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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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04 Aug 2014 Federal Appellate Court Rules That Arbitration of Class Action Claims Is An Issue For Courts And Not Arbitrators To Decide

  One of the difficulties associated with alternative dispute resolution procedures, and particularly binding arbitration, is that the process occasionally can become bogged down by questions of procedure: instead of battling over the merits of the dispute itself, the parties spend considerable time and resources on where the dispute should be resolved (in court or in front of an arbitrator). This can be even more taxing when the question is over who gets to decide the issue of whether the claim should be arbitrated (the…

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01 Aug 2014 Employee Evaluation Practices Under Scrutiny LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

Recent weeks have seen employee evaluation practices in the news several times. For example, following an investigation into its employee review system, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced in May of this year that it would completely eliminate performance ratings previously assigned to some employees. In addition, the Bureau decided to assign high performance ratings to employees who received certain lower ratings in the past two years and to provide pay raises to those employees.   The Bureau had come under fire due to…

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31 Jul 2014 An Employer’s Liability Under The FLSA Can Be High

  Timekeeping software that automatically deducts meal break time from employee paychecks can be problematic for employers. This is because employees sometimes work through their meal breaks, and that exposes employers to liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act (the FLSA). The FLSA requires employers to pay employees for all of the time that the spend working – including the time that they spend working through their meal breaks.   We’ve mentioned all of this before. What we haven’t mentioned previously is how quickly the…

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30 Jul 2014 FMLA – Have you made a proper request for medical certification?

Having a comprehensive and compliant FMLA policy is important, but if you neglect to provide the required notice(s) to an employee who requests FMLA leave you could find yourself before a jury of your peers. Indeed, a recent decision by the federal court in Detroit, Barker v. Genesys Pho LLC (E.D. Mich. July 24, 2014), reminds us that implementing a good FMLA policy will do you no good if you don’t follow the FMLA notice requirements.   In Barker, the Court held that a jury…

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25 Jul 2014 Donning & Doffing: Old Is New Again LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  Our Letter of the Law series is focused on current employment law developments, and donning and doffing wage disputes are anything but “new” to the courts.  The U.S. Supreme Court and Congress were dealing with donning and doffing work clothing and equipment in the 1940s.  (Perhaps that is obvious given that nobody really says “donning” or “doffing” in recent years other than in this context.)   But donning and doffing, and when employees must be paid for getting dressed for work, continues as an…

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25 Jul 2014 Illinois Governor Signs Law Banning Criminal Background Questions from Job Applications

  Illinois employers should review their job applications and hiring policies to ensure they comply with a new Illinois law, effective January 1, 2015, that will prohibit questions about criminal history at the initial application stage.   Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act into law. The Act prohibits covered private employers with fifteen or more employees and employment agencies from inquiring about or into, considering, or requiring disclosure of an applicant’s criminal history, until an applicant: (1) has…

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23 Jul 2014 U.S. Supreme Court to hear pregnancy accommodation case in its fall term

  Must employers that provide work accommodations to non-pregnant employees with work limitations also provide work accommodations to pregnant employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work?   That is a question that the U.S. Supreme Court justices have decided they will consider in their next term,  agreeing to take up the case of Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc. The issue is whether the federal  Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. §2000e(k) requires accommodations for pregnant workers such as “light duty” or…

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22 Jul 2014 To Accommodate or Not Accommodate? – A Complex Question Facing Employers Under the ADAAA

  Employers constantly find themselves in the following situation: employee tells you that he or she cannot perform certain job tasks because of a medical condition, or presents a note from his/her doctor identifying certain work restrictions. The employee insists he or she can work; you just need to modify the employee’s job in some way in order to allow them to continue working. Situations like this are commonplace in today’s work environment and determining your legal obligations can be quite daunting. Well, lucky for…

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21 Jul 2014 NLRB Declines to Appeal Class Action Waivers to Supreme Court: What Does it Mean for Employers?

  On July 15, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) let its deadline to seek Supreme Court review of the Fifth’s Circuit decision (D.R. Horton v. NLRB) upholding class action waivers in mandatory arbitration agreements lapse without taking any action. The key question: What does this mean for employers? The answer: Unfortunately, not much.   While some so-called “experts” and prognosticators have speculated that perhaps this turn of events signals that the NLRB is starting to come around on class action waivers, count…

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18 Jul 2014 Collective and Class Actions: Interns, Assistant Managers – and their Lawyers! LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  While working through an alphabet of employment issues is not an exact science, the letter C must belong to collective and class actions. Collective and class actions in the employment arena are a longer term trend where a group of people with allegedly common legal issues can come together in a single action.   Often these actions involve very small alleged wrongs – ever receive a check for a few bucks in the mail because you, without lifting a finger, were part of a…

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