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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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23 May 2017 Ohio House Takes Steps to Modernize Outdated Antidiscrimination Statutes

  On May 9, the Ohio House of Representatives’ Economic Development, Commerce, and Labor Committee favorably reported on House Bill 2, a bill that would streamline and modernize Ohio’s archaic antidiscrimination statutes.   Ohio’s antidiscrimination statutes are currently some of the least friendly in the country to employers. There are lengthy statutes of limitations, along with individual liability for managers and uncapped damages. There are four ways to file an age discrimination claim, all with different statutes of limitations and remedies. A plaintiff can simultaneously…

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Settlement
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05 May 2017 Avoiding the Danegeld: Discouraging Me-Too Claims Following a Settlement

  A thousand years ago, Viking warriors would invade a town and threaten to destroy it if the townsfolk did not pay a tax called a “Danegeld” (meaning to pay the Dane gold). Of course, once the town paid the Danegeld tax, the Vikings saw the town as an easy mark – one to which they would return to and demand payment all over again. Essentially, this was the Middle Ages equivalent of a mobster shakedown: promising to “protect” your property to make sure nothing…

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01 May 2017 Lessons Learned: Job Descriptions Do Matter

  When was the last time you reviewed the job descriptions of your employees?  At the time of the review, did you ask supervisors to review the job descriptions to see if they were accurate?  What about the employees – did you have each employee review and sign the applicable job description, acknowledging that it accurately described the job duties as performed by the employee?  While there is no legal requirement to regularly update job descriptions (or even to have them), the 11th Circuit’s decision…

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19 Apr 2017 Court Tells Skydiver’s Estate It Won’t Reconsider Title VII Claim

  On April 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declined to reconsider the estate of deceased skydiver Donald Zarda’s Title VII claim against former employer Altitude Express. Zarda filed suit claiming his employment was terminated because of his sexual orientation. Although his New York state law claim was explicitly based on sexual orientation, his Title VII claim was characterized as a sex discrimination claim.   The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted summary judgment to Altitude…

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13 Apr 2017 Minnesota Human Rights Act’s Statute of Limitations Tolls When Employer Investigates Discrimination Complaints

  The Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) requires an individual to either commence a civil action or file a charge with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) within one year after the occurrence of an unlawful discriminatory act. However, that one year time period is suspended when the individual and the employer voluntarily engage in a dispute resolution process. The statute states that a “dispute resolution process” can include arbitration, conciliation, mediation or grievance procedures.   Most employers have believed the statute of limitations…

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11 Apr 2017 Suspending Employee Who Hit Boss With Vehicle Not Retaliation

  In a rather unusual case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Court ruled that the U.S. Postal Service (“Postal Service”) did not retaliate against an employee when it suspended him for two days after he hit his supervisor with a postal vehicle.   Javier Cabral, a letter carrier for the Postal Service, filed three different Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) complaints and several union grievances alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Cabral ultimately sued the Postal Service, alleging hostile work environment, harassment,…

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17 Mar 2017 Does Same-Sex Harassment Support Gender Discrimination Claims? Texas Supreme Court to Decide

  The Texas Supreme Court agreed to determine whether a school teacher’s allegations of a hostile work environment by her same-sex superiors can support a claim of gender discrimination in violation of the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA). The court will also decide whether the circumstantial evidence presented to prove the teacher’s retaliation claim is sufficient to support a violation of the TCHRA.   The teacher alleged that a fellow coach began to sexually harass by allegedly making comments about the teacher’s body…

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16 Mar 2017 Mugshots Gone Viral: Internet Clickbait is a Hiring Manager’s Minefield

  While “that hot mugshot guy” launched a modeling career – including a recent New York Fashion Week runway appearance – based on his improbably good-looking booking photo, most arrestees are not so lucky.   It seems the Internet-browsing public can’t resist clicking around for such photos — from celebrities to the average joe — and thus media sites routinely post such photos to attract page views. Mugshots are nearly unavoidable on the Internet and they remain posted long after any news value has faded away. There are even commercial…

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08 Mar 2017 Transgender Bathroom Case Sent Back to Lower Courts by Supreme Court

  On March 6, 2017, the Supreme Court canceled scheduled arguments in a case involving the bathroom rights of transgender students in public schools. The Court sent the case back to the 4th Circuit to reconsider the issue in light of the Department of Justice and Department of Education rescinding Obama-era guidance clarifying protections for transgender students.   The case, Gloucestor County School Board v. G.G., involved a transgender high school student seeking to use the boys’ restrooms at his high school. The plaintiff –…

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03 Mar 2017 By the Numbers: Women in the Workforce

  In honor of Women’s History Month, the U.S. Department of Labor posted some thought-provoking statistics about working women.  While employers already know women play an important role in the U.S. job market, these figures demonstrate just how significant female workers are in our economy.  Below are some of the fascinating numbers about working women:   Nearly half of the U.S. workforce is comprised of women, with more than 74.6 million women employed in civilian jobs Almost 10 million women are business owners and account…

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