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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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20 Nov 2015 Employee Suspended For Tweet: What We Can Learn From This Real World Example

Earlier this week we reminded employers why it is crucial to monitor what topics of discussion are trending with your employees.  Hot topics can bring out a variety of opinions.  As we explained, opinions can be controversial, inconsistent with company policy, and sometimes offensive.  Here is the link to that article.  Yesterday, we issued a second reminder after we discovered a trending Twitter hashtag that was being used to tweet inappropriate content.     As predicted, we now have a real world example of an…

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19 Nov 2015 Employers: Twitter is Going Crazy Over The #InternationalMensDay Hashtag

This will be a short post. Earlier this week we posted an article that discussed the need for employers to stay on top of what is trending on the Internet. Why? Because trending topics can sometimes lead to controversial discussions that might not be consistent with an employer’s EEO Policy. As a result, we explained that it would be prudent to understand what may be the current topic being discussed around the watercooler. Here is a follow up to that article:  The #InternationalMensDay hashtag is…

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19 Nov 2015 Pennsylvania Supreme Court “Considers” Noncompetes: Mere Continued Employment Not Enough

In what has been a remarkable run of state supreme court cases out of the heartland addressing the question of what consideration will be sufficient to support a noncompete, yesterday the Pennsylvania Supreme Court came down on the anti-enforcement side of this question, holding that any restriction on employment requires some additional benefit beyond continued employment. In other words, an employer cannot hand a noncompete to a long-term employee and have it be enforceable unless the employer provides some additional value to the employee. Pennsylvania…

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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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