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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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11 Dec 2014 Unanimous Supreme Court Denies Compensation for Time Spent in Security Checks

On Dec. 9, 2014, U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require an employer to pay its employees for time spent undergoing security screenings at the end of their shifts. Justice Thomas wrote the Court’s opinion in Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, with Justice Sotomayor filing a concurring opinion which Justice Kagan joined. Barnes & Thornburg has issued an Employment Alert on this case which can be found here.  This case has been closely watched…

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05 Dec 2014 The Employer Mandate Is Almost Here. Is Your Company Ready?

In less than a month from now, all employers in the United States that employ more than 100 full-time equivalent employees will need to offer affordable coverage to their employees or risk potential fines under the Affordable Care Act.   While employers already should be geared up to address these issues, below is a primer for those employers who have procrastinated or have opted to stick their heads in the sand hoping in vain that this will just go away:   The deadline for large…

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01 Dec 2014 ADA: Does “Regarded As” Still Matter? LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  One of the things that makes the Americans with Disabilities Act distinctive among discrimination laws is its “regarded as” prong.  It protects not only people who in fact are disabled from discrimination, but also people who are regarded as disabled. R is for “regarded as” and what it means for most employers and employees in 2014.   While the question of what conduct is “because of” sex and therefore covered by Title VII’s sex discrimination prohibition is a hot topic and somewhat analogous, generally…

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26 Nov 2014 Can you be fired for doing “The Chicken Dance” at work?

It is challenging to find a blog idea involving employment law and turkey (search engines come up with articles on the employment laws of Turkey).  So our labor law lesson of the day involves chicken instead, and comes from Sydney, Australia, where you can’t be fired, it seems, for an allegedly intimidating workplace performance of “The Chicken Dance.”   The employer, Harbour City Ferries, discharged a 51-year-old male employee and cited as one of its reasons that he had performed “The Chicken Dance” as an…

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24 Nov 2014 Decision Bears A Close Look on Application of Quid Pro Quo Harassment LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

Many readers will have a general sense that there is a difference between quid pro quo and hostile work environment (HWE) harassment.  HWE is (fortunately, I suppose, in some relative sense) the more common form of harassment, and an employer can often avoid liability if it has taken sufficient steps to manage harassment in the workplace.  Quid pro quo comes up less frequently, and is the conditioning of employment benefits such as a promotion, raise, or even continued employee on the submission to a managerial…

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20 Nov 2014 Yikes!! AutoZone Hammered with Record $185 Million Dollar Punitive Damages Jury Verdict

A federal jury – not surprisingly from California – recently issued a whopping $185M ($185,000,000) punitive damages verdict in a single-employee gender discrimination case, believed to be a record award. The plaintiff also received over $872k in compensatory damages for front pay, back pay and emotional distress. The case is entitled Juarez v. AutoZone (Case No. 3:08-cv-00417), and currently sits in the Southern District of California.   Ms. Juarez, who originally filed the suit in 2008, claimed that AutoZone imposed a glass ceiling on women…

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19 Nov 2014 Don’t Disregard Your Employees’ Rights, Even If They’re Strippers

On Nov. 14, a New York federal judge granted summary judgment and awarded $10,866,035.00 to a class of exotic dancers from Rick’s Cabaret after finding that the gentlemen’s club had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law. The court previously found that Rick’s Cabaret had impermissibly classified its dancers as independent contractors instead of employees to skirt minimum wage laws. In fact, the plaintiffs should have been classified as employees based on the control Rick’s Cabaret exercised over them. The…

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18 Nov 2014 The EEOC Sues Yet Another Employer for Allegedly Violating the ADA With Its Inflexible Leave Policy

The EEOC’s position is clear. The ADA requires employers to incorporate flexibility into their leave of absence policies or face the consequences. In late September, we were reminded of this yet again when the EEOC sued a Chicago-area manufacturer for capping the amount of leave provided to employees, without considering whether a reasonable accommodation may exist for each employee. In this latest suit against Doumak, Inc., the EEOC alleged that an employer and its employees’ respective union had violated the ADA by placing a cap…

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17 Nov 2014 3 Key P’s for Minimizing Liability for Employee Health Issues LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

We often remind employers here about the importance of not rushing into adverse employment actions against employees with health issues. For example, see “Play It Safe” I, II and III from earlier this year.  In my opinion, employers who play the game right can get one of the following good results a high percentage of the time:   Employ a dedicated employee in a way that maximizes her abilities and benefits the company. Work an employee who really doesn’t want to maximize her abilities out of…

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17 Nov 2014 Even If The Employee Didn’t See or Know About Harassing Behavior, Court Allows Evidence

In a sexual harassment suit, a U.S. District Court Judge will permit evidence of harassing behavior even though the plaintiff employee neither directly saw nor knew about such conduct. The court found that if the employee learned about the conduct while she still worked for the company, then such evidence may be relevant to whether the plaintiff experienced a hostile work environment.  Additionally, the court held that if such conduct was readily known, then the employer had “constructive notice” of the bad behavior, thereby triggering…

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