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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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01 Sep 2015 Comment Period for Controversial Overtime Rule Closes Soon

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will not extend the comment period for its controversial proposed Overtime Rule, which was formally published on July 6, 2015. As a result, the comment period will close Friday, Sept. 4, 2015. Comments can be submitted on the proposed Overtime Rule at www.regulations.gov.   The proposed Overtime Rule sparked controversy as it would extend overtime protections to persons currently falling within the exempt status definition under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Currently, to qualify as exempt from the…

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01 Sep 2015 Hiring Advertisements May Help Avoid Claims Under the ADA

Employers should carefully consider what their hiring advertisements say and include language regarding the essential functions of the positions for which they are hiring; such wording may assist in a discrimination claim.  In Kilcrease v. Domenico Transp. Co., Court No. 13-cv-03193-WYD-MJW (D. Colo. Aug. 28, 2015), the employer successfully defended claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended and such success was based, in large part, upon the company’s job advertisement which clearly outlined the essential functions of the position.   Mark Kilcrease…

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01 Sep 2015 Employer Changes Mind, Denies Accommodation to Deaf Applicant, Heads to Jury

A federal appellate court ruled that an employer that rescinded an offer of employment to a deaf applicant for a position monitoring plasma donors does not get summary judgment on the applicant’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) failure to accommodate claim, and the case should proceed to a jury.  The court found the applicant presented two potential accommodations that would overcome her inability to hear audible alarms from donors the reasonableness of which must be determined by a jury – (1) installing visual or vibrating…

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