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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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14 Mar 2014 USERRA – Don’t Forget about Service Members on Military Leave During Your Asset Sale

USERRA is one of those laws that may affect very few members of your workforce, but if it does, you better know what your obligations are. A recent decision issued by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals serves as a good reminder to employers of some of those obligations.   In Dorris v. TXD Services, LP (8th Cir. Feb. 27, 2014), the Eighth Circuit reversed a district court’s order granting summary judgment to an employer who failed to include a service member’s name on a list…

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13 Mar 2014 EEOC and FTC Team up to Offer Guidance on Employee Background Checks

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the U.S. Fair Trade Commission (“FTC,” the commission responsible for enforcing the Fair Credit Reporting Act) have co-published two technical assistance publications – one aimed at employers and one aimed at employees and applicants – explaining how their rules apply to background checks used for hiring, retention, promotion, or reassignment purposes.   The EEOC confirmed that it is legal to ask questions about an applicant’s background as long as the questions do not discriminate on the basis of…

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10 Mar 2014 Illinois Case Reminds (Again): Document Rights and Responsibilities On Company Social Media Accounts

An Illinois employer faces potential liability for accessing an employee’s Facebook and Twitter accounts while the employee was on leave. There is no question the accounts related to the company’s business, and among other things directed traffic to the company website.There were various points of disagreement among the parties about the accounts, however, including:   The employer says it directed the employee to start the Twitter account in question. The employee denies that. The employee says company management had administrator status on the Facebook page in…

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06 Mar 2014 No Exposure to Allergens in the Workplace – Is there a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA?

It’s common for employers to receive complaints from employees about allergens in the workplace. But what is an employer obligated to do when an employee’s physician explicitly restricts that employee from having any exposure to an allergen that cannot be eliminated from the workplace? Well, let’s put on our ADA hat. What are employers obligated to do? Oh yes, that’s right – engage in the interactive process! Here’s a real life example that may have some practical applications to situations you’re currently facing. In Horn…

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04 Mar 2014 Employers Be Warned- Look at the Big Picture When Considering Harassment Allegations

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin has issued notice to employers that they must not view employee complaints in a bubble, but rather should take into account similar co-worker complaints in assessing whether they are being placed on notice of possible harassment. Further, the Court has indicated that even remote employees can potentially establish viable hostile work environment claims based on their limited contact with an alleged harasser, if such conduct is severe or pervasive enough. In Dahlke v. Mitchell Bank,…

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27 Feb 2014 How much can a Facebook post cost you? About $80K

Patrick Snay was an instructor at a Florida educational institution. After the school declined to renew his contract, Snay filed a lawsuit alleging age discrimination and retaliation. The parties ultimately settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount … well, until Snay’s daughter jumped on Facebook and posted the following: “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver,’ she wrote to her more than 1,200 friends. ‘Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” Snay never saw a penny…

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27 Feb 2014 Workplace Bullying may Amount to Actionable Discrimination

A recent court of appeals decision highlights the risks associated with failing to address allegations of workplace “harassment” or “bullying.” In Woods v. Boh Brothers (5th Cir. 2013), Kerry Woods was employed by Boh Brothers as welder. In this capacity, Woods was supervised by Chuck Wolfe. Woods claimed that during his employment, Wolfe subjected him to almost-daily verbal and physical harassment: – Wolfe directed very foul language and locker room talk at Woods; – Wolfe referred to Woods by graphically derogatory names many of which…

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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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