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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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17 Apr 2015 EEOC RELEASES PROPOSED RULE ON EMPLOYER WELLNESS PROGRAMS

On April 16, 2015, the EEOC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would amend the regulations and interpretive guidance under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as they relate to employer wellness programs. A copy of the proposed rule can be found here.   Barnes & Thornburg has issued an Employment Alert on the proposed regulations. This proposed rule was highly anticipated as recent lawsuits filed by the EEOC raised questions about when wellness plans violated the ADA. Mark ScudderMark D….

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13 Apr 2015 Did California Just Fire No-Employment Provisions From Settlement Agreements?

Many employers who negotiate settlements to end a hard-fought battle with a former employee prefer an agreement that the employee will never work for them again. After all, it is perfectly understandable that after a company spends untold thousands in legal bills and severance wishes for complete closure on a difficult chapter, as well as some certainty that they won’t have to worry about the possibility that the employee – now armed with settlement funds – would try another lawsuit based on a failure to…

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01 Apr 2015 No Girls Allowed Isn’t Allowed: Even Roughnecks Have To Follow The Law

Even in the “manliest” of jobs, employers must be careful not to discriminate against female applicants, or it will cost them. On March 24, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma denied an employer’s motion for summary judgment against the EEOC in EEOC v. Unit Drilling Company, finding issues of fact regarding female applicants’ discriminatory failure to hire claims.   Unit Drilling Company operates oil drilling rigs and was hiring for the position of floor-hand, an entry-level job that requires no…

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09 Mar 2015 More EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch: Why No Disability Accommodation Angle?

As Jeanine Gozdecki posted here, the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in the case involving the scope of an employer’s obligation, if any, to initiate religious accommodation discussions with an applicant who was wearing clothing that would violate the company’s apparel policy but that would seem to be being worn for religious purposes. The federal court of appeals that heard the case seemed to say the company had no affirmative obligation, it had not discriminated if the applicant did not raise the issue….

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25 Feb 2015 Choose Your Expert Wisely: Fourth Circuit Rejects EEOC’s Choice on Background Checks

Fans of the Indiana Jones series will remember the scene near the end of the Last Crusade where our hero is looking over a multitude of chalices to select the one true grail, and the ancient knight beside him warns: “Choose wisely.” When the bad guy pushes his way forward to pick out a pretty – but ultimately incorrect – cup, we find out the grisly consequences of choosing poorly. The knight’s admonition to “choose wisely” not only is good advice for selecting grails, but…

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06 Feb 2015 EEOC Data Released for 2014 Shows Uptick in Retaliation Charges and Allows For State-By-State Comparison of Charge Activity

The EEOC has released its private sector data tables and a press release regarding enforcement data for fiscal year 2014. This data establishes that 42.8 percent of the 88,778 charges of workplace discrimination received by the agency alleged retaliation – an all-time high, despite there being an overall downtick in overall charge filing attributed to the government shutdown during the reporting period.   Through its enforcement efforts, and prior to litigation, the EEOC obtained more than $296 million in monetary relief, with more than $22…

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04 Feb 2015 2014: Free Fallin’ EEOC Charges?

Earlier this morning, the EEOC released their charge filing statistics for 2014. For the fourth consecutive year, the number of EEOC charges has dropped – from 93,727 to 88,778. The chart below illustrates the decline and puts the numbers into perspective heading back to the good ol’ days of the 20th Century:     Does it feel like 2007? Well, that’s about where we stand with respect to the overall number of charges filed in the last year. The reason for the decline is unclear,…

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23 Jan 2015 Man Claiming Hand Scanning Time Clock Causes “Mark of the Beast” Wins Religious Discrimination Suit

Last week, a federal jury in West Virginia found in favor of a plaintiff claiming that his coal mining employer discriminated against him based on his religious beliefs by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation for his religious objection to the company’s use of a biometric hand-scanning time clock. The plaintiff was an evangelical Christian who believed that the use of the hand scanner was discussed in the Book of Revelation in the Bible when it described the Antichrist as causing all to have a…

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16 Jan 2015 Will the EEOC Get its Wings Clipped? Mach Mining’s Challenge to the EEOC before the Supreme Court

  On Jan. 13, during oral argument, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia echoed businesses’ skepticism about the EEOC’s pre-suit settlement strategy, saying  “there is considerable incentive on the EEOC to fail in conciliation so that it can bring a big­deal lawsuit and get a lot of press and put a lot of pressure on this employer and on other employers. There are real incentives to have conciliation fail.”   Justice Scalia made his comments in the case of Mach Mining L.L.C. v. Equal Employment…

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09 Jan 2015 EEOC to Consider “Best Practices” for Prevention of Workplace Harassment

While most employers likely think of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission first and foremost as an enforcer of federal non-discrimination laws through its charge investigations and litigation, the Commissioners at the EEOC appear to be opening the New Year with a focus on preventative measures.   The Commissioners are scheduled to hold a meeting on Wednesday, Jan.14, 2015, to consider the subject of workplace harassment and specifically how employers can prevent and address harassment.   The Commission’s meeting at its Washington, D.C., headquarters, which…

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