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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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19 Apr 2017 Court Tells Skydiver’s Estate It Won’t Reconsider Title VII Claim

  On April 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declined to reconsider the estate of deceased skydiver Donald Zarda’s Title VII claim against former employer Altitude Express. Zarda filed suit claiming his employment was terminated because of his sexual orientation. Although his New York state law claim was explicitly based on sexual orientation, his Title VII claim was characterized as a sex discrimination claim.   The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted summary judgment to Altitude…

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14 Apr 2017 New Law Opens Door for Public Disclosure of Employer Wage Law Violations

  A new Colorado bill signed into law on April 13 and made effective immediately has opened the door for an employer’s violations of wage laws to be subject to open records requests made to the Department of Labor and Employment, Division of Labor and Standards and Statistics. While the department historically has collected and had access to an employer’s premises, books, records and payroll information, the division was unable to release the information if it might reveal a trade secret. The Wage Theft Transparency…

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13 Apr 2017 Minnesota Human Rights Act’s Statute of Limitations Tolls When Employer Investigates Discrimination Complaints

  The Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) requires an individual to either commence a civil action or file a charge with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) within one year after the occurrence of an unlawful discriminatory act. However, that one year time period is suspended when the individual and the employer voluntarily engage in a dispute resolution process. The statute states that a “dispute resolution process” can include arbitration, conciliation, mediation or grievance procedures.   Most employers have believed the statute of limitations…

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11 Apr 2017 Suspending Employee Who Hit Boss With Vehicle Not Retaliation

  In a rather unusual case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Court ruled that the U.S. Postal Service (“Postal Service”) did not retaliate against an employee when it suspended him for two days after he hit his supervisor with a postal vehicle.   Javier Cabral, a letter carrier for the Postal Service, filed three different Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) complaints and several union grievances alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Cabral ultimately sued the Postal Service, alleging hostile work environment, harassment,…

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06 Apr 2017 Lesson: Don’t Underestimate Court’s Ability to Change Its Mind Minor Leaguers’ Wage Suit Gets Certified and Comes Back From the Dead

  While Major League Baseball (MLB) can celebrate its new season, which began on April 2, the last pitch has yet to be thrown when it comes to addressing a minimum wage and overtime lawsuit filed by thousands of minor league players.   A lawsuit filed by a class of thousands of Minor League Baseball (MiLB) players in February 2014, which is part of a feeder system into MLB clubs, claims that minor league ballplayers are not paid the proper minimum wage or overtime. The…

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04 Apr 2017 Your Questions About Ohio’s New Gun Law Answered

  This post was authored by Bill Nolan and Doug Oldham.   Ohio’s new gun law grants concealed carry licensees the right to carry concealed firearms in more places, such as vehicles, causing many business owners and employers to question how this law will affect guns at their businesses. The law went into effect on March 21. This post answers some business owners’ common questions and concerns.   Question: Does “a person’s privately owned vehicle” include …   A vehicle that is owned by the…

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04 Apr 2017 Putting the Matter to Rest: California Court Rules Commission-Pay Employees Must Be Compensated Separately for Rest Breaks

  Delivering a stiff blow to a California retail furniture company employing commission-pay employees, the California Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently ruled that employees paid on a commission or piece-rate basis must be paid separately for their rest breaks. The decision in Vaquero v. Stoneledge Furniture, LLC, followed the filing of a class action suit by two commission-based sales associates at Stoneledge Furniture LLC, a retail furniture company doing business in California as Ashley Furniture HomeStores.   The plaintiffs, Vaquero and Schaefer,…

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03 Apr 2017 Noncompetes Q&A: A Look at Ohio

    We write a lot on the Currents blog about noncompete agreements. The topic presents a wealth of material because of the critical differences between state laws and the importance of employers to be aware of developments even in states where they don’t do business, and the fact that typically several times a year there is a development in some state’s law, with Nevada and Pennsylvania being two examples in recent years where a state supreme court decision has attracted attention.   Yet I find that…

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03 Apr 2017 Employer’s ‘Stirring Up’ Testimony Allows Plaintiff to Pursue Section 504 and ADA Claims

  A case out of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee provides a useful reminder that employers must exercise caution when responding to reports of potential protected activities. The case, Hicks v. Benton County Board of Education, involved a special education aide who spoke to special education parents about services their students failed to receive. Upon learning this information, the principal instructed the plaintiff to cease talking directly to parents concerning what was going on in the program and to instead…

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31 Mar 2017 Paid Leave American-Style: “I Get Mine, But You Can’t Have Yours!”

  Employers are all too familiar with the FMLA, but paid leave seems to be generating a lot of political buzz these days. A new Pew Research Center Survey reveals that a paid leave law might be a popular measure. However, the same survey also reveals that most Americans are cynical when it comes to the use of such leave.   The Pew study found that, of those surveyed, about 75 percent of Republicans and about 90 percent of Democrats support some kind of federal…

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