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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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17 Nov 2014 3 Key P’s for Minimizing Liability for Employee Health Issues LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

We often remind employers here about the importance of not rushing into adverse employment actions against employees with health issues. For example, see “Play It Safe” I, II and III from earlier this year.  In my opinion, employers who play the game right can get one of the following good results a high percentage of the time:   Employ a dedicated employee in a way that maximizes her abilities and benefits the company. Work an employee who really doesn’t want to maximize her abilities out of…

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10 Nov 2014 Five Distinctive Things About Ohio and Employment Law LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

As an employer lawyer in Columbus, I have to make this week’s letter O be for Ohio. Here are five distinctive things that help define Ohio employment law: Ohio is a very pro-enforcement noncompete state. Two key variations in state laws largely shape the enforceability of noncompetes in a state. One, will courts modify an overly broad noncompete to “make it enforceable?” Two, is continuing employment sufficient consideration to support a noncompete (as opposed to some additional consideration being required)? Ohio has given an unambiguous…

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03 Nov 2014 Nassar A Year Later: Pennsylvania ADA Retaliation Case Considers Impact of Supreme Court’s Decision LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

Readers will recall a flurry of U.S. Supreme Court decisions as the Court’s term ended in mid-2013. One of these decisions was University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar – this week’s letter of the law is N for Nassar. In Nassar, the Court held that Title VII retaliation claims should be decided under a “but for” rather than “motivating factor” causation test.  This is one of those decisions where almost anybody but an employment lawyer thinks, “That’s nice – what’s that mean?”  Generally…

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27 Oct 2014 Municipalities Driving More Employment Law Developments (with some good maps) LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

I have noted here before the increasing important to employers of city ordinances on employers’ obligations. More and more it seems, change is taking place on a micro level. See, for example, this list of 200 cities and counties prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity. These nifty maps showing those laws in one map and maps prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the other show the patchwork that employers may deal with even with one state. Ohio, Florida, and…

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