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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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12 Oct 2016 No Matter Who Becomes President, Expect More Change in National Labor and Employment Policy

No matter who occupies the White House in January, the theme of national labor and employment policy is likely to be change.   President Obama has illustrated the powerful influence of the executive on labor and employment policy without the input of Congress. The Obama Administration has raised the minimum wage to $10.10 and granted paid sick leave to approximately 1.5 million employees working under federal contracts. Under President Obama, the DOL changed the salary threshold for finding an employee exempt, the EEOC demanded detailed…

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07 Oct 2016 Sexual Harassment Retaliation Claim Nets Million-Dollar Verdict

  A Chicago-area hospital was hit with a seven-figure jury verdict this week in a whistleblower claim filed by an emergency room doctor, who complained the hospital fired him after he repeatedly warned that one of his E.R. colleagues was sexually harassing subordinates.   The plaintiff – the doctor who is now practicing elsewhere – filed a retaliatory discharge complaint against the hospital, alleging it was common practice for doctors to warn new resident physicians about his colleague—whom he reportedly called a “sexual predator.” He…

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07 Oct 2016 Employer Strategies for Surviving Election Season

  Once again, the “silly season” is upon us. Every four years, battle lines are drawn and many employees take sides, touting their preferred candidate’s merits over what they regard as the utterly despicable nature of the other candidate. Fortunately for employers (and everyone else who values their sanity) this should be over in about a month. I hesitate only because I lived in Florida during the 2000 election, and if you think things are contentious now – pray the current election cycle doesn’t go…

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30 Sep 2016 Should Appeals Courts Give Deference to Lower Courts in EEOC in Subpoena Enforcement Actions? U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Take on the Issue

  As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to open its fall term, the Court has agreed to consider the appropriate standard for court review of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) subpoenas that the agency issues during its investigations of discrimination charges.   In EEOC v. McLane Co., Inc., the issue is whether the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals should have given deference to a lower court’s decisions regarding enforcement of an EEOC investigatory subpoena or whether appellate courts should take a completely new look…

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29 Sep 2016 EEOC Continues Fight Against Mandatory Flu Vaccinations for Healthcare Workers

  Just as another flu season is upon us, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is ramping up its battle against mandatory healthcare workers influenza vaccination programs by filing at least its third lawsuit this year on the subject of accommodations for individuals who profess religious objections to being vaccinated.   In EEOC v. St. Vincent Health Center, the EEOC is alleging that a Pennsylvania healthcare organization failed to accommodate the religious beliefs of six healthcare workers who sought exemptions from mandatory flu shots…

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22 Sep 2016 War Over Sexual Orientation and Title VII Rages On

  Advocates for a federal ban on sexual orientation discrimination are waging a war on multiple fronts, fighting their battles in courts across the country and seeking rulings that Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, even if the statute does not specifically reference it as a protected class.   Last week in a high-profile Second Circuit case, Christiansen v. Omnicom Group, Inc., No. 16-748, defendant-appellee ad agency DDB Worldwide filed its brief claiming the court’s precedent that Title VII does not cover sexual…

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21 Sep 2016 The Battle Is Joined: Two New Entrants in the Fight Over New Overtime Rules

  Two new sets of allied combatants have joined the fray looking to overturn the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new overtime regulations and halt the imminent effective date. The DOL’s new rules more than double the salary threshold (to $47,476) for workers to even be considered for the so-called “white collar” exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) overtime premium requirements and are currently scheduled to take effect Dec. 1.   On Sept. 20, two complaints were filed in the Eastern District of Texas:…

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21 Sep 2016 Loose Lips Sink Ships

  Late last week, a political firestorm brewed over the hacking of various email accounts belonging to politicians and national security officials. It was reported that the hack revealed that Colin Powell, the almost universally well-liked and well-regarded retired general, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary of State, had some less than kind things to say about the current crop of presidential candidates. Powell’s emails, for example, reportedly used provocative words like “national disgrace” in one instance and “greedy” and “unbridled ambition” in…

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19 Sep 2016 Does New Illinois Law Signify A Third Frontier of Noncompete State-by-State Variations?

  Recently, Jennifer Cerven wrote on Currents about a new Illinois law that prohibits noncompete agreements for low wage workers, i.e. those making less than $13/hour. There has been heightened dialogue about such restrictions since the publicity surrounding the Jimmy John’s noncompete requirement for some of its sandwich makers. I have suggested here before that most courts I know would be discinlined to enforce a noncompete with such an employee anyway, though as one parent of a summer camp counselor appropriately pointed out to me after that post,…

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16 Sep 2016 Oklahoma and U.S. DOL Agree to Tag-Team Worker Misclassification Initiatives

  As the effort to stamp-out worker misclassification under the Fair Labor Standards Act continues to run strong, Oklahoma is the latest state to join the U.S. Department of Labor’s Misclassification Initiative. Specifically, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission entered into a three-year Common Interest Agreement with the U.S. DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, under which the agencies agree to share data, exchange information, and coordinate investigations and other enforcement actions within Oklahoma. As part of this collaboration each agency will be responsible for designating a…

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