suzanne Schmitz, was listed on…

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