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BT Currents - Hot Topics in Employment Law
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20 Feb 2018 Sexual Harassment 2.1: Keep Up, We Are Moving Fast…

Last week I wrote a post elsewhere updating business people on the latest developments arising from the tsunami of high–profile harassment reports and allegations in recent months. The bottom line:  we have had relatively few changes so far (this aspect of this year’s federal tax law a notable exception), but it seems almost certain there will be. For literally decades employers could protect themselves from most harassment claims with a good policy (easy), appropriate training (pretty easy), and responding appropriately to complaints of harassment (not necessarily…

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14 Feb 2018 Sexual Harassment In The Non-Profit World

  Much of my time is spent advising non-profits on human resources issues, and the employment issues they face are typically no different than those faced by for-profit employers.  Non-profits are legally obligated to put in place a policy that prohibits unlawful harassment in the workplace, to promptly investigate workplace harassment claims, and to take prompt and effective remedial measures to remedy the alleged harassment.   This is true – in the non-profit workplace – regardless of whether the alleged harasser is a supervisor, coworker,…

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13 Feb 2018 California Court Determines Gig-Economy Drivers Are Independent Contractors

  In a ruling that will likely have a significant impact on all sharing economy companies, San Francisco U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled that gig-economy drivers are independent contractors.  In other words, platforms that are built on pairing customers with products and services through the use of mobile applications can continue to do so without having to reclassify their drivers as employees. The opinion holds that such workers do not qualify for the protections offered to employees under California law.   It was…

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12 Feb 2018 Rigorous RIF Process Defeats Discrimination Claims

  A recent federal trial court decision underscores the importance of the effective use of a rigorous reduction-in-force (RIF) selection process.   In Ameti v. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Sikorsky beat back multiple discrimination claims asserted by a former engineer selected as one of 17 of his peers in a reduction in force.  No. 3:14-cv-1223 (VLB) (U.S. Dist. Ct. Conn. February 6, 2018).  Sikorsky utilized an Employee Assessment Matrix to determine “the ability of the employee to perform under current and projected business conditions.”  The assessments…

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08 Feb 2018 Ohio Bill Protecting LGBTQ Rights Receives Widespread Support at Committee Hearing

  In October we detailed a new bill in the Ohio legislature aimed at banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. As an update, House Bill 160, dubbed the Ohio Fairness Act, is currently before Ohio’s House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee.   On January 31, 2018, the committee held a public hearing and provided an opportunity for proponent testimony. It was the first time in nine years that a bill protecting LGBTQ individuals was…

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30 Jan 2018 What’s the EEOC Up To These Days?

  Are you curious as to what the EEOC has been up to in the past year? The wait is over — in its 2017 Enforcement and Litigation Data released last week, the EEOC identified the volume and types of workplace discrimination charges keeping its staff busy during FY2017 (ending in September 2017). While FY2017 saw 84,254 charges coming through the EEOC’s doors, this figure is the lowest the EEOC has seen in 10 years, and reflects a nearly 8 percent drop in charges filed…

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22 Jan 2018 Immigration: Take Action Now on H-1B Applications – Changes on the Horizon

Authored by Mercedes Badia-Tavas, and Jeff Papa.   President Donald Trump’s executive order in April 2017 entitled “Buy American and Hire American” (BAHA) is leading to proposed regulatory changes by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which will affect U.S. employers intending to hire and sponsor qualified foreign nationals in specialty occupations for the H-1B visa.   Given these expected changes may occur with little advance notice, planning by human resource and legal departments at U.S. companies is key to maintaining lawful global talent in the U.S….

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22 Jan 2018 SCOTUS Declines to Consider Whether Tribal Courts Have Jurisdiction to Adjudicate Employment Claims

  The question of tribal jurisdiction arose when a group of current and former employees of two Arizona public school districts filed complaints with the Navajo Nation Labor Commission.   The districts operate schools on land leased from the Navajo Nation and most of the districts’ employees are members of that tribal nation. Among various complaints before the commission, the employees alleged that the districts owed them merit pay under Arizona law and others alleged that the districts violated their rights under the Navajo Preference…

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19 Jan 2018 The Death of PAGA Claims at the Hand of Individual Settlements

  Employers who are facing wage and hour lawsuits which include a Private Attorney General Act[1] (PAGA) claim would be happy to know that on December 29, 2017, an appellate panel determined that any plaintiff who settled his/her individual claims is subsequently barred from continuing with a claim under PAGA.   A three-judge panel for the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District affirmed a 2016 ruling issued by Judge Kenneth R. Freeman of Los Angeles Superior Court that awarded summary judgment to…

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18 Jan 2018 Settlement in Flu Shot Case Provides Lessons for Mandatory Vaccine Programs

  Just as the flu has gone viral throughout the United States this winter, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has resolved a religious accommodation lawsuit against a hospital that had implemented a mandatory influenza vaccine program for its employees.   The case centered on the use of a staff immunization policy at Mission Hospital in North Carolina, which the EEOC alleged did not provide sufficient safeguards for employees who wished to seek an exemption from mandatory flu shots on the basis of their sincerely…

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