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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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17 Nov 2015 Trending Now: How the Latest News Going Viral Can Lead to Employment Litigation

A downed Russian airliner, the tragic Paris attacks, the European refugee crisis, states closing their borders to Syrian nationals, Charlie  Sheen’s HIV diagnosis. What do these all have in common? They are hot topics for discussion around the watercooler.  And they also will bring out a multitude of opinions.  What’s the problem?  Opinions can be controversial and, to some, down right offensive.  Healthy debate about how the United States should handle the war on terror could be construed as evidence of religious discrimination (in some cases). …

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14 Nov 2015 Going Before a Higher Power – Nuns Take on Obamacare

On Nov. 6, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeals of several religious employers challenging the contraceptive mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The court will consolidate seven cases, the most prominent of which was brought by the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns who dedicate their lives to helping the elderly poor.  The other employers include several Catholic dioceses, a religious non-profit group and several Christian colleges.   The contraception mandate requires religious…

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13 Nov 2015 Hiding in Plain Sight: How Employees Are Using Company Resources to Slack Off Without Raising Any Eyebrows

Reddit is described as the “front page” of the Internet. It is an entertainment, social networking and news website where members can submit content, such as text posts, pictures or direct links. It is essentially an online bulletin board system. It’s hugely popular. It’s the birthplace of a lot of content that eventually goes viral after later being picked up by BuzzFeed, Twitter or Facebook. It’s also extraordinarily easy to get lost on the site for HOURS scrolling through links, photos and comments.  In a…

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13 Nov 2015 Casual Friday: Make Sure Your Employees Keep it Classy

Casual Friday.  It’s a day of the week many employees are allowed to “dress down” a bit in anticipation for the weekend.  And many employees like to get a bit “festive” during the holiday season.   Well, the Internet is slightly annoyed right now.  A large national retailer has decided to start selling a sweater bearing the slogan:  “OCD:  Obsessive Christmas Disorder.”  While probably well intentioned, some people don’t think it’s funny to make light of obsessive compulsive disorder.  And if people are taking to…

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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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