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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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21 Jan 2014 Contractors Await Ruling On Legal Challenge to OFCCP’s New Disability Regulations

As federal contractors prepare to comply with new “Section 503” disability regulations adopted by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the enforceability of those regulations has come under a significant legal challenge. Although those regulations are set to take effect in March 2014, a legal challenge to the enforceability of those regulations – which now has the support of the HR Policy Association – may delay that deadline for all contractors. On Sept. 24, 2013, the OFCCP published its new regulations in the…

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09 Jan 2014 Against the Anchorman: California Court of Appeal Deems Hiring Young, Female Weather Anchors a Protected Exercise of Free Speech

In a recent opinion, a California Court of Appeal held that a television broadcasting company’s decisions to hire young, female weather anchors constituted free speech in connection with a matter of public interest and was thus protected by California’s anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (“anti-SLAPP”) statute.  Like anti-SLAPP statutes in other states, California’s anti-SLAPP statute was enacted to stop lawsuits brought to chill the valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition for the redress of grievances. In Hunter v. CBS Broadcasting,…

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09 Jan 2014 Happy New Year: Minnesota’s “Ban the Box” Law Now In Effect

As of January 1, 2014, Minnesota employers are required to comply with “Ban-the-Box” legislation that Governor Mark Dayton signed into law last year. The law prohibits many employers from asking job applicants about criminal backgrounds prior to selection for an interview, or until after making a conditional job offer. The law now applies to private employers, and aligns such pre-employment restrictions with those placed upon public employers in 2009. “Ban-the-Box” refers to the criminal history question commonly including on most job applications that asks an…

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11 Dec 2013 Court Summarily Dismisses “Familial Status” Claim Under Title VII and the PHRA

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently rejected claims of “family status” discrimination under Title VII and the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act (PHRA), finding that “discrimination based on family status alone is not actionable under Title VII.” The case, found here, involved a 52-year old white plaintiff, who is married to an Asian ethnic Chinese woman and has seven mixed race children. Among other allegations, the plaintiff alleged that Pen Argyl Area School District (PAASD) discriminated against families with children of…

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09 Dec 2013 Severe AND Pervasive?

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned a Texas District Court after it appeared to apply the wrong legal standard in a sexual harassment lawsuit. In Royal v. CCC&R, Tonia Royal was fired after complaining to her supervisor that two maintenance workers regularly visited her office and, among other things, sniffed her in a suggestive manner. Following her termination, Royal initiated a lawsuit alleging she was subjected to unlawful sexual harassment. In order to demonstrate actionable sexual harassment, Royal was required to demonstrate that the conduct…

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