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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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08 Oct 2015 Altering Arbitration: Sakkab v. Luxottica Retail North America

Overtime claims that a former LensCrafters employee brought against a California franchise led the Ninth Circuit to once again tweak arbitration rules. The divided 9th Circuit panel reversed the district court’s order granting defendant Luxottica Retail North America, Inc.’s motion to compel arbitration of claims and dismissing plaintiff’ Shukri Sakkab’s  first amended complaint, in a putative class action raising class employment-related claims and a non-class representative claim for civil penalties under the Private Attorney General Act.   Mr. Sakkab filed the complaint in San Diego against defendant,…

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05 Oct 2015 Nearly 40 Percent of Mandatory Reports to OSHA Lead to Inspection

As we previously noted in late 2014, OSHA implemented a new mandatory reporting requirement which would require employers to report to OSHA within 24 hours if a single employee was hospitalized overnight. Previously, an employer was only required to report this if three (3) or more employees were hospitalized overnight. The new regulations also required the mandatory reporting of any amputation or loss of an eye within 24 hours. As before, workplace fatalities have to be reported within eight hours. These new regulations became effective…

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28 Sep 2015 Enforcing The Phantom Noncompete: Michigan Court Allows Employer To Pursue Noncompete Claim In The Absence Of A Written Document Signed By Employee

It is commonly accepted that to enforce a noncompete agreement against an unfaithful employee, the employer first needs to have a signed, written agreement with that employee. However, a new decision from a federal court in the Western District of Michigan, Stryker Corporation v. Ridgeway, has splashed some cold water on that notion.   The employer in Stryker sued a former employee for breach of his noncompete agreement. Unfortunately for the company, it had no signed version of the noncompete. Jumping on this opportunity, the…

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18 Sep 2015 New rules provide insights for pregnancy accommodations in Illinois

Since the start of the year, all employers in Illinois with one or more employees are required to provide accommodations for pregnant workers for conditions associated with pregnancy and childbirth.  Now the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) and the Illinois Human Rights Commission (IHRC) have issued a set of proposed joint rules to assist with interpretation and enforcement of the new law.   Under amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, employers and labor organizations must…

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14 Sep 2015 Rollercoaster Week for EEOC Regarding Background Checks

Last week started poorly for the agency often criticized as overly aggressive, as a federal judge in Maryland ordered the EEOC to pay attorneys’ fees of nearly a million dollars for overplaying its hand. In EEOC v. Freeman, the agency sued a corporate events company for its background check policies, charging that those checks had a disparate impact on minorities. The problem arose when the EEOC brazenly pushed ahead with its case even after its alleged statistics expert’s report was thoroughly debunked by Fourth Circuit…

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11 Sep 2015 Teacher’s Online Rants About Students Are Not Protected By First Amendment

In Munroe v. Central Bucks School District, the Third Circuit recently upheld summary judgment for a school district, high school and superintendent in a First Amendment retaliation case filed by a former teacher. Natalie Munroe, a former English teacher at Central Bucks East High School near Philadelphia, maintained a personal blog. Although most of her posts focused on uncontroversial topics such as recipes and vacations, several of her posts were highly critical of her students and coworkers.   Munroe opined that she wished she could…

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11 Sep 2015 Obama Executive Order Mandates Broadly Defined Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors

On Sept. 7, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order directing that all new federal procurement contracts contain a clause specifying that all employees whom perform work under a federal contract or subcontract shall earn not less than 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Significantly, the Executive Order also contains a broader definition of “paid sick leave” than employers customarily have provided.   Under the Executive Order, paid sick leave includes not only absences due to physical or mental illness,…

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04 Sep 2015 Second Circuit Clarifies Viability of Retaliation Claim Under Section 1983 For Having Complained of Discrimination

Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit, resolved confusion surrounding the viability of retaliation claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, clarifying that a plaintiff can bring an action under Section 1983 for retaliation based on complaints of discrimination. In the case at issue, Vega v. Hempstead Union Free School District, plaintiff was a bilingual high school teacher with many years of service, who alleged discrimination based on his “Hispanic ethnicity” and retaliation under Title VII and Section 1983 against the school district,…

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03 Sep 2015 Choose Your Words Wisely

In Figueroa v. Village of Melrose Park, a former female probationary officer filed a lawsuit alleging gender and race discrimination. Of relevance to this post, the plaintiff’s police chief expressed concern that she would be a liability because the plaintiff would be unable to defend herself in a confrontation with a “200-pound man.” In denying summary judgment, the district court held that this remark amounted to direct evidence of gender discrimination. While some may argue that the remark was nothing more than a “real world”…

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02 Sep 2015 Man Bites Dog: Court Vacates Arbitration Award Against Sexual Harasser

It is the rare occasion when a court throws out an arbitration award. Typically the court’s ability to do so is quite limited by statute and/or the collective bargaining agreement under which the arbitration award. But a New York appellate court recently vacated an arbitrator’s award that put a bus driver (and union official) back to work even though he did not even show up to a hearing to contest sexual harassment charges against him. Recognizing its limited ability to vacate an arbitration award, the court…

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