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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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15 Jul 2013 The Employer Mandate Has Been Moved One Year. Now What?

A Primer On What Employers Need To Know About The Affordable Care Act Many employers across the country breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing that the implementation of the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been delayed until Jan. 1, 2015. Of course once the revelry dies down, employers will come to the sober realization that this just means that the can has been kicked down the proverbial road.  Employers who should have been in the process of figuring out the…

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12 Jul 2013 Employers Must Take Care to Avoid Individual Liability Under the FLSA

In Irizarry v. Catsimatidis, No. 11-4035, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a partial summary judgment for a class of current and former employees from Gristede’s supermarkets who sued the corporation and several individuals for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The class successfully obtained a ruling that owner, president, and chief executive officer John Catsimatidis was an “employer” under the FLSA and could be held personally liable for Gristede’s failure to pay proper overtime compensation to its eligible employees. The…

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08 Jul 2013 Employers Should Use Care to Avoid Discrimination When Using Temporary Staffing Agencies

Employers that use staffing agencies to fill temporary work assignments should be prepared to meet the challenges inherent in such relationships for purposes of compliance with Title VII, as illustrated by the EEOC’s litigation against a small manufacturer in Illinois. Although the Illinois manufacturer claimed it was not subject to Title VII because it had fewer than the statutory minimum 15 employees, the EEOC argued that temporary employees needed to be counted. The EEOC contended that the employer should be held liable if the actions…

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03 Jul 2013 Obamacare Employer Mandate Delayed A Year

Late Tuesday the Treasury Department provided the business community welcome relief by announcing that employers would not be penalized in 2014 under the insurance coverage mandate. Enforcement of the significant penalties that businesses with over 50 full-time employees could be assessed for not providing health insurance coverage to at least 95 percent of full-time workers will instead begin in 2015. Those penalties would currently amount to $2000/year for every full-time employee, not counting the first 30 employees. The Affordable Care Act (better known as “Obamacare”) has drawn…

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26 Jun 2013 U.S. Supreme Court Directs 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to Re-Examine University of Texas’ Race-Conscious Admissions Policies

On Monday, June 24, 2013, the U.S Supreme Court issued a much-anticipated ruling in the first affirmative-action case since the 2003 landmark decisions of Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger.  However,  Monday’s ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin did not reach the merits of the school’s policy, holding that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals applied the incorrect standard of review. For academic institutions that have race-conscious admissions policies, this case does not alter the current legal requirement that such polices be “narrowly…

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25 Jun 2013 Supreme Court Endorses Narrow Definition of “Supervisor” in Discrimination Claims

On Monday, June 24, 2013, the Supreme Court provided clarity for lower courts and employers when it ruled that an employer may be vicariously liable for a supervisory employee’s harassment (to the extent that it did not culminate in a tangible adverse employment action) only when the employer has empowered the employee to take tangible employment actions against the alleged victim of the harassment. And in the process, the Court soundly rejected the EEOC’s enforcement guidance as “nebulous” and unpersuasive. While the ruling in Vance…

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25 Jun 2013 Supreme Court Requires But-For Causation in Title VII Retaliation Claims

On June 24, 2013, the United States Supreme Court held in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, 570 U.S. ____ (June 24, 2013) (Nassar), that a plaintiff bringing a retaliation claim under Title VII must demonstrate “but for” causation, not merely that retaliation was a “motivating factor.”   Writing for the majority and relying on the plain language, structure, and history of Title VII, Justice Kennedy explained that the “motivating factor” standard applies only to claims of “status-based discrimination,” i.e. claims of discrimination…

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21 Jun 2013 The Witness Files: Deja Vu All Over Again in Workplace Investigations

Over time, as lawyers and HR professionals and others conduct numerous workplace investigations, we find that, while each investigation is unique, we “meet” the same characters over and over. With that in mind, I am writing monthly posts on the i-Sight.com blog about those composite witnesses and strategies for dealing with them. The first post that I’ve authored, entitled “The Clueless, Yet Compliant, Accused,” features the supervisor who really does want to improve his clueless behavior (a relatively easy case in many respects); while the…

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19 Jun 2013 Employers May Come Up, Um, Short Under ADA

A decision last week from the U.S. District Court for Arizona highlights a point made previously in this space – for better or worse, the number of people protected by discrimination laws almost never goes down, rather we just keep adding protected classes and who is covered under them. In this decision, the Court opened the Pandora’s Box of possibly protecting short employees under the ADA. The case involves an allegedly bullying supervisor – accusing the plaintiff of mistakes that turned out to the supervisor’s…

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18 Jun 2013 OSHA’S Revised Hazard Communications Standard Imposes New Training Requirements by Dec. 1, 2013

OSHA’s revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires sweeping mandatory training for most employers across the country on the new requirements for chemical labeling as well as the new Safety Data Sheets by Dec. 1, 2013. It was revised to align it with the internationally accepted Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Any employer that uses hazardous chemicals in its workplace is subject to the communication and training requirements of the HCS. OSHA estimates that this revised standard will affect more than…

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