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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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18 May 2016 Applications Are Welcome; Drugs Are Not

It’s an oft-heard refrain from many of our clients: “We need good employees.” Not just any employees, but employees who know how to show up for work – consistently and on time. Employees who do good work. And, by the way, who also can pass a drug test.   Maybe it’s the lag effects of legalizing marijuana, or the crippling epidemic of opioids invading our workforce. Regardless, communities and business are seeking (with mixed success) drug-free employees. These challenges are outlined, in small part, in an…

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14 May 2016 Employer’s Delay Results in Waiver of Arbitration

In sports, a team could be penalized if there is a delay in game. In law, a company could lose its right to compel arbitration if it delays in exercising its arbitration rights. This is exactly what happened in a recent 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, Messina v. North Central Distributing, Inc. d/b/a Yosemite Home Decor.   In Messina, the former vice president, Richard Messina, signed a two-year employment agreement with North Central Distributing, Inc., d/b/a Yosemite Home Decor (Yosemite) as well as a…

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11 May 2016 How Confidential is Your Information?

As I recently sat in the airport waiting for my flight, I became fascinated by watching and listening to people on their phones.  What astonished me the most was how much “confidential” business information really was not confidential.   During a 30 minute wait, I sat near a gentleman who proudly wore his employer’s logo on his golf shirt and jacket. He also loudly explained, while on his phone, that this same company’s anticipated product now had at least a two-year waiting period for FDA…

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01 Apr 2016 Survey Says: Telecommuting Increasingly Common But Somewhat Ad Hoc

  The latest survey infographic from our friends at the Employers Resource Association (ERA) looks at flexible work schedules and telecommuting among its largely Ohio-based membership. The survey indicates that telecommuting is very common, but fewer than 1 in 5 of respondents have a formal telecommuting policy. While a formal policy may not be necessary, it is usually advisable to have an individual agreement with telecommuting employees. Also, remember that telecommuting could be a reasonable accommodation for employees with a disability. Bill NolanWilliam A. Nolan…

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01 Mar 2016 How to Respond to a Subpoena Regarding One of Your Employees

  From time to time, an employer will be served with a subpoena for information relating to one of its employees. Most commonly, this is in the context of a domestic dispute in which the employee is involved. A subpoena imposes a legal obligation on the organization receiving it and it is important that it be treated accordingly. Failure to properly respond can result in fines or other sanctions for contempt of court.   Here are some basic steps to help your company respond to…

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10 Feb 2016 UNPAID INTERNS –DOES THE Second CIRCUIT’S AMENDED OPINION IN FOX SEARCHLIGHT HELP OR HURT EMPLOYERS?

  Hearst Corporation, publisher of such magazines as Cosmopolitan, ELLE and Harper’s BAZAAR, has filed a motion for summary judgment against the claims of former unpaid interns seeking unpaid minimum wages and overtime based on a recent Second Circuit opinion in the Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., case. As we have covered in a number of prior blog posts (2013 and 2014), there have been a variety of class action claims filed by unpaid interns in the movie and publishing industries where thousands of individuals…

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08 Jan 2016 What You Need to Know: Open Carry Law Brings About Changes for Employer Handgun Policies

  The Texas Legislature recently expanded the rights of licensed handgun owners to openly carry their firearms. This right is in addition to the already existing right of licensed handgun owners to carry concealed firearms. The so-called “open carry” law went into effect on Jan. 1 in Texas.   Texas employers who desire to prohibit all—customers, employees, contractors, or vendors— who enter their premises from carrying licensed concealed or open carry handguns and who post the statutorily required notices in English and Spanish (with the…

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09 Dec 2015 Illinois Amends Unemployment Act Includes specific misconduct that can disqualify an employee from unemployment benefits

Amendments to the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act, which take effect on Jan. 3, 2016, may mean employers will have a better chance of winning challenges to claims for unemployment  benefits in instances where employees have engaged in specific types of misconduct.   The changes to the Act, which Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law on Dec. 4, include a new list of specific employee actions that constitute misconduct sufficient to disqualify an employee from unemployment benefits.   For years, the Illinois Department of Employment Security…

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02 Nov 2015 Lessons Learned: Watch What You Say: It can and will be used against you

As employment litigators, we frequently remind our clients that extreme caution must be exercised with email communications. A recent decision by the Seventh Circuit, Arroyo v. Volvo Group North America, LLC, found here, serves as a powerful reminder.   Luz Maria Arroyo was an Army reservist who, between 2005 and 2011, deployed twice to Iraq and Kuwait for periods in excess of one year each and also regularly attended weekend drills, as well as annual and other military training. Although her supervisor and others expressed…

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27 Oct 2015 NLRB Once Again Puts Employers on Notice Regarding Handbook Policies

As I’ve noted several times on this blog, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is not messing around when it comes to handbook policies.  In the last few years, the NLRB has been aggressively looking for and cracking down on policies it believes are chilling the rights of employees to take protected, concerted action under the National Labor Relations Act relating to terms and conditions of employment. For handbook purposes, it makes no difference whether the company is a union or non-union shop. While many…

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