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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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29 May 2014 The Devil’s in the Details – Make Sure Your Agreements Mirror Your Intentions

In an unpublished decision issued this month, U.S. ex rel. Paige, et al. v. BAE Systems Tech. Solutions & Servs., Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of two whistleblowers’ False Claims Act (“FCA”) retaliatory discharge claims, while issuing a warning to employers that the meticulous crafting of arbitration provisions within employment agreements is critical to enforcement.   The Relators in this case were former employees of BAE Systems who had alleged they had complained of purported…

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28 May 2014 No, it’s Not Groundhog Day – another state raises its minimum wage

  Yesterday, we reported on this blog that Hawaii had recently enacted legislation to raise its minimum wage to $10.10 per hour on an incremental basis. Hawaii was just one of several states that have adopted increases to its minimum wage in recent months. Well, here we go again. No, it’s not Groundhog Day, but it sure feels like it. Late yesterday, the Michigan legislature passed a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage and the Governor quickly signed it last night. The new law…

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28 May 2014 Nebraska Decision Reminds: Sometimes There Is No Substitute for a Noncompete

  Here is a very human version of a legal story. In short, an employee left her company (First Express), an Omaha company that sells crop insurance, and took a number of customers with her. At the end of the day, First Express did get some relief against its former employee because of the employee’s breach of a contract, but the Nebraska Supreme Court found that the former employer’s customer lists were not trade secrets. Why? The Court held that most of the information on…

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27 May 2014 Another State Increasing Its Minimum Wage

  On May 23, 2014, Hawaii became the third state in the country to enact legislation that will incrementally increase its minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Connecticut and Maryland adopted similar legislation. Twenty-one other states and the District of Columbia currently have minimum wage laws that are above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.   Under the law, Hawaii will incrementally increase the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 by January 2018.  Employers of tipped workers also will be eligible…

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23 May 2014 Working Through Lunch: An Update on the Legal Risks

  Regular readers of this blog know that we’ve previously alerted you to the risks of using timekeeping software that automatically deducts the lunch hour from employees’ paychecks.  As we’ve explained before, such software can expose employers to liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act because, for one reason or another, employees sometimes work through lunch. And, even if an employer has a system in place for employees to request pay for lunchtime work, that is no “get out of jail free card,” because employees…

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22 May 2014 A California Cautionary Tale against Settlements that are Silent on Costs

  In a recent opinion, a California Court of Appeal held that a settlement payment constituted a “net monetary recovery” under California Code of Civil Procedure section 1032, making the plaintiff the prevailing party entitled to mandatory costs. The case of Desaulles v. Community Hosp. of Monterey Penninsula, Cal. App. 2d No. B244832 (2014) (“Desaulles”), ended without a trial on the merits, and while the employer did not obtain a favorable dismissal, it did obtain a judgment denying the employee relief.  In order to obtain…

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20 May 2014 EEOC Files ADA Claim Against Employer Due To “No Fault” Attendance Policy

  On May 9, 2014, the EEOC filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against AutoZone Inc. for discrimination, retaliation and failure to accommodate under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The EEOC recently issued a press release discussing this lawsuit. The EEOC alleges that AutoZone had a “no fault’ attendance policy under which employees received points for absences, even if those absences occurred for reasons relating to disabilities. The EEOC also alleges that AutoZone failed to accommodate an…

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19 May 2014 UNPAID INTERNS STRIKE AGAIN – CLASS OF 3000 EX-WARNER INTERNS APPROVED FOR WAGE AND HOUR CASE

  As we have covered in posts beginning last July, there has been a rash of lawsuits filed on behalf of unpaid interns suing their former companies for unpaid minimum wages and overtime.  This has resulted in a variety of conflicting opinions regarding whether these cases are appropriate for class certification or not.  Two of these cases have been appealed to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.  The 2nd Circuit will decide the issue whether interns are “employees” under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act…

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19 May 2014 Lessons from the Big Apple

  Last Wednesday’s announcement that The New York Times had abruptly fired its first female executive editor, Jill Abramson, outraged feminists and journalists, fueling debate about equal pay, sexism and double-standards. Regardless of Abramson’s conduct or the Times’s reasons for short-circuiting Abramson’s tenure, this high-profile drama has created a teachable moment for employers.   To briefly summarize, The New Yorker published a now-disputed account that the Times had conceded “Abramson’s decision to hire lawyers to protest her salary ‘was a contributing factor’ to her termination, because…

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14 May 2014 Federal Trade Secrets Act: As Big As It Sounds? (And What About Noncompetes?)

  As many readers will be aware, Senators Coons and Hatch recently introduced the Defend Trade Secrets Act, which would create a federal trade secrets law allowing parties aggrieved by the misappropriation of trade secrets (such as former employers!) to bring private actions in federal court.  Right now, former employers seeking to address trade secret misappropriation are governed by state laws, which – in the case of 48 states, some version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.   So why the big news in various…

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