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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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11 Jul 2017 U.S. Department of Labor Abandons Obama Overtime Rule

  On June 30, the U.S. Department of Labor told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that it intends to abandon the Obama overtime rule, but pursue new rule-making to set a more reasonable salary level. The department asked the Fifth Circuit to confirm is ability to set a minimum salary level through rulemaking. The department told the Fifth Circuit it would not initiate new rulemaking until the court affirms its right to set a minimum salary level – so timing remains uncertain.  …

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10 Jul 2017 Ohio House Passes Bill Weakening Employers’ Ability to Restrict Guns on Property

  If it feels like I’m beating (or shooting) a dead horse with Ohio gun laws lately, it is because the Ohio legislature keeps passing laws that restrict employers’ right to prohibit firearms in their workplaces. The newest bill, which passed out of the Ohio House on July 6, would eliminate criminal penalties for carrying a deadly weapon into a business that restricts them.   As the law currently stands, a business may post signage stating that firearms are prohibited on the property. If an…

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07 Jul 2017 Firing an Employee? Avoid Litigation by Carefully Reviewing the Issues

Many times before proceeding with a termination, an employer will call on its counsel and explain the rationale for the decision to avoid potential legal issues if it should follow through on firing an employee. As labor and employment attorneys, this is what we would call “best practices”: Having a third-party neutral review the decision for the termination, play devil’s advocate, and determine if there may be some other reason for the decision that could lead to a claim of discrimination or retaliation.   Other…

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06 Jul 2017 A Welcome Move for Employers – Department of Labor Re-Establishes Wage and Hour Opinion Letters

  Last week, Alexander Acosta, U.S. Secretary of Labor, announced that the U.S. Department of Labor will reinstate the issuance of opinion letters. This move will allow the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division to once again use opinion letters as a way to provide direction to covered employers and employees.   According to the Department of Labor’s news release, “[a]n opinion letter is an official, written opinion by the Wage and Hour Division of how a particular law applies in specific circumstances presented…

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05 Jul 2017 Did a Lower Court Throw Schools an IEP Life Raft?

  In the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, school districts are tasked with developing substantively appropriate Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that will stand up to the court’s heightened scrutiny.  The only clear guidance provided from the court regarding how to meet this heightened standard is that an IEP must allow a child to make progress that is appropriate in light of his or her unique circumstances.   However, a recent decision from the U….

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30 Jun 2017 ‘Bona Fide Relationships’ Under Trump’s New Travel Ban: Who’s In and Who’s Out?

  The U.S. Supreme Court made headlines on June 26 when it partially mandated aspects of Trump’s notorious “travel ban” barring immigrants from select countries from entering the United States. In a lengthy opinion, the court provided that people seeking visas from six restricted countries – namely Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – would be temporarily barred from entering the United States unless they can claim a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States. This uncertain description of…

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29 Jun 2017 Ohio Legislature Considers Adding Teeth to New Gun Law

  On March 21, Ohio’s new gun law went into effect without a way to enforce it. The new law prevents employers from making or enforcing any policy that prohibits employees with concealed carry permits from storing firearms and ammunition in their locked cars on employer property. While this law spelled out employees’ right to lock guns in their cars, it contained no enforcement mechanism and no clear penalty on employers who obstruct employees from exercising their right.   Now the Ohio Senate is considering…

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28 Jun 2017 Content of Doctors’ Notes May Help Plaintiffs Establish Evidence of Disability Discrimination

  How often do you scrutinize doctors’ notes turned in by employees for signs of a claimed disability? A recent California case, Parker v. Comcast Cable Commc’ns Mgmt., LLC, serves as a reminder that the content of doctor’s notes can serve as strong evidence that an employer has constructive knowledge of one’s disability. Such a showing can therefore make it easier to establish and bring claims of disability discrimination against employers.   In order to be liable for a disability discrimination claim under California’s Fair…

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22 Jun 2017 Fourth Circuit Upholds ‘Mark of the Beast’ Jury Verdict

  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit unanimously upheld a West Virginia’s jury verdict of nearly $600,000 in favor of the EEOC on behalf of an employee who alleged the company failed to accommodate his religious belief. The employee believed that using the company’s biometric hand-scanning time clock would affix the “Mark of the Beast” as described in the book of Revelation in the Bible. By using the hand scanner, the employee believed he would be marked as a follower of the…

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21 Jun 2017 California Supreme Court Clarifies Day-of-Rest Statutes

  The California Supreme Court recently clarified a question plaguing many California employers. Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit asked the Supreme Court of California to address several unresolved questions concerning the construction of California’s day-of-rest statutes.   California Labor Code Sections 550–558.1 prohibit an employer from “caus[ing] his employees to work more than six days in seven” (§ 552), but do not apply “when the total hours of employment do not exceed 30 hours in any week or six…

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