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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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03 Aug 2017 What’s Mine Is Not Yours! School Districts Reminded of FERPA’s Sole Possession Exception

  Many school districts throughout this upcoming school year will likely be faced with requests for student records from various sources. Student records are protected by one of the strongest privacy protection laws in the nation, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). All educational institutions that are recipients of federal education funds are required to adhere to FERPA’s strict regulations prohibiting the release of student information. While FERPA safeguards the release of student education records, parents essentially have an unhindered right to inspect…

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31 Jul 2017 Survey Says: Almost All Employers Use Background Checks (and Other Notes on Pre-Employment Testing)

    As we sometimes do, we turn our attention to one of the monthly surveys from the Ohio-based Employers Resource Association (ERA). This survey focuses on a number of interesting questions about hiring trends as practices, such as who interviews applicants (24 percent of respondents have peers interview applicants) and what resources are used to find candidates (not surprisingly, online job boards leads at 89 percent).   More on the employment law side, I thought the question showing what percent of employers use various kinds…

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26 Jul 2017 DOL Invites Public Input: Rethinking the Stalled Questions on Overtime

  Perhaps lost amidst other issues in Washington, D.C., the Department of Labor (DOL) announced on July 25 that it is tackling the long-awaited questions about overtime regulations.   The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is publishing a formal Request for Information that asks for public feedback on the Obama administration’s overtime rule. Once the RFI is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to submit comments. You’ll remember that the overtime regulations, which doubled the minimum salary levels for…

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20 Jul 2017 The Color of Your Shoes and At-Will Employment

  At-will. At-shmill.   It bears repeating: At-will. At-shmill.   (I checked on my decidedly non-lawyer like tendency to deride something by repeating it with “shm-’ added. Turns out it’s really a thing.)   That’s what I think to myself when (hypothetically speaking) an employer sued by a recently terminated employee sits down and proclaims some variation of the following: “We can’t lose this case because she was an ‘at-will’ employee.” The statement is made as if the presence of a handbook statement and an…

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11 Jul 2017 U.S. Department of Labor Abandons Obama Overtime Rule

  On June 30, the U.S. Department of Labor told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that it intends to abandon the Obama overtime rule, but pursue new rule-making to set a more reasonable salary level. The department asked the Fifth Circuit to confirm is ability to set a minimum salary level through rulemaking. The department told the Fifth Circuit it would not initiate new rulemaking until the court affirms its right to set a minimum salary level – so timing remains uncertain.  …

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10 Jul 2017 Ohio House Passes Bill Weakening Employers’ Ability to Restrict Guns on Property

  If it feels like I’m beating (or shooting) a dead horse with Ohio gun laws lately, it is because the Ohio legislature keeps passing laws that restrict employers’ right to prohibit firearms in their workplaces. The newest bill, which passed out of the Ohio House on July 6, would eliminate criminal penalties for carrying a deadly weapon into a business that restricts them.   As the law currently stands, a business may post signage stating that firearms are prohibited on the property. If an…

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30 Jun 2017 ‘Bona Fide Relationships’ Under Trump’s New Travel Ban: Who’s In and Who’s Out?

  The U.S. Supreme Court made headlines on June 26 when it partially mandated aspects of Trump’s notorious “travel ban” barring immigrants from select countries from entering the United States. In a lengthy opinion, the court provided that people seeking visas from six restricted countries – namely Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – would be temporarily barred from entering the United States unless they can claim a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States. This uncertain description of…

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29 Jun 2017 Ohio Legislature Considers Adding Teeth to New Gun Law

  On March 21, Ohio’s new gun law went into effect without a way to enforce it. The new law prevents employers from making or enforcing any policy that prohibits employees with concealed carry permits from storing firearms and ammunition in their locked cars on employer property. While this law spelled out employees’ right to lock guns in their cars, it contained no enforcement mechanism and no clear penalty on employers who obstruct employees from exercising their right.   Now the Ohio Senate is considering…

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21 Jun 2017 California Supreme Court Clarifies Day-of-Rest Statutes

  The California Supreme Court recently clarified a question plaguing many California employers. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit asked the Supreme Court of California to address several unresolved questions concerning the construction of California’s day-of-rest statutes.   California Labor Code Sections 550–558.1 prohibit an employer from “caus[ing] his employees to work more than six days in seven” (§ 552), but do not apply “when the total hours of employment do not exceed 30 hours in any week or six…

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15 Jun 2017 ‘You’re Doing a Great Job Brownie, er Comey . . . and You’re Fired!’ Avoiding Unforced Errors in Employment Terminations

  Last week, former FBI director James Comey testified before a Senate Committee in front of a packed house and with millions more watching on television (the event even was live-streamed in some D.C.-area bars). During the hearing, Comey expressed confusion over being fired for poor performance because before his termination, the president allegedly told him that he was doing a “good job.”   Comey’s testimony is reminiscent of the firing of another government official – Michael Brown. You may remember that Brown was the…

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