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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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26 Feb 2015 Who Knew? U.S. Supreme Court Justices Offer Employment Tips

It was Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor who offered the first tip: “So why can’t the employer just simply say, ‘We have a Look Policy that doesn’t permit beards? Can you comply with that policy?’”   Justice Samuel Alito refined the suggestion; instead of asking whether an applicant can comply, he said, “Just say ‘Do you have any problem with that?’”   These surprisingly practical strategies might be the best take-away from the legal battle of EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, the case where dress…

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25 Feb 2015 Choose Your Expert Wisely: Fourth Circuit Rejects EEOC’s Choice on Background Checks

Fans of the Indiana Jones series will remember the scene near the end of the Last Crusade where our hero is looking over a multitude of chalices to select the one true grail, and the ancient knight beside him warns: “Choose wisely.” When the bad guy pushes his way forward to pick out a pretty – but ultimately incorrect – cup, we find out the grisly consequences of choosing poorly. The knight’s admonition to “choose wisely” not only is good advice for selecting grails, but…

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24 Feb 2015 FMLA Final Rule: “Spouse” Means Same-Sex Spouse (Even in Alabama)

Even for HR veterans, administering the FMLA still triggers occasional anxiety attacks. Within the last two weeks, I was asked, “How should we treat same-sex spouses under the FMLA?” On at least this cause for nervousness, the Department of Labor has finally issued clear guidance.   On Feb. 23, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez announced, in essence, that under the FMLA, “spouse” means “spouse,” even if you are living in a state that does not recognize same sex marriages.   The DOL’s Final Rule announced…

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19 Feb 2015 Minnesota Proposed Family Paid Leave Battle Begins

Earlier this month, proposed legislation – House File 580 – was introduced in both the State House and Senate that, among other things, would provide for paid family leave in Minnesota. This proposed legislation has gained the support of several public interest groups and trade unions and objections from most employers.   If passed, Minnesota would join California, New Jersey and Rhode Island in providing for some form of compensation to eligible employees for parental or family caregiving leave. House File 580 would require both…

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19 Feb 2015 Putting Out a Welcome Mat for Disabled Workers: Government Guide Provides Tips for Hiring and Retention

In a continuing effort to bolster employment prospects for individuals with disabilities, a number of federal agencies have joined forces to produce a guide that encourages employers to open their doors to more disabled workers.   The publication, entitled “Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining, and Promoting People with Disabilities: A Resource Guide for Employers,” was published online earlier this month via the whitehouse.gov site.   The guide has a number of useful pointers and links for hiring managers and supervisors who work with individuals with disabilities.  In…

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16 Feb 2015 Some HR Numbers That Should Be Zero In Your Organization LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

This week’s letter is Z, and Z is for zero. As I have written here before, there is a lot of gray in employment law, so some black and white answers are refreshing every now and then.  Here are some employment law related questions to which your organizations answer should be:  zero.   How many supervisors are handling information from medical providers relating to employee health information? (This should go through HR. Supervisors are on a need to know basis, such as knowing an employee’s…

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12 Feb 2015 The World Is Not Enough … But Maybe It’s Too Much for Noncompetes

While many companies agree with this James Bond family motto (taken from the epitaph of Alexander the Great) when it comes to noncompetes, such untethered restrictive covenants can be vulnerable to savvy plaintiffs (or their lawyers), as the Eighth Circuit recently reminded us in NanoMech, Inc. v. Suresh.   In NanoMech, the company specialized in nanotechnology products related to lubrication, energy, biomedical coatings, and strategic military applications. One is hard-pressed to think of technology more worthy of protection by a covenant not to compete. The…

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12 Feb 2015 Signing Section 2 of I-9 Forms Can Get You in Trouble!

You believe your I-9s are in good order, you are confident that you are not employing unauthorized individuals and are not concerned about ICE audits because you are doing everything by-the-book. Or so you thought!   On Jan. 20, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review, Office of Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) in U.S. v. Employer Solutions Staffing Group II, LLC, upheld ICE’s finding and proposed assessment of $227,251.75 in fines for making a false attestation on Section 2 of…

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11 Feb 2015 Court Triples Time to Bring a Minnesota Whistleblower Claim

In the recently decided case Ford v. Minnesota Public Schools, the Minnesota Court of Appeals rebuffed long-standing precedent by holding that plaintiffs have six years to file a claim under Minnesota’s whistleblower statute. This decision effectively reversed Larson v. New Richland Center, a case that had been good law since 1995. Since Larson, and until Ford, courts had reasoned that because whistleblower claims constituted “torts resulting in personal injury,” they were subject to Minn. Stat. § 541.07(1)’s two-year statute of limitations.   The decision and…

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10 Feb 2015 The Tweet Heard Round the World

From the “I can’t say I blame him” or “I can’t take it anymore” column comes small business owner Robert Waple of Jet’s Pizza in Mansfield, Texas. He hired a teenager named “Cella” to work in his restaurant. Sadly, while the moon might hit your eye like a big pizza pie, she wasn’t in love with the job. The day before she was set to start, she tweeted her friends: “Ew I start this f*** a** job tomorrow.” Unlucky for her, one of Waple’s employees…

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