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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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19 Jul 2017 Third Circuit Addresses Application of Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine

  For an employer seeking to protect its trade secrets, the inevitable disclosure doctrine – when recognized – provides a sound basis for obtaining injunctive relief. This doctrine typically applies when a former employee, with knowledge of the former employer’s confidential or trade secret information, accepts a similar role with a competitor. Oftentimes, such an employee cannot “unlearn” the information provided by the former employer and will inevitably use it to the former employer’s competitive disadvantage.  Utilisave, LLC v. Miele, 2015 WL 5458960 (Del. Ch….

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18 Jul 2017 Sticks and Stones: When Texts and Emails Will Hurt You

  Sticks and stones may break my bones But words will never hurt me   Recent legal decisions painfully remind us that words, specifically words in a text, instant message or email, can derail an employer’s position or defense.  The informality of these electronic communications tends to create the mindset that they are less subject to exposure or scrutiny than a formal written letter or memorandum.   In a recent case, Martin v. Tall Brown Dog, LLC, the plaintiff was a recently hired leadership/business development…

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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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07 Jul 2017 Firing an Employee? Avoid Litigation by Carefully Reviewing the Issues

Many times before proceeding with a termination, an employer will call on its counsel and explain the rationale for the decision to avoid potential legal issues if it should follow through on firing an employee. As labor and employment attorneys, this is what we would call “best practices”: Having a third-party neutral review the decision for the termination, play devil’s advocate, and determine if there may be some other reason for the decision that could lead to a claim of discrimination or retaliation.   Other…

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06 Jul 2017 A Welcome Move for Employers – Department of Labor Re-Establishes Wage and Hour Opinion Letters

  Last week, Alexander Acosta, U.S. Secretary of Labor, announced that the U.S. Department of Labor will reinstate the issuance of opinion letters. This move will allow the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division to once again use opinion letters as a way to provide direction to covered employers and employees.   According to the Department of Labor’s news release, “[a]n opinion letter is an official, written opinion by the Wage and Hour Division of how a particular law applies in specific circumstances presented…

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05 Jul 2017 Did a Lower Court Throw Schools an IEP Life Raft?

  In the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, school districts are tasked with developing substantively appropriate Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that will stand up to the court’s heightened scrutiny.  The only clear guidance provided from the court regarding how to meet this heightened standard is that an IEP must allow a child to make progress that is appropriate in light of his or her unique circumstances.   However, a recent decision from the U….

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