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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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06 Dec 2013 Don’t Forget About Potential Associational Claims

At this point, most employers (we hope) are well aware that the ADA prohibits discrimination against “qualified individuals with a disability.” Nevertheless, many employers may not realize that the ADA also protects applicants and employees from discrimination based on their relationship or association with an individual who has a disabling condition. According to the EEOC, the purpose of the association provision of the ADA is to “prevent employers from taking adverse actions based on unfounded stereotypes and assumptions about individuals who associate with people who…

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26 Nov 2013 GINA: Much Ado About Nothing?

Earlier this year it was reported that the EEOC had filed two lawsuits against employers, one in New York and the other in Oklahoma, for violating the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) by requesting family medical information from employees.  GINA, which became law over five years ago, prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information, and specifically makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate, refuse to hire or discharge any employee because of the employee’s genetic information. After GINA went into effect, there was…

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23 Oct 2013 A Quick Reminder Regarding Complaints in the Workplace

Last year we reported on a landmark EEOC decision where the Agency concluded that discrimination against transgender individuals is actionable under Title VII. In that case, the EEOC held that Title VII prohibits an employer from taking adverse action based on the fact an employee/applicant fails to “adhere” to gender-based expectations or norms. It remains to be seen whether courts will agree with the EEOC’s position, but the decision appears to suggest that the argument may be viable in some jurisdictions. There’s another angle to…

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17 Oct 2013 Hope for Employers Who Have Ever Felt Bullied by the EEOC

A recent order from an Atlanta federal court should give hope to all employers who have ever felt bullied by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In EEOC v. HomeNurse, Inc., Case No. 1:13-cv-2927, a former employee filed a charge with the EEOC alleging that HomeNurse discriminates against disabled persons, persons who are 40 years old or older, persons with pre-existing genetic conditions and African Americans.  Oddly, though, the former employee was none of these things. She was not disabled, was under 40, had no genetic…

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11 Oct 2013 Another Criminal Background Case, Another Blow To The EEOC

Earlier this week, a divided Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued another blow to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in its pursuit of discrimination claims against employers and criminal background checks.  In a 2-1 decision, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s award of $751,942 in attorney’s fees, expert witness fees and other litigation costs to Peoplemark, Inc. after the company produced thousands of documents refuting the allegation that it had a “blanket policy” of denying jobs to individuals with felony records.  (EEOC v….

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09 Oct 2013 Government Shutdown Continues And Enforcement Agencies Remain Closed

As we enter the second week of the government shutdown, the federal enforcement agencies remain closed. Among the closed enforcement agencies are the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor (DOL). Each agency has prepared contingency plans during the course of the shutdown. Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC) is currently closed, it has indicated that the time limits for filing a charge of discrimination will not be extended during the shutdown. Instead, claimants are encouraged to still file the charge during the closure and…

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04 Oct 2013 EEOC Cases Continue to Make Waves Despite Shutdown

While the EEOC is all but completely closed this week due to the federal government shutdown, that hasn’t stopped federal courts from issuing interesting rulings in EEOC employment discrimination cases. A quick roundup of a few recent cases of note: 1. The Circuit Court of Appeals this week issued a blow to EEOC when it addressed the extent to which an employer is responsible for offering a religious accommodation in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. The appellate court held that the lawsuit failed because the…

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20 Aug 2013 Is EEOC Conciliation Subject to Judicial Review? Seventh Circuit to Decide

When the EEOC files federal court lawsuits alleging discriminatory conduct,  defendant-employers routinely assert a “failure to conciliate” defense.  Thus, the issue becomes whether and to what extent a court can review the EEOC’s internal pre-suit conciliation process. In its case against Mach Mining LLC, pending in the Southern District of Illinois, the EEOC took the position that the court cannot review its conciliation efforts. However, the District Court rejected that position and determined that conciliation is subject to at least some level of judicial review.  In particular,…

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13 Aug 2013 EEOC Not Faring Well in Background Check Disparate Impact Cases

The EEOC’s crackdown on the use of background checks has taken another body blow, this time delivered by federal Judge Roger Titus out of the District of Maryland. After a recent spate of adverse decisions in such cases (including cases against BMW Group and Kaplan Higher Education Corp.), national event planning company Freeman found itself in the agency’s cross-hairs. The opinion, granting Freeman summary judgment, can be found here.  While acknowledging that it is possible to prove a discriminatory disparate impact (here, against African-Americans and…

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09 Aug 2013 EEOC Hit With $4.7 Million in Attorneys’ Fees and Costs

On Aug. 1, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was ordered to pay $4.7 million in attorneys’ fees and costs in the litigation it brought against CRST Van Expedited (CRST) in 2007. In that litigation, the EEOC alleged that female workers had been sexually harassed by male employees and trainers. CRST challenged the sweeping sexual harassment claims brought by the EEOC and U.S. District Court Judge Linda R. Readle agreed, describing the EEOC’s tactics in identifying the class of female workers as a “moving…

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