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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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30 Jan 2015 Supervisor’s Statement Precludes Summary Judgment

Business jargon permeates the workplace. For many of us, not a day goes by without hearing phrases such as: “hit the ground running,” “Let’s take this offline,” “paradigm shift,” “lots of moving parts,” “tenure,” etc. Some business lingo, however, may have the potential to cause trouble down the line.   A recent age discrimination case out of Louisiana illustrates this point perfectly. In this case, a manager allegedly made numerous references to hiring “new blood” for the workforce. The federal court ultimately denied the employer’s…

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30 Jan 2015 Are You Relying on Electronic Signatures for Employment Documents?

The California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, in Ruiz v. Moss Bros. Auto Group, Inc., recently affirmed an order denying a petition to compel arbitration where the employer failed to present sufficient evidence that the employee electronically signed an arbitration agreement. In Ruiz, Plaintiff Ernesto Ruiz filed a putative class action complaint alleging various wage and hour violations by his employer, Moss Bros. The company filed a petition to compel arbitration of Mr. Ruiz’s individual claims based on an arbitration agreement the Company claimed he electronically…

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29 Jan 2015 Not So Fast: Parties Cannot Impose Confidentiality Restrictions on Judicially Approved FLSA Settlements

Most employers are familiar with the procedure for resolving complaints filed by employees: draft a settlement agreement, sign off and then file a notice or stipulation formally dismissing the case with the court. Typically, the settlement agreement includes familiar terms, such as a release of all claims and some kind of promise to keep quiet about the settlement.   But, FLSA cases are a different animal. These cases normally require a judge to sign off on settlement terms. Conceptually, this sounds easy enough; all of…

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26 Jan 2015 X-Rays Shipped Out of State Help Employee Keep Issue of FLSA Coverage Alive LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

We have been working through the alphabet with employment law topics and the dreaded X week has arrived, but fortunately there is a 2014 FLSA case involving X-rays that demonstrates the difficulty for an employer of defeating FLSA coverage. In Gashlin v. International Clinic Research, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida denied the employer’s motion for summary judgment asserting that Wendy Gashlin was not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Ms. Gashlin, a clinical research employee, claimed she worked more…

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23 Jan 2015 Supreme Court Leaves California’s Carve-Out for PAGA Wage-and-Hour Representative Actions Intact

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied certification of a petition challenging the California Supreme Court’s ruling in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal. 4th 348 (2014) that representative Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims cannot be waived in employment arbitration agreements. As a result, California’s carve-out exempting PAGA claims from arbitration agreements remains intact, and employees can continue to bring PAGA representative actions even if they have signed arbitration agreements with class and representative action waivers. California employers should brace for the…

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23 Jan 2015 Man Claiming Hand Scanning Time Clock Causes “Mark of the Beast” Wins Religious Discrimination Suit

Last week, a federal jury in West Virginia found in favor of a plaintiff claiming that his coal mining employer discriminated against him based on his religious beliefs by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation for his religious objection to the company’s use of a biometric hand-scanning time clock. The plaintiff was an evangelical Christian who believed that the use of the hand scanner was discussed in the Book of Revelation in the Bible when it described the Antichrist as causing all to have a…

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22 Jan 2015 Supreme Court Agrees To Review Same-Sex Marriage Bans

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether state law bans against same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee are unconstitutional. This has been a long-awaited by both sides of this debate and will finally resolve this controversial and hard-fought civil rights battle.   The Supreme Court’s decision to review the Sixth Circuit’s order upholding the state law bans on same-sex marriage was expected as it created a conflict with four other circuit court decisions. The Fourth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth circuits have…

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20 Jan 2015 Words That Signal Opportunities to Avoid Liability LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

One of the themes in my posts and on Currents generally is not missing out on easy liability avoidance opportunities. I want to make a stronger statement than the employment lawyer’s usual, “Hey if you do X and Y, you can minimize employee liability,” though certainly that is true and valuable. Rather: EMPLOYERS MISS OUT ON EASY LIABILITY AVOIDANCE OPPORTUNITIES, thereby diverting time, money and energy from building their organization and bettering their goods and services. Here and here are recent examples. These are lost…

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20 Jan 2015 Be Careful What They Wish For

Effectively confirming the worst Sixth Circuit employment law decision of 2014 (maybe ever?), the United States Supreme Court let stand a ruling that an employee who asks for a job transfer, then gets that job transfer and works in that new position for 10 months, can nonetheless still claim that the transfer constituted an adverse employment action in support of his claim of discrimination.   After 25 years with the Kalamazoo County Road Commission, Robert Deleon applied for an open job as an equipment and…

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16 Jan 2015 Will the EEOC Get its Wings Clipped? Mach Mining’s Challenge to the EEOC before the Supreme Court

  On Jan. 13, during oral argument, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia echoed businesses’ skepticism about the EEOC’s pre-suit settlement strategy, saying  “there is considerable incentive on the EEOC to fail in conciliation so that it can bring a big­deal lawsuit and get a lot of press and put a lot of pressure on this employer and on other employers. There are real incentives to have conciliation fail.”   Justice Scalia made his comments in the case of Mach Mining L.L.C. v. Equal Employment…

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