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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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05 Jul 2012 Complaints Need Not Include Facts Which Would Support a Prima Facie Case of Discrimination under McDonnell Douglas

BT CurrentsBT Currents is managed by the attorneys in Barnes & Thornburg’s Labor & Employment Law Department. It’s designed to be your resource on employment law developments across the country. BT Currents will help employers across all industries stay aware of and respond to these developments.More Posts – Website

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29 Jun 2012 Don’t Screen Out State Laws When Hiring

A recent decision from the Northern District of Illinois serves as a reminder to employers to consider both federal and state laws regarding pre-employment screening when making hiring decisions. In Stratton v. Merrill Lynch, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60426, 2012 WL 1533456 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 25, 2012), the court determined that the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDIA) did not preempt the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/2-103, which prohibits employers from using the fact of an arrest as a basis for taking an adverse…

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27 Jun 2012 U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Employment Provision in Arizona Immigration Law

The Supreme Court has ruled in Arizona v. United States, Dkt No. 11-182 that Arizona’s S.B. 1070, enacted in 2010 in reaction to increasing undocumented immigration into the State, is largely preempted by federal law. The decision, issued by Justice Kennedy, considered four provisions of the 2010 Arizona law and struck down three, including Section 5(C), which made it a state criminal misdemeanor for undocumented immigrants to apply for employment or work in the state. The Court held that the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)…

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26 Jun 2012 U.S. Supreme Court to consider definition of “supervisor” for purposes of vicarious liability in hostile work environment case

While all eyes are on the United States Supreme Court this week as we await the release of its decision on the health care reform law as it concludes the 2011-2012 term, we also are looking ahead to cases of importance to employers on the Court’s docket this fall. The Supreme Court on Monday decided to add an interesting racial harassment case to its docket for the 2012-2013 term that will begin in October. The question the Court is expected to answer is whether the…

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22 Jun 2012 Court Rules Participation in Post-Lawsuit Internal Investigation is Protected Activity

Although not particularly surprising, the Northern District of Illinois recently held that an employee who participated in an “internal investigation” regarding a former co-worker who had recently filed a race discrimination lawsuit was engaging in protected activity under Title VII.  The employee was therefore allowed to move forward with his retaliation claim after he himself was terminated several months later.  The opinion, Gomez v. Restaurant One Limited Partnership, may be found here. The case is noteworthy because the Seventh Circuit has previously held that participating…

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18 Jun 2012 DOL Decision Supports Expansion of SOX Whistleblower Protections To Contractors of Publicly Traded Companies

The Administrative Review Board (Board) for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a decision, expanding the scope of the whistleblower protections under Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX). In Spinner v. David Landau and Associates, LLC., the Board specifically rejected an earlier decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and, instead, found that SOX’s whistleblower protections extend to the employees of contractors and subcontractors of publicly traded companies. In the Spinner case, Thomas Spinner was a Certified Public Accountant,…

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13 Jun 2012 Plaintiff’s Efforts to Preclude Her Deposition in Discrimination/Retaliation Suit Rejected by U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina recently rejected a pro se plaintiff’s efforts to evade being deposed in her suit filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, after suing her former employer North Carolina Department of Administration/North Carolina Human Rights Commission (“NCDOA”), plaintiff Linda Huggins sought a protective order precluding NCDOA from deposing her in relation to her claims of discrimination and retaliation. The opinion, which can be found here, rejected such efforts and…

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06 Jun 2012 Are Your Summer Interns Covered By Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws?

Several months ago the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued an informal discussion letter addressing whether interns (paid and unpaid) are covered by the anti-discrimination laws enforced by the agency (e.g. Title VII, GINA).  The Commission’s letter can be found here. With the summer months upon us, we thought it would be helpful to revisit the issue. The analysis for paid and unpaid interns will differ.  For unpaid interns, coverage likely will turn on whether the intern receives “significant remuneration” for his or her services (e.g. workers’ compensation benefits or access…

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04 Jun 2012 EEOC Finds that Transgender Workers Are Protected by Title VII

In a landmark decision, the EEOC recently found that discrimination against transgender individuals constitutes sex discrimination in violation of Title VII. The administrative decision stems from a case where Mia Macy, a transgender individual, was denied a job as a ballistics technician by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The facts are straightforward: Macy previously was a police detective in Phoenix, Arizona. In December 2010, she decided to relocate to San Francisco. During this time frame, Macy was informed that the Bureau was…

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25 May 2012 American Bar Foundation Study Measures Fairness Perceptions in Employment Discrimination Cases

By the time an employment dispute becomes a lawsuit it may be hard for the opposing parties to see a “win-win” situation ahead, judging by a recent study that the American Bar Foundation funded. Based on research that included a sample of 1,788 employment discrimination cases and 100 interviews with plaintiff/employees and defendant/employers and their counsel, employment litigation is viewed as disruptive, disappointing, and unfair to all. For employees, the process is frustrating due to unfamiliar procedural obstacles and the substantial personal and financial toll…

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