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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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18 Jun 2012 DOL Decision Supports Expansion of SOX Whistleblower Protections To Contractors of Publicly Traded Companies

The Administrative Review Board (Board) for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a decision, expanding the scope of the whistleblower protections under Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX). In Spinner v. David Landau and Associates, LLC., the Board specifically rejected an earlier decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and, instead, found that SOX’s whistleblower protections extend to the employees of contractors and subcontractors of publicly traded companies. In the Spinner case, Thomas Spinner was a Certified Public Accountant,…

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13 Jun 2012 Plaintiff’s Efforts to Preclude Her Deposition in Discrimination/Retaliation Suit Rejected by U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina recently rejected a pro se plaintiff’s efforts to evade being deposed in her suit filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, after suing her former employer North Carolina Department of Administration/North Carolina Human Rights Commission (“NCDOA”), plaintiff Linda Huggins sought a protective order precluding NCDOA from deposing her in relation to her claims of discrimination and retaliation. The opinion, which can be found here, rejected such efforts and…

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11 Jun 2012 Business Groups Join In Request For EEOC To Pay For Title VII Case

In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Peoplemark, Inc., Case No. 11-2582, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Equal Employment Advisory Council and the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center recently joined Peoplemark, Inc., in its request that Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals uphold the lower court’s award of $752,000 in attorney’s fees and costs awarded to the temporary employment agency after a voluntarily dismissed discrimination action by the U.S. Equal Employment Commission. The lower court’s award of fees and costs to Peoplemark…

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06 Jun 2012 Are Your Summer Interns Covered By Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws?

Several months ago the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued an informal discussion letter addressing whether interns (paid and unpaid) are covered by the anti-discrimination laws enforced by the agency (e.g. Title VII, GINA).  The Commission’s letter can be found here. With the summer months upon us, we thought it would be helpful to revisit the issue. The analysis for paid and unpaid interns will differ.  For unpaid interns, coverage likely will turn on whether the intern receives “significant remuneration” for his or her services (e.g. workers’ compensation benefits or access…

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04 Jun 2012 A Complete Overview of the NLRB’s Memorandum Regarding Social Media Policies in the Workplace

A.      Executive Summary. On May 30, 2012, the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon issued a memorandum regarding social media policies in the workplace, the third such memorandum in recent months. The memorandum provides numerous examples of employer policies that ran afoul of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), and a few examples where employers “got it right.” While it remains to be seen whether the NLRB’s interpretations are supported by the courts, employers should recognize that these policies are a…

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04 Jun 2012 EEOC Finds that Transgender Workers Are Protected by Title VII

In a landmark decision, the EEOC recently found that discrimination against transgender individuals constitutes sex discrimination in violation of Title VII. The administrative decision stems from a case where Mia Macy, a transgender individual, was denied a job as a ballistics technician by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The facts are straightforward: Macy previously was a police detective in Phoenix, Arizona. In December 2010, she decided to relocate to San Francisco. During this time frame, Macy was informed that the Bureau was…

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25 May 2012 American Bar Foundation Study Measures Fairness Perceptions in Employment Discrimination Cases

By the time an employment dispute becomes a lawsuit it may be hard for the opposing parties to see a “win-win” situation ahead, judging by a recent study that the American Bar Foundation funded. Based on research that included a sample of 1,788 employment discrimination cases and 100 interviews with plaintiff/employees and defendant/employers and their counsel, employment litigation is viewed as disruptive, disappointing, and unfair to all. For employees, the process is frustrating due to unfamiliar procedural obstacles and the substantial personal and financial toll…

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24 May 2012 Illegal Immigration Status Is Not Protected By Title VII

On May 21, 2012, the Seventh Circuit issued a decision in Cortezano v. Salin Bank & Trust Co., No. 11-1631, holding that an individual’s immigration status, by itself, was insufficient to support a national origin discrimination claim under Title VII. The case involved a bank manager whose spouse had come into the United States illegally from Mexico.  The spouse used a tax identification number (which he obtained under what the court described as murky circumstances) to open joint accounts with at the bank.  After the…

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22 May 2012 Indiana Ranks 13th In EEOC Charges Received by State

For the first time ever, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released a state-by-state analysis of charges received.  The statistics cover 2009-2011 and the link can found here.  The top five states receiving the most charges were, in order, Texas (9952), Florida (8088), California (7166), Illinois (6098), and Georgia (5599). Commentators have noted these states’ large populations generally, as well as high numbers of individuals most vulnerable to discrimination, as contributing to the charge numbers.  Indiana ranked 13th in the number of charges filed…

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22 May 2012 Alabama Court Rejects Request for Sanctions Arising From “Missing” Personnel Documents That Would Not Have Altered Outcome of Case

The Northern District of Alabama recently rejected a plaintiff’s request for sanctions against her former employer, Logan’s Roadhouse, arising in relation to the contents of personnel files.  The ruling stems from a case in which a former Assistant Manager claimed the restaurant had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to promote her and then terminating her employment due to her sex or alleged past complaints of gender discrimination/harassment.  The plaintiff further alleged that she had been paid unequally due…

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