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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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27 Jul 2015 Employee Can’t Count to 15 Under ADA Using Volunteers or Other Companies’ Employees

One of the most significant ongoing type of employment issues is the treatment as employees of individuals the employer thought were not — interns are found to be entitled to back wages, nominal independent contractor status is repeatedly challenged in court and temporary agency workers are at risk of being treated as the customer’s employees as well.  Workers found to be employees are entitled to the protections of the various employment laws.   A secondary but sometimes equally important implication of employee status is whether…

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22 Jul 2015 Enhanced Discrimination Protections Potentially on the Horizon for Federal Employees

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill (H.R. 1557) that would afford additional anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation provisions to federal employees.  H.R. 1557, introduced in March of this year and titled the Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2015, amends the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002, placing stringent requirements upon federal agencies to be transparent and accountable when investigating and rectifying complaints of discrimination or retaliation. The bill passed by a landslide in the House of Representatives this week, with…

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21 Jul 2015 UPS’ Employment Policies Come Under Scrutiny, Again

Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a class action lawsuit against the United Parcel Service (UPS), claiming that the company had repeatedly failed to accommodate certain religious beliefs. Specifically, the complaint alleges that since 2004, UPS has refused to hire or promote certain individuals whose religious practices conflicted with the company’s dress code. Under UPS’ dress policy, male employees who either have a supervisory position or who have customer contact are not allowed wear beards or grow their hair below their collars….

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15 Jul 2015 DOL Cracks Down on Definition of Independent Contractors

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), most workers are “employees,” not independent contractors.   After years of watching more contract workers fall outside the categories of “employees,” this morning, the DOL issued an Administrator’s Interpretation regarding the alleged “misclassification” of workers as independent contractors, and broadly includes most workers as employees.   The DOL’s guidance responds to the skyrocketing usage of contract labor in the wake of increased government regulation, including the Affordable Care Act. Bucking this trend, agencies like the DOL have increased…

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15 Jul 2015 ADA Decision Shows Need to Work with Employee Who Doesn’t Fit the … Mold

A recent federal district court decision shows the importance for employers to work through asserted employee health issues and document that they have done so.  The case involves Resa O’Reilly, who was hired for a government job.  Almost immediately after she began work, she began experiencing a number of physical symptoms – headaches, sinus pressure, eye pain and numbness.  She experienced the symptoms only when she was at work.  She was away from work for training for a few weeks without problem.  As soon as…

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13 Jul 2015 “Perceived as” Religious Bias Claims? – A Federal Court in Michigan Says “Yes”

Recently, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Michigan denied a company’s motion for summary judgment that Title VII and Michigan state law do not prohibit discrimination on the basis of perceived religion. Kallabat v. Michigan Bell Tele. Co.¸2015 BL 194351, E.D. Mich., No. 2:12-cv-15470. Despite the citation of other six federal district court decisions from other states (IL, KS, NC, NY, OH and TN) holding that Title VII does not cover a perceived religion claim, the court held that they would not bar…

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06 Jul 2015 Performance You Can Measure Is Best Defense, FMLA Case Demonstrates

I often find myself counseling clients that the more measurable a performance issue is, the easier it is for the employer to prove that issue is the true, nondiscriminatory reason for a termination or other job action in the face of a discrimination or other employment claim. Sales employees almost always have measurable data about their performance, which seemingly provides an objective basis for employment decisions taken against individuals whose sales number are lowest. Such decisions are not bullet proof; for example, the employee may…

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01 Jul 2015 More Hope for Employers Who Have Ever Felt Bullied by the EEOC

In past entries in this blog, we have noted how multiple courts have been critical of the EEOC for failing to engage in good faith settlement negotiations with employers. These cases provide some solace for employers who feel as if the EEOC takes unreasonable settlement positions simply because it has nothing to lose if settlement negotiations breakdown and litigation ensues. A recent case from a federal court in the Southern District of Ohio is the most recent case in this line.   In EEOC v….

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01 Jul 2015 An Annual Ritual: Massachusetts Noncompete Legislation

We wrote last year about significant legislative efforts to ban noncompetes in Massachusetts. Proponents of such a ban, including Governor Patrick, contend that Massachusetts suffers a brain drain in the high-technology field because talent flees to California, where as many readers will know, noncompetes are virtually banned. In other words, a tech whiz would rather work in California where she may move freely from company to company rather than being limited by a noncompete. Certain high-tech interests in Massachusetts support a ban, whereas most traditional…

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30 Jun 2015 DOL FINALLY UNVEILS PROPOSED GUIDANCE AFFECTING OVERTIME

  Today, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) revealed a long-awaited proposed rule that is expected to make millions of workers eligible for overtime pay.  (See Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the DOL’s presentation.)   What will this proposed change mean to employers? If enacted, it means those certain employees currently considered to be “exempt” from Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements will be nonexempt and must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week. The proposed new “white collar”…

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