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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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29 Jan 2016 Hold Your Horses: A Plaintiff’s Long Rap Sheet Might Not Get You to the Finish Line

With each case, employers defending discrimination claims know at least these three things: litigation can be expensive, litigation is time-consuming, and the outcome is never a sure thing.   Still, every once in a while, information is revealed that makes the case more thrilling, and little is more exciting than discovering a plaintiff’s criminal past, such as an ADA plaintiff who illegally sold prescription pain medications and also may have engaged in shoplifting.  Sounds like great evidence that should torpedo the plaintiff’s claims, right?  Not…

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15 Jan 2016 HR Note to Self: Accommodate Obvious Disabilities

  A recent case out of Connecticut federal court serves as a fine reminder that a good dose of common sense can be indispensable for staying out of trouble under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In the case in question, a call center employee was a top performer, consistently receiving sterling performance evaluations and even a special award for outstanding service. Unfortunately, a car accident led to disabling spine, hip, elbow, shoulder, and knee injuries. The employee’s performance suffered as her injuries made it…

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06 Jan 2016 New York City Protects Caregivers Under Expanded Law

  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) signed a city council bill (Int. No. 0108-2014-A) on Jan. 5, which expanded the protections of the New York City Human Rights Law against employment discrimination to include “caregiver status” as a protected category. The bill prohibits any employee or job candidate who “provides direct and ongoing care for a minor child or a care recipient” from being subject to adverse employment actions by employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations (and any employees or agents of…

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