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Supreme Court Holds That Testimony by Public Employee May be Protected Speech Under the First Amendment

lu_hwe_logo.jpgWhen a government employee testifies, pursuant to subpoena, outside the course of his ordinary job responsibilities, the testimony is protected speech under the First Amendment, and adverse employment actions based on the speech may be unlawful if the speech addresses a matter of public concern and the government/employer has no justification for taking the adverse action against its employee. The Supreme Court recently clarified the line between speech as a citizen and speech as a public employee, and has provided precedent in the form of a specific example: speech compelled by subpoena as an individual citizen. Government employees may give such testimony without fear of retaliation by their employers when they do so as individuals on matters of public concern.

Americans With Disabilities Act: Accommodation Compliance In The Age Of Telecommuting

sbyers.jpgOn April 22, 2014, in EEOC v. Ford Motor Co, Case No. 12-2484, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in an appeal from the Eastern District of Michigan at Ann Arbor ruled in a 2-1 decision that reversed summary judgment to the employer, Ford, finding that employee's telecommuting request that had been denied was potential discrimination and that the retaliation claims were also viable under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC has long provided in its guidance that telecommuting or working from home can, in some instances, be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. This guidance is not unfettered; however, as such accommodations are not required if it would cause an undue hardship or if the essential functions of the job can only be performed in the workplace.

Contractors Face Potential Criminal Penalties When They Accept Payment For Work Performed By A Subcontractor And, With Intent to Defraud, Fail to Notify The Payor Of The Contractor's Debt To The Subcontractor, Resulting In A Loss To The Payor.

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The Workplace Impact of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), Which Makes It Way to the House after Strongly Passing the Senate

lu_hwe_logo.jpgOn November 7, 2013, by a vote of 64-32, the Senate voted to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for the first time since the legislation was introduced nearly twenty (20) years ago. The House of Representatives has yet to vote on the bill and Speaker John Boehner has voiced his opposition to the Bill, but there is significant bipartisan pressure to bring the bill to a vote on the House floor. ENDA, if enacted, will provide protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, individuals who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) are not covered under the presently existing civil rights laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

7th Circuit Rules Same-Sex Sexual Harassment Plaintiff Gave Employer Sufficient Notice

sbyers.jpgIn a recent decision handed down by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court ruled that the Plaintiff had given sufficient notice of same-sex sexual harassment by reporting allegations to on-site managers, rather than following the employer's policy for reporting such allegations, which required such allegations to be reported to HR or a corporate executive. Thus, the employer had sufficient notice of the co-worker harassment such that it could be held liable for negligence in failing to remedy the workplace harassment. Given this development in sexual harassment case precedent, employers should review their policies, including their anti-harassment policies, carefully to make sure proper reporting procedures are in place.

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