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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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22 Dec 2015 Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Incorporate In Carolina . . .

If anyone needs another lesson in the benefits of incorporating a company, consider a decision from earlier this week out of the Western District of North Carolina: Magaha v. W&B Trucking Co., et al.   The underlying story is a fairly typical age discrimination claim: longtime worker for company sues after she is permanently laid off at age 67. During her employment, her hours allegedly were cut for no reason and she repeatedly was the subject of age-based jokes and harassment for which she complained,…

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14 Dec 2015 Nip it in the Bud: Employer Considerations Following the Debut of Medical Marijuana in Illinois

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Illinois have officially opened their doors to patients who qualify for the drug under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (the Compassionate Use Act). The program will be in effect for four years, at which point Illinois officials will determine whether the approved uses should be restricted or expanded. While Illinois’ Compassionate Use Act is one of the most restrictive of the 23 states that legalized the use of medicinal marijuana, employers—particularly those with zero-tolerance policies—should be vigilant…

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09 Dec 2015 EMPLOYERS: The #ElderlyChristmasSongs Hashtag Is Trending On Twitter

We have posted numerous blogs discussing the need for employers to stay on top of what is trending on the Internet. Why? Because trending topics can sometimes lead to controversial discussions that might not be consistent with an employer’s EEO Policy. As a result, we explained that it would be prudent to understand what may be the current topic being discussed around the watercooler.   Here is a follow up to those posts. The #ElderlyChirstmasSongs hashtag is currently trending on Twitter. What is the relevance…

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03 Dec 2015 EEOC Issues Additional Guidance on Job Rights for Employees with HIV

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued two separate guidance documents this week addressing employees with HIV. The first of the two documents, “Living with HIV Infection: Your Legal Rights in the Workplace Under the ADA,” is aimed at employees with HIV.  The document assures employees that, for the most part, they have the right to keep their condition confidential, but that they might have to disclose the condition if they are seeking reasonable accommodation, are being evaluated for eligibility for certain employee benefits or…

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30 Nov 2015 Do You Even Lift, Bro? How A Case Of Seemingly Innocent Workplace Bullying Can Blindside Your Company With A Title VII Lawsuit

  Is there anything wrong with a group of employees teasing a male co-worker because he doesn’t like sports? Well, the answer is obvious: of course. Employees should always treat co-workers with respect. But is this conduct unlawful? The answer to this question may surprise you.   Let’s kick off this blog post by discussing two recent federal court cases that shed light on this issue. First up is Woods v. Boh Brothers. In this case, Kerry Woods was employed by Boh Brothers as welder….

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30 Nov 2015 Bad Moon On The Rise: California’s New Fair Pay Act

  Decrying a gender wage gap, the California Legislature has enacted amendments to the state’s pay equity law that could potentially rewrite how pay discrimination cases are litigated in the Golden State. Prior law was modeled after the Federal Equal Pay Act, wherein an employer could look at the incumbents holding the same positions to assess whether men and women are paid equally, taking into account skill and experience. That regime proved too straight forward for Californians.   In its place the legislature has enacted…

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25 Nov 2015 New Year, New Laws: Expanding California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act

  Effective as of Jan. 1, 2016, an employee’s request for an accommodation for a disability or for religious reasons will be considered to be “protected activity” for a retaliation claim under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) – further muddying the employment waters in California.   Assembly Bill 987, which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on July 16, amends the language of the FEHA to prohibit an employer from retaliating or otherwise discriminating against a person for requesting accommodation of…

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GINA Compliance
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24 Nov 2015 It’s Time to Give Your Employee Wellness Programs a Check-Up to Ensure Compliance with GINA

  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently provided employers with some food for thought in considering their employee wellness programs in relation to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). In Ortiz v. City of San Antonio Fire Dep’t. (SAFD), the collective bargaining unit allowed for a mandatory wellness program for all SAFD employees. As part of SAFD’s mandatory requirements, all uniformed employees were required to submit to a “job-related medical evaluation,” which included a physical exam; blood and urine tests; and testing…

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