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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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12 Mar 2018 Sixth Circuit Holds Transgender Status Protected Under Title VII

  On March 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit weighed in on the continuing debate surrounding the scope of Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination. In a landmark decision, the court ruled that Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of transgender and transitioning status and further held that bare compliance with Title VII presents no substantial burden upon an employer’s sincerely held religious beliefs, precluding a defense under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”).   In EEOC v. R.G. &…

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28 Feb 2018 U.S. Supreme Court to Take Up Independent Contractor Arbitration Case

  Our sister labor and employment blog, Labor Relations, recently posted about an important case on the horizon for those in the transportation industry. This week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of New Prime, Inc., a transportation company that is asking the Court to overrule the First Circuit and find that an independent contractor’s class action claim should be compelled to arbitration.   Employers who rely on arbitration agreements with their employees and independent contractors will want to pay attention as the…

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28 Feb 2018 Dodd-Frank Whistleblowers: Supreme Court Holds Internal Complaints are Not Enough

  Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court held in the Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers case  that the definition of a “whistleblower” under the Dodd-Frank Act (“Dodd-Frank”) does not cover internal complaints made only to the company.  The employee is required to file a formal complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to qualify for the increased remedies and greater protections as compared to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“Sarbanes-Oxley”).  The Court found no ambiguity in the express definition of a “whistleblower”…

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27 Feb 2018 Another Court Reverses Course: Second Circuit Holds Title VII Forbids Sexual Orientation Discrimination

  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an opinion on Monday of this week and explicitly held that Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.   In the closely watched case, Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., a full panel of the Second Circuit revisited the question of sexual orientation coverage under Title VII.  In its decision, the Court cited the history and intent behind the passage of Title VII – namely, that it was intended to be a…

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23 Feb 2018 Wisconsin Supreme Court Splashes Cold-Water on the Enforceability of Non-Solicitation of Employee Covenants

  Wisconsin is one of the states which has a statute regarding the enforceability of restrictive covenants.  Under Wisconsin law, such a covenant is enforceable within a specific territory and for a specified time, but only if the restrictions imposed are reasonably necessary for the protection of the employer or principal (Wisconsin Statute § 103.465).   Wisconsin courts historically have applied the statute to all forms of employee limitations, including non-disclosure covenants.  See Tatge v. Chambers & Owen, Inc., 579 N.W.2d 217 (Wis. 1998).  In…

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13 Feb 2018 California Court Determines Gig-Economy Drivers Are Independent Contractors

  In a ruling that will likely have a significant impact on all sharing economy companies, San Francisco U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled that gig-economy drivers are independent contractors.  In other words, platforms that are built on pairing customers with products and services through the use of mobile applications can continue to do so without having to reclassify their drivers as employees. The opinion holds that such workers do not qualify for the protections offered to employees under California law.   It was…

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22 Jan 2018 Immigration: Take Action Now on H-1B Applications – Changes on the Horizon

Authored by Mercedes Badia-Tavas, and Jeff Papa.   President Donald Trump’s executive order in April 2017 entitled “Buy American and Hire American” (BAHA) is leading to proposed regulatory changes by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which will affect U.S. employers intending to hire and sponsor qualified foreign nationals in specialty occupations for the H-1B visa.   Given these expected changes may occur with little advance notice, planning by human resource and legal departments at U.S. companies is key to maintaining lawful global talent in the U.S….

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19 Jan 2018 The Death of PAGA Claims at the Hand of Individual Settlements

  Employers who are facing wage and hour lawsuits which include a Private Attorney General Act[1] (PAGA) claim would be happy to know that on December 29, 2017, an appellate panel determined that any plaintiff who settled his/her individual claims is subsequently barred from continuing with a claim under PAGA.   A three-judge panel for the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District affirmed a 2016 ruling issued by Judge Kenneth R. Freeman of Los Angeles Superior Court that awarded summary judgment to…

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16 Jan 2018 What’s Old Is New Again: DOL Resurrects Advisory Opinion Letters

  Employers can expect to benefit from real-life answers to some real-employer wage-and-hour questions now that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reinstituted 17 Advisory Opinion Letters that had been originally issued in 2009, but subsequently withdrawn during the Obama administration.   Such opinion letters provide formal, detailed analysis and answers to employers who pose FLSA compliance questions to the DOL. The opinion letters are published on the DOL website, thus any employer who happens to have the same or a similar compliance issue can…

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12 Jan 2018 ICE Raids on 7-Eleven Franchise Stores Result in 21 Arrests

  On January 10, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents commenced employment audits at nearly 100 7-Eleven franchises across the U.S., signaling the biggest crackdown on suspected illegal workers since President Trump took office. The raids resulted in 21 administrative arrests. Following the raids, ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan said in a statement: “Today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce: ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law,…

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