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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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05 May 2017 Avoiding the Danegeld (Part 2)

  As a follow up to my post on avoiding the Danegeld and limiting knowledge of employment settlements to those who have a need to know, here is an example of getting it right.   Recently, conservative pundit Glenn Beck and his media outlet, TheBlaze, Inc., were hit with a lawsuit from Tomi Lahren, a terminated on-air commentator. Lahren claimed that her firing was a violation of her employment agreement, arguing that the given reason – expressing an opinion that Beck disliked – was not…

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Settlement
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05 May 2017 Avoiding the Danegeld: Discouraging Me-Too Claims Following a Settlement

  A thousand years ago, Viking warriors would invade a town and threaten to destroy it if the townsfolk did not pay a tax called a “Danegeld” (meaning to pay the Dane gold). Of course, once the town paid the Danegeld tax, the Vikings saw the town as an easy mark – one to which they would return to and demand payment all over again. Essentially, this was the Middle Ages equivalent of a mobster shakedown: promising to “protect” your property to make sure nothing…

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01 May 2017 Lessons Learned: Job Descriptions Do Matter

  When was the last time you reviewed the job descriptions of your employees?  At the time of the review, did you ask supervisors to review the job descriptions to see if they were accurate?  What about the employees – did you have each employee review and sign the applicable job description, acknowledging that it accurately described the job duties as performed by the employee?  While there is no legal requirement to regularly update job descriptions (or even to have them), the 11th Circuit’s decision…

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28 Apr 2017 Can Employers Terminate an Employee Because of Vacation Photos Posted to Facebook?

  It is no secret that employers can and will make employment decisions based on employee social media postings—but will those employment decisions hold up in court? In a recent case, Jones v. Gulf Coast Health Care of Delaware, the Eleventh Circuit held that an employee could proceed on a claim for retaliation under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) following his termination for posting vacation photos to his Facebook.   Rodney Jones worked at Accentia Health and Rehabilitation Center of Tampa Bay. Mr….

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24 Apr 2017 California Supreme Court Throws Down the Gauntlet on Arbitration Waivers

  The California Supreme Court is no stranger to invalidating mandatory arbitration provisions. Recently, however, the court lay down yet another challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court’s AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion case, holding that an arbitration agreement that waives the right to public injunctive relief is unenforceable under California law.   In the case, McGill v. Citibank, N.A., Sharon McGill alleged that Citbank engaged in illegal and deceptive practices in marketing a credit insurance plan she purchased. She filed a class action suit under…

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19 Apr 2017 Court Tells Skydiver’s Estate It Won’t Reconsider Title VII Claim

  On April 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declined to reconsider the estate of deceased skydiver Donald Zarda’s Title VII claim against former employer Altitude Express. Zarda filed suit claiming his employment was terminated because of his sexual orientation. Although his New York state law claim was explicitly based on sexual orientation, his Title VII claim was characterized as a sex discrimination claim.   The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted summary judgment to Altitude…

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14 Apr 2017 New Law Opens Door for Public Disclosure of Employer Wage Law Violations

  A new Colorado bill signed into law on April 13 and made effective immediately has opened the door for an employer’s violations of wage laws to be subject to open records requests made to the Department of Labor and Employment, Division of Labor and Standards and Statistics. While the department historically has collected and had access to an employer’s premises, books, records and payroll information, the division was unable to release the information if it might reveal a trade secret. The Wage Theft Transparency…

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13 Apr 2017 Minnesota Human Rights Act’s Statute of Limitations Tolls When Employer Investigates Discrimination Complaints

  The Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) requires an individual to either commence a civil action or file a charge with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) within one year after the occurrence of an unlawful discriminatory act. However, that one year time period is suspended when the individual and the employer voluntarily engage in a dispute resolution process. The statute states that a “dispute resolution process” can include arbitration, conciliation, mediation or grievance procedures.   Most employers have believed the statute of limitations…

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11 Apr 2017 Suspending Employee Who Hit Boss With Vehicle Not Retaliation

  In a rather unusual case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Court ruled that the U.S. Postal Service (“Postal Service”) did not retaliate against an employee when it suspended him for two days after he hit his supervisor with a postal vehicle.   Javier Cabral, a letter carrier for the Postal Service, filed three different Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) complaints and several union grievances alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Cabral ultimately sued the Postal Service, alleging hostile work environment, harassment,…

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06 Apr 2017 Lesson: Don’t Underestimate Court’s Ability to Change Its Mind Minor Leaguers’ Wage Suit Gets Certified and Comes Back From the Dead

  While Major League Baseball (MLB) can celebrate its new season, which began on April 2, the last pitch has yet to be thrown when it comes to addressing a minimum wage and overtime lawsuit filed by thousands of minor league players.   A lawsuit filed by a class of thousands of Minor League Baseball (MiLB) players in February 2014, which is part of a feeder system into MLB clubs, claims that minor league ballplayers are not paid the proper minimum wage or overtime. The…

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