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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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01 Aug 2014 Employee Evaluation Practices Under Scrutiny LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

Recent weeks have seen employee evaluation practices in the news several times. For example, following an investigation into its employee review system, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced in May of this year that it would completely eliminate performance ratings previously assigned to some employees. In addition, the Bureau decided to assign high performance ratings to employees who received certain lower ratings in the past two years and to provide pay raises to those employees.   The Bureau had come under fire due to…

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27 Feb 2014 Workplace Bullying may Amount to Actionable Discrimination

A recent court of appeals decision highlights the risks associated with failing to address allegations of workplace “harassment” or “bullying.” In Woods v. Boh Brothers (5th Cir. 2013), Kerry Woods was employed by Boh Brothers as welder. In this capacity, Woods was supervised by Chuck Wolfe. Woods claimed that during his employment, Wolfe subjected him to almost-daily verbal and physical harassment: – Wolfe directed very foul language and locker room talk at Woods; – Wolfe referred to Woods by graphically derogatory names many of which…

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02 Dec 2013 “Using Social Media to Discriminate”: Please Read the Fine Print

A recent study of how hiring managers respond to phony social media accounts has been featured in some outlets with bold headlines along the lines of “Employers May Use Social Media to Discriminate.” Here is what the study, by researchers at Carnegie Mellon, really concluded:  The study involved sending dummy resumes to employers and creating dummy social media accounts to accompany those resumes. (While the subject matter of the research is undeniably important, is anybody else furrowing their brows a little about, um, lying to employers for purposes…

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08 Feb 2013 Breaking – Mixed Bag Ruling In California Mixed Motive Case

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court issued its widely anticipated ruling in Harris v. City of Santa Monica regarding the burdens in so-called mixed motive discrimination cases. Our Alert on the decision can be found here. This particular case had been pending before the court for three years, and should provide some guidance in cases where both legitimate and unlawful factors affect an employment decision. Scott WitlinScott J. Witlin is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Barnes & Thornburg and a member of the firm’s…

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25 Jul 2012 EEOC Cannot Claim “Deliberative Process Privilege” To Preclude Investigator’s Deposition

The United States District Court of the Southern Division of Alabama recently denied the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) motion to quash the deposition of the investigator assigned to the underlying Charge of Discrimination. In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Southern Haulers, Inc., the EEOC argued that the “deliberative process privilege” prohibited the defendant from deposing the investigator about “the steps she took in conducting the investigation, the documents produced by EEOC as part of its investigative file, inconsistencies in the documents contained in EEOC’s…

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16 Jul 2012 Sixth Circuit Expands on “Cat’s Paw” Discrimination

Readers may remember the Staub v Proctor Hospital decision issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in March 2011, essentially holding under the “cat’s paw” theory that employers may be liable for discrimination if the decision maker relies on input from subordinates with discriminatory intent, even if the decision maker did not have discriminatory motives. In addition to the question, “why is it called ‘cat’s paw’ anyway” (more on that below), employers as with most Supreme Court decisions are waiting to see how the rule evolves as…

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05 Jul 2012 Complaints Need Not Include Facts Which Would Support a Prima Facie Case of Discrimination under McDonnell Douglas

BT CurrentsBT Currents is managed by the attorneys in Barnes & Thornburg’s Labor & Employment Law Department. It’s designed to be your resource on employment law developments across the country. BT Currents will help employers across all industries stay aware of and respond to these developments.More Posts – Website

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04 Jun 2012 EEOC Finds that Transgender Workers Are Protected by Title VII

In a landmark decision, the EEOC recently found that discrimination against transgender individuals constitutes sex discrimination in violation of Title VII. The administrative decision stems from a case where Mia Macy, a transgender individual, was denied a job as a ballistics technician by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The facts are straightforward: Macy previously was a police detective in Phoenix, Arizona. In December 2010, she decided to relocate to San Francisco. During this time frame, Macy was informed that the Bureau was…

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