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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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10 Feb 2015 The Tweet Heard Round the World

From the “I can’t say I blame him” or “I can’t take it anymore” column comes small business owner Robert Waple of Jet’s Pizza in Mansfield, Texas. He hired a teenager named “Cella” to work in his restaurant. Sadly, while the moon might hit your eye like a big pizza pie, she wasn’t in love with the job. The day before she was set to start, she tweeted her friends: “Ew I start this f*** a** job tomorrow.” Unlucky for her, one of Waple’s employees…

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10 Feb 2015 Minimum Wage Continues to Rise

  Effective at the beginning of 2105, the laws of 29 states and the District of Columbia require minimum wages in private employment that are higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Despite already requiring higher wages than the federal minimum wage, the majority of those states experienced an increase in the state-mandated minimum wage effective in 2015, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.   In four states, voters approved minimum wage increases through ballot measures in the 2014 general…

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09 Feb 2015 This Message Will Self Destruct in 10 Seconds: Snapchat, Confide and the Implications of Disappearing Content on Your Business

When I was a kid, I remember reading books in which people would write each other messages in disappearing ink so they could read them, but then the content would be lost on the rest of the world forever. At the time, this seemed like pure fantasy, but new technology has made this a reality.   The cool kids have been using Snapchat for a couple of years now. For the uninitiated, Snapchat is a social media app that allows users to send their friends…

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06 Feb 2015 EEOC Data Released for 2014 Shows Uptick in Retaliation Charges and Allows For State-By-State Comparison of Charge Activity

The EEOC has released its private sector data tables and a press release regarding enforcement data for fiscal year 2014. This data establishes that 42.8 percent of the 88,778 charges of workplace discrimination received by the agency alleged retaliation – an all-time high, despite there being an overall downtick in overall charge filing attributed to the government shutdown during the reporting period.   Through its enforcement efforts, and prior to litigation, the EEOC obtained more than $296 million in monetary relief, with more than $22…

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05 Feb 2015 Paid Sick Leave: Coming Soon to a City Near You?

President Obama reincarnated paid sick leave as a possible federal law right in his recent State of the Union address. “Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave,” Obama said. “It’s the right thing to do.” Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees of covered employers currently have rights to as much as twelve weeks of unpaid medical leave per year. In addition, thousands of employers of every size voluntarily provide some…

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04 Feb 2015 2014: Free Fallin’ EEOC Charges?

Earlier this morning, the EEOC released their charge filing statistics for 2014. For the fourth consecutive year, the number of EEOC charges has dropped – from 93,727 to 88,778. The chart below illustrates the decline and puts the numbers into perspective heading back to the good ol’ days of the 20th Century:     Does it feel like 2007? Well, that’s about where we stand with respect to the overall number of charges filed in the last year. The reason for the decline is unclear,…

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02 Feb 2015 7 Questions Employers Should Ask Themselves Every Year LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

This week Y is for year – a good guideline for the longest employers should go without asking themselves these questions to make sure they are taking advantage of opportunities to minimize employee-related liability:   Do you have accurate job descriptions, regularly signed off on by the employees, that will help you manage and defend ADA, wage and hour, and other employment issues and claims?   Have you reviewed each employee classified as exempt to ensure proper classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act, including…

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30 Jan 2015 Supervisor’s Statement Precludes Summary Judgment

Business jargon permeates the workplace. For many of us, not a day goes by without hearing phrases such as: “hit the ground running,” “Let’s take this offline,” “paradigm shift,” “lots of moving parts,” “tenure,” etc. Some business lingo, however, may have the potential to cause trouble down the line.   A recent age discrimination case out of Louisiana illustrates this point perfectly. In this case, a manager allegedly made numerous references to hiring “new blood” for the workforce. The federal court ultimately denied the employer’s…

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30 Jan 2015 Are You Relying on Electronic Signatures for Employment Documents?

The California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, in Ruiz v. Moss Bros. Auto Group, Inc., recently affirmed an order denying a petition to compel arbitration where the employer failed to present sufficient evidence that the employee electronically signed an arbitration agreement. In Ruiz, Plaintiff Ernesto Ruiz filed a putative class action complaint alleging various wage and hour violations by his employer, Moss Bros. The company filed a petition to compel arbitration of Mr. Ruiz’s individual claims based on an arbitration agreement the Company claimed he electronically…

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29 Jan 2015 Not So Fast: Parties Cannot Impose Confidentiality Restrictions on Judicially Approved FLSA Settlements

Most employers are familiar with the procedure for resolving complaints filed by employees: draft a settlement agreement, sign off and then file a notice or stipulation formally dismissing the case with the court. Typically, the settlement agreement includes familiar terms, such as a release of all claims and some kind of promise to keep quiet about the settlement.   But, FLSA cases are a different animal. These cases normally require a judge to sign off on settlement terms. Conceptually, this sounds easy enough; all of…

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