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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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22 Apr 2016 The Benefits of Adopting an Effective Complaint-Reporting Procedure

A recent federal case from Washington reminds employers of the benefits associated with procedures making it easy for employees to complain of harassment or discrimination. The case is Matthiesen v. Autozoners, LLC, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington (Case No. 2:15-cv-0080).   Matthiesen involved a female employee who worked at an Autozone store for about five months.  The company’s handbook provided several options for reporting concerns about discrimination or harassment: discussing the situation with management, discussing the situation with human resources (HR)…

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19 Apr 2016 11th Hour Questions about DOL’s Overtime Rules

As the DOL’s final proposal nears reality, the expected economic impact is making some members of Congress very nervous.   Even supporters of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) upcoming overtime regulations (anticipated to be released in final form sometime soon)  are raising last-minute concerns about the regulations’ potentially adverse impact on businesses– small businesses in particular.   The expected revised DOL regulations on overtime will affect the exempt status of an estimated five million white-collar employees.  The DOL has proposed a salary threshold of $970 per…

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18 Apr 2016 Court Says Mandatory Flu Vaccine for Hospital Worker Does Not Violate Title VII

A federal court in Massachusetts recently issued an opinion that provides much needed guidance to hospitals and other healthcare institutions on whether it is permissible – under Title VII – to require mandatory influenza vaccinations for healthcare workers who object to receiving the vaccination on religious grounds.   The case started in 2011, when Children’s Hospital Boston announced that all persons who worked in or accessed patient care areas would be required to be vaccinated against the influenza virus. The requirement applied to employees, volunteers,…

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15 Apr 2016 EEOC Consent Decrees Highlight That Employers Must Prevent ADA Claims — Or Pay the Consequences

Public consent decrees that resolved several recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) disability discrimination lawsuits are a stark reminder that clear policies and training can help employers to avoid such consequences.   A common theme of the recently-settled EEOC lawsuits is that once the EEOC files a lawsuit it will demand a public settlement that includes substantial financial terms and non-monetary relief including posting of notices in the workplace and mandatory training.   In a case that the EEOC filed against a paper manufacturing company…

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07 Apr 2016 Morbid Obesity Not Necessarily a Disability Under Americans with Disabilities Act

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held this week that obesity in and of itself is not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Instead, obesity generally is a physical characteristic and “qualifies as a physical impairment (and thus would be covered under the ADA) only if it falls outside the normal range and it occurs as the result of a physiological disorder.” (Emphasis added.)  Even morbid obesity has to have physiological underpinnings to qualify as a disability, ruled the Eighth Circuit.  Such disorders…

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06 Apr 2016 Don’t Call a Transgender Employee “It”

By now, most people know enough about the law to know that you can’t discriminate against a worker because of characteristics like race, sex, age and disability. Those are pretty obvious and those laws have been in place for as long as most of us can remember. However, society and laws are constantly evolving, and there are always new issues employers need to watch for, both to ensure all of their employees are protected from discrimination and to make sure they are protecting themselves from…

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05 Apr 2016 Ok…Are You Sitting Down?

More than five years ago, the California plaintiffs’ bar launched a series of lawsuits against various retailers alleging that they were violating a part of the California wage orders that require suitable seating to be available to workers. For the mercantile industry, the regulations require:   (A) All working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.   (B) When employees are not engaged in the active duties of their employment and the nature…

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01 Apr 2016 Survey Says: Telecommuting Increasingly Common But Somewhat Ad Hoc

  The latest survey infographic from our friends at the Employers Resource Association (ERA) looks at flexible work schedules and telecommuting among its largely Ohio-based membership. The survey indicates that telecommuting is very common, but fewer than 1 in 5 of respondents have a formal telecommuting policy. While a formal policy may not be necessary, it is usually advisable to have an individual agreement with telecommuting employees. Also, remember that telecommuting could be a reasonable accommodation for employees with a disability.

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31 Mar 2016 New Pregnancy Poster Available for California Employers

  The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has released a new pregnancy poster for employers to use in satisfying posting requirements under California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave law. This law applies to all California employers with five or more employees.   The new poster, which is directed toward pregnant employees, replaces the “Notice A” that California employers have been required to use until now. The two posters share the same title, “Your Rights and Obligations as a Pregnant Employee.”  The effective date of…

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31 Mar 2016 University of Iowa Wins Trial Against Immigration Lawyer Claiming Age Discrimination

  A unanimous jury recently determined that the University of Iowa’s (UI) decision not to hire a 55-year-old man did not amount to age discrimination. In 2010, Donald Dobkin applied for a teaching position at UI’s College of Law. When Mr. Dobkin was not chosen for the position, he brought a lawsuit, claiming he was passed over because of his age. He also asserted that UI hired a less experienced person for the job because she was younger. Following a full trial, a jury returned…

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