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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law

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 classes has gradually but inexorably increased. From the federal age discrimination law in 1974 to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 to many state and local laws protecting off duty conduct and sexual orientation, far more people are covered by some discrimination law.
  • States and municipalities more often make their own rules, presenting particular challenges to multi-state employers
  • The endless complexity and challenge of intermittent leaves under the ADA, FMLA, and other legal requirements
  • More legally required individualized inquiries, including reasonable accommodations under the ADA and accommodation laws, religious discrimination laws, and background checking
  • Determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor as the workplace changes


This is not employers whining about government regulation; indeed, we do not necessarily see this change as positive or negative on either side of the employer/employee equation. But it seems hard to dispute that the world of employment law has become more complex.


Bill Nolan

William A. Nolan serves as the Managing Partner of Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Ohio office, which he opened in 2009. He is a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law Department. He works to bring attentiveness and clarity to bear on employment, contract, and other disputes, and helps clients build teams, policies and processes to minimize the frequency and severity of disputes.

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