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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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27 Jan 2014 Noncompetes: Michigan Decision Highlights Two Critical Decisions with Cease and Desist Letters

A decision out of the Eastern District of Michigan caught the attention of commentators last week. The pattern was straightforward and familiar – employee has noncompete, employee leaves and goes to work for a competitor, old employer sends new employer a copy of a letter to the employee telling the employee to cut it out because he has a noncompete. Things can go various directions from there. In this case, Bonds v. Phillips Electronic, the new employer fired the employee (Bonds), who in turn sued the old employer…

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24 Jan 2014 Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Analyzes the History of the ADAAA and Remands Case Involving “Temporary Disability” to District Court

In an opinion issued yesterday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Summers v. Altarum Institute, Cause No. 12-1645, found here, employers received yet another reminder that the landscape of disability claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) significantly changed with the enactment of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”), and care must be taken to ensure compliance with the ADAAA’s adjusted requirements. In this case, the plaintiff Carl Summers (“Summers”) worked for defendant Altarum Institute (“Altarum”) as a senior analyst…

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24 Jan 2014 Third Circuit Rejects Plaintiff’s Claims That Entity To Whom She Provided Consulting Services Was Her “Employer” Under Title VII or the NJLAD

The Third Circuit has provided useful guidance to employers with respect to key factors to consider in implementing consulting relationships without generating an employment relationship under the law. Specifically, in Plaso v. IJKG, LLC et. al, found here, the Third Circuit accepted the holdings of the District Court for the District of New Jersey that the defendant did not constitute an “employer” for liability purposes under Title VII or the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD.) Though the opinion is deemed not precedential by the…

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22 Jan 2014 Supreme Court to Examine First Amendment Retaliation Claim

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a First Amendment retaliation claim brought by a public employee against his former employer following his termination after testifying against a state legislator. In Lane v. Central Alabama Community College, Steve Franks, Dr., the petitioner, Edward Lane, previously worked as the Director of the Central Alabama Community College’s Community Intensive Training for Youth Program (“Program”).  Shortly after joining as the Director, Lane audited the Program’s finances and discovered then-Alabama state representative, Suzanne Schmitz, was listed on…

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21 Jan 2014 Play It Safe II: Employers At Risk If They Don’t Methodically Process ADA Issues

Just a few days ago, Pete Tschanz posted here about a court decision where it seemed from the court’s decision that the employer moved to terminate an employee without really working through some employee health issues as required by the ADA. Just to echo that theme with another new decision, we offer the case of Spurling v. C&M Fine Pack, Inc., where the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s summary decision in favor of the employer.   In short, the timeline in Spurling was…

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21 Jan 2014 Contractors Await Ruling On Legal Challenge to OFCCP’s New Disability Regulations

As federal contractors prepare to comply with new “Section 503” disability regulations adopted by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the enforceability of those regulations has come under a significant legal challenge. Although those regulations are set to take effect in March 2014, a legal challenge to the enforceability of those regulations – which now has the support of the HR Policy Association – may delay that deadline for all contractors. On Sept. 24, 2013, the OFCCP published its new regulations in the…

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16 Jan 2014 Play it Safe: Always Remember to Consider Potential Disability-Related Accommodations For Workplace Restrictions

A recent lawsuit filed by a former professor underscores the importance of taking time to explore potential accommodations for disability-related workplace restrictions – even in situations where it may be the last thing on an employer’s mind. The Plaintiff filed suit against his employer alleging that the institution failed to accommodate his depression and Asperger’s syndrome when he was barred from campus after losing his temper with students and staff. According to his judicial complaint, problems began after he chastised maintenance workers for not rearranging…

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15 Jan 2014 Academic Studies About Screening Applicants’ Social Media: New Cottage Industry?

I may need to start a separate blog to share and comment on the wealth of opinions that seem to be coming forward on the topic of employers screening applicants’ social media.  Hot on the heels of my post applauding what I thought was a sensible and realistic article suggesting that, well, yes if you are an applicant you should expect people to read information you make publicly available, I read about a new study out of North Carolina State University regarding applicants’ attitudes about social media screening…

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13 Jan 2014 OSHA-Proposed Mandatory Reporting Rule Could Include Enterprise-Wide Reporting

As we previously reported in November, OSHA issued a proposed new recordkeeping rule on Nov. 8, 2013 which would require mandatory electronic reporting of recordable work-related injuries and illnesses on a quarterly (> 250 employees) or an annual basis (> 20 employees in certain industries including manufacturing, construction, retail and transportation). OSHA has publicly stated that the proposed rule “does not add any new requirement to keep records” but this is not true with respect to the proposed alternative of “enterprise-wide reporting.”  This has not been publicized by OSHA…

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13 Jan 2014 2013 Ends With A Flurry Of Activity Regarding the Contraception Mandate

As 2013 drew to a close, several non-profit religious employers sought injunctions to prevent the application of the contraception mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Jan. 1, 2014.  Under the current regulations, a non-profit religious employer need not pay for contraceptive services if it certifies that it has a religious objection to providing these services to its employees. The insurer is then required to provide these items to the employees at no cost to either the employer or the employees. The Obama administration…

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