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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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20 Dec 2017 Employment Visas: Changes to Expect in 2018

  Change is afoot. The Trump administration has moved full steam ahead on immigration proposals focused on, among other things, increased scrutiny of employment visas. The proposed changes were announced in a semi-unified agenda and comes at the heels of Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order, which was rolled out earlier this year. If implemented, these changes will affect thousands of immigrants, and may make it more difficult to obtain work authorization for certain categories of employees.   This agenda does not by…

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19 Dec 2017 Tax Deduction to be Curtailed for Some Settlements of Sex Harassment Claims

  The federal tax bill published late on Dec. 15 has a number of provisions that, if enacted, would deny an employer’s ability to deduct payments made in settlement of employee claims. If the tax bill passes, the negotiation of both the nature of settlement payments/court awards and reporting to the IRS will become even more critical given its impact on the deductibility of settlement payments. Get your tax lawyer involved early in the negotiation to help you document your preferred tax reporting position.  …

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18 Dec 2017 On Second Thought … State Supreme Court Questions Key Noncompete Drafting Strategy

  As I have written here many times, a key dynamic in the drafting and enforcement of noncompete agreements are the distinctions between different states’ laws. Therefore, it is a big deal when a state Supreme Court rules on one of the key issues in the area of noncompete law, as typically happens two to three times per year. The North Dakota Supreme Court recently issued a decision calling into question choice of forum (or venue) clauses as a tool to maximize the enforceability of noncompete agreements….

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13 Dec 2017 Can’t Touch This: Seventh Circuit Panel Backs Tenured Teacher Law

  In Elliott v. Board of School Trustees of Madison Consolidated Schools, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit unanimously upheld a federal district court’s ruling that the layoff provision of Indiana’s 2011 Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) violated the federal Contract Clause when applied retroactively to a teacher who earned tenure before the new law took effect. The decision was issued on Dec. 4.   For more than 80 years, Indiana’s 1927 teacher tenure law has created contractual…

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12 Dec 2017 Second Circuit Holds that Hearst Interns are not Employees

  Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision upholding an order granting summary judgment in favor of Hearst Corporation, publisher of such magazines as Cosmopolitan, ELLE and Harper’s BAZAAR, finding that the plaintiffs were not illegally deprived wages under the FLSA or New York state law as statutory “employees.” This is the second decision in this case at the Second Circuit as this case previously reached the Second Circuit, but was then remanded back to the District Court…

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05 Dec 2017 Part 4: Sex, Power, and the Workplace – When to Tell the Customer They’re Wrong

  We all know the old adage: the customer always comes first. But, what about a predatory, harassing customer? Not so much.   Sexual misconduct has been ablaze in the news, and doesn’t seem to show any sign of halting. Alaska Airlines was recently pulled into the fray when Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, accused the airline of failing to do anything about a fellow passenger’s sexual misconduct against her. The Alaska Airlines incident underscores the reputational dangers for companies that turn…

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04 Dec 2017 Holiday Road – Avoiding Potholes in Holiday Parties

  Well, it’s already December (where did the year go?) and we’re all thinking about the most wonderful time of year – cutting out early and going to office parties! Parties are a great way to reward staff, celebrate accomplishments, foster teamwork, and create the foundation for another great year. What could possibly go wrong?   The annual holiday party is rife with traps for the unwary:   What’s in a Name?   For starters, what do you call the event? How about a “Christmas…

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30 Nov 2017 School Boards Beware: ‘Control the Clock and Control the Game’ Policy Loses in Court of Appeals

  Comparing the legendary basketball coach Dean Smith’s “control the clock and control the game” strategy, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Barrett v. Walker Cty. Sch. Dist., 872 F.3d 1209 (11th Cir. 2017) struck down a Georgia school district’s policy that restricted public comment at school board meetings.   The court’s decision in Barrett, arose from failed efforts of the school’s union president to secure a speaking slot during an upcoming board meeting. Although not mandated by Georgia law, the…

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29 Nov 2017 Part 3: Sex, Power, and the Workplace – The Books of Etiquette

  Skip the holiday turkey or the $25 gift certificate. This year, give a gift to your employees that will have a lasting impact on how they treat each other.   Give everyone a book of etiquette.   I’m serious. Make them read it, too. Reviving the lost rules of proper conduct could go a long way in reducing workplace misconduct of all kinds—including sexual harassment (the list is growing every day), other harassment and discrimination, bullying, rudeness, and personality conflicts. Recently, good behavior and…

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28 Nov 2017 Part 2: Sex, Power, and the Workplace – Preventing the Backlash

  Are workplaces at risk for a backlash? How do we preserve and continue to advance opportunities for women when their male coworkers are worried? Worried about exactly where the line is between friendliness and sexual harassment at work? A recent New York Times article raised this question with men at work, who wondered about their own behavior, and also raise concern for their female coworkers.   In general, although women at work acknowledge the recent conversation about sexual harassment is overdue, they now worry…

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