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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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14 Nov 2016 The World According to Trump: A Prologue

  What happens now? How will the election of Donald Trump affect labor and employment policy across this country? What will happen to the DOL, EEOC, NLRB, and OFCCP? If the hallmark of the Obama Administration has been Executive Branch activism, what will happen under the Trump Administration? And, what can we expect from a President Trump whose early post-election decisions appear, at least in some measure, less dramatic than his campaign rhetoric?   This week, the Barnes & Thornburg blog team will consider the…

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03 Jun 2016 The Seventh Circuit Rejects Class & Collective Action Waivers In Arbitration Agreements

During the last few years, employers have taken comfort in a slew of court decisions that have held – in some form or another – that an arbitration agreement can waive the right to bring a class or collective action. For example, in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 131 S. Ct. 1740 (2011), the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempted state law – and specifically California law – which had expressly prohibited class action waivers. The Supreme Court recently cemented that ruling…

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22 Dec 2015 DOJ Announces that Criminal OSHA Prosecutions May Also Include Felony Environmental Crimes

On Dec. 17, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that criminal prosecutions under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), the Mine Safety Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Protection Act and the Atomic Energy Act are being moved to the Environmental Crimes Section of the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.   Currently, under the OSH Act, an employer can only be prosecuted for criminal penalties in cases where the employer commits a “willful” violation of OSHA regulations resulting in the death of an…

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10 Nov 2015 OSHA FINES COULD INCREASE OVER 80% NEXT YEAR

Congress recently passed the budget agreement which contained a provision which permits OSHA to raise fines significantly starting in August 2016.  The law permits a one-time “catch up” increase up to 82 percent, since fines have not been raised since 1990. This “catch-up” amount is tied to the inflation rate from 1990 to 2015.  After that, the maximum penalties would increase with the inflation rate every year.   This would have the following effect:   Citations Current Max. With “Catch-Up” Increase Other than Serious Up…

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01 Jul 2015 An Annual Ritual: Massachusetts Noncompete Legislation

We wrote last year about significant legislative efforts to ban noncompetes in Massachusetts. Proponents of such a ban, including Governor Patrick, contend that Massachusetts suffers a brain drain in the high-technology field because talent flees to California, where as many readers will know, noncompetes are virtually banned. In other words, a tech whiz would rather work in California where she may move freely from company to company rather than being limited by a noncompete. Certain high-tech interests in Massachusetts support a ban, whereas most traditional…

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18 May 2015 Pro-Enforcement Noncompete Decision from Wisconsin Supreme Court

I have written here before on the unique issues raised by state-by-state variations in noncompete law, and here in depth on one of the key variations – what a state’s courts will recognize as sufficient consideration for a noncompete. Is “mere” continuing employment sufficient as it is in Ohio, for example, or is does it require something as is the case in Kentucky since a 2014 decision from that state’s Supreme Court? In the closely watched case of Runzheimer Int’l Ltd. v. Friedlen, Wisconsin has…

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29 Apr 2015 Supervisors Are Employees Too … to the Tune of $6.6 Million

What termination of a single employee can justify a $6.6 jury award?  (The punitives award was reduced by the lower court from $15.9 million. The employee also received $2.2 million in non-punitive damages). According to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appeals court for western states including California, the following elements justify a lower court jury’s award in this amount:   Discharge found to be in retaliation for suing for overtime pay, reporting violations to OSHA and Department of Transition, and inciting other…

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16 Mar 2015 Class Action Against Uber Another Reminder to Employers on Employee Data Protection

With this post I am going to start a series focusing on higher stakes employment issues, the cases and crises that put the most on the line for employers. For smaller and medium sized companies, the very existence of the company may even be at stake. We will look at recent developments and identify proactive steps that readers can and should take to minimize the likelihood of becoming one of those headlines.   One obvious example of such a case is a class or collective…

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24 Sep 2014 SEC Awards Whistleblower Largest Bounty Ever

  The Securities & Exchange Commission announced Monday that it is awarding more than $30 million dollars to a confidential whistleblower who led federal officials to an internal fraud that officials say would otherwise have gone undetected.   The Dodd-Frank Act, enacted in 2010, established a bounty program to reward employees who report wrongdoing to the SEC.  You can read more about the details of this latest award (and the other developments under Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley) in the blog post by our colleague, B&T litigation…

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