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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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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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