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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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23 Jan 2015 Supreme Court Leaves California’s Carve-Out for PAGA Wage-and-Hour Representative Actions Intact

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied certification of a petition challenging the California Supreme Court’s ruling in Iskanian v. CLS Transportation Los Angeles, LLC, 59 Cal. 4th 348 (2014) that representative Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claims cannot be waived in employment arbitration agreements. As a result, California’s carve-out exempting PAGA claims from arbitration agreements remains intact, and employees can continue to bring PAGA representative actions even if they have signed arbitration agreements with class and representative action waivers. California employers should brace for the…

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23 Jan 2015 Man Claiming Hand Scanning Time Clock Causes “Mark of the Beast” Wins Religious Discrimination Suit

Last week, a federal jury in West Virginia found in favor of a plaintiff claiming that his coal mining employer discriminated against him based on his religious beliefs by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation for his religious objection to the company’s use of a biometric hand-scanning time clock. The plaintiff was an evangelical Christian who believed that the use of the hand scanner was discussed in the Book of Revelation in the Bible when it described the Antichrist as causing all to have a…

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22 Jan 2015 Supreme Court Agrees To Review Same-Sex Marriage Bans

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether state law bans against same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee are unconstitutional. This has been a long-awaited by both sides of this debate and will finally resolve this controversial and hard-fought civil rights battle.   The Supreme Court’s decision to review the Sixth Circuit’s order upholding the state law bans on same-sex marriage was expected as it created a conflict with four other circuit court decisions. The Fourth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth circuits have…

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20 Jan 2015 Words That Signal Opportunities to Avoid Liability LETTER OF THE LAW: CURRENT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES A-Z

One of the themes in my posts and on Currents generally is not missing out on easy liability avoidance opportunities. I want to make a stronger statement than the employment lawyer’s usual, “Hey if you do X and Y, you can minimize employee liability,” though certainly that is true and valuable. Rather: EMPLOYERS MISS OUT ON EASY LIABILITY AVOIDANCE OPPORTUNITIES, thereby diverting time, money and energy from building their organization and bettering their goods and services. Here and here are recent examples. These are lost…

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20 Jan 2015 Be Careful What They Wish For

Effectively confirming the worst Sixth Circuit employment law decision of 2014 (maybe ever?), the United States Supreme Court let stand a ruling that an employee who asks for a job transfer, then gets that job transfer and works in that new position for 10 months, can nonetheless still claim that the transfer constituted an adverse employment action in support of his claim of discrimination.   After 25 years with the Kalamazoo County Road Commission, Robert Deleon applied for an open job as an equipment and…

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16 Jan 2015 Will the EEOC Get its Wings Clipped? Mach Mining’s Challenge to the EEOC before the Supreme Court

  On Jan. 13, during oral argument, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia echoed businesses’ skepticism about the EEOC’s pre-suit settlement strategy, saying  “there is considerable incentive on the EEOC to fail in conciliation so that it can bring a big­deal lawsuit and get a lot of press and put a lot of pressure on this employer and on other employers. There are real incentives to have conciliation fail.”   Justice Scalia made his comments in the case of Mach Mining L.L.C. v. Equal Employment…

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15 Jan 2015 Hope For Employers: Some Courts Are Requiring The EEOC To Thoroughly Investigate Allegations Before Siding With Employees

The EEOC, in theory, is supposed to be neutral. It is supposed to collect complaints from individuals who believe that their employers have wronged them, provide the employers with an opportunity to respond, investigate the complaints further if the circumstances warrant it, and provide the parties with an opportunity to conciliate their disputes short of litigation. Many employers feel that the EEOC is hardly neutral, however. They say that, rather than acting as an unbiased third party, the EEOC sees itself as a pro-employee agency…

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14 Jan 2015 Pregnancy Non-Discrimination Poster Now Required in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Human Rights has just published its “Pregnancy and Your Rights in the Workplace” poster for employers to use in order to comply with recent amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act. Effective Jan. 1, 2015, Illinois now requires employers of one or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, or medical or common conditions associated with pregnancy. The Illinois Human Rights Act amendments also included a requirement for employers to post a notice issued by the Illinois Department of…

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09 Jan 2015 EEOC to Consider “Best Practices” for Prevention of Workplace Harassment

While most employers likely think of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission first and foremost as an enforcer of federal non-discrimination laws through its charge investigations and litigation, the Commissioners at the EEOC appear to be opening the New Year with a focus on preventative measures.   The Commissioners are scheduled to hold a meeting on Wednesday, Jan.14, 2015, to consider the subject of workplace harassment and specifically how employers can prevent and address harassment.   The Commission’s meeting at its Washington, D.C., headquarters, which…

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Time for a Break
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09 Jan 2015 On Break, But Still on Call: “On Call” Rest Breaks are Permissible Under California Law

On Dec. 31, 2014, the California Court of Appeal, Second District reversed a $94 million judgment in a wage-and-hour class action against ABM Industries Incorporated (ABM) in Augustus et al. v. ABM Security Services Inc.  The judgment was initially granted by a California trial court in 2012. ABM appealed the damages award, which was granted on summary judgment in a set of consolidated class actions alleging ABM’s policy of requiring security guards to carry a radio during their breaks effectively put them “on call” during…

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