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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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28 Dec 2012 Supreme Court Denies a Request to Temporarily Enjoin the Contraceptive Mandate

On Dec. 26, 2012, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a order denying Hobby Lobby’s request to temporarily enjoin the application of part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the company while the courts considers whether the ACA infringes upon the free exercise of religion. A copy of this decision, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, can be found here. Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts retail chainstore, and Mardel, Inc., a chain of Christian-themed bookstores, object to a provision of…

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28 Dec 2012 Iowa Supreme Court Rules that Employer Lawfully Terminated “Irresistible” Employee

Can an employer lawfully terminate a female employee because the employer’s wife is concerned about the nature of the relationship between the employer and the employee?  You bet (at least in Iowa). Dr. James Knight hired Melissa Nelson in 1999 to work as an assistant in his dental office. In the months leading up to Nelson’s termination, Dr. Knight and Nelson began texting each other regarding both work related and personal matters. While most of the texts were innocuous, Dr. Knight did send several messages that were…

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21 Dec 2012 No ADA Protection for Termination Due to Fear of Swine Flu

Earlier this month, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota rejected a former employee’s “respectable argument” that his termination was unlawful under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)  because it was premised on the employer’s fear the plaintiff had been exposed to the swine-flu virus while in Mexico. Specifically, in Valdez v. Minnesota Quarries, Inc., the District Court examined the “interesting question of whether someone who is regarded as having an impairment that…is no more serious than seasonal flu…is “disabled for purposes of the…

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21 Dec 2012 Employees’ Requested Religious Accommodations Must Be Reasonable

An employee whose religion prohibits or prevents him from performing certain job duties may ask his employer to provide an accommodation. So says Title VII. However, simply because an employee makes a particular request does not mean that the employer must grant it. The request must be reasonable. This important proviso was recently demonstrated in EEOC v. Thompson Contracting, Grading, Paving & Utilities, No. 11-1897, 2012 WL 6217612 (4th Cir. Dec. 14, 2012).  There, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued a construction contractor on behalf a Hebrew Israelite…

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20 Dec 2012 All I Want For Christmas Are Some Stats

The following chart graphically depicts the total number of EEOC charges filed with the agency from 1997-2011.  http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/charges.cfm  What is immediately apparent from this chart is the relationship between the overall economy and the number of filings. The chart begins in the prosperous 90’s (this is how far back the EEOC’s historical online information goes). As the country continued with the dot-com boom, you can see the number of filings going down. The filings, however, tick up again beginning in 2000 as the economy worsened into recession and…

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20 Dec 2012 Businesses Brace for Another Round of EEOC Challenges

On Dec. 17, 2012, the EEOC revealed its “priorities and goals,” giving businesses some forecast of the EEOC climate and danger zones during next four years. In technical terms, the Commission approved (by a 3-1 vote) its formal Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP), which identified the following six (6) national priorities: – Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring – Protecting immigrant, migrant and other vulnerable workers – Addressing emerging and developing employment discrimination issues – Enforcing Equal Pay Laws – Preserving Access to the Legal System – Preventing Harassment through Systemic Enforcement and Outreach In other words,…

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20 Dec 2012 The Top 10 Ways To Reduce Discovery Costs: Nos. 5-1

Yesterday we posted Part I of the article, “The Top 10 Ways to Reduce Discovery Costs: Nos. 10-6.” You can read the article by clicking here. Today, we complete our list by featuring the top 5 ways to reduce discovery costs. 5. Don’t Destroy Evidence. No responsible employer would intentionally destroy evidence. The problem, however, is that responsible employers can have irresponsible and/or negligent employees. Accordingly, all employers should have procedures for advising their employees of reasonably anticipated litigation so that the company properly preserves…

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19 Dec 2012 When Numbers Count

Normally, numerosity is something a plaintiff needs to establish in order to maintain a class claim. Turning that factor neatly on its head, JPMorgan successfully defeated conditional certification of an FLSA collection action through the overwhelming support of its workforce in a recent decision out of the Middle District of Florida. The case, Hart v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., involved a debt collector who claimed that he worked about 3-4 hours a week for which he was not paid. Among other things, he claimed…

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19 Dec 2012 The Top 10 Ways To Reduce Discovery Costs: Nos. 10-6

It should come as no surprise to most employers that employment litigation is on the rise. It also should come as no surprise that discovery is seen as the biggest single driver of litigation expenses. Recent studies have shown that discovery can consume up to 68 percent of the costs in a case. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of attorneys – both plaintiff and defense attorneys alike – agree that the costs of litigation and particularly discovery are not proportional to the value of a case….

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