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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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03 Nov 2017 EEOC Complaint Inquiries Now a Click Away With New Public Portal

  The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced on Nov. 1 its new online portal available for individuals to submit discrimination and retaliation inquiries. Previously, prospective complainants either called a toll-free number or contacted a field office.   Individuals can subsequently use the public portal to digitally sign and file a charge of discrimination the EEOC has prepared for them.   An individual can use the portal to upload documents, agree to mediation, receive messages and schedule appointments, and check on the status of…

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31 Oct 2017 Attention, Class: Seventh Circuit Finds Preferred Teaching Methods Not Protected Activity Under ADA and Section 504

  A former special education teacher, who claimed to have engaged in a protected activity when she defended her teaching methods following a negative performance evaluation, could not show that the school district discriminated against her when it terminated her. Finding no evidence of discrimination, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the school in Frakes v. Peoria School District No. 150.   After receiving an “unsatisfactory” rating based on several deficiencies,…

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03 Oct 2017 Will Ohio Pass a Law to Protect LGBTQ Rights?

  There has been widespread activity in the U.S. Courts of Appeals in 2017 regarding whether Title VII includes sexual orientation as one of its protected classes, but the answer is still unresolved on a national level. In an effort to provide protections where federal law does not necessarily do so, 20 states and the District of Columbia have banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment settings. However, Ohio is not one of those 20 states, and past efforts to amend Ohio’s…

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11 Sep 2017 U.S. Supreme Court is Asked to Answer the Question: What Do You Mean by ‘Sex’?

  We knew this question would be asked. On Sept. 7, a petition was filed in this country’s highest court, asking it to settle the ongoing debate of whether Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination includes discrimination based on sexual orientation.   The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit case, Jameka K. Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, et al., involves a gay female security guard at a Georgia hospital who was allegedly harassed and not promoted because of her sexual orientation. She sued the hospital…

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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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05 Jun 2017 Court Invites EEOC’s Opinion on Whether Title VII Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination

  We recently updated you on the Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit granted en banc review of the plaintiff’s claim to consider whether Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Now the court has taken an additional step of inviting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to give its two cents.   The EEOC is already on record in other courts arguing that Title VII covers sexual orientation…

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26 May 2017 Second Circuit Takes Second Look at Sexual Orientation Discrimination Under Title VII

  The issue of whether Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is in the hot seat once again, this time being considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as part of an en banc rehearing granted in Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc. d/b/a Skydive Long Island. The grant of the rehearing, to include all active judges and those senior judges involved in the original appeal, comes after the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New…

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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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