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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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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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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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