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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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25 Jul 2013 Associational Discrimination: Perfectly Healthy Employee Can Have Disability Claim

A recent Massachusetts Supreme Court decision highlights a form of discrimination that employers may not always remember – associational discrimination. Associational discrimination is workplace discrimination against one for his relationship with another, and is expressly recognized in the Americans with Disabilities Act. In this case, the court recognized such a claim under a counterpart state law. In Flagg v. Alimed, Inc., a long-time employee’s wife had surgery for a brain tumor and the employee needed extra time to care for his children. The employee’s manager told him “to…

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24 Jul 2013 Unpaid Interns Strike Back – Lawsuits on the Rise Alleging Unpaid Wages

  There has been a recent rash of lawsuits filed by unpaid interns against their former employers alleging that they should have been paid minimum wages and overtime. Unfortunately for employers, the plaintiffs have been successful and the lawsuits are escalating both individually and on a class basis.   It all began with a lawsuit by unpaid interns against Fox Searchlight. These interns worked on the film “Black Swan.” On June 11, 2013, a Federal District Court Judge sided with the interns in his decision…

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24 Jul 2013 Minnesota Employers Required To Provide Expanded Sick Leave Benefits Effective August 1, 2013

Effective August 1, 2013, Minnesota employers must allow an employee to use any sick leave benefits for “absences due to an illness of or injury to the employee’s child, … adult child, spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, or stepparent, for reasonable periods of time as the employee’s attendance may be necessary, on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury.” See Minn.Stat. 181.9413(a). This is a significant change from the prior statute, which only…

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19 Jul 2013 Straying from Past Practice in Investigation Raises Retaliation Risk

A recent 7th Circuit case demonstrates the importance of carefully designing workplace investigations to account for a variety of potential claims. In Hobgood v. Illinois Gaming Board, a gaming board employee filed suit against his employer alleging unlawful retaliation in violation of Title VII and the First Amendment. The employee was terminated for helping his coworker organize and research a suit against the gaming board, citing widespread corruption in its hiring policies. Additionally, the employee supplied two confidential documents supporting the coworker’s claims. The coworker’s lawsuit…

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17 Jul 2013 Be Careful What You Say

A recent case demonstrates the frustrating quandaries that employers can find themselves in if they do not choose their words carefully.  In Gulden v. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc., Case No. BC468909, a 76-year-old engineer sued his employer for age discrimination after he was laid off.  His employer had what would seem to be a good multi-faceted defense: The engineer was just one of 81 employees who were laid off (most of whom were significantly younger than him), he was the only part-time employee in…

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15 Jul 2013 Update: Still Legal to Fire the ‘Irresistible’ Employee in Iowa

A few months ago we wrote about the Iowa Supreme Court decision holding that it was not gender discrimination for a dentist to fire his attractive assistant at his wife’s behest because she was deemed a threat to the dentist’s marriage. Last week we got to relive this case in the media (social and otherwise) when the court declined the employee’s motion asking the court to reconsider its position. While it is certainly the exception for courts to reverse their own decisions (the employee probably…

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15 Jul 2013 The Employer Mandate Has Been Moved One Year. Now What?

A Primer On What Employers Need To Know About The Affordable Care Act Many employers across the country breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing that the implementation of the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been delayed until Jan. 1, 2015. Of course once the revelry dies down, employers will come to the sober realization that this just means that the can has been kicked down the proverbial road.  Employers who should have been in the process of figuring out the…

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12 Jul 2013 Employers Must Take Care to Avoid Individual Liability Under the FLSA

In Irizarry v. Catsimatidis, No. 11-4035, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a partial summary judgment for a class of current and former employees from Gristede’s supermarkets who sued the corporation and several individuals for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The class successfully obtained a ruling that owner, president, and chief executive officer John Catsimatidis was an “employer” under the FLSA and could be held personally liable for Gristede’s failure to pay proper overtime compensation to its eligible employees. The…

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08 Jul 2013 Employers Should Use Care to Avoid Discrimination When Using Temporary Staffing Agencies

Employers that use staffing agencies to fill temporary work assignments should be prepared to meet the challenges inherent in such relationships for purposes of compliance with Title VII, as illustrated by the EEOC’s litigation against a small manufacturer in Illinois. Although the Illinois manufacturer claimed it was not subject to Title VII because it had fewer than the statutory minimum 15 employees, the EEOC argued that temporary employees needed to be counted. The EEOC contended that the employer should be held liable if the actions…

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03 Jul 2013 Obamacare Employer Mandate Delayed A Year

Late Tuesday the Treasury Department provided the business community welcome relief by announcing that employers would not be penalized in 2014 under the insurance coverage mandate. Enforcement of the significant penalties that businesses with over 50 full-time employees could be assessed for not providing health insurance coverage to at least 95 percent of full-time workers will instead begin in 2015. Those penalties would currently amount to $2000/year for every full-time employee, not counting the first 30 employees. The Affordable Care Act (better known as “Obamacare”) has drawn…

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