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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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18 Apr 2016 Court Says Mandatory Flu Vaccine for Hospital Worker Does Not Violate Title VII

A federal court in Massachusetts recently issued an opinion that provides much needed guidance to hospitals and other healthcare institutions on whether it is permissible – under Title VII – to require mandatory influenza vaccinations for healthcare workers who object to receiving the vaccination on religious grounds.   The case started in 2011, when Children’s Hospital Boston announced that all persons who worked in or accessed patient care areas would be required to be vaccinated against the influenza virus. The requirement applied to employees, volunteers,…

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06 Apr 2016 Don’t Call a Transgender Employee “It”

By now, most people know enough about the law to know that you can’t discriminate against a worker because of characteristics like race, sex, age and disability. Those are pretty obvious and those laws have been in place for as long as most of us can remember. However, society and laws are constantly evolving, and there are always new issues employers need to watch for, both to ensure all of their employees are protected from discrimination and to make sure they are protecting themselves from…

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23 Nov 2015 Federal Court Allows ADEA “Pattern-or-Practice” Claim to Proceed

Earlier this week, a federal district court in Florida allowed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) pattern-or-practice discrimination claim against a national restaurant chain to proceed (EEOC v. Darden Restaurants, Inc.). The EEOC brought its lawsuit against Darden Restaurants, Inc., alleging the company had hiring practices that favored younger applicants over those who were older, and that such practices violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (the ADEA). In support of these allegations, the agency relied on data showing Darden’s hiring of individuals over 40-years-old…

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11 Nov 2015 DO IT FOR THE VINE! How This Week’s Viral Social Media Trend Can Spark Legal Liability in the Workplace

Consider the following scenario: Sharon is the owner of a very successful restaurant in Florida. Sharon’s establishment employs around 20 individuals. Most of her employees are between 18 and 22 years old. In May 2015, Sharon hired Joseph as a server. Joseph is a disabled 38 year old whose medical condition requires that he wear special orthopedic shoes.   Sharon began noticing an annoying pattern of behavior during the first week of July. Several of her younger employees working in the back stock-room would frequently…

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04 Sep 2015 Second Circuit Clarifies Viability of Retaliation Claim Under Section 1983 For Having Complained of Discrimination

Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit, resolved confusion surrounding the viability of retaliation claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, clarifying that a plaintiff can bring an action under Section 1983 for retaliation based on complaints of discrimination. In the case at issue, Vega v. Hempstead Union Free School District, plaintiff was a bilingual high school teacher with many years of service, who alleged discrimination based on his “Hispanic ethnicity” and retaliation under Title VII and Section 1983 against the school district,…

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19 Aug 2015 Not All Good Deeds Are Punished: A Paid Suspension Is Not An Adverse Employment Action For Title VII

Chalk up a victory for logic.   Addressing an issue of first impression, the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania), recently held that an employee’s suspension with pay is not an adverse employment action for purposes of Title VII. In doing so, the Third Circuit has joined several of its sister Circuits across the country, including the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Circuits.   The case, Jones v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority involved an employee who was…

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01 Jul 2015 More Hope for Employers Who Have Ever Felt Bullied by the EEOC

In past entries in this blog, we have noted how multiple courts have been critical of the EEOC for failing to engage in good faith settlement negotiations with employers. These cases provide some solace for employers who feel as if the EEOC takes unreasonable settlement positions simply because it has nothing to lose if settlement negotiations breakdown and litigation ensues. A recent case from a federal court in the Southern District of Ohio is the most recent case in this line.   In EEOC v….

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19 Jun 2015 Do Not Seek DNA Information From Employees…

Do not seek DNA information from employees … even for non-discriminatory purposes. That seems to be the lesson learned from a recent federal court decision in Georgia.  A food distribution company in Atlanta, Atlas Logistics, requested several employees to submit to cheek swab genetic tests when human feces deposits were repeatedly discovered in one of its warehouses. Although the offender(s) were not identified by the genetic tests, a forklift operator and a deliveryman who submitted to the testing later sued under the federal Genetic Information…

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18 Jun 2015 Zoo Fires Employee For Social Media Comment About Serving “Rude A** White People”

In suburban Chicago, the Brookfield Zoo has fired one of its employees for complaining in a social media post about having to serve “rude a** white people.”  The employee posted an Instagram selfie, which she then shared to Facebook, in which she is wearing her Brookfield Zoo uniform and in which she tagged the location as the Brookfield Zoo.   The post went viral, being shared over 6,000 times and receiving approximately 20,000 likes.  Hundreds of customers complained to the zoo and called for the…

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17 Jun 2015 EEOC Targets Minnesota Company For Alleged Transgender Discrimination

Through its 2012 Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP), the EEOC had made it a top priority to target employer-discriminatory conduct directed at “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.” In accordance with the SEP, the commission last week filed a lawsuit against Deluxe Financial Services, a Minnesota-based printing and financial services company. The EEOC alleges that Deluxe discriminated against Britney Austin, a longtime employee who recently began presenting as a woman. According to the complaint, Deluxe would not allow Ms. Austin to use the women’s restroom and…

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