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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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11 Nov 2015 DO IT FOR THE VINE! How This Week’s Viral Social Media Trend Can Spark Legal Liability in the Workplace

Consider the following scenario: Sharon is the owner of a very successful restaurant in Florida. Sharon’s establishment employs around 20 individuals. Most of her employees are between 18 and 22 years old. In May 2015, Sharon hired Joseph as a server. Joseph is a disabled 38 year old whose medical condition requires that he wear special orthopedic shoes.   Sharon began noticing an annoying pattern of behavior during the first week of July. Several of her younger employees working in the back stock-room would frequently…

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10 Nov 2015 OSHA FINES COULD INCREASE OVER 80% NEXT YEAR

Congress recently passed the budget agreement which contained a provision which permits OSHA to raise fines significantly starting in August 2016.  The law permits a one-time “catch up” increase up to 82 percent, since fines have not been raised since 1990. This “catch-up” amount is tied to the inflation rate from 1990 to 2015.  After that, the maximum penalties would increase with the inflation rate every year.   This would have the following effect:   Citations Current Max. With “Catch-Up” Increase Other than Serious Up…

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07 Nov 2015 Noncompete Roundup – Florida Lack Of Evidence Regarding Long-Standing Or Exclusive Relationships With Customers Invalidates Noncompete Injunction On Appeal

Florida historically has taken a tough stand toward enforcing noncompetes, as a recent state-court appellate case illustrates. For those unfamiliar with Sunshine State law on noncompetes, Florida has a statute that requires noncompete agreements to be (a) in writing, (b) signed by the employee, (c) reasonable in terms of time and geography and (d) reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate business interests of the employer. While protecting customer relationships is considered to be a legitimate business interest worthy of protection, this normally does not extend…

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06 Nov 2015 Noncompete Roundup – Oklahoma Fifth Circuit Rejects Contractual Attempts To Bypass Strict Oklahoma Law Against Restrictive Covenants

Many employers would be surprised to learn that Oklahoma has some of the country’s toughest standards when it comes to enforcing restrictive covenants.  The sharp contrast between the laws of the Sooner State and its peers, such as Texas, was recently highlighted in by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cardoni v. Prosperity Bank (Case No. 14-20682).   As background, Oklahoma expressly provides that any restraints on a lawful profession, trade or business are void, unless it meets one of a handful of narrow…

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02 Nov 2015 Lessons Learned: Watch What You Say: It can and will be used against you

As employment litigators, we frequently remind our clients that extreme caution must be exercised with email communications. A recent decision by the Seventh Circuit, Arroyo v. Volvo Group North America, LLC, found here, serves as a powerful reminder.   Luz Maria Arroyo was an Army reservist who, between 2005 and 2011, deployed twice to Iraq and Kuwait for periods in excess of one year each and also regularly attended weekend drills, as well as annual and other military training. Although her supervisor and others expressed…

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30 Oct 2015 EEOC Proposes Six Substantive Changes to Title II GINA Regulations

The EEOC is seeking comments on proposed regulations that would allow employers that offer wellness programs as part of group health plans, to provide limited incentives or inducements in exchange for an employee’s spouse providing certain information about his or her health status.  Such incentives include, but are not limited to, both financial inducements and in-kind inducements such as paid time off.   On Oct. 30, the EEOC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which would amend the regulations related to Title II of…

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27 Oct 2015 NLRB Once Again Puts Employers on Notice Regarding Handbook Policies

As I’ve noted several times on this blog, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is not messing around when it comes to handbook policies.  In the last few years, the NLRB has been aggressively looking for and cracking down on policies it believes are chilling the rights of employees to take protected, concerted action under the National Labor Relations Act relating to terms and conditions of employment. For handbook purposes, it makes no difference whether the company is a union or non-union shop. While many…

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26 Oct 2015 EEOC News – Online Charge System Now In Place

On May 6, 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced it would be rolling out a new digital charge system to improve customer service and to reduce the use of paper submissions and files. The system is set up to facilitate the secure digital transmission of documents between the EEOC and employers. Employers should start seeing the effects of this change soon, if they have not already. This system applies to private and public employers, unions and employment agencies.   The EEOC initially rolled out the…

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23 Oct 2015 Another Paid Family and Medical Leave Proposal: District of Columbia Considers 16 Weeks of Paid Leave under a Local Government-Administered Mandatory Fund Using a Payroll Tax

Advocates of paid family and medical leave programs continue to press for change. In September, we reported on the Obama Executive Order that mandates paid family and medical leave for federal contractors as part of a paid sick leave requirement. Currently, both California and New Jersey have paid family and medical leave that supplements the unpaid leave benefits provided under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Earlier this month, seven members of the District of Columbia’s local government Council introduced a bill (the…

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22 Oct 2015 EEOC Defends “Mark of The Beast” Ruling – Religious Beliefs Don’t Have To Make Sense To Be Protected

In August 2015, the EEOC prevailed in a religious discrimination lawsuit against Consol Energy and was awarded in excess of $500,000.00.  Former Consol mine worker Beverly Butcher, who had been with the company for over 35 years, refused to use Consol’s new biometric hand scanners that were installed to track employee time and attendance.  He explained that he believed that scanners would leave the “mark of the beast” and would be a sign for the antichrist.  Consol required Butcher to use the scanners and refused…

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