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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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13 May 2016 A Smorgasbord of Termination Reasons That Might Be Used Against You

One of the most frequently asked questions in employment law counseling is “Can I terminate Employee X?” The better and more salient question is “For what reason(s) should I terminate Employee X?”   Not all reasons are created equal. There is a perception that the more reasons provided the greater the strength of the employer’s defense. And it’s true. Each discrete reason proffered by the employer must be rebutted. So, the more, the better? No, says the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in a recent…

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10 May 2016 55-Year-Old Employee Fails to Establish Age Discrimination Claim against 3D Printing Company

Last week, a Minnesota Federal District Court granted summary judgment in favor of a New Mexico company accused of age discrimination. Optomec, Inc., is a New Mexico-based corporation that develops and manufactures 3D printing systems. While Optomec is headquartered in Albuquerque, it has also has a facility in St. Paul, Minnesota.   In 2013, Thomas Nash, who was 53-years-old at the time, began working for Optomec as a paid intern in the company’s St. Paul location. During his internship, Nash received average to “tepid” reviews….

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06 May 2016 Transgender Bathroom Access Addressed in New EEOC Fact Sheet

In the midst of news coming out of North Carolina, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a new fact sheet that addresses bathroom access rights for transgender employees. The fact sheet’s key point is that transgender employees have the right to equal access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. This right is provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s protection against sex discrimination—even if there is state law to the contrary.   Employers should note that, as…

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23 Apr 2016 A RIFing Yarn: How Being Able to Support a RIF Pays Off Down the Road

If getting sued by a former employee is bad, it stands to reason that getting sued by a former human resource employee is worse.  Aside from having to deal with the typical headaches associated with litigation, the employer also has to contend with someone who may know all of its dirty laundry. Mack Trucks / Volvo North America successfully faced down the appeal of such a suit just this last week in the federal Third Circuit.   The case, Andersen v. Mack Trucks, Inc.; Volvo…

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22 Apr 2016 The Benefits of Adopting an Effective Complaint-Reporting Procedure

A recent federal case from Washington reminds employers of the benefits associated with procedures making it easy for employees to complain of harassment or discrimination. The case is Matthiesen v. Autozoners, LLC, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington (Case No. 2:15-cv-0080).   Matthiesen involved a female employee who worked at an Autozone store for about five months.  The company’s handbook provided several options for reporting concerns about discrimination or harassment: discussing the situation with management, discussing the situation with human resources (HR)…

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18 Apr 2016 Court Says Mandatory Flu Vaccine for Hospital Worker Does Not Violate Title VII

A federal court in Massachusetts recently issued an opinion that provides much needed guidance to hospitals and other healthcare institutions on whether it is permissible – under Title VII – to require mandatory influenza vaccinations for healthcare workers who object to receiving the vaccination on religious grounds.   The case started in 2011, when Children’s Hospital Boston announced that all persons who worked in or accessed patient care areas would be required to be vaccinated against the influenza virus. The requirement applied to employees, volunteers,…

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06 Apr 2016 Don’t Call a Transgender Employee “It”

By now, most people know enough about the law to know that you can’t discriminate against a worker because of characteristics like race, sex, age and disability. Those are pretty obvious and those laws have been in place for as long as most of us can remember. However, society and laws are constantly evolving, and there are always new issues employers need to watch for, both to ensure all of their employees are protected from discrimination and to make sure they are protecting themselves from…

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31 Mar 2016 University of Iowa Wins Trial Against Immigration Lawyer Claiming Age Discrimination

  A unanimous jury recently determined that the University of Iowa’s (UI) decision not to hire a 55-year-old man did not amount to age discrimination. In 2010, Donald Dobkin applied for a teaching position at UI’s College of Law. When Mr. Dobkin was not chosen for the position, he brought a lawsuit, claiming he was passed over because of his age. He also asserted that UI hired a less experienced person for the job because she was younger. Following a full trial, a jury returned…

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18 Mar 2016 New York City Cares – “Caregivers” Become Protected Employees

  New York City is protecting those who care for others. Effective May 4, an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law will make “caregivers” protected employees. Under the amended law, New York City employers with four or more employees will be prohibited from taking adverse employment actions, including firing or refusing to hire, as well as from discriminating against an individual because of actual or perceived “caregiver status.”   The amended law is expansive for a number of reasons, in particular the…

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25 Feb 2016 Bill Proposes to Streamline Ohio’s Outdated Antidiscrimination Statutes

  Ohio’s antidiscrimination statutes are currently some of the least friendly in the country to employers. There are long statutes of limitations, individual liability for managers, and uncapped damages. Not to mention, the laws can be incredibly confusing – there are four different ways to file an age discrimination claim and they have different statutes of limitations, remedies and jurisdictions.   Hopefully for employers, this system will soon be corrected. Senator Bill Seitz has introduced Senate Bill 268, the Employment Law Uniformity Act. If the…

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