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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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13 Jul 2018 Binary Bathrooms? Schools Emerge As Fulcrum On This Issue

Deliberations over the adoption of policies regarding bathroom access can be tricky, especially when the disputes involve young children and concerned parents.  Within the last year, profound disagreement has arisen among what schools should do regarding transgender students and bathroom policies.    In February, President Donald Trump’s Education Department confirmed that it is no longer investigating civil rights complaints from transgender students barred from school bathrooms that match their gender identity. The Education Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill in response to questions from The Washington Post…

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03 Jul 2018 Establishing Direct Threat: How to Leverage the “Individualized Assessment”

Successfully asserting the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) direct threat affirmative defense is difficult.  It is disfavored because of the fear that well-intentioned concerns of injury will otherwise result in qualified disabled individuals being excluded from work.  A recent federal trial court decision, involving an operator at an ExxonMobil chemical plant shows how an employer can establish a direct threat disqualification in the face of conflicting medical opinions. The case is Spencer-Martin v ExxonMobil Corp., M.D. La., No. 16-789 (June 15, 2018).   The ADA’s…

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29 Jun 2018 Round Up: Court Rules Rounding Payroll System Permissible Even When (a slight) Majority of Employees Lose Time

A California state appeals court recently held that two California hospitals’ practice of rounding all employee time punches to the nearest quarter-hour was allowed, even when a majority of employees lost time. California law permits employers to round time entries when the payroll rounding system is neutral on its face “without an eye toward whether the employer or the employee is benefiting from the rounding,” and when it does not “systematically undercompensate employees over time.”   In this case, one hospital’s rounding payroll system subtracted time…

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28 Jun 2018 Seventh Circuit Revisits Contractor Misclassification

Courts in the U.S. have been grappling with the misclassification of independent contractors for more than 20 years. As our readers well know, there is no standardized test to determine whether a worker is a contractor. Various courts and government agencies all have adopted their own criteria. Fortunately, most of them overlap, but there can be critical differences in the factors and how they are applied.   In 2015, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) firmly supported the “economic…

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14 Jun 2018 Supreme Court Says No To Repeat Class Actions After Statute Of Limitations

On June 11, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that filing a class action lawsuit does not toll the statute of limitations for the class to file the same claims again in the future. This means that if the class files claims but is denied class certification, it cannot return to court and file the same claims again if the limitations period expired during the course of the previous litigation.   In China Agritech, Inc. v. Resh, a class of stockholders timely filed a lawsuit…

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18 May 2018 The $8 Million Burrito; Or How Not To Conduct Video Surveillance

Many employers install video surveillance to stop theft and provide helpful evidence to support their employment decisions.  From a legal standpoint, video surveillance generally is allowed if reasonable – monitoring the cash register is fine; installing a camera in a bathroom stall obviously is not.  In truth, the vast majority of what is surveilled is frankly, boring: the camera largely becomes a forgotten silent witness to the daily grind.  Hardly anyone ever watches what the camera records and no one would ever want to look…

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02 May 2018 California Supreme Court Ruling to Give More Workers Employee Status

On Monday, the California Supreme Court issued an opinion in Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County, which reversed nearly three decades of precedent by rejecting the longstanding Borello worker classification test. The opinion effectively expands the number of workers that will be deemed as employees for purposes of California wage orders, ultimately granting such workers benefits, minimum wage, and overtime compensation, as well as rest and meal breaks.   As a result of this decision, California employers will have…

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24 Apr 2018 B is for “Bias” – Is Bias The Not-So-New Cause of Discrimination?

  Starbucks made national news earlier this month when two black men were arrested after refusing to leave a store.  News accounts reported that a store manager called 911 after the men remained in the store and asked to use the restroom but had not yet made a purchase.  The fallout from this event was notable to say the least: protests, calls for boycotts, and even an apology from the CEO.  The incident further has sparked a discussion on implicit bias, especially after the national…

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23 Apr 2018 Employers, You Can Do This

  Being an employer can be frustrating – the rules employers need to follow seem to only increase in variety and complexity, and some employees do the darnedest things.  But BT Currents readers should also realize:  There are a lot of things that can be done proactively to minimize employee issues.  I just wrote this short article trying to pump up employers who are feeling a little down in the dumps.  Employers really can handle the challenges before them, focusing on three things:   Plain…

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20 Apr 2018 En Banc Panel Rules in Favor For Administrator In Pay Disparity Case

The question before the panel was simple: can an employer justify a wage differential between male and female employees by relying on prior salary? Based on the text, history, and purpose of the Equal Pay Act, the panel held that prior salary – whether alone or in combination with other factors – may not justify a difference in pay between male and female workers doing the same job.   The opinion was written by Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt prior to his death in early April…

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