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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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19 Jun 2014 Revisiting Judicial Approval of Fair Labor Standards Act Settlements

  Over the past few weeks, there have been a slew of reported decisions in which federal judges have struck down proposed settlements of Fair Labor Standards Act claims. As many employers familiar with the FLSA know, court approval has long been recognized as a prerequisite for settling FLSA claims. Typically, court approval is not a difficult process: by the time the parties seek out the court’s blessing, they already have hammered out most of the terms following arm’s length negotiations. In other words, all…

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16 Jun 2014 ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: COURT OKS “INFLEXIBLE” SIX MONTHS OF LEAVE

  Must an employer allow more than six months sick leave to an ill employee? In Hwang v. Kansas State University, a federal appeals court answered with a clear, “No.”   An assistant professor at Kansas State University was diagnosed with cancer and needed extended time off for treatment. The university granted the professor a six-month paid leave of absence, but it declined to extend her leave after a subsequent request for more time. The university cited its “inflexible” policy, which allowed no more than…

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10 Jun 2014 Illinois moves to ban criminal background questions from job applications

Private employers in Illinois with 15 or more employees will have to revamp their job applications to remove questions about criminal background history and postpone such inquiries to the job interview or conditional job offer stage of the hiring process under legislation that is expected to be signed into law by the governor.   The so-called “ban the box” measure, titled the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act will take effect January 1, 2015, if, as expected, Governor Pat Quinn approves it. The governor already…

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09 Jun 2014 ADA Requires Reasonable Accommodation, Not Employee’s Preferred Accommodation

  With the EEOC presently pushing an enforcement agenda focusing, in part, on claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is important to keep in mind an often-underutilized legal principle when facing a failure-to-accommodate claim:  the law requires only a reasonable accommodation, which is not necessarily the accommodation requested or preferred by the employee.   In the recent 7th Circuit decision in Bunn v. Khoury Enters, Inc., a legally blind Dairy Queen employee sued his employer for allegedly failing to accommodate his visual…

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04 Jun 2014 Apple Employees Survive Summary Judgment in FLSA Bag Check Class Action

  Last week, in Frlekin v. Apple Inc., the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied Apple’s motion for summary judgment in a Fair Labor Standards Act case filed by a class of its employees working in Apple Stores around the country. A class of current and former non-exempt specialists, managers, and Genius Bar employees claim Apple requires its hourly employees to undergo unpaid security checks each time they go off the clock for a meal break or at the end of…

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04 Jun 2014 Illinois legislature recognizes payroll cards as method of wage payment

  The Illinois legislature has passed House Bill 5622, which amends the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA) to expressly recognize payroll cards as a method of wage payment in Illinois. HB 5622 is currently awaiting signature by Governor Quinn.  Once signed, the new law will take effect on January 1, 2015.   At present, the IWPCA only expressly recognizes cash, check, or direct deposit as valid methods of wage payment in Illinois; the Act is silent regarding payroll cards.  Last year, however, the…

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03 Jun 2014 Pregnancy accommodations could soon be required in Illinois

  Illinois employers will be required to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees under new legislation that is awaiting action by the governor.   The Illinois legislature passed expansive amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act that, effective January 1, 2015, will allow employees to request reasonable accommodations in the workplace for medical and other common conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.   The changes will apply to employers of one or more employees, thus adding pregnancy to the existing Illinois Human Rights Act provision…

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02 Jun 2014 Employer Cannot Limit Solicitation of Unknown Future Customers, Court Says

  It is common for employers who have restrictive covenants with employees in those agreements to restrict the employees, after their departure, from soliciting company customers. A recent case gave one court’s answer to the question as to how broad that restriction can be. Specifically, West Memphis Steel & Pipe, Inc. restricted two employees from soliciting the companies “past, present or prospective future customers or clients.”  Two employees brought a lawsuit asking the court to determine prospectively that the restriction was overbroad and therefore unenforceable by…

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30 May 2014 FMLA Compliance – Will you be ready if the DOL comes knocking on your door?

  Well, there you are, opening the mail and what do you see?  A letter from the U.S. Department of Labor notifying you that an investigator will be dropping by on some date certain in the next two weeks to review your FMLA policy and the forms used for administering FMLA leave for your employees. Or, perhaps the letter is more specific in that it mentions a particular employee and requests a review of all documents related to that employee’s request for leave?  In either…

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30 May 2014 FMLA: What if things go better without you?

  The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent decision in Saulter v. Detroit Area Agency on Aging highlights a very common scenario – the employer decides that an employee is not necessary when the employee is on leave.  Leaving aside the obvious management question (Why it did it take the employee being on leave for you to figure that out?), of course it is unlawful under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and a host of state laws to…

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