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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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20 Sep 2017 Pregnancy Discrimination Act Requires Employers to Accommodate Breastfeeding Employees

  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently affirmed a district court decision in favor of a police officer who argued that her employer failed to accommodate her so she could breastfeed.   In Hicks v. City of Tuscaloosa, officer Hicks requested an alternative duty upon her return from maternity leave. Normally, she was required to wear a bulletproof vest, but her doctor said that wearing the vest could cause infection and prevent her from breastfeeding. Hicks requested a duty that would…

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12 Sep 2017 California Dreaming: Court Upholds Restrictions in Employment Agreement, Bars Use of Confidential Information

  As most multi-state employers already know, California is inimical to employer-employee non-compete agreements; indeed, the state even has a statute saying as much. Consequently, many employers tend to surrender before imposing any restrictions on departing workers in California. But, there’s hope. A recent decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Fidelity Brokerage Services, LLC v. Brett Rocine, Case No. 17-cv-4993-PJH) provides some solace for businesses trying to fend off competition from faithless employees in the Golden State.   The…

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11 Sep 2017 U.S. Supreme Court is Asked to Answer the Question: What Do You Mean by ‘Sex’?

  We knew this question would be asked. On Sept. 7, a petition was filed in this country’s highest court, asking it to settle the ongoing debate of whether Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination includes discrimination based on sexual orientation.   The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit case, Jameka K. Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, et al., involves a gay female security guard at a Georgia hospital who was allegedly harassed and not promoted because of her sexual orientation. She sued the hospital…

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11 Sep 2017 Employment Authorization Issues Related to DACA Rescission

  Alert Overview: On Sept. 5, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security began an “orderly wind down” of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA, and a related program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), were created by executive order of President Barack Obama in 2012. As the result of a lawsuit brought by several states against the DAPA program, DAPA was rescinded after courts determined that legal and constitutional problems existed with the program.   In June 2017, several states informed the U.S. Attorney…

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31 Aug 2017 Lessons Learned: As Flu Shot Season Approaches, Inflexible Rules Can Cause Accommodation Headaches

  It’s the end of summer. Our children are returning to school, the evenings are turning a bit cool and hospitals are educating their workforces on mandatory flu vaccination programs.   Each year at about this time, we look to recent court decisions for guidance on how best to balance a hospital’s interest in protecting its patients (among other things) with a healthcare worker’s sincerely held religious belief that conflicts with the hospital’s requirement that its employees  get the flu vaccine.   Last summer, I…

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30 Aug 2017 OMB Immediately Stays Revised EEO-1 Form, Including Pay Data Collection

  In a move that affects every U.S. business with 100 or more employees (and federal contractors with 50 or more employees), the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has leveraged the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) to direct the EEOC to immediately stay the effectiveness of the EEO-1 form issued Sept. 29, 2016, that included new data requests for wages and hours worked.   For fiscal year 2017, businesses will use the previously approved EEO-1 form to comply with reporting obligations that track race/ethnicity…

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29 Aug 2017 Illinois Governor Vetoes Employment Bills Aimed at Salary History Inquiries, Wage Issues

  Legislation in Illinois that would have outlawed employers from seeking job applicants’ compensation history has failed to become law, following Gov. Bruce Rauner’s recent veto.   The bill would have amended the Illinois Equal Pay Act and was aimed at the practice of seeking job applicants’ compensation history during the hiring process, which equal pay advocates contended has the effect of perpetuating the salary differences between male and female employees that may have been the result of past discriminatory practices. The proposed changes to…

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25 Aug 2017 Get a Room! Rethink Conducting Employee Reviews Over Lunch

  The other day while visiting my dentist, the oral hygienist told me about her prior job, where her supervisor took her out to lunch to discuss her performance review – and frequently did the same with other employees. She thought this was great, especially since the supervisor had a penchant for really good, high-priced seafood.   While that all sounds tasty, one has to question how effective a performance review can be when attempting to crack open crab legs. This brings me back to…

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24 Aug 2017 Massachusetts Law Latest to Bolster Protection for Pregnant Employees

  On July 27, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which amends the state’s antidiscrimination law to include pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, such as breastfeeding, as protected classes. The new law, which goes into effect on April 1, 2018, also requires employers to provide pregnant employees and new mothers with reasonable accommodations unless such accommodations would cause the employer undue hardship.   Potential accommodations identified in the statute include: more frequent or longer breaks paid or unpaid leave to recover from…

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22 Aug 2017 Ohio House Proposes Hurdles to Hiring Process

  The Ohio House has proposed a bill designed to protect the privacy of employment applicants, but the bill also could making hiring more cumbersome for employers.   House Bill 187 provides that no employer may request an applicant’s Social Security number, date of birth, or driver’s license number before making an offer of employment. This language is problematic for employers, because these are pieces of information an employer uses to check criminal records, driving history, credit history, and history of previous employment with the…

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