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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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20 Nov 2015 EMOJI-GOSH! How Emojis in Workplace Communications Can Spark A Lawsuit (Or Make It Harder To Defend One)

Emojis. They are the colorful cartoon images that are built into nearly every mobile device. They are hugely popular. At this very moment, thousands of communications containing these images are bouncing off satellites. In fact, they are so prevalent that an emoji has taken the title of Oxford Dictionaries’ “Word of the Year.” Yes, you read that correctly. An emoji – not a word – was handed this year’s title.   Why should this craze be of interest to employers? Well, we will set the…

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23 Oct 2015 Another Paid Family and Medical Leave Proposal: District of Columbia Considers 16 Weeks of Paid Leave under a Local Government-Administered Mandatory Fund Using a Payroll Tax

Advocates of paid family and medical leave programs continue to press for change. In September, we reported on the Obama Executive Order that mandates paid family and medical leave for federal contractors as part of a paid sick leave requirement. Currently, both California and New Jersey have paid family and medical leave that supplements the unpaid leave benefits provided under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Earlier this month, seven members of the District of Columbia’s local government Council introduced a bill (the…

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05 Feb 2015 Paid Sick Leave: Coming Soon to a City Near You?

President Obama reincarnated paid sick leave as a possible federal law right in his recent State of the Union address. “Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave,” Obama said. “It’s the right thing to do.” Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees of covered employers currently have rights to as much as twelve weeks of unpaid medical leave per year. In addition, thousands of employers of every size voluntarily provide some…

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29 Dec 2014 THREE MOST UNDERUTILIZED EMPLOYMENT LIABILITY PREVENTION TOOLS LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

This week U is for under utilized – the readily available liability prevention tools that, in our estimation, employers most often neglect to use to their advantage.   The extra step.  Before terminating an employee with a medical issue, that is. As we have written here and here, much FMLA and ADA liability is preventable if you will methodically work through the communications steps that years of case law tells us courts are looking for. The sooner you start, the sooner you can finish. I…

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15 Sep 2014 FMLA Certifications: When “Unknown” and “Probably” Aren’t Enough

  The words on the FMLA Certification jump out at us: “Unknown.” “Unpredictable.” “Probably.” Instead of the certainty we were looking for, we have more questions.   The DOL regulations require that the FMLA Certifications not only be “complete,” but also “sufficient.” What is “sufficient?” In looking at this issue recently, we found no DOL advisory opinions, although there are some court rulings to guide us.   As an initial matter, rely on the regulations: a medical certification is incomplete if information requested is not provided,…

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05 Sep 2014 New Illinois Law Will Require Pregnancy Accommodations Starting January 1, 2015

  Illinois employers should start preparing to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees and new mothers – including leaves of absence – under a new law that will go into effect on January 1, 2015. Notice posting will be required and employers also may need to revise employee handbooks or policy manuals in anticipation of the effective date of the new law.   The Illinois law, which amends the Illinois Human Rights Act, will allow women to request reasonable accommodations in the workplace for medical…

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30 Jul 2014 FMLA – Have you made a proper request for medical certification?

Having a comprehensive and compliant FMLA policy is important, but if you neglect to provide the required notice(s) to an employee who requests FMLA leave you could find yourself before a jury of your peers. Indeed, a recent decision by the federal court in Detroit, Barker v. Genesys Pho LLC (E.D. Mich. July 24, 2014), reminds us that implementing a good FMLA policy will do you no good if you don’t follow the FMLA notice requirements.   In Barker, the Court held that a jury…

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20 Jun 2014 FMLA Protections Should Include Same-Sex Spouses Everywhere, says DOL

  Same-sex spouses everywhere in the United States–even if they live in states that don’t recognize their marriages—should be entitled to the benefits and protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), according to a proposal announced earlier today  by Labor Secretary Thomas Perez.   This announcement is consistent with the Obama Administration’s aggressive use of the powers of the Executive Branch and with the Supreme Court’s decision last summer in United States v. Windsor, which struck down key provisions of the “Defense of…

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30 May 2014 FMLA: What if things go better without you?

  The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent decision in Saulter v. Detroit Area Agency on Aging highlights a very common scenario – the employer decides that an employee is not necessary when the employee is on leave.  Leaving aside the obvious management question (Why it did it take the employee being on leave for you to figure that out?), of course it is unlawful under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and a host of state laws to…

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