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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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13 Oct Don’t Mess With Texas…Roadhouse

Being directly in the cross-hairs of the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) can be a daunting experience for any employer. In response to what to what it believes to be overreaching litigation tactics by the EEOC, however, Texas Roadhouse is swinging back. According to Texas Roadhouse, the EEOC – on its own accord and without a single complaint from a job applicant or employee – initiated an investigation of the restaurant’s hiring practices of “front of the house positions,” such as hostesses. The Restaurant asserts…

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07 Oct Supreme Court Lets Gay Marriage Stand In Five States

Supporters of gay marriage won another victory this week as the Supreme Court let stand lower court rulings that struck same-sex marriage bans in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. The decision upholds a decision from the Seventh Circuit, which intensely scrutinized Indiana and Wisconsin representatives who argued in favor of maintaining those states’ gay marriage bans, as well as rulings from the Fourth and Tenth Circuits that struck gay marriage bans in Virginia, Oklahoma and Utah.   The Supreme Court’s decision not to review…

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03 Oct Watch Your Language in the Workplace: Timeless Challenge for Employers LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  Some employment law issues, employers can address or at least manage with the appropriate proactive steps. Just scan through recent BT Currents posts for some examples – lawfully managing an employee’s request for accommodation, whether it be for religious or health reasons, or documenting the reasons for a RIF.  Potentially hard issues to be sure, but ones over which employers and their lawyers have some degree of control.   Much harder to manage, however, are the problems that occasionally arise from (excuse the technical…

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02 Oct There’s No Question – The EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan Is In Full Bloom

  You’ll recall that the EEOC put out a Strategic Enforcement Plan to cover FY 2013-2016. This Plan offered a peek into what the Agency might tackle in the coming years. One of the Agency’s six national priorities was to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, which, in the Agency’s words included “issues associated with significant events, demographic changes, developing theories, new legislation, judicial decisions and administrative interpretations.” Well, based on the Agency’s actions over the past week or so, no one…

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30 Sep EEOC SUES TWO EMPLOYERS FOR TRANSGENDER DISCRIMINATION

  In June, we wrote about a landmark decision where the EEOC found that discrimination against transgender individuals constitutes sex discrimination in violation of Title VII. Because it has been a while, here is a recap.   The administrative decision stems from a case where Mia Macy, a transgender individual, was denied a job as a ballistics technician by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The facts are straightforward:  Macy previously was a police detective in Phoenix, Arizona. In December 2010, she decided…

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29 Sep Texas Court Enforces Noncompete Even Though Employee Did Not Physically Sign The Agreement

  As many readers of this blog are aware, enforcing noncompetes can be a tricky business – and this is doubly true in some states. One of those historically difficult states has been Texas. Unlike many states, Texas has a statute – Sections 15.50-15.52 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code – which governs the enforceability of covenants not-to-compete. For many years, Texas courts adhered to a strict view of the statute that resulted in many noncompetes being rejected as unenforceable. This approach has softened…

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26 Sep Kentucky Decision Requiring Arbitration Shows A Little Language Makes a Big Difference LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  K is for this week’s Kentucky decision on the subject of the enforceability of class action waivers, a continuing hot topic we have reported on here and here. The Western District of Kentucky’s decision in Coram v. Shepherd Communications, Inc. highlights that seemingly small bits of contractual language can be decisive. This decision seemingly turned on contractual language providing that an arbitrator would have the authority to allocate the costs and fees of a matter on a case by case basis.   The lawsuit involved…

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24 Sep SEC Awards Whistleblower Largest Bounty Ever

  The Securities & Exchange Commission announced Monday that it is awarding more than $30 million dollars to a confidential whistleblower who led federal officials to an internal fraud that officials say would otherwise have gone undetected.   The Dodd-Frank Act, enacted in 2010, established a bounty program to reward employees who report wrongdoing to the SEC.  You can read more about the details of this latest award (and the other developments under Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley) in the blog post by our colleague, B&T litigation…

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22 Sep CAUTIONARY TALE FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYERS – REMEMBER THE FIRST AMENDMENT

  When a public employee makes unpopular public statements, the employer must remember that the employee’s statements could be protected by the First Amendment. On September 15, 2014, the Firth Circuit Court of Appeals in Christian Cutler v. Stephen F. Austin State University affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the University and four University officials had no immunity from a First Amendment retaliation claim. Cutler, the University’s Director of Art Galleries, received an invitation from a member of Congress to judge a high school art…

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19 Sep Jehovah’s Witness’s Claims Highlight Employer Need to Manage Workplace Religion Issues LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

  A “split decision” on a Jehovah’s Witness’s claims against his university employer serves as a good refresher for employers on the issues they must be aware of in dealing with employee religious issues.  For this week’s letter of the law, J is for Bernard Westbrook, the Jehovah’s Witness who brought these claims.  The decision from a federal district court in North Carolina can be found here.   Bernard Westbrook was first employed by North Carolina A&T University in 1994, and first began working for…

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