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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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24 Sep 2013 What Did The Fifth Circuit Say About Reasonable Accommodations?

In order to be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an employee must be a “qualified individual with a disability.” A “qualified individual,” in turn, must be able to perform the essential functions of his or her job with or without an accommodation. Based on these simple premises, most employers understand that they must provide reasonable accommodations to help their employees perform those essential functions (and, indeed, this is the type of accommodation that employees generally request). Accordingly, many employers would likely agree with…

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20 Sep 2013 SEC Proposes Disclosure of Difference Between CEO and Worker Pay

A hotly-divided Board of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a proposal this week calling for public companies to disclose compensation data allowing for a comparison of their Chief Executive Officer’s pay to the median pay of their rank-and-file employees. The release of this proposal, passed by a vote of 3-2 along party lines, is now open for public comment over the next couple of months. In order for the proposal to go into effect, the SEC will again vote on it after the…

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18 Sep 2013 Home Health Care Workers Now Protected Under the FLSA

On Tuesday, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued its Final Rule regarding home health care workers and protections under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Under the Final Rule, which will become effective Jan. 1, 2015, the minimum wage and overtime protections will extend to nearly 2 million in-home health care workers who care for the elderly, ill and disabled. The Final Rule revised certain definitions, including “domestic service employment” and “companionship services.”  Since 1974, “domestic service” employees have been covered by the FLSA and have…

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