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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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24 May 2018 Letter C: Co-Workers With Criminal Records? Your Workforce May Be More Open-Minded Than You Think

Letter C is coming at you with a double-punch: Are employees comfortable with their Co-workers having Criminal records?  At least one survey indicates that the answer is yes.   A recent survey commissioned in part by the Society for Human Resource Management finds that a majority of workers say they are willing to work with individuals with criminal records.  The survey aptly notes that, as unemployment continues to decrease, individuals with criminal records might serve as a previously overlooked labor pool.  The survey also found…

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24 Apr 2018 B is for “Bias” – Is Bias The Not-So-New Cause of Discrimination?

  Starbucks made national news earlier this month when two black men were arrested after refusing to leave a store.  News accounts reported that a store manager called 911 after the men remained in the store and asked to use the restroom but had not yet made a purchase.  The fallout from this event was notable to say the least: protests, calls for boycotts, and even an apology from the CEO.  The incident further has sparked a discussion on implicit bias, especially after the national…

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12 Mar 2018 Sixth Circuit Holds Transgender Status Protected Under Title VII

  On March 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit weighed in on the continuing debate surrounding the scope of Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination. In a landmark decision, the court ruled that Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of transgender and transitioning status and further held that bare compliance with Title VII presents no substantial burden upon an employer’s sincerely held religious beliefs, precluding a defense under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”).   In EEOC v. R.G. &…

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08 Feb 2018 Ohio Bill Protecting LGBTQ Rights Receives Widespread Support at Committee Hearing

  In October we detailed a new bill in the Ohio legislature aimed at banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. As an update, House Bill 160, dubbed the Ohio Fairness Act, is currently before Ohio’s House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee.   On January 31, 2018, the committee held a public hearing and provided an opportunity for proponent testimony. It was the first time in nine years that a bill protecting LGBTQ individuals was…

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28 Dec 2017 Nursing Mothers Protected under Discrimination Laws, says Connecticut Federal Court

  As we’ve recently outlined, the Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act and Illinois Human Rights Act mandates that employers must be prepared to accommodate pregnant employees and nursing mothers. A recent ruling in Connecticut federal court should stand as a reminder to employers that Illinois is not the only state where the rights of pregnant employees and nursing mothers are protected.   Jill Grewcock was a nursing mother who sued her employer, Yale-New Haven Health Services Corporation, for sex discrimination and retaliation in…

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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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