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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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14 Jun 2016 Flex-Time and Telecommuting Requests: Potential Traps for the Unwary Employer

Imagine this nightmare scenario for an employer: employee requests a “flexible schedule” where she could start and end her workday up to an hour later than usual and to take extra breaks (up to three per day) during the day following panic attacks. She says she will need this schedule “indefinitely.” You have no idea when your employee will come to work or how long she will work during the day and there is no end in sight to this accommodation. What do you do? The depression…

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13 Jun 2016 Survey Says: Significant Minority of Employers Provide More Pay, Benefits than Required on Military Leave

The latest survey results from our friends at Employers Resource Association cover how a sample of their members handle military leave. Though not required to do so, 35 percent of respondents pay employees on military leave the difference between their regular and military pay, and five percent continue to provide full pay for at least part of time spent on training obligations. Not surprisingly, many fewer respondents exceed their obligations for employees on active duty.   Regarding benefits, half of respondents continue to pay the employer portion…

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08 Jun 2016 What Employers must know about the Americans with Disabilities Act

A few weeks ago, we posted a blog concerning the aggressive, suit-filing tactics by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against employers and the expensive and public consent decrees that follow.   One of the EEOC consent decrees discussed was with Rock Tenn, a paper and packaging manufacturer with a facility located in Battle Creek, Michigan. The consent decree required Rock Tenn to pay $187,000 in settlement of the EEOC lawsuit to provide training to its employees and submit to EEOC oversight of the manufacturer’s…

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07 Jun 2016 Telecommuting as an ADA Accommodation

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: an employee calls in to work, states she has a medical condition and can’t come in to work but says she can still do her job from home.   You have your doubts about how much work will get done from home. But you know that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) obliges an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation for a qualified, disabled employee that will enable her to perform the essential functions of the job. And…

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06 Jun 2016 Employers Need Not Tolerate Workers Screaming On the Electronic Street Corner Terminating Employees For Offensive Remarks On Social Media

Over the last few days, the news media have widely covered Bank of America’s decision to fire one of its employees for posting this on the employee’s personal Facebook page:   I hate Facebook for this reason you f***ing n****rs.  And yes, if [you] can call each that well I can too.  ‘F***ing n****r go back to Africa. Get over your pity party. You created this hatred and your own kind that brought your great-great-parents [sic] over here and sold them.  ‘Do something with your…

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03 Jun 2016 EEOC Plows Ahead on Obama’s Initiatives. Next Up: National Origin Discrimination

As President Obama’s second term heads toward the finish line, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) unveiled its latest initiative on June 2 – this time focusing on employment protections for victims of national origin discrimination.   According to the EEOC, national origin discrimination, more than any other protected class, overlaps with other forms of discrimination, particularly race, color and religion. These intertwined factors create sticky legal issues for employers where, for example, Title VII requires employers to accommodate certain religious practices but there is…

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03 Jun 2016 The Seventh Circuit Rejects Class & Collective Action Waivers In Arbitration Agreements

During the last few years, employers have taken comfort in a slew of court decisions that have held – in some form or another – that an arbitration agreement can waive the right to bring a class or collective action. For example, in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 131 S. Ct. 1740 (2011), the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempted state law – and specifically California law – which had expressly prohibited class action waivers. The Supreme Court recently cemented that ruling…

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24 May 2016 SCOTUS Rejects a Rule Neither Employers nor Employees Wanted: Green v. Brennan Decision

In Monday’s Green v. Brennan ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the limitations period for constructive discharge runs from the date the employee gives notice of the intent to resign. The 7-1 outcome was not a surprise following the questioning by the justices during oral arguments. The justices held that the filing period begins when an employee resigns as a result of discriminatory behavior, not when an employer creates an environment so adversarial that an employee feels forced to resign, previously ruled in 2014…

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20 May 2016 New Overtime Rules: All That Glitters Is Not Gold

With apologies to Shakespeare (the above phrase is a slight corruption of his original line from Merchant of Venice, “All that glisters is not gold”), we continue our coverage of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) controversial – to say the least – new overtime regulations. To catch everyone up, earlier this week the DOL issued its final regulations that more than doubled the minimum salary necessary to be considered for the key exemptions from overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). As of…

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18 May 2016 Applications Are Welcome; Drugs Are Not

It’s an oft-heard refrain from many of our clients: “We need good employees.” Not just any employees, but employees who know how to show up for work – consistently and on time. Employees who do good work. And, by the way, who also can pass a drug test.   Maybe it’s the lag effects of legalizing marijuana, or the crippling epidemic of opioids invading our workforce. Regardless, communities and business are seeking (with mixed success) drug-free employees. These challenges are outlined, in small part, in an…

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