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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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16 Feb 2015 Some HR Numbers That Should Be Zero In Your Organization LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

This week’s letter is Z, and Z is for zero. As I have written here before, there is a lot of gray in employment law, so some black and white answers are refreshing every now and then.  Here are some employment law related questions to which your organizations answer should be:  zero.   How many supervisors are handling information from medical providers relating to employee health information? (This should go through HR. Supervisors are on a need to know basis, such as knowing an employee’s…

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02 Feb 2015 7 Questions Employers Should Ask Themselves Every Year LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

This week Y is for year – a good guideline for the longest employers should go without asking themselves these questions to make sure they are taking advantage of opportunities to minimize employee-related liability:   Do you have accurate job descriptions, regularly signed off on by the employees, that will help you manage and defend ADA, wage and hour, and other employment issues and claims?   Have you reviewed each employee classified as exempt to ensure proper classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act, including…

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26 Jan 2015 X-Rays Shipped Out of State Help Employee Keep Issue of FLSA Coverage Alive LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

We have been working through the alphabet with employment law topics and the dreaded X week has arrived, but fortunately there is a 2014 FLSA case involving X-rays that demonstrates the difficulty for an employer of defeating FLSA coverage. In Gashlin v. International Clinic Research, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida denied the employer’s motion for summary judgment asserting that Wendy Gashlin was not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Ms. Gashlin, a clinical research employee, claimed she worked more…

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20 Jan 2015 Words That Signal Opportunities to Avoid Liability LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

One of the themes in my posts and on Currents generally is not missing out on easy liability avoidance opportunities. I want to make a stronger statement than the employment lawyer’s usual, “Hey if you do X and Y, you can minimize employee liability,” though certainly that is true and valuable. Rather: EMPLOYERS MISS OUT ON EASY LIABILITY AVOIDANCE OPPORTUNITIES, thereby diverting time, money and energy from building their organization and bettering their goods and services. Here and here are recent examples. These are lost…

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05 Jan 2015 California Class Action an Occasion for All Employers to Review Vacation Practices LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

Many employers will have noted the decision last month where a federal court in California held that approximately 65,000 class members could maintain a class action against J.C. Penney’s under California law. That lawsuit challenges the company’s policy that employees forfeit accrued vacation benefits on termination. The issue in this decision was whether the plaintiffs met the commonality tests that allow a matter to be advanced as a class action rather than as a series of individual actions – individual actions that likely would not…

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29 Dec 2014 THREE MOST UNDERUTILIZED EMPLOYMENT LIABILITY PREVENTION TOOLS LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

This week U is for under utilized – the readily available liability prevention tools that, in our estimation, employers most often neglect to use to their advantage.   The extra step.  Before terminating an employee with a medical issue, that is. As we have written here and here, much FMLA and ADA liability is preventable if you will methodically work through the communications steps that years of case law tells us courts are looking for. The sooner you start, the sooner you can finish. I…

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22 Dec 2014 Five Things to Know About Trade Secrets LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

This week’s letter T is for trade secrets, and five things every employer should know about them.   Nearly everybody has them. As I wrote here, if there is information you would not want your competitor to have, you should at least be talking to your lawyer about whether they may be trade secrets and, if so, what do you need to do to protect them.   The key point of trade secret law is that, in order to have the legal protections of a…

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15 Dec 2014 Some Reminders on Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Liability LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

We spend a lot of time coming up with timely and cutting edge topics for seminars, webinars, and blog posts for employers. However, for years no topic attracts more continuing interest than old fashioned sexual harassment, seemingly a timeless topic because some (mostly) guys can be counted on not to manage their behavior in the workplace.  This week S is for sexual harassment, and a recent case that is a good reminder of some key points about sexual harassment.   The case is Boone v….

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01 Dec 2014 ADA: Does “Regarded As” Still Matter? LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  One of the things that makes the Americans with Disabilities Act distinctive among discrimination laws is its “regarded as” prong.  It protects not only people who in fact are disabled from discrimination, but also people who are regarded as disabled. R is for “regarded as” and what it means for most employers and employees in 2014.   While the question of what conduct is “because of” sex and therefore covered by Title VII’s sex discrimination prohibition is a hot topic and somewhat analogous, generally…

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24 Nov 2014 Decision Bears A Close Look on Application of Quid Pro Quo Harassment LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

Many readers will have a general sense that there is a difference between quid pro quo and hostile work environment (HWE) harassment.  HWE is (fortunately, I suppose, in some relative sense) the more common form of harassment, and an employer can often avoid liability if it has taken sufficient steps to manage harassment in the workplace.  Quid pro quo comes up less frequently, and is the conditioning of employment benefits such as a promotion, raise, or even continued employee on the submission to a managerial…

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