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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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23 Mar 2015 3 Types of Associational Discrimination Claims

Most employers (we hope) are well aware that the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against “qualified individuals with a disability.” Nevertheless, many employers may not realize that the ADA also protects applicants and employees from discrimination based on their relationship or association with an individual who has a disabling condition. Generally speaking, there are three types of associational discrimination claims:   “Expense” discrimination Employer fears that association with disabled person will be costly to the employer.   “Disability by association” A relationship with a…

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20 Mar 2015 It’s That Time of Year Again and So Has Begun the Madness of Lost Productivity

  It is that time of year again when traffic to work becomes lighter and the commute easier. It is also that time when, as predictable as ever, there is a sudden surge of “sick” employees at this time. The cause of your employees’ collective “illness”? A little too much basketball.   According to a recent Yahoo Sports Poll, approximately 14 percent of employees will call in sick for the first two days of this annual tradition of college basketball playoffs. For those employees who…

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20 Mar 2015 Non-Union Employers Beware – The NLRB May Come Knocking On Your Door

  In recent years, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has taken a very aggressive stance on policies or work rules contained in employee handbooks. While the stance has been aggressive, it has also sent mixed messages to the employer community because policies that employers may have used for decades to protect their interests and employee privacy are suddenly being stricken down by the NLRB. And whether a policy or work rule is legally sound or may violate the National Labor Relations Act often comes…

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17 Mar 2015 A Single “Heil Hitler” Not Hostile Enough, Says the Fifth Circuit

No reasonable employee could believe that a single “Heil Hitler” creates a hostile work environment. Or at least that’s what the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently determined in its March 3, 2015, decision Satterwhite v. City of Houston. In Satterwhite, Courtney Satterwhite, an employee for the City of Houston, reported his co-worker Harry Singh for allegedly using the phrase “Heil Hitler” during a meeting. After later becoming Satterwhite’s supervisor, Singh recommended that Satterwhite be demoted and the City ultimately agreed. Following his demotion, Satterwhite…

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16 Mar 2015 Class Action Against Uber Another Reminder to Employers on Employee Data Protection

With this post I am going to start a series focusing on higher stakes employment issues, the cases and crises that put the most on the line for employers. For smaller and medium sized companies, the very existence of the company may even be at stake. We will look at recent developments and identify proactive steps that readers can and should take to minimize the likelihood of becoming one of those headlines.   One obvious example of such a case is a class or collective…

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13 Mar 2015 Lyft is Facing the Ride of Its Life

  Earlier this week, a California federal judge reasoned the test in the state’s court by determining a jury must decide whether Lyft drivers are independent contractors or if they should get the same benefits as full-fledged employees in the state of California.   In September 2014, driver Patrick Cotter brought suit against Lyft, known for its cars adorned with pink mustaches. Lyft, like Uber, fashions itself as an economical app based rideshare program — meaning it does not directly employ drivers, but rather helps…

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09 Mar 2015 More EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch: Why No Disability Accommodation Angle?

As Jeanine Gozdecki posted here, the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in the case involving the scope of an employer’s obligation, if any, to initiate religious accommodation discussions with an applicant who was wearing clothing that would violate the company’s apparel policy but that would seem to be being worn for religious purposes. The federal court of appeals that heard the case seemed to say the company had no affirmative obligation, it had not discriminated if the applicant did not raise the issue….

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09 Mar 2015 Saks Settles Controversial Transgender Discrimination Case

As a reminder to employers that the threat of transgender discrimination lawsuits is alive and well, Saks & Company recently settled a controversial claim of discrimination where a former salesperson claimed she had been harassed and retaliated against on the basis of her transgender identity.  Saks previously argued in a Motion to Dismiss that transgender individuals were not covered by Title VII, which then sparked outrage from gender rights activists as well as both state and federal regulators.  As we have previously noted in a…

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03 Mar 2015 EEOC’s Targeted Attack of Inflexible Leave Policies Under the ADA

Last November, I wrote a blog about a pattern of ADA lawsuits filed by the EEOC challenging what it sees as inflexible leave policies. Well, just like that song by a former famous pop singer – Oops, I did it again – or however it goes, we find another employer who has landed on the receiving end of an EEOC lawsuit for allegedly maintaining an inflexible leave policy. Whether it’s a bit of irony or a purposeful attempt by the agency to raise its profile…

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26 Feb 2015 Who Knew? U.S. Supreme Court Justices Offer Employment Tips

It was Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor who offered the first tip: “So why can’t the employer just simply say, ‘We have a Look Policy that doesn’t permit beards? Can you comply with that policy?’”   Justice Samuel Alito refined the suggestion; instead of asking whether an applicant can comply, he said, “Just say ‘Do you have any problem with that?’”   These surprisingly practical strategies might be the best take-away from the legal battle of EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, the case where dress…

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