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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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31 Oct 2014 EEOC Part of Increasing Focus on LGBT Issues

We seem clearly to be in the midst of a shift towards greater employment protections for LGBT employees, evidenced both by discrimination legislation largely at a state and local level and less directly in the legal environment by developments such as greater acceptance of gay marriage including the Supreme Court’s recent refusal to consider lower court decisions invalidating state statutes prohibiting gay marriage.   EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum recently released this interesting summary of the EEOC’s activities and positions on LGBT issues. Highlights include:   Title…

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30 Oct 2014 Remember the Basics

A new case from the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals serves as a nice reminder of how prompt and diligent HR work can stamp out an employment litigation claim. The case, Lennox v. Mondelez Global, Inc., involved an employee who filed claims against her employer for sex and race discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Specifically, the employee claimed that during her employment, her co-workers engaged in racially derogatory and sexually offensive comments and actions. These included telling a racially offensive joke in her presence (although…

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29 Oct 2014 Simply Because You Have Been Sued Doesn’t Mean That You Should Sue Back – At Least Not Immediately

Many employers are shocked when they find out they have been sued by a former employee, and that shock frequently turns to anger. Employers often tell their lawyers that there’s no merit to the employees’ allegations, and they say they want to countersue for “malicious prosecution.” A high profile case that was recently filed in New York state court – Facebook Inc. et al. v. DLA Piper LLP (USA) et al., (Case No. 653183/2014) – provides a brief learning lesson for employers who believe that…

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28 Oct 2014 Beware of the court of public opinion

As we have mentioned before on this blog, whether a court of law will enforce an employment-related restrictive covenant depends on the facts and often turns on which state’s law will apply. But whether a restrictive covenant will fly in the court of public opinion is a different matter entirely. Every now and then the media grabs hold of a legal issue and creates a frenzy of coverage. Lately, the spotlight focused on analysis of a confidentiality and non-competition agreement for employees at the Jimmy Johns…

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27 Oct 2014 Municipalities Driving More Employment Law Developments (with some good maps) LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

I have noted here before the increasing important to employers of city ordinances on employers’ obligations. More and more it seems, change is taking place on a micro level. See, for example, this list of 200 cities and counties prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity. These nifty maps showing those laws in one map and maps prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the other show the patchwork that employers may deal with even with one state. Ohio, Florida, and…

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27 Oct 2014 Confidentiality & Nondisclosure Agreements Are No Substitute For Noncompetes

Employers that want to ensure key workers do not jump ship to work for the competition have just one realistic option: a non-competition agreement. Given the intense scrutiny that courts have given to noncompetes in recent years, many employers have tried to down-shift to confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements, based on the idea that this will enable them to secure their trade secrets and other sensitive information without having to muck about with the difficulties of enforcing a non-compete. While this seems like a good solution…

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24 Oct 2014 The Importance of Documentation in Defending A Termination Decision Employment Lessons Learned

This blog post is the inaugural post in what is intended to be an examination of lessons learned for employers through trial court decisions.  One might ask – why trial court decisions? The answer is simple – trial court judges are charged with examining the facts of each case when deciding who wins. And it is this examination that provides the lessons learned for employers. The name of the case, and even the jurisdiction, are not important.  But the facts are critical:   Prior to…

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13 Oct 2014 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 2014 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 2014 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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