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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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08 Mar 2017 Transgender Bathroom Case Sent Back to Lower Courts by Supreme Court

  On March 6, 2017, the Supreme Court canceled scheduled arguments in a case involving the bathroom rights of transgender students in public schools. The Court sent the case back to the 4th Circuit to reconsider the issue in light of the Department of Justice and Department of Education rescinding Obama-era guidance clarifying protections for transgender students.   The case, Gloucestor County School Board v. G.G., involved a transgender high school student seeking to use the boys’ restrooms at his high school. The plaintiff –…

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03 Mar 2017 By the Numbers: Women in the Workforce

  In honor of Women’s History Month, the U.S. Department of Labor posted some thought-provoking statistics about working women.  While employers already know women play an important role in the U.S. job market, these figures demonstrate just how significant female workers are in our economy.  Below are some of the fascinating numbers about working women:   Nearly half of the U.S. workforce is comprised of women, with more than 74.6 million women employed in civilian jobs Almost 10 million women are business owners and account…

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13 Feb 2017 Blog Update: North Carolina Business that Fired Pregnant Employee Agrees to Three-Year Consent Decree with EEOC

  If there’s anything worse than government regulation, perhaps it’s the government breathing down your neck for the next three years. That is what a North Carolina furniture company is facing after it was sued for pregnancy discrimination last summer by the EEOC.   You might remember our blog post last summer about the EEOC’s lawsuit against RTG Furniture Corp. of Georgia d/b/a Rooms to Go (RTG) that fired a pregnant employee who was working with potentially dangerous chemicals. The EEOC had accused RTG of…

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09 Jan 2017 OSHA Issues Enforcement Guidance on Controversial Non-Discrimination Provisions

  As we have noted in prior blog posts, the controversial non-discrimination provisions of OSHA’s electronic recordkeeping rules have been challenged in court. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ultimately declined to issue an injunction preventing the implementation of the rule, but specifically noted “[t]hat the court has denied injunctive relief requested by Plaintiffs is not a comment or indication as to whether Defendants will ultimately prevail on the merits. This determination is left for another day.”   After the court’s…

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14 Dec 2016 A U.S. Supreme Court ADA Showdown Is A-Brewin’: Eleventh Circuit Contradicts Seventh Circuit Regarding Non-Competitive Mandatory Reassignments

  This past week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (encompassing Florida, Georgia, and Alabama) reignited an old-fashioned statutory interpretation duel. Ok, it’s not as exciting as the Earps vs. the Clantons at the O.K. Corral, but it certainly has more far-reaching ramifications for employers and employees alike.   The issue: whether, when an employee with a disability cannot perform the essential functions of his or her current job, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires mandatory reassignment of minimally qualified individuals…

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23 Nov 2016 EEOC Issues New Guidelines on National Origin Discrimination

  Earlier this week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidelines on national origin discrimination. These extensive guidelines, which update those issued in 2002, define what constitutes national origin discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and provide more than 30 examples as well as “promising practices” that can help employers avoid such discrimination. Title VII is wide-reaching, applying to employers with 15 or more full- or part-time employees.   The new guidelines offer the following definition of national origin discrimination:…

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07 Oct 2016 Sexual Harassment Retaliation Claim Nets Million-Dollar Verdict

  A Chicago-area hospital was hit with a seven-figure jury verdict this week in a whistleblower claim filed by an emergency room doctor, who complained the hospital fired him after he repeatedly warned that one of his E.R. colleagues was sexually harassing subordinates.   The plaintiff – the doctor who is now practicing elsewhere – filed a retaliatory discharge complaint against the hospital, alleging it was common practice for doctors to warn new resident physicians about his colleague—whom he reportedly called a “sexual predator.” He…

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22 Sep 2016 War Over Sexual Orientation and Title VII Rages On

  Advocates for a federal ban on sexual orientation discrimination are waging a war on multiple fronts, fighting their battles in courts across the country and seeking rulings that Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, even if the statute does not specifically reference it as a protected class.   Last week in a high-profile Second Circuit case, Christiansen v. Omnicom Group, Inc., No. 16-748, defendant-appellee ad agency DDB Worldwide filed its brief claiming the court’s precedent that Title VII does not cover sexual…

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30 Aug 2016 North Carolina Court Blocks ‘Bathroom Bill’ at UNC

  As an update to our previous posts (here and here) about bathroom access rights for transgender individuals, there are new developments in the North Carolina “bathroom bill” debacle. On August 26, a North Carolina federal court blocked the University of North Carolina from applying the state’s controversial bathroom bill. The bill requires transgender people to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their sex at birth rather than the gender with which they identify.   In a lengthy order filed in the U.S….

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29 Aug 2016 Seventh Circuit Discards Well-Worn Standard for Discrimination Cases Does this Herald the End of the Golden Age of Summary Judgment for Employers?

  Late last week, the often employer-friendly Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out the basis upon which discrimination claims have been analyzed for almost a generation. The decision, Ortiz v. Werner Enterprises (Case No. 15-2574), foreshadows dramatic and huge repercussions for employers in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.   Background on Direct and Indirect Tests   For more than 20 years, courts in the Seventh Circuit have recognized two avenues of proving discrimination: the direct and indirect methods. Before last week, a plaintiff-employee in the…

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