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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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16 Nov 2012 En Banc Sixth Circuit Strikes Down Portions of Michigan’s Constitutional Amendment on Affirmative Action

Yesterday (Nov. 15, 2012), the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, sitting en banc, voted 8 to 7 to strike down portions of the amendment to Michigan’s constitution that barred the use of affirmative action in the admissions to public colleges and universities. The copy of the decision can be found here. In 2006, Michigan voters passed a referendum known as Proposal 2, which amended the Michigan Constitution to bar discrimination, as well as preferential treatment, toward “any individual or group on…

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05 Nov 2012 Newsweek’s history includes path-breaking gender discrimination case

When Newsweek/Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown recently announced that the print edition of Newsweek will cease publication at the end of 2012 after a nearly 80-year history, the fact that a female editor-in-chief broke the news likely was not lost on former Newsweek staffer Lynn Povich.  Ms. Povich, one of the leaders of a 1970s sex discrimination case against Newsweek, is the author of a newly released book that lays out all the details of the struggle by women at the magazine to rise beyond…

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26 Oct 2012 EEOC Releases Q&A Fact Sheet On Application of Title VII and ADA to Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) most recent official guidance involves the application of federal anti-discrimination laws to employees and applicants who have experienced domestic or dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The Q&A Sheet can be found here.  Because victims of these offenses are not explicitly protected under federal law, employers may not realize certain employment decisions can run afoul of Title VII (prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and sex stereotyping, among other categories) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Examples that…

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24 Oct 2012 On The Radar: Supreme Court Set to Resolve Circuit Split as to Definition of Supervisor Under Title VII

The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to review a Seventh Circuit decision involving the definition of a “supervisor” under Title VII.  The case, Vance v. Ball State University, could have significant employment law ramifications because “supervisors” automatically subject an employer to vicarious liability for its supervisors’ harassing conduct. Currently, the Seventh Circuit requires that employees have the authority “to hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline an employee” to be considered a supervisor.  This bright-line, narrow definition ensures that alleged supervisors have…

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22 Oct 2012 EEOC Must Abide By 300-Day Rule in Pattern and Practice Case, Says New Jersey Federal Court

Although federal courts are divided on the issue, recent case law seems to be trending toward holding the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accountable for complying with the normal requirement under Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that administrative charges must be filed within 300 days (or 180 days where there is no state agency equivalent to the EEOC) of the discriminatory event. In the latest case to weigh in on the issue, the District of New Jersey dismissed all potential claims…

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16 Oct 2012 High Court Will Not Evaluate Whether Summary Judgment Orders Violate Plaintiffs’ Seventh Amendment Rights

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an Illinois police officer’s petition for review of whether the Seventh Amendment’s right to jury trial is violated when a federal court grants an employer’s motion for summary judgment (Kidwell v. Eisenhauer, U.S., No. 12-226, cert. denied Oct. 15, 2012). Kenneth Kidwell, the petitioner and an Illinois police officer, alleged he was terminated as a result of his criticisms of the police department’s management.  Kidwell argued this was in violation of his First Amendment rights. Ultimately, the Seventh Circuit disagreed…

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20 Sep 2012 EEOC Educates Teens About Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace

Do you employ teenagers? Then take note: the EEOC just announced new discrimination and harassment prevention efforts aimed at students who are about to enter the workforce. Specifically, the EEOC, through its Youth@Work initiative, created a video and supplemental classroom guides to help students identify situations and actions that may amount to discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Employers who recruit and hire teens need to be aware that the EEOC is placing special focus on this demographic. Further, the EEOC’s announcement is a reminder that employers should emphasize – especially to those who are new to the workforce – that all…

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17 Sep 2012 To Avoid Employer Liability for Harassment, Keep an Eye on “Supervisors”

The United State Supreme Court on Friday set oral arguments for Nov. 26, 2012, in Vance v. Ball State University, Docket No. 11-556, in which the Court is expected to address the issue of who is a “supervisor” for purposes of employer liability for sexual harassment under Title VII. The question highlights a split among federal circuit courts of appeal on the definition of supervisors, and we provided additional details on the facts of the case in our prior blog entry when the Court granted the petition…

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12 Sep 2012 Unverified EEOC Filing Not Good Enough, Says Northern District of Indiana

As many employers know, before proceeding to court, Title VII discrimination lawsuits must first be filed with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) or a parallel state agency.  Aiming to protect employees by ensuring that a charging party is at least willing to make his or her claims subject to the penalties for perjury, federal statutory law further requires that the agency charge be filed “in writing under oath or affirmation[.]” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(b). It is this less well known requirement that recently tripped…

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05 Sep 2012 EEOC Releases Its Draft Strategic Enforcement Plan Discussing Key Priorities for Fiscal Years 2012-2016

As part of its broader Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012-2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released a draft Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for Fiscal Years 2012-2016, setting forth its primary priorities for the coming years, and seeks public commentary on same prior to voting on the SEP at the end of September 2012. The SEP, which can be found here, discusses the EEOC’s history, composition, and responsibilities, as well as the background events giving rise to the development of the SEP in…

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