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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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29 Jun 2012 Supreme Court’s Ruling on Healthcare Impacts Employers

In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld nearly every provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Consequently, employers will need to prepare for full implementation of the Act this year and next in anticipation of a new health benefits world in 2014. See our B&T Healthcare Blog’s post for more information about the decision.

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27 Jun 2012 U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Employment Provision in Arizona Immigration Law

The Supreme Court has ruled in Arizona v. United States, Dkt No. 11-182 that Arizona’s S.B. 1070, enacted in 2010 in reaction to increasing undocumented immigration into the State, is largely preempted by federal law. The decision, issued by Justice Kennedy, considered four provisions of the 2010 Arizona law and struck down three, including Section 5(C), which made it a state criminal misdemeanor for undocumented immigrants to apply for employment or work in the state. The Court held that the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)…

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26 Jun 2012 U.S. Supreme Court to consider definition of “supervisor” for purposes of vicarious liability in hostile work environment case

While all eyes are on the United States Supreme Court this week as we await the release of its decision on the health care reform law as it concludes the 2011-2012 term, we also are looking ahead to cases of importance to employers on the Court’s docket this fall. The Supreme Court on Monday decided to add an interesting racial harassment case to its docket for the 2012-2013 term that will begin in October. The question the Court is expected to answer is whether the…

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26 Jun 2012 Employee Social Networking Password Protection May Soon Become Law in Illinois

Employers in Illinois who are interested in the Internet activities of their employees and job applicants, including activities on social networking sites, will need to be more cautious if Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signs a bill on his desk that the Illinois Legislature recently passed. The legislation, House Bill 3782, would amend the state’s Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act at 820 ILCS 55/10, a section that currently prohibits employers from asking prospective employees about their prior history of worker’s compensation claims. The amended Act would prohibit Illinois employers from requiring employees or…

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25 Jun 2012 What Managers Can Learn from Lilly Ledbetter

At first blush the autobiography of famed Equal Pay Act plaintiff Lilly Ledbetter might not seem all that much of a draw for those whose work involves defense against employment discrimination claims.  Yet the recently published book, Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, (Crown Archtype 2012) has much to offer for employment lawyers, human resource executives, and front-line managers who are involved in employment law compliance. We all know how the story ends – with the enactment…

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22 Jun 2012 Court Rules Participation in Post-Lawsuit Internal Investigation is Protected Activity

Although not particularly surprising, the Northern District of Illinois recently held that an employee who participated in an “internal investigation” regarding a former co-worker who had recently filed a race discrimination lawsuit was engaging in protected activity under Title VII.  The employee was therefore allowed to move forward with his retaliation claim after he himself was terminated several months later.  The opinion, Gomez v. Restaurant One Limited Partnership, may be found here. The case is noteworthy because the Seventh Circuit has previously held that participating…

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