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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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29 Jun 2018 Round Up: Court Rules Rounding Payroll System Permissible Even When (a slight) Majority of Employees Lose Time

A California state appeals court recently held that two California hospitals’ practice of rounding all employee time punches to the nearest quarter-hour was allowed, even when a majority of employees lost time. California law permits employers to round time entries when the payroll rounding system is neutral on its face “without an eye toward whether the employer or the employee is benefiting from the rounding,” and when it does not “systematically undercompensate employees over time.”   In this case, one hospital’s rounding payroll system subtracted time…

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28 Jun 2018 Seventh Circuit Revisits Contractor Misclassification

Courts in the U.S. have been grappling with the misclassification of independent contractors for more than 20 years. As our readers well know, there is no standardized test to determine whether a worker is a contractor. Various courts and government agencies all have adopted their own criteria. Fortunately, most of them overlap, but there can be critical differences in the factors and how they are applied.   In 2015, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) firmly supported the “economic…

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27 Jun 2018 Will There Be An Epic Backlash?

By now, most have heard about the U.S. Supreme Court’s May 21, 2018 opinion in Epic Systems Corporation v. Lewis. Epic actually decided a trio of consolidated cases before the high court and held, as a matter of law, that class action waivers within arbitration agreements are enforceable, that is, arbitration agreements between an employee and employer may prohibit the employee from participating in most claims against the employer other than through one-on-one arbitration.   Workers’ advocates are echoing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s stinging dissent,…

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26 Jun 2018 D is for Drugs: Employee Drug Use and What You Should Know

For those left wondering what is really going on in the complicated world of employee drug use (illegal, legal, and “semi-legal”), I thought I would spend this episode of Letter of the Law highlighting a few issues employers face when they know of or suspect drug use by their employees. 1. Drug Testing – Whether and when employers can require drug testing is a loaded question.  Private employers long understood that they were often within their rights to conduct testing for new hires, based on…

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18 Jun 2018 What will really move the needle in improving harassment prevention?

I just published an article in the Ohio State Bar Association Labor & Employment news examining which of the hot topics of discussion in the wake of #MeToo are likely to actually decrease workplace harassment.  The question is not whether it is a good idea to improve harassment prevention – even most employers that have done an excellent job complying with their legal requirements and promptly addressing complaints believe there is unreported harassment out there and they want to  find it.   The question is…

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14 Jun 2018 Supreme Court Says No To Repeat Class Actions After Statute Of Limitations

On June 11, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that filing a class action lawsuit does not toll the statute of limitations for the class to file the same claims again in the future. This means that if the class files claims but is denied class certification, it cannot return to court and file the same claims again if the limitations period expired during the course of the previous litigation.   In China Agritech, Inc. v. Resh, a class of stockholders timely filed a lawsuit…

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06 Jun 2018 Sixth Circuit Looks to Seventh and Ninth Circuits in Reviving Firefighters Title VII Suit against Union

On June 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit joined the Seventh and Ninth Circuits in holding that the standards governing a duty of fair representation claim (i.e., a duty held by unions to represent all employees in good faith, and without discrimination) do not govern Title VII discrimination claims against a union.    In Peeples v. City of Detroit, a group of Detroit firefighters brought suit against their union alleging disparate-treatment race and national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII. …

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01 Jun 2018 In a Culture of Inclusiveness, Don’t Overlook Age

Age is the one protected class where everyone – eventually – is included. Yet as the #MeToo movement stays in the spotlight and implicit (and explicit) racial bias continues to capture headlines, it’s easy for age discrimination issues to fly under the radar.   But if you think age discrimination isn’t a big concern in today’s workplace, think again. The following examples illustrate how hiring is becoming the new battleground for age discrimination claims:   The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a major restaurant…

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31 May 2018 Simple Reminders For Developing Healthy Workplace Culture

All work environments develop their own workplace cultures, regardless of company size or industry. The role of culture, when consciously shaped and reinforced, is to bring consistency to the work environment through clear expectations.  Workplace cultures shape, reflect, and sustain business values and ethics, and condemn harassment and discrimination.  This is often accomplished through the physical environment of the office (i.e. open door policy); strong workplace policies prohibiting sexual harassment and discrimination; workplace training; and a complaints process that protects employees from retaliation.   Despite…

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29 May 2018 Workplace Culture 2.0: More Leadership, Less Management

Title VII is not a “civility code.”   Although the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination in the workplace, it does not outlaw bad behavior. It does not require us to each to treat coworkers respectfully. It does not compel us to be inclusive, or tolerant, or kind.   When the U.S. Supreme Court cautioned in a 1998 sexual harassment case that Title VII is not a “civility code,” it underscored the constraints of our country’s seminal anti-discrimination law. The law has its…

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