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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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26 Nov 2012 When Is Facebook Activity “Solicitation?”

Employers who have restrictive covenants with employees likely are familiar with non-solicitation agreements, where employees agree not to “solicit” the employer’s customers or other business associates after the employment relationship terminates. After an employee leaves and questions are raised about whether the employee is violating his or her contractual obligations to the now-former employer, often there is a question as to when communication and contact with customers becomes prohibited solicitation. A Massachusetts court’s decision in the recent case, Invidia LLC v. DiFonzo 2012 WL 5576406…

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21 Nov 2012 They Know They Have It Too Good

As we reported earlier this week, federal government over pays its employees compared to the private sector by anywhere from 15-59% in wages (depending upon how you do the calculations) and by 44% when it comes to benefits. Using these figures, bringing the $200 billion the government spends on civilian employee compensation in line with the private sector could save the government hundreds of billions of dollars over 10 years — before cutting any programs or entitlements. Now realizing that their largely unnoticed government largess…

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21 Nov 2012 Hand it Over: Federal Judge Orders Plaintiffs in Discrimination Lawsuit to Produce Cell Phones and Facebook Account Passwords

Plaintiffs in an employment discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently were ordered to hand over their cell phones and Facebook account passwords for in camera (i.e. private) inspection by a federal Magistrate Judge. In this case, the EEOC brought suit alleging the defendant employer had subjected a class of female employees to sexual harassment and retaliation. During the course of discovery, the employer moved to compel the production of various text messages and social media posts. According to the Magistrate…

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19 Nov 2012 Overpaying Our Way Over The Edge of The Fiscal Cliff

While the debate about the fiscal cliff has been about what services to eliminate and how much to raise taxes, ignored almost entirely is the fact that the government grossly overpays for the services it buys. According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a federal government employee (including the Post Office) was $70,100 per year. For all private sector workers, that number was $43,980. That is, federal government employees are paid 59.4 percent more in salary…

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16 Nov 2012 En Banc Sixth Circuit Strikes Down Portions of Michigan’s Constitutional Amendment on Affirmative Action

Yesterday (Nov. 15, 2012), the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, sitting en banc, voted 8 to 7 to strike down portions of the amendment to Michigan’s constitution that barred the use of affirmative action in the admissions to public colleges and universities. The copy of the decision can be found here. In 2006, Michigan voters passed a referendum known as Proposal 2, which amended the Michigan Constitution to bar discrimination, as well as preferential treatment, toward “any individual or group on…

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16 Nov 2012 Second Federal Court Temporarily Enjoins Application of Contraceptive Mandate to a For-Profit Business

On Oct. 31, 2012, Judge Robert Cleland of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan temporarily enjoined the application of part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) to a for-profit business while the court considers whether the ACA infringes upon the free exercise of religion. A copy of this decision, Legatus v. Sebelius, can be found here. Daniel Weingartz is the President of Weingartz Supply Company, a family-owned business that sells outdoor power equipment and employs approximately 170 individuals….

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15 Nov 2012 Right to Work States Outstrip Others In Job Growth

According to a study by the National Institute of Labor Relations Research (the NILRR), the bulk of the country’s job growth since the end of the recession in 2008 took place in right to work states. Right to work states have some form of limitation on the ability to make paying union dues a condition of employment. The NILRR analyzed data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that approximately 72 percent of the net job growth in the United States from June…

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08 Nov 2012 Losing A Fair Labor Standards Act Lawsuit Can Be Costly

The costliness of losing a Fair Labor Standards Act was recently illustrated in a case that was brought in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.  In Monroe v. FTS USA LLC, the jury found that a cable company had improperly withheld overtime wages which should have been paid to 296 cable technicians.  The court eventually awarded $1.9 million in compensatory damages to the technicians.  The court then awarded an additional $1.9 million in liquidated damages because the jury had found that the…

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06 Nov 2012 D-Day for ObamaCare?

Today is Election Day, and many believe that it represents what may be the last realistic challenge to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a ObamaCare).  If the President wins re-election, it is virtually certain that the Act will be implemented as planned in January 2014.  However, what many overlook is that even if the President loses, the Act still may survive – depending on which party winds up controlling the Senate and whether there is sufficient political will to repeal the law.  As…

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05 Nov 2012 Newsweek’s history includes path-breaking gender discrimination case

When Newsweek/Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown recently announced that the print edition of Newsweek will cease publication at the end of 2012 after a nearly 80-year history, the fact that a female editor-in-chief broke the news likely was not lost on former Newsweek staffer Lynn Povich.  Ms. Povich, one of the leaders of a 1970s sex discrimination case against Newsweek, is the author of a newly released book that lays out all the details of the struggle by women at the magazine to rise beyond…

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