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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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29 Sep 2017 The Gradual But Decided Shift to a Much More Complex World of Employment Law

  On Oct. 4, my colleagues (and fellow Currents bloggers) Jeanine Gozdecki and Doug Oldham will be presenting a program focused on increasing complexity in the employment law arena. Employment law accelerated in the 1960s when Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was passed, as well as many similar state discrimination laws. At that time, things seemed pretty cut and dried – treat people equally to avoid liability. Many factors have made the world of employment law far more complicated since then:   The number of protected…

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24 Aug 2017 Massachusetts Law Latest to Bolster Protection for Pregnant Employees

  On July 27, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which amends the state’s antidiscrimination law to include pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, such as breastfeeding, as protected classes. The new law, which goes into effect on April 1, 2018, also requires employers to provide pregnant employees and new mothers with reasonable accommodations unless such accommodations would cause the employer undue hardship.   Potential accommodations identified in the statute include: more frequent or longer breaks paid or unpaid leave to recover from…

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22 Aug 2017 Ohio House Proposes Hurdles to Hiring Process

  The Ohio House has proposed a bill designed to protect the privacy of employment applicants, but the bill also could making hiring more cumbersome for employers.   House Bill 187 provides that no employer may request an applicant’s Social Security number, date of birth, or driver’s license number before making an offer of employment. This language is problematic for employers, because these are pieces of information an employer uses to check criminal records, driving history, credit history, and history of previous employment with the…

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30 Jun 2017 ‘Bona Fide Relationships’ Under Trump’s New Travel Ban: Who’s In and Who’s Out?

  The U.S. Supreme Court made headlines on June 26 when it partially mandated aspects of Trump’s notorious “travel ban” barring immigrants from select countries from entering the United States. In a lengthy opinion, the court provided that people seeking visas from six restricted countries – namely Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – would be temporarily barred from entering the United States unless they can claim a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States. This uncertain description of…

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09 Jun 2017 Lessons Learned – Engaging in Protected Activity Does Not Shield An Employee From Termination

  Navigating the FMLA, the ADA, and a myriad of state laws poses challenges for even the most knowledgeable HR professional. But as one court recently reminded us in Ibewuike v. The Johns Hopkins Hospital, employers can hold employees accountable for misconduct (such as violating leave policies) unless of course, it would be reasonable, under the facts and circumstances of the particular situation, to excuse the misconduct.   In Ibewuike, the employee applied for leave under the FMLA in connection with the anticipated birth of…

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08 Jun 2017 Ohio Court Finds New Local Minimum Wage Law Unconstitutional on Technicality

  A Franklin County, Ohio, judge has invalidated a new Ohio law that prohibited municipalities from enacting pro-employee laws raising the local minimum wage and guaranteeing additional employee rights. The law was found to be unconstitutional, but only on procedural grounds.   Ohio Senate Bill 331 started as an animal welfare bill – it regulated the sale of dogs from pet stores, prohibited cockfighting and bearbaiting, and outlawed bestiality. However, during the lame duck legislative session in December 2016, the House Finance Committee added diverse…

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06 Jun 2017 Ohio State University Considers Cutting Benefits for Unmarried Same-Sex Partners

  On June 9, the Ohio State University Board of Trustees will consider whether to stop allowing employees’ unmarried same-sex partners to obtain health insurance and other benefits. If the board approves the change, then unmarried same-sex partners already enrolled in benefit plans would keep those benefits through 2018, but no new unmarried same-sex partners would be allowed to obtain benefits.   This decision is not entirely novel. Miami University made a similar change at the end of 2016, same-sex partners must be married to…

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05 Jun 2017 Are You Recording This Conversation?

  Most of us expect to engage our colleagues without concern that our workplace conversations are secretly recorded. However, today everyone has a smartphone that readily allows for spontaneous photographic, video, and audio recording.   Until recent times, attorneys generally advised clients that it was appropriate to insist that workplace conversation not be recorded. Employers took the position that a team culture did not support recording conversations; colleagues need to be able to speak freely with each other at work.   That argument just lost-out…

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05 Jun 2017 Court Invites EEOC’s Opinion on Whether Title VII Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination

  We recently updated you on the Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit granted en banc review of the plaintiff’s claim to consider whether Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Now the court has taken an additional step of inviting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to give its two cents.   The EEOC is already on record in other courts arguing that Title VII covers sexual orientation…

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02 Jun 2017 Trump-Era Immigration Worksite Raid Threats May Bring New Requirements for California Employers

  Amidst fears of increased workplace immigration raids during Trump’s presidency, California’s legislature recently introduced a bill that, if passed, would ban employers from providing workplace access to immigration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials without a warrant. This bill could have enormous affects for California, where more than 2.6 million undocumented workers reside. Notably, almost one in every 10 California workers is undocumented, and undocumented workers make up almost half of California’s agricultural workforce.   The measure, AB 450, called the Immigrant…

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