Author Archives: Lindsay M. Bouffard

TIPS TO AVOID LIABILITY AT THE HO-HO-HOLIDAY PARTY

With the holidays fast approaching, employers and employees alike are beginning to look forward to company holiday parties.  However, it’s no secret that these parties can be a double-edged sword for employers.  They are a great way to boost employee morale, but poor planning can expose employers to sexual harassment complaints and social host liability lawsuits.  Whether your party is a casual lunch in the office or a cocktail party at a favorite local venue, thoughtful planning will help ensure a safe, enjoyable, and hopefully liability-free event.  Here are a few easy ways to reduce the risk for your organization: 

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CAN A STATE REALLY HAVE A LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE PUBLIC POLICY REQUIRING REASONABLE RESTROOM USE?

Often, Plaintiffs who lose their jobs and decide to pursue legal action take the position that their discharge violated some public policy in their state.  Occasionally, these claims can get quite creative. 

Recently, a production technician at an employer in Ohio brought a wrongful termination claim in state court there alleging his employer violated Ohio’s public policy on restroom use.  Specifically, the Plaintiff claimed his termination violated the public policy requiring employers to allow employees to use the restroom subject to reasonable restrictions. While this position seems sympathetic, a closer examination of the allegations in the case reveals that his lawsuit was probably doomed from the start. 

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EEOC SETTLES ITS FIRST LAWSUIT ALLEGING GENETIC DISCRIMINATION

Employers who have yet to put the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (“GINA”) on their radar should probably re-consider their priorities.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is already at the point where the agency isn’t just bringing suits to enforce violations of that law, it is now settling them. 

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INSKEEP V. WESTERN RESERVE TRANSIT AUTHORITY: OHIO CIVIL RIGHTS ACT DOES NOT EXTEND TO SEXUAL ORIENTATION

In Inskeep v. Western Reserve Transit Authority, Matthew Inskeep, an employee at Western Reserve Transit Authority (WRTA), brought a claim against his employer for sexual orientation harassment and negligent infliction of emotional distress.  The trial court dismissed the employee’s claim finding that sexual orientation is not covered by the Ohio Civil Rights Act and negligent infliction of emotional distress is not a separate tort recognized in Ohio in the employment context. Inskeep appealed. 

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SIXTH CIRCUIT DISTRICT COURT CONCLUDES TELECOMMUTING IS NOT A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION UNDER THE ADA

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s recently appointed CEO, has come under fire for her decision to end Yahoo’s telecommuting program. This drastic measure has Human Resources professionals wondering whether a blanket ban on telecommuting could have legal ramifications.  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.  Can working from home ever be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA?  

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FEDERAL APPEALS COURT RULES OBAMA’S RECESS APPOINTMENTS TO NLRB INVALID

On January 25, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit released its decision in Noel Canning v. NLRB, which started as a seemingly routine review of an NLRB decision, but produced a result that was anything but typical. 

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NEW FCRA SUMMARY OF RIGHTS FORM REQUIRED FOR EMPLOYERS

Beginning at the first of the year, employers are now required to use a new version of the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s Summary of Rights form.  This change was prompted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), who replaced the Federal Trade Commission as the agency overseeing rulemaking and enforcement of the FCRA.  The new Summary of Rights issued by the CFPB instructs individuals to contact the CFPB, instead of the Federal Trade Commission, for more information about their rights under the FCRA.  The list of contacts included in the Summary of Rights has also been updated.  Employers should begin using the new Summary of Rights form immediately.  A link to the form can be found HERE.

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