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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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30 Aug 2017 OMB Immediately Stays Revised EEO-1 Form, Including Pay Data Collection

  In a move that affects every U.S. business with 100 or more employees (and federal contractors with 50 or more employees), the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has leveraged the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) to direct the EEOC to immediately stay the effectiveness of the EEO-1 form issued Sept. 29, 2016, that included new data requests for wages and hours worked.   For fiscal year 2017, businesses will use the previously approved EEO-1 form to comply with reporting obligations that track race/ethnicity…

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29 Aug 2017 Illinois Governor Vetoes Employment Bills Aimed at Salary History Inquiries, Wage Issues

  Legislation in Illinois that would have outlawed employers from seeking job applicants’ compensation history has failed to become law, following Gov. Bruce Rauner’s recent veto.   The bill would have amended the Illinois Equal Pay Act and was aimed at the practice of seeking job applicants’ compensation history during the hiring process, which equal pay advocates contended has the effect of perpetuating the salary differences between male and female employees that may have been the result of past discriminatory practices. The proposed changes to…

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25 Aug 2017 Get a Room! Rethink Conducting Employee Reviews Over Lunch

  The other day while visiting my dentist, the oral hygienist told me about her prior job, where her supervisor took her out to lunch to discuss her performance review – and frequently did the same with other employees. She thought this was great, especially since the supervisor had a penchant for really good, high-priced seafood.   While that all sounds tasty, one has to question how effective a performance review can be when attempting to crack open crab legs. This brings me back to…

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24 Aug 2017 Massachusetts Law Latest to Bolster Protection for Pregnant Employees

  On July 27, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which amends the state’s antidiscrimination law to include pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, such as breastfeeding, as protected classes. The new law, which goes into effect on April 1, 2018, also requires employers to provide pregnant employees and new mothers with reasonable accommodations unless such accommodations would cause the employer undue hardship.   Potential accommodations identified in the statute include: more frequent or longer breaks paid or unpaid leave to recover from…

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22 Aug 2017 Ohio House Proposes Hurdles to Hiring Process

  The Ohio House has proposed a bill designed to protect the privacy of employment applicants, but the bill also could making hiring more cumbersome for employers.   House Bill 187 provides that no employer may request an applicant’s Social Security number, date of birth, or driver’s license number before making an offer of employment. This language is problematic for employers, because these are pieces of information an employer uses to check criminal records, driving history, credit history, and history of previous employment with the…

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21 Aug 2017 Don’t Get Caught in the Weeds: Hiring Issues and Medical Marijuana

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 states have “comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs” and 16 states have more limited programs that allow for the use of “low THC, high cannabidiol” products for certain medical reasons. This legalization of medical marijuana has created challenges for employers and their hiring practices when many companies desire to have a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol in the workplace, especially for safety-sensitive positions.   The courts also have weighed in regarding employers’ decisions not…

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17 Aug 2017 Seventh Circuit Says EEOC May Press on With Enforcement Efforts After Right-to-Sue

  In a matter of first impression for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (which covers Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana), the Court considered whether the EEOC’s authority terminates upon its issuance of a “right to sue” letter or the dismissal of a subsequent lawsuit on the merits. The Court’s decision in EEOC v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., arose out of the EEOC’s efforts to enforce a subpoena in a matter in which a “right to sue” letter had been issued (after the…

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15 Aug 2017 Single Use of Racial Slur Sufficient to Assert Harassment Claim

  In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that a single use of a derogatory term can sustain a workplace harassment claim. In Castleberry v. STI Group and Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the parties disputed whether or not a single use of a racial slur could be “severe” enough to support the plaintiff’s claim of harassment and survive a motion to dismiss.   The plaintiffs, two African-American employees, brought claims for harassment, discrimination, and retaliation after they were terminated…

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08 Aug 2017 Sexual Orientation: DOJ and EEOC Take Opposite Positions in Amicus Briefs Filed in Same Case

  In a bizarre twist, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) have each filed amicus briefs on opposite sides of a sexual orientation discrimination case involving Title VII. Since 2013, the EEOC has consistently taken the position that Title VII prohibits sexual orientation discrimination.   As we have covered in past posts, there have been a number of recent decisions regarding whether Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In particular, the…

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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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