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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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18 Apr 2014 Paid and Unpaid Interns Gain Additional Protections Under New York City Human Rights Law

  Attention employers – the use of interns remains a hot topic in the legal realm, as protections for interns continue to grow.  In fact, just this week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed off on a New York City Council bill bringing interns under the umbrella of protections against workplace discrimination afforded by the city’s human rights laws (in addition to those protections already afforded to such individuals).  Specifically, the legislation, adds a new subdivision (Section 8-102) to the city’s administrative code…

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16 Apr 2014 FMLA Medical Certifications – A few reminders to avoid getting lost in the FMLA maze

    Making your way through the FMLA regulations may often feel like weaving your way through a complicated maze. And, as with anyone facing such a maze, you’re just hoping you don’t get lost and find yourself at a dead end with no way to retrace your steps.  Don’t fret.  The regulations are not as complicated as they seem.  You can make your way through if you just focus on one step at a time.   Step 1 – Providing the eligibility notice –…

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15 Apr 2014 Minnesota Increases Minimum Wage

  Yesterday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed legislation which will increase Minnesota’s minimum wage to $8.00 per hour for “large” employers and $6.50 per hour for “small” employers. These increases will be effective August 1, 2014.  This minimum wage will increase on August 1, 2015, to $9.00 per hour for “large” employers and $7.25 per hour for “small” employers and, again, on August 1, 2016, to $9.50 per hour for “large” employers and $7.75 per hour for “small” employers.  Beginning in 2017, the minimum wage will…

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14 Apr 2014 It’s Tax Time . . . . What Does That Mean For Settling Employment Claims?

    Last summer, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a Memorandum regarding the reporting requirements for attorney’s fees paid to settle an employment claim.  The Memorandum makes it clear that the manner in which the settlement agreement is drafted and payments are made could impact tax liabilities for both the employee and the employer.   According to the IRS Memorandum, all payments for employment claims, including the specific allocation to attorney’s fees, must be included in the individual’s income, even if the fees are…

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14 Apr 2014 It’s Back: Proposal to Ban Massachusetts Noncompetes (and Related Economic Theories)

  I have written here before about efforts in Massachusetts to ban noncompetes, which seem to have been kicking around for years without any real change.  Last week, Massachusetts Governor Patrick announced that he is proposing legislation to largely ban noncompetes, as they are in California.  The theory behind this is that Massachusetts loses tech talent to California, where tech wizards can be employed usually with little concern about being bound by a noncompete when they change jobs, and that noncompetes stifle innovation.  It is common…

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10 Apr 2014 Inconsistent Statements Can Be Costly For Employers

  The United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma recently denied an employer’s motion for summary judgment on a former employee’s FMLA interference claim. While litigating the matter, the employer argued that the employee never truly was eligible to receive benefits under the FMLA (despite previously granting the employee leave under the Act). In response, the employee presented evidence that a supervisor had assured her while she was out on leave that her job was secure.  According to the court, this assurance…

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10 Apr 2014 Top Tech Companies Headed to Trial in Talent Poaching Conspiracy Case

  Several top tech companies are headed to trial on claims that they engaged in a talent poaching conspiracy involving agreements not to solicit each other’s employees.  Trial is set to begin next month in the Northern District of California federal court.   On Friday, March 28, 2014, in the class action case titled In re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, Judge Lucy Koh decided to send several tech companies to trial when she rejected their summary judgment motions by finding that the plaintiffs, a class…

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09 Apr 2014 Ends and Means: Federal Appeals Judge Reflects on Attorney Fee Award Against EEOC

  The EEOC has been more aggressive in the last few years than at any time during my 25 years of practice. It seems a fair question whether its high publicity focus on things like social media and, what I think most plaintiffs’ employment lawyers would agree are routine, release agreements are the best use of its resources – compared, for example, to efficiently doing its less sexy day-to-day work of promptly processing the charges that are brought before it.   This recent post from the…

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08 Apr 2014 Act One in Unpaid Intern Appeal Has Begun

  Act One has begun in the appeal of the unpaid movie and publishing interns.  The scene starts with adversaries finding themselves in the unusual position of playing the role of the appellant at the same time.  Cut to a flashback when last year, two New York federal district court judges reached contrary conclusions in the two separate cases that had been filed, with one judge granting and the other denying class certification.  Fast forward past the court’s granting interlocutory appeals in both cases and…

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07 Apr 2014 Not April Foolin’: National Labor Relations Board Finds Employer Rule Requiring Positivity and Professionalism Unlawful

On April 1, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled unlawful an employer policy requiring that employees refrain from negativity in the workplace and in the community. In Hills and Dales General Hospital Case No. 07-CA-053556, the NLRB continued its recent trend of finding that common employer policies, including policies limiting or requiring civility in social media use, those describing the at-will relationship between an employer and its employees, and certain confidentiality provisions, are overbroad.  We have covered the NLRB’s focus on seemingly innocuous policies in…

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