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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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18 Jul 2017 Sticks and Stones: When Texts and Emails Will Hurt You

  Sticks and stones may break my bones But words will never hurt me   Recent legal decisions painfully remind us that words, specifically words in a text, instant message or email, can derail an employer’s position or defense.  The informality of these electronic communications tends to create the mindset that they are less subject to exposure or scrutiny than a formal written letter or memorandum.   In a recent case, Martin v. Tall Brown Dog, LLC, the plaintiff was a recently hired leadership/business development…

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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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28 Apr 2017 Can Employers Terminate an Employee Because of Vacation Photos Posted to Facebook?

  It is no secret that employers can and will make employment decisions based on employee social media postings—but will those employment decisions hold up in court? In a recent case, Jones v. Gulf Coast Health Care of Delaware, the Eleventh Circuit held that an employee could proceed on a claim for retaliation under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) following his termination for posting vacation photos to his Facebook.   Rodney Jones worked at Accentia Health and Rehabilitation Center of Tampa Bay. Mr….

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31 Mar 2017 Paid Leave American-Style: “I Get Mine, But You Can’t Have Yours!”

  Employers are all too familiar with the FMLA, but paid leave seems to be generating a lot of political buzz these days. A new Pew Research Center Survey reveals that a paid leave law might be a popular measure. However, the same survey also reveals that most Americans are cynical when it comes to the use of such leave.   The Pew study found that, of those surveyed, about 75 percent of Republicans and about 90 percent of Democrats support some kind of federal…

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01 Mar 2017 Call-In Procedures and Intermittent FMLA

  Intermittent FMLA leave and attendance issues: an employer’s nightmare. There are so many different rules that employers must follow, inquiries that can and cannot be made, and potentials for employee abuse.   Imagine this scenario: An employee is approved for intermittent FMLA leave to care for a sick child. The employer informs the employee about its process for administering this leave, which includes calling both the organization’s attendance line at least 30 minutes prior to missing work. Despite being informed of this process, the…

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06 Jul 2016 Survey Says: 73% of Employees Taking FMLA Are Non-Exempt, and Other Tidbits

  The latest survey from our friends at Employers Resource Association of its members focuses on employers’ practices and employees’ usage. Here are some of the findings:   Employers have several options for how they count the applicable 12 month period. Not surprisingly, the great majority (63 percent) of employers use the rolling 12-month period. 9 percent of respondents’ employees have used Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave during the last year. This includes substantial numbers of employees taking intermittent leave and substantial numbers taking longer term…

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25 Nov 2015 Holiday Pay and the Family Medical Leave Act

  As we enter into the holiday season, questions often arise regarding an employer’s obligation to pay an employee on FMLA leave for holidays. Surprisingly, the answer is relatively straightforward: treat that employee in the same manner you would treat an employee on a non-FMLA leave. According to the FMLA Regulations:   [a]n employee’s entitlement to benefits other than group health benefits during a period of FMLA leave (e.g., holiday pay) is determined by the employer’s policy for providing such benefits when the employee is…

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11 Sep 2015 Obama Executive Order Mandates Broadly Defined Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors

On Sept. 7, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order directing that all new federal procurement contracts contain a clause specifying that all employees whom perform work under a federal contract or subcontract shall earn not less than 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Significantly, the Executive Order also contains a broader definition of “paid sick leave” than employers customarily have provided.   Under the Executive Order, paid sick leave includes not only absences due to physical or mental illness,…

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31 Aug 2015 Pay Attention to Those Doctor’s Notes

It should be obvious to most that an employee seeking FMLA leave must provide some type of notice to his or her employer. The question that often arises, however, is what type of notice suffices to confer an employee with FMLA protection? The FMLA regulations themselves offer little help in answering this question. Pursuant to these regulations, a notice will confer FMLA protection if it:   Is “sufficient” to make the employer aware that the employee needs FMLA-qualifying leave; and Provides the anticipated timing and…

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14 Aug 2015 Clarity from the 9th Circuit: The ADA Does Not Require Employer to Keep a Potentially Violent Employee

A recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms our faith in the federal courts on issues of workplace violence. In the case of Mayo v. PCC Structurals, Inc., the plaintiff/employee argued that he was a victim of disability discrimination under Oregon law after he was fired for threatening his co-workers. (The court notes Oregon’s disability law is similar to and similarly analyzed as the Americans with Disabilities Act.)   The employee had a history of major depressive disorder, and after making threats…

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