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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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26 Feb 2018 Chicago says hands off the help – New law protects hotel workers from guest harassment

  Basic rules of etiquette and kindness should cover the workplace and extend to travel away from home – fundamentally, treat others as you would want to be treated if the situation were reversed.   And yet, some folks just can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves.  Thus, a law set to go into effect July 1 within the City of Chicago will provide “panic button” protection for hotel staff against harassment and assault by hotel guests.   Known as the “hands off, pants…

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23 Feb 2018 Wisconsin Supreme Court Splashes Cold-Water on the Enforceability of Non-Solicitation of Employee Covenants

  Wisconsin is one of the states which has a statute regarding the enforceability of restrictive covenants.  Under Wisconsin law, such a covenant is enforceable within a specific territory and for a specified time, but only if the restrictions imposed are reasonably necessary for the protection of the employer or principal (Wisconsin Statute § 103.465).   Wisconsin courts historically have applied the statute to all forms of employee limitations, including non-disclosure covenants.  See Tatge v. Chambers & Owen, Inc., 579 N.W.2d 217 (Wis. 1998).  In…

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20 Feb 2018 Sexual Harassment 2.1: Keep Up, We Are Moving Fast…

Last week I wrote a post elsewhere updating business people on the latest developments arising from the tsunami of high–profile harassment reports and allegations in recent months. The bottom line:  we have had relatively few changes so far (this aspect of this year’s federal tax law a notable exception), but it seems almost certain there will be. For literally decades employers could protect themselves from most harassment claims with a good policy (easy), appropriate training (pretty easy), and responding appropriately to complaints of harassment (not necessarily…

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14 Feb 2018 Sexual Harassment In The Non-Profit World

  Much of my time is spent advising non-profits on human resources issues, and the employment issues they face are typically no different than those faced by for-profit employers.  Non-profits are legally obligated to put in place a policy that prohibits unlawful harassment in the workplace, to promptly investigate workplace harassment claims, and to take prompt and effective remedial measures to remedy the alleged harassment.   This is true – in the non-profit workplace – regardless of whether the alleged harasser is a supervisor, coworker,…

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13 Feb 2018 California Court Determines Gig-Economy Drivers Are Independent Contractors

  In a ruling that will likely have a significant impact on all sharing economy companies, San Francisco U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled that gig-economy drivers are independent contractors.  In other words, platforms that are built on pairing customers with products and services through the use of mobile applications can continue to do so without having to reclassify their drivers as employees. The opinion holds that such workers do not qualify for the protections offered to employees under California law.   It was…

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12 Feb 2018 Rigorous RIF Process Defeats Discrimination Claims

  A recent federal trial court decision underscores the importance of the effective use of a rigorous reduction-in-force (RIF) selection process.   In Ameti v. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Sikorsky beat back multiple discrimination claims asserted by a former engineer selected as one of 17 of his peers in a reduction in force.  No. 3:14-cv-1223 (VLB) (U.S. Dist. Ct. Conn. February 6, 2018).  Sikorsky utilized an Employee Assessment Matrix to determine “the ability of the employee to perform under current and projected business conditions.”  The assessments…

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08 Feb 2018 Ohio Bill Protecting LGBTQ Rights Receives Widespread Support at Committee Hearing

  In October we detailed a new bill in the Ohio legislature aimed at banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. As an update, House Bill 160, dubbed the Ohio Fairness Act, is currently before Ohio’s House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee.   On January 31, 2018, the committee held a public hearing and provided an opportunity for proponent testimony. It was the first time in nine years that a bill protecting LGBTQ individuals was…

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30 Jan 2018 What’s the EEOC Up To These Days?

  Are you curious as to what the EEOC has been up to in the past year? The wait is over — in its 2017 Enforcement and Litigation Data released last week, the EEOC identified the volume and types of workplace discrimination charges keeping its staff busy during FY2017 (ending in September 2017). While FY2017 saw 84,254 charges coming through the EEOC’s doors, this figure is the lowest the EEOC has seen in 10 years, and reflects a nearly 8 percent drop in charges filed…

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22 Jan 2018 Immigration: Take Action Now on H-1B Applications – Changes on the Horizon

Authored by Mercedes Badia-Tavas, and Jeff Papa.   President Donald Trump’s executive order in April 2017 entitled “Buy American and Hire American” (BAHA) is leading to proposed regulatory changes by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which will affect U.S. employers intending to hire and sponsor qualified foreign nationals in specialty occupations for the H-1B visa.   Given these expected changes may occur with little advance notice, planning by human resource and legal departments at U.S. companies is key to maintaining lawful global talent in the U.S….

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22 Jan 2018 SCOTUS Declines to Consider Whether Tribal Courts Have Jurisdiction to Adjudicate Employment Claims

  The question of tribal jurisdiction arose when a group of current and former employees of two Arizona public school districts filed complaints with the Navajo Nation Labor Commission.   The districts operate schools on land leased from the Navajo Nation and most of the districts’ employees are members of that tribal nation. Among various complaints before the commission, the employees alleged that the districts owed them merit pay under Arizona law and others alleged that the districts violated their rights under the Navajo Preference…

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