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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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28 Mar 2013 Indiana Bill Would Restrict Local Government Entities from Setting Laws on Leave

The Indiana legislature recently passed a bill limiting a local government entity’s ability to regulate private employers within its territorial boundaries. Senate Bill No. 213, set to be signed into law by Governor Mike Pence, specifically restricts a county, city, town, or township from requiring that an employer provide employees any benefit, term of employment, working condition, or an attendance or leave policy that exceeds the requirements of federal or state law. For more information on what this bill would mean for employers, check out…

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22 Mar 2013 ADA Reasonable Accommodations and Wellness Programs

As a means of dealing with ever increasing healthcare premiums, many employers have chosen to implement wellness programs to improve the health of their workforce, thereby reducing claims. The EEOC has recently issued an interpretation letter stating that employers have an obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation for their employees who are participating in a health contingent wellness program. These types of wellness programs require an employee to meet certain standards related to a health factor (i.e. reducing blood pressure or losing weight, etc.) to achieve a…

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22 Mar 2013 Federal Court Enjoins the Application of the Contraceptive Mandate to Company Owned By the Founder of Domino’s Pizza

On March 14, 2013, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan issued a preliminary injunction against the application of the contraceptive mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to a for-profit employer. District Court Judge Lawrence Zatkoff ruled that Domino’s Farm Corp., a for-profit property management company owned by Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza, did not have to comply with the contraceptive mandate because it violated Monaghan’s religious beliefs. Judge Zatkoff wrote, “It is in the best interest of…

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18 Mar 2013 Employee Retaliation Claims: Will the Supreme Court Stem the Tide?

It was no surprise for practitioners and their clients alike to learn that, statistically, retaliation claims remain the largest number of claims brought before the EEOC (in 2012, almost 38,000 charges alleged retaliation—38.1% of all charges). Worse, retaliation claims are expensive to defend. This point is painfully highlighted in this week’s submissions with the U.S. Supreme Court. Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (along with the Retail Litigation Center) filed with the Supreme Court an amici curiae brief in a case in which retaliation…

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15 Mar 2013 Did They Just Say That? A Reminder That Off-The-Cuff Remarks Handcuff Employers in Employment Lawsuits

A recent race discrimination and retaliation case in Pennsylvania underscores the risks of off-the-cuff remarks by managers.  The case in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Johnson v. Hershey Creamery Corp., No. 1:11-cv-00776 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 8, 2013), involved an African-American who worked as a seasonal employee for Hershey Creamery.  At the end of each season, the employee was laid off.  One year, two of his Caucasian co-workers were hired as full-time, regular employees.  When he asked why he was not hired, Hershey told him that…

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15 Mar 2013 Some Basic Advice as “March Madness” Begins

It’s mid-March. That – as any fan of college basketball knows – means that the NCAA basketball tournament and “March Madness” are about to begin. As a result, a case that was handed down by the U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit yesterday is timely.  In Covington v. International Association of Approved Basketball Officials, No. 11-3096, 2013 WL 979067 (3d Cir. Mar. 14, 2013), a female referee alleged that the organization that supplies referees for high school basketball games in New Jersey’s Hamilton…

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14 Mar 2013 Judicial Approval No More? The Days of Judicially Scrutinized FLSA Settlements May Be Drawing To a Close

The fact that the settlement of FLSA claims must be pre-approved by a federal court or the DOL has long been greeted by employers with the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands: nothing is worse than steering a hard-fought case to a resolution that is acceptable to both sides only to have the deal potentially torpedoed by a procedural hurdle at the last minute.  Nevertheless, that has long been the rule.  Best articulated by the seminal case of Lynn’s Food Stores, Inc. v. U.S.,…

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08 Mar 2013 Internal Investigations Can Be Crucial to Defense Against Retaliation Claims

It will come as no surprise to many employers that retaliation charges under Title VII and similar employment laws are, in many instances, more challenging to prevent and defend than discrimination claims. So there is comfort to be found in a pair of rulings from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals today, affirming that an employer’s investigation into alleged workplace misconduct can serve to stave off liability in the event of a retaliation lawsuit. In Vaughn v. Vilsack, the Court affirmed summary judgment for the…

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08 Mar 2013 Illinois court revives Whistleblower Act claim of employee who was fired following fine

Say an employee makes a report to a government inspector of an alleged violation of the law, but the government agency already knows of the violation – is the employee still protected from retaliation by his employer under the Illinois Whistleblower Act? A trial court judge in central Illinois did not think so, and granted an employer’s motion to dismiss on the pleadings. But on appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed, ruling that the language of the Whistleblower Act focuses on what the employee reasonably believed,…

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06 Mar 2013 Seventh Circuit to Employers: Be specific, ambiguities in Rule 68 offers of judgment might cost you

The Seventh Circuit recently sent a very important message to employers making offers of judgment to plaintiffs: Be specific. The message was sent via Sanchez v. Prudential Pizza, Inc. et al., Case No. 12-2208. Leading to the Seventh Circuit’s decision, the Plaintiff had sued the Defendant-employer for sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In advance of trial, the Defendant made an offer of judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68, which permits a party defending a claim to…

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