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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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19 Apr 2018 Zero-Tolerance for Upside-Down Burritos

  A recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit provides some useful reminders for employers on the benefits of establishing and enforcing zero-tolerance drug policies and effectively documenting performance actions. The case is Caporicci v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., Eleventh Circuit Case No. 16-13494.   Like many employers, Chipotle has a drug policy, which prohibits any employee from reporting to work under the influence of alcohol, drugs or controlled substances, and also requires that employees who use medically prescribed or…

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05 Apr 2018 Accommodate Much? Restrictive Seventh Circuit Leave Ruling Lives On

  Letter of the Law: A Revival!  No employment lawyer worth her salt would choose anything other than “Accommodation” for the Letter A.  And so it begins….   HR professionals know all too well that the ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities.   While accommodations often include overcoming physical obstacles such as inaccessible workplace areas and unwieldy equipment, they more commonly pertain to workplace rules. For example, employers are asked to change when or where work is performed, leave…

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05 Apr 2018 Letter of the Law – A Revival!

  Some time ago, our dutiful leader over here at BT Currents, Bill Nolan, brought you a fun and clever series, Letter of the Law, highlighting current employment issues from A to Z.   Well it’s been some time (ok, more than just some – I am pretty sure I helped Bill with the series back when I was in law school) and we are bringing it back!   Needless to say, the letter of the law has changed since then – and because we…

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21 Aug 2017 Don’t Get Caught in the Weeds: Hiring Issues and Medical Marijuana

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 states have “comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs” and 16 states have more limited programs that allow for the use of “low THC, high cannabidiol” products for certain medical reasons. This legalization of medical marijuana has created challenges for employers and their hiring practices when many companies desire to have a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol in the workplace, especially for safety-sensitive positions.   The courts also have weighed in regarding employers’ decisions not…

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09 Jun 2017 Lessons Learned – Engaging in Protected Activity Does Not Shield An Employee From Termination

  Navigating the FMLA, the ADA, and a myriad of state laws poses challenges for even the most knowledgeable HR professional. But as one court recently reminded us in Ibewuike v. The Johns Hopkins Hospital, employers can hold employees accountable for misconduct (such as violating leave policies) unless of course, it would be reasonable, under the facts and circumstances of the particular situation, to excuse the misconduct.   In Ibewuike, the employee applied for leave under the FMLA in connection with the anticipated birth of…

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22 May 2017 College Not Required to Alter Academic Program for Reasonable Accommodation

  After his requests for additional accommodations were denied, a student at the Lamar Institute of Technology (LIT) who had medical issues related to a brain injury withdrew from the institution and filed suit. After a recent loss in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the student has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for consideration.   The student suffered from an anoxic brain injury that caused him to have memory problems. Similar to the accommodation analysis in an employment setting, the college…

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03 Apr 2017 Employer’s ‘Stirring Up’ Testimony Allows Plaintiff to Pursue Section 504 and ADA Claims

  A case out of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee provides a useful reminder that employers must exercise caution when responding to reports of potential protected activities. The case, Hicks v. Benton County Board of Education, involved a special education aide who spoke to special education parents about services their students failed to receive. Upon learning this information, the principal instructed the plaintiff to cease talking directly to parents concerning what was going on in the program and to instead…

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24 Mar 2017 Easy Come, Easy Go: Appeals Court Reverses $2.6 Million Award in ADA Case

    In a helpful case for employers, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a $2.6 million jury verdict in Stevens v. Rite-Aid Corporation (Case No. 15-277), holding that the employer could not reasonably accommodate a pharmacist’s fear of needles.   The case began in 2011, when Rite-Aid started requiring that all of its pharmacists be able to administer immunization injections to customers. But, the new job requirement presented a problem for Rite-Aid pharmacist Christopher Stevens; he suffers from the fear of needles, known…

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14 Dec 2016 A U.S. Supreme Court ADA Showdown Is A-Brewin’: Eleventh Circuit Contradicts Seventh Circuit Regarding Non-Competitive Mandatory Reassignments

  This past week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (encompassing Florida, Georgia, and Alabama) reignited an old-fashioned statutory interpretation duel. Ok, it’s not as exciting as the Earps vs. the Clantons at the O.K. Corral, but it certainly has more far-reaching ramifications for employers and employees alike.   The issue: whether, when an employee with a disability cannot perform the essential functions of his or her current job, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires mandatory reassignment of minimally qualified individuals…

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31 Aug 2016 EEOC: Drug Testing Policies Must Allow for Reasonable Accommodation

  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed suit against a car dealership alleging that its drug testing policy did not contain exceptions for qualified persons with disabilities. The lawsuit, EEOC v. Bell Leasing, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:16-cv-02848, was filed on August 25, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. The EEOC alleges the employer made a job offer to an applicant contingent upon a successful drug test.  When the applicant tested positive for a prohibited substance, the employer rescinded…

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