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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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03 Dec 2015 EEOC Issues Additional Guidance on Job Rights for Employees with HIV

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued two separate guidance documents this week addressing employees with HIV. The first of the two documents, “Living with HIV Infection: Your Legal Rights in the Workplace Under the ADA,” is aimed at employees with HIV.  The document assures employees that, for the most part, they have the right to keep their condition confidential, but that they might have to disclose the condition if they are seeking reasonable accommodation, are being evaluated for eligibility for certain employee benefits or…

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30 Nov 2015 Do You Even Lift, Bro? How A Case Of Seemingly Innocent Workplace Bullying Can Blindside Your Company With A Title VII Lawsuit

  Is there anything wrong with a group of employees teasing a male co-worker because he doesn’t like sports? Well, the answer is obvious: of course. Employees should always treat co-workers with respect. But is this conduct unlawful? The answer to this question may surprise you.   Let’s kick off this blog post by discussing two recent federal court cases that shed light on this issue. First up is Woods v. Boh Brothers. In this case, Kerry Woods was employed by Boh Brothers as welder….

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30 Nov 2015 Bad Moon On The Rise: California’s New Fair Pay Act

  Decrying a gender wage gap, the California Legislature has enacted amendments to the state’s pay equity law that could potentially rewrite how pay discrimination cases are litigated in the Golden State. Prior law was modeled after the Federal Equal Pay Act, wherein an employer could look at the incumbents holding the same positions to assess whether men and women are paid equally, taking into account skill and experience. That regime proved too straight forward for Californians.   In its place the legislature has enacted…

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25 Nov 2015 New Year, New Laws: Expanding California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act

  Effective as of Jan. 1, 2016, an employee’s request for an accommodation for a disability or for religious reasons will be considered to be “protected activity” for a retaliation claim under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) – further muddying the employment waters in California.   Assembly Bill 987, which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on July 16, amends the language of the FEHA to prohibit an employer from retaliating or otherwise discriminating against a person for requesting accommodation of…

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25 Nov 2015 Holiday Pay and the Family Medical Leave Act

  As we enter into the holiday season, questions often arise regarding an employer’s obligation to pay an employee on FMLA leave for holidays. Surprisingly, the answer is relatively straightforward: treat that employee in the same manner you would treat an employee on a non-FMLA leave. According to the FMLA Regulations:   [a]n employee’s entitlement to benefits other than group health benefits during a period of FMLA leave (e.g., holiday pay) is determined by the employer’s policy for providing such benefits when the employee is…

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24 Nov 2015 The Viral Spiral: How An Employee’s Facebook Post Dragged Her Employer Into A Social Media Controversy

  Instances of deplorable racism have sparked recent protests on the University of Missouri’s campus. Not surprisingly, these protests have received a significant amount of media attention. On Nov. 13, 2015, however, the world’s attention shifted to the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris. We have since been inundated with 24-hour news coverage on developments related to the war on terror.   Following the Paris attacks, the Washington Times released a story explaining how University of Missouri protestors had taken to Twitter to express disappointment with…

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GINA Compliance
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24 Nov 2015 It’s Time to Give Your Employee Wellness Programs a Check-Up to Ensure Compliance with GINA

  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently provided employers with some food for thought in considering their employee wellness programs in relation to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). In Ortiz v. City of San Antonio Fire Dep’t. (SAFD), the collective bargaining unit allowed for a mandatory wellness program for all SAFD employees. As part of SAFD’s mandatory requirements, all uniformed employees were required to submit to a “job-related medical evaluation,” which included a physical exam; blood and urine tests; and testing…

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23 Nov 2015 Federal Court Allows ADEA “Pattern-or-Practice” Claim to Proceed

Earlier this week, a federal district court in Florida allowed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) pattern-or-practice discrimination claim against a national restaurant chain to proceed (EEOC v. Darden Restaurants, Inc.). The EEOC brought its lawsuit against Darden Restaurants, Inc., alleging the company had hiring practices that favored younger applicants over those who were older, and that such practices violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (the ADEA). In support of these allegations, the agency relied on data showing Darden’s hiring of individuals over 40-years-old…

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21 Nov 2015 Breaking News: Refusing to Allow an Employee to Rescind His Or Her Voluntary Resignation Can Get You Sued

Here is the scenario. Your employee decides to voluntarily resign. She gives plenty of notice. Before her scheduled end date, the employee provides information relevant to a sexual harassment investigation involving her supervisor. Before the scheduled end date, the employee tries to rescind her employment. The supervisor refuses. Here’s the question: Is the refusal to allow the employee the opportunity to rescind her resignation an “adverse employment action” for purposes of a retaliation claim?   It could be, at least according to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. A similar scenario played out…

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20 Nov 2015 EMOJI-GOSH! How Emojis in Workplace Communications Can Spark A Lawsuit (Or Make It Harder To Defend One)

Emojis. They are the colorful cartoon images that are built into nearly every mobile device. They are hugely popular. At this very moment, thousands of communications containing these images are bouncing off satellites. In fact, they are so prevalent that an emoji has taken the title of Oxford Dictionaries’ “Word of the Year.” Yes, you read that correctly. An emoji – not a word – was handed this year’s title.   Why should this craze be of interest to employers? Well, we will set the…

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