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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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31 Oct 2012 Illinois Courts to Require Redaction of Personal Identity Information

While employers as a rule know that they must take reasonable measures to protect personnel records from unnecessary disclosures in the course of business, when employment litigation arises there are myriad records that may become subject to disclosure in discovery, including personnel records of the plaintiff as well as individuals who are not parties to the case, such as decision-makers and comparators in employment discrimination cases.  Protective Orders can be entered to govern the use and protection of confidential information during the pre-trial discovery phase…

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16 Oct 2012 High Court Will Not Evaluate Whether Summary Judgment Orders Violate Plaintiffs’ Seventh Amendment Rights

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an Illinois police officer’s petition for review of whether the Seventh Amendment’s right to jury trial is violated when a federal court grants an employer’s motion for summary judgment (Kidwell v. Eisenhauer, U.S., No. 12-226, cert. denied Oct. 15, 2012). Kenneth Kidwell, the petitioner and an Illinois police officer, alleged he was terminated as a result of his criticisms of the police department’s management.  Kidwell argued this was in violation of his First Amendment rights. Ultimately, the Seventh Circuit disagreed…

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06 Aug 2012 New Illinois Law Prohibits Employers from Seeking Social Media Password Information

Employers in Illinois will be prohibited from seeking social networking password information from employees and applicants starting Jan. 1, 2013, now that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed into law Public Act 097-0875, which is an amendment to the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act, 820 ILCS 55/10. As we previously reported, the legislation makes it unlawful for an employer to require an employee or applicant to disclose passwords or other related social networking account information in order for the employer to access information…

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27 Jul 2012 Offers of Judgment Support Dismissal of Wage and Hour Claims

A federal district court in Illinois recently granted an employer’s motion to dismiss federal and state wage and hour claims asserted by two employees because the court determined it lacked subject matter jurisdiction.  In Avila v Watts Electric Co, Inc, the employer made offers of judgment to both employees, which included the “total amount of wages owed” and “reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to be determined by the court.”  The plaintiffs each rejected these offers of judgment.  Watts Electric Co. then filed a Rule 68…

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29 Jun 2012 Don’t Screen Out State Laws When Hiring

A recent decision from the Northern District of Illinois serves as a reminder to employers to consider both federal and state laws regarding pre-employment screening when making hiring decisions. In Stratton v. Merrill Lynch, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60426, 2012 WL 1533456 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 25, 2012), the court determined that the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDIA) did not preempt the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/2-103, which prohibits employers from using the fact of an arrest as a basis for taking an adverse…

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26 Jun 2012 Employee Social Networking Password Protection May Soon Become Law in Illinois

Employers in Illinois who are interested in the Internet activities of their employees and job applicants, including activities on social networking sites, will need to be more cautious if Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signs a bill on his desk that the Illinois Legislature recently passed. The legislation, House Bill 3782, would amend the state’s Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act at 820 ILCS 55/10, a section that currently prohibits employers from asking prospective employees about their prior history of worker’s compensation claims. The amended Act would prohibit Illinois employers from requiring employees or…

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22 Jun 2012 Court Rules Participation in Post-Lawsuit Internal Investigation is Protected Activity

Although not particularly surprising, the Northern District of Illinois recently held that an employee who participated in an “internal investigation” regarding a former co-worker who had recently filed a race discrimination lawsuit was engaging in protected activity under Title VII.  The employee was therefore allowed to move forward with his retaliation claim after he himself was terminated several months later.  The opinion, Gomez v. Restaurant One Limited Partnership, may be found here. The case is noteworthy because the Seventh Circuit has previously held that participating…

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