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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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12 Feb 2015 The World Is Not Enough … But Maybe It’s Too Much for Noncompetes

While many companies agree with this James Bond family motto (taken from the epitaph of Alexander the Great) when it comes to noncompetes, such untethered restrictive covenants can be vulnerable to savvy plaintiffs (or their lawyers), as the Eighth Circuit recently reminded us in NanoMech, Inc. v. Suresh.   In NanoMech, the company specialized in nanotechnology products related to lubrication, energy, biomedical coatings, and strategic military applications. One is hard-pressed to think of technology more worthy of protection by a covenant not to compete. The…

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12 Feb 2015 Signing Section 2 of I-9 Forms Can Get You in Trouble!

  You believe your I-9s are in good order, you are confident that you are not employing unauthorized individuals and are not concerned about ICE audits because you are doing everything by-the-book. Or so you thought!   On Jan. 20, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review, Office of Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) in U.S. v. Employer Solutions Staffing Group II, LLC, upheld ICE’s finding and proposed assessment of $227,251.75 in fines for making a false attestation on Section 2…

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11 Feb 2015 Court Triples Time to Bring a Minnesota Whistleblower Claim

In the recently decided case Ford v. Minnesota Public Schools, the Minnesota Court of Appeals rebuffed long-standing precedent by holding that plaintiffs have six years to file a claim under Minnesota’s whistleblower statute. This decision effectively reversed Larson v. New Richland Center, a case that had been good law since 1995. Since Larson, and until Ford, courts had reasoned that because whistleblower claims constituted “torts resulting in personal injury,” they were subject to Minn. Stat. § 541.07(1)’s two-year statute of limitations.   The decision and…

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10 Feb 2015 The Tweet Heard Round the World

From the “I can’t say I blame him” or “I can’t take it anymore” column comes small business owner Robert Waple of Jet’s Pizza in Mansfield, Texas. He hired a teenager named “Cella” to work in his restaurant. Sadly, while the moon might hit your eye like a big pizza pie, she wasn’t in love with the job. The day before she was set to start, she tweeted her friends: “Ew I start this f*** a** job tomorrow.” Unlucky for her, one of Waple’s employees…

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10 Feb 2015 Minimum Wage Continues to Rise

  Effective at the beginning of 2105, the laws of 29 states and the District of Columbia require minimum wages in private employment that are higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Despite already requiring higher wages than the federal minimum wage, the majority of those states experienced an increase in the state-mandated minimum wage effective in 2015, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.   In four states, voters approved minimum wage increases through ballot measures in the 2014 general…

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09 Feb 2015 This Message Will Self Destruct in 10 Seconds: Snapchat, Confide and the Implications of Disappearing Content on Your Business

When I was a kid, I remember reading books in which people would write each other messages in disappearing ink so they could read them, but then the content would be lost on the rest of the world forever. At the time, this seemed like pure fantasy, but new technology has made this a reality.   The cool kids have been using Snapchat for a couple of years now. For the uninitiated, Snapchat is a social media app that allows users to send their friends…

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06 Feb 2015 EEOC Data Released for 2014 Shows Uptick in Retaliation Charges and Allows For State-By-State Comparison of Charge Activity

The EEOC has released its private sector data tables and a press release regarding enforcement data for fiscal year 2014. This data establishes that 42.8 percent of the 88,778 charges of workplace discrimination received by the agency alleged retaliation – an all-time high, despite there being an overall downtick in overall charge filing attributed to the government shutdown during the reporting period.   Through its enforcement efforts, and prior to litigation, the EEOC obtained more than $296 million in monetary relief, with more than $22…

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05 Feb 2015 Paid Sick Leave: Coming Soon to a City Near You?

President Obama reincarnated paid sick leave as a possible federal law right in his recent State of the Union address. “Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave,” Obama said. “It’s the right thing to do.” Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees of covered employers currently have rights to as much as twelve weeks of unpaid medical leave per year. In addition, thousands of employers of every size voluntarily provide some…

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04 Feb 2015 2014: Free Fallin’ EEOC Charges?

Earlier this morning, the EEOC released their charge filing statistics for 2014. For the fourth consecutive year, the number of EEOC charges has dropped – from 93,727 to 88,778. The chart below illustrates the decline and puts the numbers into perspective heading back to the good ol’ days of the 20th Century:     Does it feel like 2007? Well, that’s about where we stand with respect to the overall number of charges filed in the last year. The reason for the decline is unclear,…

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02 Feb 2015 7 Questions Employers Should Ask Themselves Every Year LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

This week Y is for year – a good guideline for the longest employers should go without asking themselves these questions to make sure they are taking advantage of opportunities to minimize employee-related liability:   Do you have accurate job descriptions, regularly signed off on by the employees, that will help you manage and defend ADA, wage and hour, and other employment issues and claims?   Have you reviewed each employee classified as exempt to ensure proper classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act, including…

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