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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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18 Aug 2015 Federal Court Allows Arbitration After Employer’s Nine-Month Delay

  At first glance, a recent decision from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania appears to throw cold water on the generally accepted rule that an employer who waits too long to enforce its right to arbitrate employment disputes waives that right.  The case, Serine v. Marshall, Dennehy, Warner & Goggin, et al., involved an employee who sued her former employer – a law firm – in federal court and the firm waited more than nine months before seeking to pursue arbitration.   The law firm…

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14 Aug 2015 Clarity from the 9th Circuit: The ADA Does Not Require Employer to Keep a Potentially Violent Employee

A recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms our faith in the federal courts on issues of workplace violence. In the case of Mayo v. PCC Structurals, Inc., the plaintiff/employee argued that he was a victim of disability discrimination under Oregon law after he was fired for threatening his co-workers. (The court notes Oregon’s disability law is similar to and similarly analyzed as the Americans with Disabilities Act.)   The employee had a history of major depressive disorder, and after making threats…

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13 Aug 2015 Employees May Soon Have Something To Lose In FLSA Lawsuits

The deck in Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuits has long been stacked against employers. Even if the employer wins at trial, its legal fees and costs will likely be hefty – six figures or more. And if the employer loses, it may have to pay double – or even triple – the plaintiffs’ actual damages and the plaintiffs’ costs and fees, on top of its own costs and fees.  It can feel like employees have nothing to lose and like employers are destined to “lose”…

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10 Aug 2015 “Blue-penciling” saves the day in noncompete cases – sometimes, but not always

In the sue-or-be-sued world of post-employment restrictive covenants, the outcome ultimately hinges on which side can convince a judge that it is entitled to have its way. To enforce, or not to enforce – that is the question that judges are called upon to decide.  And sometimes the answer is to enforce but with limitations.   A recent case from the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is a reminder that in some jurisdictions a judge can exercise discretion to narrow an overly broad covenant…

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31 Jul 2015 Challenge to NLRB “Ambush Election Rules” Fails

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has granted summary judgment in favor of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in a highly-publicized action brought by the Chamber of Commerce and a District of Columbia construction company challenging the unprecedented representation case procedures adopted by a split NLRB in 2014. Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, et. al. v. National Labor Relations Board, Civil Action No. 15-0009 (July 29, 2015). Commonly known in media reports…

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30 Jul 2015 The South May Rise Again Someday, But Not In Your Workplace

The recent debate over the South Carolina State House’s flying of the Confederate flag has stirred up a great deal of controversy. Most Americans believe the flag is a symbol of bigotry and oppression and demanded the immediate removal of the symbol of the Confederacy. A small vocal minority of Americans, however, have rallied around the Stars and Bars, claiming it stands not for racism, but instead for Southern heritage and pride. Many in this group of supporters, both in the South and around the…

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30 Jul 2015 Silencing the Lion King

By now you may have heard of Dr. Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist/hunter who has risen to global infamy for allegedly shooting Cecil the Lion. What you may not have heard is the recent revelation in the news that he was sued by a former employee for sexual harassment and that he settled out of court for $127,500. According to news reports, the good (or not so good depending on your point of view) doctor is reputed to have settled the case to resolve it…

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27 Jul 2015 Employee Can’t Count to 15 Under ADA Using Volunteers or Other Companies’ Employees

  One of the most significant ongoing type of employment issues is the treatment as employees of individuals the employer thought were not — interns are found to be entitled to back wages, nominal independent contractor status is repeatedly challenged in court and temporary agency workers are at risk of being treated as the customer’s employees as well.  Workers found to be employees are entitled to the protections of the various employment laws.   A secondary but sometimes equally important implication of employee status is…

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22 Jul 2015 Enhanced Discrimination Protections Potentially on the Horizon for Federal Employees

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill (H.R. 1557) that would afford additional anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation provisions to federal employees.  H.R. 1557, introduced in March of this year and titled the Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2015, amends the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002, placing stringent requirements upon federal agencies to be transparent and accountable when investigating and rectifying complaints of discrimination or retaliation. The bill passed by a landslide in the House of Representatives this week, with…

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21 Jul 2015 UPS’ Employment Policies Come Under Scrutiny, Again

Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a class action lawsuit against the United Parcel Service (UPS), claiming that the company had repeatedly failed to accommodate certain religious beliefs. Specifically, the complaint alleges that since 2004, UPS has refused to hire or promote certain individuals whose religious practices conflicted with the company’s dress code. Under UPS’ dress policy, male employees who either have a supervisory position or who have customer contact are not allowed wear beards or grow their hair below their collars….

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