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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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08 Jun 2017 The Age Discrimination in Employment Act Turns 50

  Put 50 candles on the cake. In 1967, the U.S. Congress passed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) with the stated purpose “to promote employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment; (and) to help employers and workers find ways of meeting problems arising from the impact of age on employment.”   Now 50 years later, as baby boomers are moving through the workforce and reaching retirement, the ADEA retains its relevance even…

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09 Mar 2017 Unwise Old Sayings? Watch Out For Stereotypes That Might Trigger An Age Discrimination Lawsuit

  By this point, most employers know not to make explicit ageist remarks such as calling an employee Grandpa, saying an employee is old, or inquiring about when an employee will retire. However, employers should also be mindful that less explicit remarks, even if not intended to be ageist, can evoke certain stereotypes and result in allegations of age discrimination.   In a recent Eighth Circuit case, an employee sued for age discrimination after his termination. His supervisor had noted that tasks requiring “physical skill…

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10 May 2016 55-Year-Old Employee Fails to Establish Age Discrimination Claim against 3D Printing Company

Last week, a Minnesota Federal District Court granted summary judgment in favor of a New Mexico company accused of age discrimination. Optomec, Inc., is a New Mexico-based corporation that develops and manufactures 3D printing systems. While Optomec is headquartered in Albuquerque, it has also has a facility in St. Paul, Minnesota.   In 2013, Thomas Nash, who was 53-years-old at the time, began working for Optomec as a paid intern in the company’s St. Paul location. During his internship, Nash received average to “tepid” reviews….

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31 Mar 2016 University of Iowa Wins Trial Against Immigration Lawyer Claiming Age Discrimination

  A unanimous jury recently determined that the University of Iowa’s (UI) decision not to hire a 55-year-old man did not amount to age discrimination. In 2010, Donald Dobkin applied for a teaching position at UI’s College of Law. When Mr. Dobkin was not chosen for the position, he brought a lawsuit, claiming he was passed over because of his age. He also asserted that UI hired a less experienced person for the job because she was younger. Following a full trial, a jury returned…

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22 Dec 2015 Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Incorporate In Carolina . . .

If anyone needs another lesson in the benefits of incorporating a company, consider a decision from earlier this week out of the Western District of North Carolina: Magaha v. W&B Trucking Co., et al.   The underlying story is a fairly typical age discrimination claim: longtime worker for company sues after she is permanently laid off at age 67. During her employment, her hours allegedly were cut for no reason and she repeatedly was the subject of age-based jokes and harassment for which she complained,…

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26 May 2015 This Should Go Without Saying: Replacing an Older Worker with Two Younger Workers is Not Consistent with a Reduction in Force Defense

A recent case from a Chicago federal court is a good reminder that just because you can make a particular argument in defense of a lawsuit doesn’t mean that you should. In Summers v. Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc., Case No 13C1312 (N.D. Ill. May 19, 2015), an employee who had worked for her employer for 40 years was fired, along with a number of other employees. The employee sued for age discrimination. As a reminder, employees must meet the high standard that “but for” their age,…

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30 Jan 2015 Supervisor’s Statement Precludes Summary Judgment

Business jargon permeates the workplace. For many of us, not a day goes by without hearing phrases such as: “hit the ground running,” “Let’s take this offline,” “paradigm shift,” “lots of moving parts,” “tenure,” etc. Some business lingo, however, may have the potential to cause trouble down the line.   A recent age discrimination case out of Louisiana illustrates this point perfectly. In this case, a manager allegedly made numerous references to hiring “new blood” for the workforce. The federal court ultimately denied the employer’s…

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13 Oct 2014 Don’t Mess With Texas…Roadhouse

Being directly in the cross-hairs of the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) can be a daunting experience for any employer. In response to what to what it believes to be overreaching litigation tactics by the EEOC, however, Texas Roadhouse is swinging back. According to Texas Roadhouse, the EEOC – on its own accord and without a single complaint from a job applicant or employee – initiated an investigation of the restaurant’s hiring practices of “front of the house positions,” such as hostesses. The Restaurant asserts…

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17 Sep 2014 What’s In Your RIF? Age Discrimination Decision Highlights Documenting Rationale For A RIF, And That Even as Adults, A Plaintiff Should Not Just Copy Someone Else’s Work . . .

  Consistent with the age-old adage that there is no free ride, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an age discrimination claim of a former employee who based his case on comments allegedly made to another employee.   The case involved a long-time employee of a large financial company who began work in 1988 and survived multiple mergers and restructurings. But, in 2010, his performance was rated in the bottom tier of employee rankings in the company. Coincidentally, his employee conducted a reduction in force (RIF)…

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03 Jul 2014 Age Discrimination and Technology: Don’t Take a “Mechanized” Approach Letter of the Law: Current Employment Law Issues A-Z

  From robots performing minimally invasive surgical procedures to computerized payroll, almost all businesses look to the latest technology to optimize day-to-day operations.  Employers need to remain mindful, however, of potential employment implications of being “cutting edge.”   For example, in Marlow v. Chesterfield Cnty. Sch. Bd., 749 F. Supp. 2d 417 (E.D. Va. 2010), a terminated school administrator sued her former employer based on circumstantial evidence of age discrimination. Prior to termination, the Superintendent questioned the plaintiff employee’s “21st Century skills.” Additionally, the school corporation…

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