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The Legal Stuff
BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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14 Jun 2018 Supreme Court Says No To Repeat Class Actions After Statute Of Limitations

On June 11, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that filing a class action lawsuit does not toll the statute of limitations for the class to file the same claims again in the future. This means that if the class files claims but is denied class certification, it cannot return to court and file the same claims again if the limitations period expired during the course of the previous litigation.   In China Agritech, Inc. v. Resh, a class of stockholders timely filed a lawsuit…

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06 Jun 2018 Sixth Circuit Looks to Seventh and Ninth Circuits in Reviving Firefighters Title VII Suit against Union

On June 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit joined the Seventh and Ninth Circuits in holding that the standards governing a duty of fair representation claim (i.e., a duty held by unions to represent all employees in good faith, and without discrimination) do not govern Title VII discrimination claims against a union.    In Peeples v. City of Detroit, a group of Detroit firefighters brought suit against their union alleging disparate-treatment race and national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII. …

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01 Jun 2018 In a Culture of Inclusiveness, Don’t Overlook Age

Age is the one protected class where everyone – eventually – is included. Yet as the #MeToo movement stays in the spotlight and implicit (and explicit) racial bias continues to capture headlines, it’s easy for age discrimination issues to fly under the radar.   But if you think age discrimination isn’t a big concern in today’s workplace, think again. The following examples illustrate how hiring is becoming the new battleground for age discrimination claims:   The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a major restaurant…

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31 May 2018 Simple Reminders For Developing Healthy Workplace Culture

All work environments develop their own workplace cultures, regardless of company size or industry. The role of culture, when consciously shaped and reinforced, is to bring consistency to the work environment through clear expectations.  Workplace cultures shape, reflect, and sustain business values and ethics, and condemn harassment and discrimination.  This is often accomplished through the physical environment of the office (i.e. open door policy); strong workplace policies prohibiting sexual harassment and discrimination; workplace training; and a complaints process that protects employees from retaliation.   Despite…

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29 May 2018 Workplace Culture 2.0: More Leadership, Less Management

Title VII is not a “civility code.”   Although the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination in the workplace, it does not outlaw bad behavior. It does not require us to each to treat coworkers respectfully. It does not compel us to be inclusive, or tolerant, or kind.   When the U.S. Supreme Court cautioned in a 1998 sexual harassment case that Title VII is not a “civility code,” it underscored the constraints of our country’s seminal anti-discrimination law. The law has its…

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24 May 2018 Letter C: Co-Workers With Criminal Records? Your Workforce May Be More Open-Minded Than You Think

Letter C is coming at you with a double-punch: Are employees comfortable with their Co-workers having Criminal records?  At least one survey indicates that the answer is yes.   A recent survey commissioned in part by the Society for Human Resource Management finds that a majority of workers say they are willing to work with individuals with criminal records.  The survey aptly notes that, as unemployment continues to decrease, individuals with criminal records might serve as a previously overlooked labor pool.  The survey also found…

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18 May 2018 The $8 Million Burrito; Or How Not To Conduct Video Surveillance

Many employers install video surveillance to stop theft and provide helpful evidence to support their employment decisions.  From a legal standpoint, video surveillance generally is allowed if reasonable – monitoring the cash register is fine; installing a camera in a bathroom stall obviously is not.  In truth, the vast majority of what is surveilled is frankly, boring: the camera largely becomes a forgotten silent witness to the daily grind.  Hardly anyone ever watches what the camera records and no one would ever want to look…

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02 May 2018 California Supreme Court Ruling to Give More Workers Employee Status

On Monday, the California Supreme Court issued an opinion in Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County, which reversed nearly three decades of precedent by rejecting the longstanding Borello worker classification test. The opinion effectively expands the number of workers that will be deemed as employees for purposes of California wage orders, ultimately granting such workers benefits, minimum wage, and overtime compensation, as well as rest and meal breaks.   As a result of this decision, California employers will have…

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01 May 2018 More on Medical Marijuana – Will Ohio Protect Employers’ Zero-Tolerance Policies?

When I wrote my last post on medical marijuana, I stated that once Ohio’s new medical marijuana law goes into effect in September, employers will still have a right under state and federal law to enforce zero-tolerance policies regarding marijuana use. Since then, people have pointed out to me that employees in other states have found exceptions to these laws that protected marijuana use and have questioned whether such loopholes exist in Ohio’s new law. While no courts have yet ruled on any cases regarding…

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26 Apr 2018 When Is A Sexual Harassment Policy And Training Ineffective?

As we continue our series on sexual harassment cases, here’s a play-by-play of a recent First Circuit case, Aggannis v. T-Mobile, USA, Inc.   A customer service rep (CSR) complains to her manager that her team “coach” made a sexual comment about her outfit.  Score for the manager who reports this to HR! HR follows up, but CSR says it’s no longer an issue; she stopped wearing the outfit and doesn’t want anything done.  HR drops it.  Tough call – management has an obligation to…

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