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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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14 Oct 2013 Five Things to Consider When Creating a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy

As employers and employees become more heavily dependent upon immediate communications through the use of smart phones, many companies still have not created or implemented Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. As a result, employers are vulnerable in having their confidential business and trade secret information exposed, or worse, taken. Employers also risk having legal claims, such as harassment or defamation, asserted against them because of the communications employees make using their smart phones. To minimize these risks, employers may want to consider implementing sound…

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11 Oct 2013 Another Criminal Background Case, Another Blow To The EEOC

Earlier this week, a divided Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued another blow to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in its pursuit of discrimination claims against employers and criminal background checks.  In a 2-1 decision, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s award of $751,942 in attorney’s fees, expert witness fees and other litigation costs to Peoplemark, Inc. after the company produced thousands of documents refuting the allegation that it had a “blanket policy” of denying jobs to individuals with felony records.  (EEOC v….

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09 Oct 2013 Government Shutdown Continues And Enforcement Agencies Remain Closed

As we enter the second week of the government shutdown, the federal enforcement agencies remain closed. Among the closed enforcement agencies are the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor (DOL). Each agency has prepared contingency plans during the course of the shutdown. Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC) is currently closed, it has indicated that the time limits for filing a charge of discrimination will not be extended during the shutdown. Instead, claimants are encouraged to still file the charge during the closure and…

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07 Oct 2013 Courage and HR’s “Seat at the Table” in Your Company

  Last week I heard Johnny Taylor give a keynote address to the American Association of School Personnel Administrators annual meeting in San Antonio. Mr. Taylor is a young but very accomplished (e.g. former President of SHRM) human resources professional as well as a lawyer (not to mention a very high energy and engaging speaker). He spoke to the group about a common and much-discussed question among HR professionals – how does HR get the respect it deserves, a  seat at the top executives’ table? And he was appropriately very…

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07 Oct 2013 Fifield Appeal Denied – New Rule Regarding Consideration for Restrictive Covenants in Illinois Survives

  Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court denied the Petitioner’s leave to appeal in Fifield v. Premier Dealer Services, Inc., No. 1-12-0327, 2013 IL App (1st) 120327 (Jun. 24, 2013), leaving Illinois employers stuck with greater hurdles than ever before when attempting to protect their legitimate business interests through the enforcement of post-employment restrictive covenants. Specifically, the Illinois Appellate Court for the First District ruled that – when the only consideration is employment itself – two years of continued employment is necessary to support the enforcement…

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04 Oct 2013 EEOC Cases Continue to Make Waves Despite Shutdown

While the EEOC is all but completely closed this week due to the federal government shutdown, that hasn’t stopped federal courts from issuing interesting rulings in EEOC employment discrimination cases. A quick roundup of a few recent cases of note: 1. The Circuit Court of Appeals this week issued a blow to EEOC when it addressed the extent to which an employer is responsible for offering a religious accommodation in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. The appellate court held that the lawsuit failed because the…

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02 Oct 2013 U.S. Supreme Court to Kick Off New Term With Age Discrimination Issue

When the Supreme Court holds its first day of arguments of the new term (traditionally, the first Monday in October), it will hear an Illinois case that raises the issue of whether public employees who claim age discrimination can bypass the requirements of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and head straight to court under the Equal Protection Clause and 42 U.S.C. 1983. Barring any delays associated with the government shutdown, the Court is expected to hear arguments on Oct. 7, 2013 in Madigan v….

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30 Sep 2013 Does the DOL’s Letter on Law Students Signal a Broader Acceptance of Intern Arrangements?

The subject of unpaid interns doing productive work has become a hot button in recent months. High profile lawsuits have been filed, and it has become a reflex response among informed employers not to entertain the possibility of unpaid interns. Undoubtedly the subject in part has taken center stage because of the difficulty young professionals have in obtaining paid jobs. They understandably want to build their resumes, and many would be quite willing to work for free if the alternative is no work at all. In the…

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27 Sep 2013 Your Facebook “Like” May Be Constitutionally-Protected Speech

According to a recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, pressing the “like” button on your Facebook page constitutes substantive speech that may be protected by the First Amendment. Six employees of the Hampton, Virginia Sheriff’s Office were dismissed because they showed support for Sheriff B.J. Roberts’ electoral opponent. They filed suit against Sheriff Roberts, claiming in part that their terminations violated the First Amendment. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted summary judgment…

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25 Sep 2013 Social Media Policy Provides Legitimate, Nondiscriminatory Reason for Termination

Much has been written recently about how employers can avoid findings of unfair labor practices in violation of the National Labor Relations Act by having well-written social media policies. It turns out that a good social media policy also can act as a winning defense in discrimination actions. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently upheld a victory for Sam’s Club on an employee’s discrimination claim. Former employee Virginia Rodriguez sued under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act claiming that…

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