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Four Big Takeaways from Illinois' Proposed Pregnancy Accommodation Rules

Illinois employers, take note—in mid-July, the State's Department of Human Rights published its proposed rules implementing the State's new pregnancy discrimination law.  As readers of this blog will know, the new law took effect at the beginning of 2015.  The law imposes additional requirements and clarifies employers' obligation when it comes to accommodating pregnant employees; in effect, it requires that any pregnant employee or job applicant (including those with “conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth”) must be accommodated in the same way that disabled employees are accommodated under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  More ›

Trend Alert: NLRB Holds Employee Acting Alone Engages in Concerted Activity

The NLRB, and courts interpreting the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), consistently have held that to engage in concerted activity protected by Section 7, two or more employees must take action for their mutual aid or protection regarding terms and conditions of employment.  Key takeaways: "two or more" and "mutual."  But, as the title of this article suggests, even a lone wolf may fall within this definition in certain circumstances.       More ›

It May Be A Lawyer Doing Work At A Law Firm…But Don't Call It 'Legal Work'

As e-discovery issues abound, the increased number of contract lawyers combing through massive document productions for privilege and relevance has developed into a cottage industry in the past decade. Companies helping law firms whose clients are embroiled in litigation with huge document productions has spawned new international businesses hiring American lawyers. And like any profitable business innovation, competition follows. Now law firms are bringing these document review lawyers on board and asking them to analyze myriad documents for their clients instead of farming this work to outside companies. But are these document review lawyers performing 'legal work'? The answer may depend on who you ask and why you're asking, but if you ask the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, they will tell you "no." More ›

6th Circuit: Despite Misconduct, Terminating Complaining Employee Still a Problem Under Section 7

Ask any school teacher and they will tell you, the key to maintaining an orderly classroom is identifying the instigator. The "instigator" is the young boy or girl (let’s be honest, usually boy) who does or says something to disrupt productivity and get everyone off-task. I often tell my clients that managing a workforce is similar to managing a group of adolescents. You must establish and enforce rules, know everyone's strengths and weaknesses, recognize personal conflicts, and—most importantly—identify the instigator. In a recent federal case, however, one employer learned the pitfalls of playing teacher: in the workplace, the instigator may be the one person that you don’t want to single out. More ›

“Hair Today? Gone Tomorrow!”: Employers Face Obstacles When It Comes to Enforcing Look Policies

Your author joined the ranks of the bearded in January after six years of daily shaving for the Air Force, skillfully concealing his newfound hirsuteness (look it up) amid the current popularity in facial hair (see: Special Forces members, hipsters, baseball players).  For many others, though, beards, uncut hair, or other grooming practices are not personal preferences, but rather religious obligations. On the other hand, many employers wish to convey a certain image to the public, or have safety concerns addressed through grooming standards.  More ›

“Ban the Box" Coming to the Big Apple...

On June 29, 2015, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law that requires private employers to remove criminal-convictions questions from job applications and defer background inquiries to the point of a conditional job offer.  This “Ban the Box” law prohibits NYC employers from making any inquiry or statement concerning an applicant’s arrest or criminal record until after the employer has extended a conditional job offer to the applicant.  The law construes the terms “inquires” and “statements” very broadly, and also expressly prohibits searches of publicly available records and many consumer reports. More ›

EEOC Gets Aggressive, Will Start Treating All Sex Orientation Claims as Title VII Discrimination

Once upon a time, there was a plaintiff.  This plaintiff had been passed over for a promotion because she was gay, so she sued her employer.  When she looked at federal law, however, she found that Title VII did not include “sexual orientation” on its list of protected classes.  So this plaintiff came up with a clever idea: she claimed that she actually was discriminated against based on her gender (a class listed in Title VII), arguing that the action was taken against her because she did not conform to gender stereotypes.   More ›

EEOC Uses its Record Keeping Requirements to Police Use of Criminal Background Checks

We don't think about personnel files – we just have them. Everything from employment applications to benefits enrollment forms to discipline and discharge documents goes into those files. But did you know that the EEOC requires employers to keep all personnel and employment records for at least one year?  More ›

Cracks in the Fifield Armor?: New Dissent Marks First Big Challenge to Illinois' Bright-Line Restrictive Covenant Rule

When continued employment is the sole consideration for a post-employment restrictive covenant (such as a noncompetition agreement), the Illinois Supreme Court requires that an employee be continually employed for a substantial period of time. Generally, a period of two-years is an adequately substantial period.  A strong dissent in a new Illinois opinion suggests that not all judges are on board with the bright-line rule recently endorsed by several Illinois courts. More ›

That's A Lotta Cheddar: Pizza Chain Pays Big to End Background Check Case

The parent company of Chuck E. Cheese's restaurants, CEC Entertainment, Inc., has agreed to pay $1.75M to settle a class action lawsuit in California brought by applicants who claimed the company provided improper background check notices during the hiring process.  More ›

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