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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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05 Jul 2018 E is for Equal Pay: Pay Data Reporting And The Shifting Meaning Of “Equal Work”

Pay equity among men and women has been a “front and center” topic for years.  President Obama made it one of the high priorities for his administration and signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as his first piece of legislation in 2009.  While the issue and its surrounding policies are nothing new today (nor were they in 2009), it is still leaving employers scratching their heads and is a fitting topic for the next letter up in our Letter of the Law Series, the…

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27 Jun 2018 Will There Be An Epic Backlash?

By now, most have heard about the U.S. Supreme Court’s May 21, 2018 opinion in Epic Systems Corporation v. Lewis. Epic actually decided a trio of consolidated cases before the high court and held, as a matter of law, that class action waivers within arbitration agreements are enforceable, that is, arbitration agreements between an employee and employer may prohibit the employee from participating in most claims against the employer other than through one-on-one arbitration.   Workers’ advocates are echoing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s stinging dissent,…

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06 Jun 2018 Sixth Circuit Looks to Seventh and Ninth Circuits in Reviving Firefighters Title VII Suit against Union

On June 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit joined the Seventh and Ninth Circuits in holding that the standards governing a duty of fair representation claim (i.e., a duty held by unions to represent all employees in good faith, and without discrimination) do not govern Title VII discrimination claims against a union.    In Peeples v. City of Detroit, a group of Detroit firefighters brought suit against their union alleging disparate-treatment race and national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII. …

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29 May 2018 Workplace Culture 2.0: More Leadership, Less Management

Title VII is not a “civility code.”   Although the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination in the workplace, it does not outlaw bad behavior. It does not require us to each to treat coworkers respectfully. It does not compel us to be inclusive, or tolerant, or kind.   When the U.S. Supreme Court cautioned in a 1998 sexual harassment case that Title VII is not a “civility code,” it underscored the constraints of our country’s seminal anti-discrimination law. The law has its…

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18 May 2018 The $8 Million Burrito; Or How Not To Conduct Video Surveillance

Many employers install video surveillance to stop theft and provide helpful evidence to support their employment decisions.  From a legal standpoint, video surveillance generally is allowed if reasonable – monitoring the cash register is fine; installing a camera in a bathroom stall obviously is not.  In truth, the vast majority of what is surveilled is frankly, boring: the camera largely becomes a forgotten silent witness to the daily grind.  Hardly anyone ever watches what the camera records and no one would ever want to look…

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02 May 2018 California Supreme Court Ruling to Give More Workers Employee Status

On Monday, the California Supreme Court issued an opinion in Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County, which reversed nearly three decades of precedent by rejecting the longstanding Borello worker classification test. The opinion effectively expands the number of workers that will be deemed as employees for purposes of California wage orders, ultimately granting such workers benefits, minimum wage, and overtime compensation, as well as rest and meal breaks.   As a result of this decision, California employers will have…

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30 Jan 2018 What’s the EEOC Up To These Days?

  Are you curious as to what the EEOC has been up to in the past year? The wait is over — in its 2017 Enforcement and Litigation Data released last week, the EEOC identified the volume and types of workplace discrimination charges keeping its staff busy during FY2017 (ending in September 2017). While FY2017 saw 84,254 charges coming through the EEOC’s doors, this figure is the lowest the EEOC has seen in 10 years, and reflects a nearly 8 percent drop in charges filed…

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13 Dec 2017 Can’t Touch This: Seventh Circuit Panel Backs Tenured Teacher Law

  In Elliott v. Board of School Trustees of Madison Consolidated Schools, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit unanimously upheld a federal district court’s ruling that the layoff provision of Indiana’s 2011 Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) violated the federal Contract Clause when applied retroactively to a teacher who earned tenure before the new law took effect. The decision was issued on Dec. 4.   For more than 80 years, Indiana’s 1927 teacher tenure law has created contractual…

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12 Dec 2017 Second Circuit Holds that Hearst Interns are not Employees

  Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision upholding an order granting summary judgment in favor of Hearst Corporation, publisher of such magazines as Cosmopolitan, ELLE and Harper’s BAZAAR, finding that the plaintiffs were not illegally deprived wages under the FLSA or New York state law as statutory “employees.” This is the second decision in this case at the Second Circuit as this case previously reached the Second Circuit, but was then remanded back to the District Court…

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28 Nov 2017 Accommodate Pregnant Employees and Nursing Mothers, or Expect Consequences

  Employers must provide pregnant employees and nursing mothers with necessary workplace accommodations or face possible legal liability in court. That’s the lesson to be learned from a recent case that is one of the first to analyze and apply certain provisions in Illinois law.   In Spriesch v. City of Chicago, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently ruled that a fire department paramedic could proceed with at least some of her claims against her employer alleging…

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