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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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13 Feb 2017 Blog Update: North Carolina Business that Fired Pregnant Employee Agrees to Three-Year Consent Decree with EEOC

  If there’s anything worse than government regulation, perhaps it’s the government breathing down your neck for the next three years. That is what a North Carolina furniture company is facing after it was sued for pregnancy discrimination last summer by the EEOC.   You might remember our blog post last summer about the EEOC’s lawsuit against RTG Furniture Corp. of Georgia d/b/a Rooms to Go (RTG) that fired a pregnant employee who was working with potentially dangerous chemicals. The EEOC had accused RTG of…

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08 Feb 2017 2016: EEOC Charges Keep Climbing

  Well, it’s February already and the EEOC charge filing statistics for 2016 are out. Last year, we were looking at the total number of charges filed against employers beginning to tick up again. One year later, we have a definite trend beginning to build:     The above chart tracks the number of annual EEOC charges going back 20 years. As you can see, the overall number of charges tends to ebb and flow with the general nature of the economy – when a…

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23 Nov 2016 EEOC Issues New Guidelines on National Origin Discrimination

  Earlier this week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidelines on national origin discrimination. These extensive guidelines, which update those issued in 2002, define what constitutes national origin discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and provide more than 30 examples as well as “promising practices” that can help employers avoid such discrimination. Title VII is wide-reaching, applying to employers with 15 or more full- or part-time employees.   The new guidelines offer the following definition of national origin discrimination:…

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29 Aug 2016 Seventh Circuit Discards Well-Worn Standard for Discrimination Cases Does this Herald the End of the Golden Age of Summary Judgment for Employers?

  Late last week, the often employer-friendly Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out the basis upon which discrimination claims have been analyzed for almost a generation. The decision, Ortiz v. Werner Enterprises (Case No. 15-2574), foreshadows dramatic and huge repercussions for employers in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.   Background on Direct and Indirect Tests   For more than 20 years, courts in the Seventh Circuit have recognized two avenues of proving discrimination: the direct and indirect methods. Before last week, a plaintiff-employee in the…

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25 Aug 2016 Ray of Hope Peeks Through a Mound of Proposed EEOC Data Requirements: Senators Fight to Nix EEOC Plan

  The way things are going at the EEOC, the next time it requires additional information on the annual EEO-1 report, it will want to know what kind of underwear each employee wears broken down by race, sex and national origin. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but many employers probably wouldn’t be surprised.   In January, the EEOC proposed a rule requiring larger employers to report pay and hours worked data, in addition to standard demographic data. The new information is intended to give government agencies…

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23 Jun 2016 OSHA’s New Mandatory Electronic Recordkeeping Rule The Hidden Requirements for Anti-Retaliation and Discrimination Require Action Before Aug. 10, 2016

As you may be aware, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a new final rule revising the recordkeeping and reporting requirements. OSHA’s summary of its new final rule can be found here and the full text of the recordkeeping regulations can be found here.   While a lot of buzz is occurring around the new electronic submission requirements that become effective Jan. 1, 2017, there are significant developments which are not explicitly referenced in the regulations which require action by Aug. 10,…

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13 May 2016 A Smorgasbord of Termination Reasons That Might Be Used Against You

One of the most frequently asked questions in employment law counseling is “Can I terminate Employee X?” The better and more salient question is “For what reason(s) should I terminate Employee X?”   Not all reasons are created equal. There is a perception that the more reasons provided the greater the strength of the employer’s defense. And it’s true. Each discrete reason proffered by the employer must be rebutted. So, the more, the better? No, says the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in a recent…

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06 May 2016 Transgender Bathroom Access Addressed in New EEOC Fact Sheet

In the midst of news coming out of North Carolina, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a new fact sheet that addresses bathroom access rights for transgender employees. The fact sheet’s key point is that transgender employees have the right to equal access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. This right is provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s protection against sex discrimination—even if there is state law to the contrary.   Employers should note that, as…

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23 Apr 2016 A RIFing Yarn: How Being Able to Support a RIF Pays Off Down the Road

If getting sued by a former employee is bad, it stands to reason that getting sued by a former human resource employee is worse.  Aside from having to deal with the typical headaches associated with litigation, the employer also has to contend with someone who may know all of its dirty laundry. Mack Trucks / Volvo North America successfully faced down the appeal of such a suit just this last week in the federal Third Circuit.   The case, Andersen v. Mack Trucks, Inc.; Volvo…

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22 Apr 2016 The Benefits of Adopting an Effective Complaint-Reporting Procedure

A recent federal case from Washington reminds employers of the benefits associated with procedures making it easy for employees to complain of harassment or discrimination. The case is Matthiesen v. Autozoners, LLC, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington (Case No. 2:15-cv-0080).   Matthiesen involved a female employee who worked at an Autozone store for about five months.  The company’s handbook provided several options for reporting concerns about discrimination or harassment: discussing the situation with management, discussing the situation with human resources (HR)…

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