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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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28 Nov 2017 Part 2: Sex, Power, and the Workplace – Preventing the Backlash

  Are workplaces at risk for a backlash? How do we preserve and continue to advance opportunities for women when their male coworkers are worried? Worried about exactly where the line is between friendliness and sexual harassment at work? A recent New York Times article raised this question with men at work, who wondered about their own behavior, and also raise concern for their female coworkers.   In general, although women at work acknowledge the recent conversation about sexual harassment is overdue, they now worry…

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28 Nov 2017 OSHA Extends Electronic Recordkeeping Submission Deadline to Dec. 15

  As we have covered in a prior post, the electronic recordkeeping deadline was moved from July 1, 2017, to Dec. 1, 2017, after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) filed a notice of proposed rulemaking. After the two-week debacle in August, where OSHA was forced to take down its own electronic portal for submission of OSHA records due to a potential compromise of user information, the final rule postponed the deadline for two more weeks until Dec. 15, 2017. OSHA states that this…

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28 Nov 2017 Accommodate Pregnant Employees and Nursing Mothers, or Expect Consequences

  Employers must provide pregnant employees and nursing mothers with necessary workplace accommodations or face possible legal liability in court. That’s the lesson to be learned from a recent case that is one of the first to analyze and apply certain provisions in Illinois law.   In Spriesch v. City of Chicago, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently ruled that a fire department paramedic could proceed with at least some of her claims against her employer alleging…

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27 Nov 2017 Part 1: Sex, Power, and the Workplace – Why Is This So Complicated?

  Today’s national conversation about sexual misconduct is long overdue. As noted by firm partner, Norma Zeitler, in her thoughtful blog post, sexual harassment in the workplace has been tolerated for too long. Yet, the never-ending series of exposés, confessions, and “#metoo” posts tends to land in one giant bucket of wicked. No nuance; no context; no gray. Just black and white.   It’s so much more complicated than that. Of course, we are horrified to hear about the crime that involves the alleged seduction and potential rape…

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24 Nov 2017 Recent Headlines Demonstrate Need for Effective Anti-Harassment Program

  As a follow up to our previous post on sexual harassment in the workplace, this post explores the elements that make up an effective anti-harassment program.   More than 30 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1986 decision recognizing a hostile environment civil rights claim, it’s hard to believe we have just reached a major tipping point in our society regarding this form of prohibited sex discrimination.   On Nov. 21, Fox News announced a $90 million settlement of derivative shareholder litigation related to…

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22 Nov 2017 Employers Take Note: Sexual Harassment is Not OK … Finally

  Before becoming a lawyer, I was a Captain in the U.S. Army. I was stationed overseas for much of my career, and served a remote tour in a faraway land. During that tour of duty, I learned many things. But the most important lesson I learned — as one of two female officers on the base — was to speak up (and out) against sexual harassment.   I have always been thankful that I was in a position where speaking up (and out) was…

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14 Nov 2017 Ohio House Considers Bill to Protect Businesses from Architectural Barrier Lawsuits

  The Ohio House is considering a bill that would protect employers and business owners from unexpected lawsuits by disabled plaintiffs. House Bill 271 would create Section 4112.16 to the Ohio Revised Code’s Civil Rights Commission chapter and would require a person with a disability who encounters a potential architectural barrier to put the property owner on notice of the alleged barrier before filing suit. The theory behind the bill is that property owners could remove the architectural barrier without the cost or inconvenience of…

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10 Nov 2017 Final Rule Issued on HIRE Vets Medallion Program

  As Veteran’s Day fast approaches, on Nov. 9, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued the Final Rule implementing the Honor Investments in Recruiting and Hiring (HIRE) American Military Veterans Act (HIRE Vets Act), which President Trump signed on May 5, 2017.   The Rule establishes a HIRE Vets Medallion Program, which will recognize qualifying companies with a HIRE Vets Medallion Award for their commitment to recruit, employ and retain American military service veterans. The Program will be implemented in 2019.   Under the…

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07 Nov 2017 (Informal) Survey Says: Most Employers Not Waiting for Courts to Decide Whether Title VII Covers Sexual Orientation

  As we have discussed here and here at Currents, one of the hotly contested employment litigation issues of our decade is whether Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination “because of sex” prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Sex discrimination was an afterthought when Title VII was passed in 1964, added late in the Congressional process (reportedly added by opponents who thought it would cause Title VII to fail), and it is unquestioned that Congress was not thinking about sexual orientation at the time. Since that…

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03 Nov 2017 EEOC Complaint Inquiries Now a Click Away With New Public Portal

  The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced on Nov. 1 its new online portal available for individuals to submit discrimination and retaliation inquiries. Previously, prospective complainants either called a toll-free number or contacted a field office.   Individuals can subsequently use the public portal to digitally sign and file a charge of discrimination the EEOC has prepared for them.   An individual can use the portal to upload documents, agree to mediation, receive messages and schedule appointments, and check on the status of…

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