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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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26 Nov 2014 Can you be fired for doing “The Chicken Dance” at work?

It is challenging to find a blog idea involving employment law and turkey (search engines come up with articles on the employment laws of Turkey).  So our labor law lesson of the day involves chicken instead, and comes from Sydney, Australia, where you can’t be fired, it seems, for an allegedly intimidating workplace performance of “The Chicken Dance.”   The employer, Harbour City Ferries, discharged a 51-year-old male employee and cited as one of its reasons that he had performed “The Chicken Dance” as an…

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24 Nov 2014 Decision Bears A Close Look on Application of Quid Pro Quo Harassment LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

Many readers will have a general sense that there is a difference between quid pro quo and hostile work environment (HWE) harassment.  HWE is (fortunately, I suppose, in some relative sense) the more common form of harassment, and an employer can often avoid liability if it has taken sufficient steps to manage harassment in the workplace.  Quid pro quo comes up less frequently, and is the conditioning of employment benefits such as a promotion, raise, or even continued employee on the submission to a managerial…

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20 Nov 2014 Yikes!! AutoZone Hammered with Record $185 Million Dollar Punitive Damages Jury Verdict

A federal jury – not surprisingly from California – recently issued a whopping $185M ($185,000,000) punitive damages verdict in a single-employee gender discrimination case, believed to be a record award. The plaintiff also received over $872k in compensatory damages for front pay, back pay and emotional distress. The case is entitled Juarez v. AutoZone (Case No. 3:08-cv-00417), and currently sits in the Southern District of California.   Ms. Juarez, who originally filed the suit in 2008, claimed that AutoZone imposed a glass ceiling on women…

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19 Nov 2014 Don’t Disregard Your Employees’ Rights, Even If They’re Strippers

On Nov. 14, a New York federal judge granted summary judgment and awarded $10,866,035.00 to a class of exotic dancers from Rick’s Cabaret after finding that the gentlemen’s club had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law. The court previously found that Rick’s Cabaret had impermissibly classified its dancers as independent contractors instead of employees to skirt minimum wage laws. In fact, the plaintiffs should have been classified as employees based on the control Rick’s Cabaret exercised over them. The…

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18 Nov 2014 The EEOC Sues Yet Another Employer for Allegedly Violating the ADA With Its Inflexible Leave Policy

The EEOC’s position is clear. The ADA requires employers to incorporate flexibility into their leave of absence policies or face the consequences. In late September, we were reminded of this yet again when the EEOC sued a Chicago-area manufacturer for capping the amount of leave provided to employees, without considering whether a reasonable accommodation may exist for each employee. In this latest suit against Doumak, Inc., the EEOC alleged that an employer and its employees’ respective union had violated the ADA by placing a cap…

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17 Nov 2014 3 Key P’s for Minimizing Liability for Employee Health Issues LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

We often remind employers here about the importance of not rushing into adverse employment actions against employees with health issues. For example, see “Play It Safe” I, II and III from earlier this year.  In my opinion, employers who play the game right can get one of the following good results a high percentage of the time:   Employ a dedicated employee in a way that maximizes her abilities and benefits the company. Work an employee who really doesn’t want to maximize her abilities out of…

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17 Nov 2014 Even If The Employee Didn’t See or Know About Harassing Behavior, Court Allows Evidence

In a sexual harassment suit, a U.S. District Court Judge will permit evidence of harassing behavior even though the plaintiff employee neither directly saw nor knew about such conduct. The court found that if the employee learned about the conduct while she still worked for the company, then such evidence may be relevant to whether the plaintiff experienced a hostile work environment.  Additionally, the court held that if such conduct was readily known, then the employer had “constructive notice” of the bad behavior, thereby triggering…

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14 Nov 2014 Another Wave of Employment Bills Proposed in Texas

Texas employers take heed — Texan lawmakers have once again been busy drafting bills which could impact you down the road. Accordingly, you should keep an eye on these items as they progress through the legislative process.   Among other things (and after having failed to attain enactment of a state equivalent of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act last year) current proposals again seek to align state law pay discrimination claims with the federal law. Specifically, S.B. No. 65 and H.B. No. 187…

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14 Nov 2014 New Jersey Employers: Remember Your Notice Requirements

As we near the end of the year, employers doing business in New Jersey should remember some key notice requirements. First, by no later than January 1, 2015, New Jersey employers will need to post the updated Wage and Hour Law Abstract poster (which is on the second page). The poster must be conspicuously displayed and include the new minimum wage increase, which goes into effect on January 1, 2015. The new minimum wage will be $8.38 per hour.   Second, on or before December…

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10 Nov 2014 Five Distinctive Things About Ohio and Employment Law LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

As an employer lawyer in Columbus, I have to make this week’s letter O be for Ohio. Here are five distinctive things that help define Ohio employment law: Ohio is a very pro-enforcement noncompete state. Two key variations in state laws largely shape the enforceability of noncompetes in a state. One, will courts modify an overly broad noncompete to “make it enforceable?” Two, is continuing employment sufficient consideration to support a noncompete (as opposed to some additional consideration being required)? Ohio has given an unambiguous…

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