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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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24 Feb 2014 Witness Files: Catching Up On the Characters That We See Over and Over in Workplace Investigations

Last June I authored a blog post about a series of articles that I had started on the i-sight.com blog. The series highlights the various “characters” that employers and their lawyers seem to encounter repeatedly in workplace investigations. I am now up to eight composite witnesses types and counting, most recently focusing on the complainant who has a lawyer. This particular article provides the reader with some considerations to keep in mind in that scenario. A ninth article, which focuses on the employee who for the first time raises harassment or other workplace…

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21 Feb 2014 The University of Notre Dame Asks The Seventh Circuit to Enjoin The Contraception Mandate

On Feb. 12, 2014 the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held an oral argument in University of Notre Dame v. Sebelius. In this argument, the university asked the Seventh Circuit to reverse a district court decision denying the university’s request to enjoin the application of the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Several other courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have enjoined the application of the contraception mandate while the courts consider whether the mandate violates employers’ constitutional rights. We discussed these earlier decisions in…

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21 Feb 2014 Wisconsin Likely to Limit Access to Social Media Accounts

In late January, both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature passed the Social Media Protection Bill aimed at protecting individuals’ social media accounts. Governor Scott Walker is expected to sign the bill into law. The bill bars employers, schools, and landlords from requiring their employees, students, or tenants to produce their social media passwords. However, the bill allows employers, schools, and landlords to view individuals’ social media postings that are available to the public. Employers would also be permitted to monitor employee usage of devices provided…

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19 Feb 2014 EEOC Challenges Standard Severance Agreement Language

  A new EEOC lawsuit could have repercussions on employers’ standard severance agreements. At issue in the lawsuit, which was filed last week in the Northern District of Illinois, is the language of a standard severance agreement which – according to the EEOC – unlawfully prevents employees from communicating with the agency or filing discrimination claims.   As many employers know, general principles of contract law allow an employee who enters into a severance agreement to waive the right to file a legal claim seeking…

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17 Feb 2014 There Were No Mice Available? Testing Noncompetes and Motivation in Settings That Don’t Sound Much Like Employment

I have expressed skepticism here of academic studies about employers checking social media activity of job applicants. The studies we have seen just don’t seem to demonstrate much to me. Likewise, when I recently saw the headline, “Noncompete Agreements Make Employees Less Motivated,” my antenna went up. We can certainly imagine scenarios where noncompetes make employees less motivated, but I was curious how somebody might have gone about reaching that conclusion. That led me to this post on the Harvard Business Review website, which explained the testing…

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14 Feb 2014 “Too Cute” New York Yoga Instructor To Join “Irresistible” Iowa Dental Assistant?

Just in time for Valentine’s Day…. The regular readers of this blog might remember a case that the Iowa Supreme Court handed down last summer, Nelson v. Knight (Case No. 11-1857). It revolved around a dentist’s decision to fire his assistant because he felt that she was a threat to his marriage. As you might recall, his assistant was not romantically interested in him. He found her to be “irresistible,” though, and he was afraid of what might happen if he continued to employ her….

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11 Feb 2014 Obamacare Employer Mandate Delayed Again For Mid-Size Employers

The Employer Mandate of the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA” or its more commonly known sobriquet “Obamacare”) originally was slated to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. Last year employers were given a reprieve when the government pushed the mandate back until the start of 2015. Yesterday, the government pushed back the employer mandate for one more year until 2016. However, there is a significant catch that could trap unwary employers: the change applies only to those employers with between 50 and 99 full-time…

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10 Feb 2014 EEOC Charges Drop In 2013, But Wait, There’s More!

The EEOC has disclosed the number of charges filed last year and the overall trend for employers is positive. For the third year in a row, the number of charges dropped – to 93,727 down from 99,412 in 2012 and the record high of 99,947 in 2011. The chart below illustrates the drop and puts the numbers into perspective back to 1997. As illustrated, the good news is that the number of charges are down; the bad news is that the number of charges essentially…

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10 Feb 2014 Play It Safe III: Termination 2 Weeks After Suicide Attempt Keeps FMLA Claim Alive

We have written here and here about the importance to employers of carefully working through employee health issues before taking job actions against the employees. That does not mean “do whatever the employee wants,” it just means that employers will rarely win these cases if they cannot demonstrate their attempts to work with the employee to determine what the employer’s obligations, if any, are under the ADA, FMLA and other laws that may apply. And yes, we may continue with these posts until the Roman numerals start…

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07 Feb 2014 EEOC Releases Detailed FY 2013 Statistics Showing Highest Monetary Recovery in Agency History

As we previously reported, the EEOC issued its Performance and Accountability Report for FY 2013 in December, which in part summarized the agency’s activity from October 2012 through September 2013. As promised in December, the agency has released more detailed charge and litigation statistics for its FY 2013 activity, providing better insight into what is on its radar (and what employees are complaining about). Data tables provide detailed breakdowns for intake and resolution of charges, in addition to initiated and resolved litigation. A summary of…

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