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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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13 Dec 2013 Federal Minimum Wage Increase Delayed

According to Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour has been delayed until after Jan. 1, 2014. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D- Nevada) expressed disappointment over the delay and stated he would “push for an extension of unemployment insurance, as well as an increase in the minimum wage, when the Senate convenes after the New Year.” The bill (S.460) sets forth a staggered increase in the federal minimum wage, with an initial increase to $8.20…

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11 Dec 2013 Court Summarily Dismisses “Familial Status” Claim Under Title VII and the PHRA

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently rejected claims of “family status” discrimination under Title VII and the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act (PHRA), finding that “discrimination based on family status alone is not actionable under Title VII.” The case, found here, involved a 52-year old white plaintiff, who is married to an Asian ethnic Chinese woman and has seven mixed race children. Among other allegations, the plaintiff alleged that Pen Argyl Area School District (PAASD) discriminated against families with children of…

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09 Dec 2013 Severe AND Pervasive?

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned a Texas District Court after it appeared to apply the wrong legal standard in a sexual harassment lawsuit. In Royal v. CCC&R, Tonia Royal was fired after complaining to her supervisor that two maintenance workers regularly visited her office and, among other things, sniffed her in a suggestive manner. Following her termination, Royal initiated a lawsuit alleging she was subjected to unlawful sexual harassment. In order to demonstrate actionable sexual harassment, Royal was required to demonstrate that the conduct…

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09 Dec 2013 Don’t Talk About Employee’s Disability – Even In A Sports Analogy

We often counsel employers to focus on an employee’s ability to perform the job rather than the fact of an employee’s health issues when explaining adverse employment decisions. I love a good sports analogy, but even such an analogy probably should not divert us from this best practice. In a recent decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the judge denied a university’s motion for summary judgment on a professor’s disability discrimination claim when the professor’s Dean wrote the following in…

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06 Dec 2013 Don’t Forget About Potential Associational Claims

At this point, most employers (we hope) are well aware that the ADA prohibits discrimination against “qualified individuals with a disability.” Nevertheless, many employers may not realize that the ADA also protects applicants and employees from discrimination based on their relationship or association with an individual who has a disabling condition. According to the EEOC, the purpose of the association provision of the ADA is to “prevent employers from taking adverse actions based on unfounded stereotypes and assumptions about individuals who associate with people who…

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06 Dec 2013 California Court of Appeals Overturns Superior Court Denial of Class Certification

A California Court of Appeal issued a decision that should serve as a cautionary tale for defendants in California class actions. The appellate court overturned a Superior Court judge’s decision denying class certification in a an alleged misclassification case where the judge found that plaintiffs had failed to establish that: their claims were typical of the class; they could adequately represent the class; common questions predominated the claims; and a class action is the superior means of resolving the litigation. In Martinez v. Joe’s Crab…

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02 Dec 2013 “Using Social Media to Discriminate”: Please Read the Fine Print

A recent study of how hiring managers respond to phony social media accounts has been featured in some outlets with bold headlines along the lines of “Employers May Use Social Media to Discriminate.” Here is what the study, by researchers at Carnegie Mellon, really concluded:  The study involved sending dummy resumes to employers and creating dummy social media accounts to accompany those resumes. (While the subject matter of the research is undeniably important, is anybody else furrowing their brows a little about, um, lying to employers for purposes…

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27 Nov 2013 It’s Official—The Supreme Court Announces That It Will Review The Contraceptive Mandate

On Nov. 26, 2013, U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will review two cases in which for-profit employers challenged the application of the contraceptive mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The cases are Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialites Corp. v. Sebelius.  Both employers say that their religious beliefs bar them from providing employees with drugs or other items that they consider abortifacients. These employers argue that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act…

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27 Nov 2013 Construction Contractor Sues OFCCP To Block New Regulations

Recently, a construction trade association filed suit in federal court seeking to block the OFCCP’s new “Section 503” regulations on recruiting and hiring disabled persons from taking effect. Whether or not injunctive relief is granted, this lawsuit highlights the increased data-collection challenges that the OFCCPs new regulations will require for all federal contractors. On Nov. 19, 2013, Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC) sued the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in the U.S. District Court for…

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27 Nov 2013 2nd Circuit to Decide Unpaid Interns’ Class Status

  As I discussed in a prior post, there have been numerous lawsuits filed on behalf of unpaid interns suing their former companies for unpaid minimum wages and overtime. These are even more significant based on the number of potential plaintiffs as these have been brought as collective or class actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or state law. Recently, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has accepted appeals in two different cases from the Southern District of New York which had diametrically opposed holdings. In the Fox…

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