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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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28 Aug 2015 California Strikes Again! Senate ‘OKs’ Bill Limiting Employment Arbitration

This week the California State Senate passed a measure that would block most employers from forcing workers to agree to arbitrate labor disputes instead of filing claims with state agencies or courts.  The senate approved the measure, AB-465—which is sponsored by the California Labor Federation and has drawn fierce opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce. Following AB-465’s passage, the senate ordered the bill to the assembly. The bill would add a new provision to the Labor Code to prohibit any person from:   “[R]equir[ing]…

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27 Aug 2015 The Witness Files: 10 People We Keep Seeing in Workplace Investigations (cont.)

I have written here and here on BT Currents about the fact that it seems there are a handful of types of characters – among the complainants, the accuseds and the innocent bystanders alike – who seem to present themselves over and over again in workplace investigations, and a series I have written on i-sight.com about these characters and key strategies for dealing with each of them. The 10 characters I have identified are the following:   Complainants – Poor performer – Questionable complainant –…

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24 Aug 2015 DOL TO CONSIDER RULE ON PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICES OUTSIDE OF WORKING HOURS

Perhaps in anticipation of the greater number of non-exempt employees as a result of the proposed increase in salary for exempt employees, the Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that it will be seeking public input on the question of employees’ use of portable technology outside their workplace and normal working hours. This was introduced as a part of the DOL’s Spring 2015 regulatory agenda and it is anticipated that they will issue this public request for information by the end of the month.  …

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19 Aug 2015 Not All Good Deeds Are Punished: A Paid Suspension Is Not An Adverse Employment Action For Title VII

Chalk up a victory for logic.   Addressing an issue of first impression, the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania), recently held that an employee’s suspension with pay is not an adverse employment action for purposes of Title VII. In doing so, the Third Circuit has joined several of its sister Circuits across the country, including the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Circuits.   The case, Jones v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority involved an employee who was…

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18 Aug 2015 Federal Court Allows Arbitration After Employer’s Nine-Month Delay

At first glance, a recent decision from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania appears to throw cold water on the generally accepted rule that an employer who waits too long to enforce its right to arbitrate employment disputes waives that right.  The case, Serine v. Marshall, Dennehy, Warner & Goggin, et al., involved an employee who sued her former employer – a law firm – in federal court and the firm waited more than nine months before seeking to pursue arbitration.   The law firm did…

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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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13 Aug 2015 Employees May Soon Have Something To Lose In FLSA Lawsuits

The deck in Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuits has long been stacked against employers. Even if the employer wins at trial, its legal fees and costs will likely be hefty – six figures or more. And if the employer loses, it may have to pay double – or even triple – the plaintiffs’ actual damages and the plaintiffs’ costs and fees, on top of its own costs and fees.  It can feel like employees have nothing to lose and like employers are destined to “lose”…

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10 Aug 2015 “Blue-penciling” saves the day in noncompete cases – sometimes, but not always

In the sue-or-be-sued world of post-employment restrictive covenants, the outcome ultimately hinges on which side can convince a judge that it is entitled to have its way. To enforce, or not to enforce – that is the question that judges are called upon to decide.  And sometimes the answer is to enforce but with limitations.   A recent case from the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is a reminder that in some jurisdictions a judge can exercise discretion to narrow an overly broad covenant…

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31 Jul 2015 Challenge to NLRB “Ambush Election Rules” Fails

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has granted summary judgment in favor of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in a highly-publicized action brought by the Chamber of Commerce and a District of Columbia construction company challenging the unprecedented representation case procedures adopted by a split NLRB in 2014. Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, et. al. v. National Labor Relations Board, Civil Action No. 15-0009 (July 29, 2015). Commonly known in media reports…

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30 Jul 2015 The South May Rise Again Someday, But Not In Your Workplace

The recent debate over the South Carolina State House’s flying of the Confederate flag has stirred up a great deal of controversy. Most Americans believe the flag is a symbol of bigotry and oppression and demanded the immediate removal of the symbol of the Confederacy. A small vocal minority of Americans, however, have rallied around the Stars and Bars, claiming it stands not for racism, but instead for Southern heritage and pride. Many in this group of supporters, both in the South and around the…

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