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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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23 Jul 2012 Plaintiff’s Claim for Direct Violation of Breast Milk Expression Provisions of the PPACA Required to Be Filed Directly With DOL

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa recently dismissed a plaintiff’s claim pertaining to her right to privacy in expressing breast milk in the workplace, pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “Act”).  The opinion, which can be found here, granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss in part, finding that the more appropriate forum for the plaintiff’s complaint — that she was not afforded a place to express breast milk that was “shielded from view and free from…

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20 Jul 2012 Electronic Monitoring of Employees’ Telephone Conversations: A Quick Reminder for Employers

Some employers concerned with excessive use of business phones for personal use may wish to adopt a practice of monitoring employees’ telephone calls placed over company phone lines. Other employers might wish to monitor phone usage in order to evaluate the level of customer service provided by their employees.  And suspected wrongdoing by one or more employees may cause employers to want to monitor telephone usage. Whatever the reason for monitoring, employers need to be aware that the practice is not without risk. For example, the Omnibus…

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17 Jul 2012 EEOC Meeting on Strategic Enforcement Plan

In February 2012, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) approved a Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2012-2016. The first performance measure of the Plan requires the EEOC to approve a Strategic Enforcement Plan, which it currently is developing. The purpose of the Plan is to leverage agency resources to focus on high impact lawsuits that will obtain relief for large numbers of individuals.  The text of the Plan can be found here.  To that end, the EEOC will hold an open meeting on…

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16 Jul 2012 Sixth Circuit Expands on “Cat’s Paw” Discrimination

Readers may remember the Staub v Proctor Hospital decision issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in March 2011, essentially holding under the “cat’s paw” theory that employers may be liable for discrimination if the decision maker relies on input from subordinates with discriminatory intent, even if the decision maker did not have discriminatory motives. In addition to the question, “why is it called ‘cat’s paw’ anyway” (more on that below), employers as with most Supreme Court decisions are waiting to see how the rule evolves as…

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13 Jul 2012 OSHA – Employers have a duty to help prevent heat-related illnesses

Although the oppressive heat wave that affected much of the country is behind us for now, as the summer rolls on we can expect that additional hot weather will continue to pose challenges for those who work outdoors or in locations where heat can build up to extreme levels. Prevention of heat-related illnesses can be even more of a priority with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees that cause the heat index to soar to potentially dangerous levels.  To help employers anticipate issues that can arise when…

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12 Jul 2012 Crossing the Minefield of Criminal Background Checks

The EEOC’s recent guidance on criminal background checks spawned numerous legal updates, alerts and webinars (including ours) talking about the new limitations for employers on pre-employment inquiries and applications.  In Indiana, this focus has underscored the importance of two other laws regarding background checks: 1. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and2.  July 1 changes to Indiana’s law on an individual’s criminal history (HEA 1033).  As a reminder, an employer that relies on a third party for criminal history reports has waded into coverage…

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11 Jul 2012 Montana Supreme Court Holds Obesity Alone Is An Impairment

On July 6, 2012, the Montana Supreme Court held that obesity alone, without any underlying physiological disorder or condition, constitutes an impairment for purposes of the Montana Human Rights Act “MHRA).  A copy of the case, BNSF Railway Co. v. Feit, can be found here.  In BNSF Railway, Feit, an applicant for employment at BNSF, filed an administrative complaint with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry (the “Department”) claiming that BNSF discriminated against him because of a perceived disability—obesity—in violation of the MHRA.  The…

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10 Jul 2012 What Does the Supreme Court’s Ruling Mean to Indiana Employers?

While the Supreme Court held that several provisions of AZ’s immigration law were preempted by federal law in the landmark decision of Arizona v. United States, employers should not be misled into believing that all state law immigration laws have been invalidated. The provisions of the law which were struck down were those of a criminal nature (i.e., making it a misdemeanor for unauthorized aliens to apply for work, to fail to carry valid immigration documents as well as a provision for warrantless arrests of…

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29 Jun 2012 Don’t Screen Out State Laws When Hiring

A recent decision from the Northern District of Illinois serves as a reminder to employers to consider both federal and state laws regarding pre-employment screening when making hiring decisions. In Stratton v. Merrill Lynch, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60426, 2012 WL 1533456 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 25, 2012), the court determined that the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDIA) did not preempt the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/2-103, which prohibits employers from using the fact of an arrest as a basis for taking an adverse…

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