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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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19 Oct 2015 Employee Fired for Facebook Selfie

A Georgia employee was recently terminated from his position at a marketing firm as a result of a disgraceful Facebook “selfie.” In this case, the employee took a “selfie” with a co-worker’s African American son and uploaded the image as his profile picture. The employee’s picture resulted in a number of Facebook “friends” making derogatory, racist, and disgraceful remarks about the child (we won’t be posting them here). In response to some of the remarks, the employee described the child as “feral.” Not surprisingly, the…

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16 Oct 2015 Tenth Circuit Finds Secretly Recorded Age-based Remarks To Be Double-Edged Sword That Can Be Used as Evidence of Plaintiff’s Own Wrongdoing

In Housley v. Spirit Aerosystems, Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals discussed the significance of the parties’ objections and requests for limiting instructions at trial, which serves as a reminder to plaintiffs and defendants alike. In this case, the plaintiff (a long-time employee of The Boeing Company (Boeing)) sued Spirit and Boeing, alleging that she had been discriminated based on her age (56) after Boeing sold its Wichita facility to Spirit, and Spirit did not hire her based upon the recommendations of Boeing management. Specifically,…

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15 Oct 2015 California Employee Arbitration Bill Vetoed

In a move that has left employers relieved, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill (AB 465) that would have prohibited employers from implementing arbitration agreements with its employees unless those employees had counsel and negotiated the arbitration agreement. The bill also would impose a $10,000 fine on employers for each violation.   In his veto message earlier this week, Governor Brown explained that the bill imposed a “blanket ban on mandatory arbitration agreements” and this ban “has been consistently struck down in other states…

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13 Oct 2015 Noncompetes In Mexico

I recently had occasion to look into Mexican law regarding non-competition agreements. For those who are unfamiliar with Mexican noncompete law, it can be summarized succinctly: see California. Like the Golden State, Mexico takes a dim view toward non-competition agreements.  In fact, the unenforceability of restrictive covenants is not even a matter of Mexican statute, it’s actually embedded into the country’s Constitution.   Specifically, Article 5 of the Mexican Constitution provides that “the State cannot permit the execution of any contract, covenant, or agreement having…

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12 Oct 2015 Think Before You Shoot on Noncompete: Why The Threatening Letter May Not Be Your First Move

I recently wrote an article about the importance of thinking a few steps ahead before businesses have their lawyers send the proverbial nasty lawyer letter.  Those letters certainly have their place in many contexts, but the article explains why you should think through the possible responses to the letter and be sure before the letter goes in the mail that you are ready to deal with the consequences.   So it is when an employee departs and is believed to be working for a competitor…

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12 Oct 2015 Employee Who Threatened to Shoot His Colleagues with a Shotgun Not a “Qualified Individual” For the Purposes of Oregon’s Disability Statute, Says Ninth Circuit

The inherent tension between employee mental illness and workplace disability discrimination laws has become a hot topic over the last few years. Yet, legal opinions addressing this issue have often led to more questions than answers. For instance, what happens if an employee’s mental illness causes him or her to violate company rules? Can the employer discipline such an employee without running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Or, in the most extreme situation, what disciplinary actions may an employer take against an…

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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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