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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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09 Jan 2015 On Break, But Still on Call: “On Call” Rest Breaks are Permissible Under California Law

On Dec. 31, 2014, the California Court of Appeal, Second District reversed a $94 million judgment in a wage-and-hour class action against ABM Industries Incorporated (ABM) in Augustus et al. v. ABM Security Services Inc.  The judgment was initially granted by a California trial court in 2012. ABM appealed the damages award, which was granted on summary judgment in a set of consolidated class actions alleging ABM’s policy of requiring security guards to carry a radio during their breaks effectively put them “on call” during…

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07 Jan 2015 The Interns Strike Back: An Update – Court Approves $5.85 Million Conde Nast Settlement, While Appeals Remain Pending in Other Cases

Major magazine publisher Conde Nast closed out the year with preliminary court approval of its $5.85 million settlement of a lawsuit that alleged that thousands of  individuals should have been paid at least the minimum wage for time they spent as interns for magazines such as The New Yorker.  The settlement is expected to cover more than 7,000 former interns. Thus, the parties are able to resolve their dispute without additional time, expense and uncertainty of litigation. The settlement, which will be subject to a…

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05 Jan 2015 California Class Action an Occasion for All Employers to Review Vacation Practices LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

Many employers will have noted the decision last month where a federal court in California held that approximately 65,000 class members could maintain a class action against J.C. Penney’s under California law. That lawsuit challenges the company’s policy that employees forfeit accrued vacation benefits on termination. The issue in this decision was whether the plaintiffs met the commonality tests that allow a matter to be advanced as a class action rather than as a series of individual actions – individual actions that likely would not…

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29 Dec 2014 The Year in Social Media: Four Big Developments from 2014

As social networking has become entrenched as a tool for doing business and not just a pastime of our social lives, employers, government agencies, and even academia have taken big steps in 2014 to define how social media can and cannot, or should and should not, be used. Below is a summary of some of the big developments in social media in the workplace this year.   The EEOC Turns Its Attention to Social Media The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has turned its attention toward…

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29 Dec 2014 THREE MOST UNDERUTILIZED EMPLOYMENT LIABILITY PREVENTION TOOLS LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

This week U is for under utilized – the readily available liability prevention tools that, in our estimation, employers most often neglect to use to their advantage.   The extra step.  Before terminating an employee with a medical issue, that is. As we have written here and here, much FMLA and ADA liability is preventable if you will methodically work through the communications steps that years of case law tells us courts are looking for. The sooner you start, the sooner you can finish. I…

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23 Dec 2014 Avoid Going From Ho! Ho! Ho! To Oh No! No! No!

The employer throws a holiday party as a chance for its employees to interact with one another on a more social level, have an opportunity to get to know significant others and reward the team for a year of hard work. Unfortunately, this holiday celebration mixed with alcohol and far less formal interaction between colleagues can lead to both employers and employees doing a collective post-party shout of “Oh No!”   For whatever reason, there seems to be a loss of good sense and responsibility…

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22 Dec 2014 Five Things to Know About Trade Secrets LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

This week’s letter T is for trade secrets, and five things every employer should know about them.   Nearly everybody has them. As I wrote here, if there is information you would not want your competitor to have, you should at least be talking to your lawyer about whether they may be trade secrets and, if so, what do you need to do to protect them.   The key point of trade secret law is that, in order to have the legal protections of a…

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22 Dec 2014 Prior Protected Activity Did Not Immunize Employee from Later Bad Acts

An employee who breaks company policies may be disciplined even though that employee previously engaged in protected activity. This proposition may sound uncontroversial, but some bad-acting employees do try and shield themselves from discipline by pointing to earlier instances of protected activity. They may argue that subsequent discipline, while ostensibly based on legitimate reasons, is in fact retaliatory. Some employees may strategically engage in so-called protected activity solely for the purpose of preempting discipline they see coming. In Musolf v. J.C. Penney Co., a case…

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19 Dec 2014 Legalized Loophole – Is Legalized Marijuana Truly “Lawful?”

On Sept. 30, 2014, the Colorado Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Coats v. Dish Network, a wrongful termination case centered on use of medical marijuana. In 2000, Colorado passed a law permitting medical marijuana and legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012, but the drug is still prohibited under federal law.   Dish Network LLC fired Plaintiff Brandon Coats after he tested positive for the active ingredient in marijuana. Mr. Coats was aware Dish Network had a zero tolerance policy for prohibited substances, including…

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18 Dec 2014 Retailers, Janitorial Firms and Security Services Need to Learn About San Francisco’s New “Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights”

California retail establishments with operations in San Francisco should prepare to comply with the new “Predictable Scheduling and Fair Treatment for Formula Retail Employees Ordinance” law, dubbed the “Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights” by its proponents. This new law, which is the first of its kind in the United States, applies to “formula retail establishments” and their contractors, and requires them to provide employees with advance notice of work schedules, compensation for last-minute schedule changes and on-call shifts, and equal treatment of part-time and full-time…

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