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nuclear plantThe government’s interest in protecting national security, including national security information, can be very wide-ranging. However, based upon a recent ruling issued by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, national security exceptions do not allow a government-run nuclear power plant to revoke a medical clearance in a way that constitutes discrimination. The ruling means that, without an applicable exception, the employer must face the disability discrimination claim of a nuclear plant officer who was fired after failing a pulmonary function test and losing his medical clearance.

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nurseA nurse was able to revive his Family and Medical Leave Act claim against his former employer after the employer failed to reinstate him from leave immediately after he informed the employer of his availability. Since reasonable jurors could disagree regarding whether the employer handled the reinstatement in a way that complied with the law, the nurse’s case was not one properly decided by issuing summary judgment, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided.

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gavelA woman who felt harassed at her job by a male co-worker took a cell phone picture to document the harassment to which she was subjected. For that, the employer terminated not the male employee but the woman, alleging that she violated workplace policies regarding taking other employees’ pictures without permission. The evidence the woman had was enough to support a sexual harassment claim, even if it wasn’t enough for a retaliation claim, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided.

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thomas county schoolsA groundbreaking 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which revived a Georgia school superintendent’s sex discrimination case, has paved the way to a $400,000 settlement award for the former superintendent, the Thomasville Times-Enterprise reported. The settlement marks the end to litigation that allowed the 11th Circuit to weigh in on how courts should handle cases like this one, in which there was a mixture of valid bases for the adverse employment action along with clear proof of gender-based bias.

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OphthalmologistTitle VII’s protections are intended to protect employees from impermissible discrimination. In furtherance of that goal, a person must in fact be an employee in order to pursue a Title VII violation case. Some partners in businesses may qualify, but only if they prove that they are only “nominal” partners. In a recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case, an ophthalmologist lost because the proof in her case showed that her standing as a partner was genuine and was much more than just nominal, meaning that she was not an employee under Title VII.

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signing documentThe Fair Labor Standards Act allows employers to use various different methods to pay employees while still remaining compliant with the law. One of these methods is the “fluctuating workweek method,” or paying a base weekly salary to an employee regardless of the hours the employee worked. The key to using this method and remaining in compliance with the law is establishing a clear understanding about how the employee will be paid. In a recent 11th Circuit Court of Appeals case of note to Georgia employers and employees, the employee’s testimony in a deposition proved that the required level of “clear understanding” existed in this case, and the employer was not in violation of the law’s overtime pay rules.

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LayoffsLayoffs. Downsizing. Reductions in force. These words and phrases can be painful for employees and employers alike. However, the issue of downsizing an employee can be especially tricky if that employee is also a member of a protected class, such as women or racial minorities. In a case recently decided by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, a downsized employee brought but lost a sex discrimination case against her employer. She lost because she couldn’t prove an essential part of her case, which was that she was qualified to assume another open job with her employer after her employer eliminated her position.

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clock faceThe law can be full of twists and turns, with many nuances that may affect the resolution of an issue and, in the process, the ability of an employee to succeed in a discrimination case. In a recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case involving several former employees at Chrysler, we saw this on display. The employees brought state, but not federal, age discrimination claims. However, since the alleged discrimination related to the employees’ retirement plans, the federal statute of limitations applied to their case and yielded a decision that they brought their legal action too late.

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It is often a tricky situation for an employer. You’ve approved an employee’s taking a certain amount of time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, only to discover soon thereafter that your employee wasn’t completely honest with you about his leave. When an employer encounters this issue, it is important to understand what the laws says are your options. In a recent case from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, that court concluded that an employer couldn’t be liable for FMLA retaliation when it forced into retirement an employee whom it deemed to have misused his FMLA leave. The employer won because it had ample proof that the employee had been dishonest, and dishonesty and abuse of FMLA leave were permissible non-discriminatory reasons for the employer’s actions.vacation

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police officersA recent ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is an important one for Georgia employers and employees to note, since it may affect some potential minimum wage and overtime cases. In the new decision, the 11th Circuit decided that it would join numerous other circuits in concluding that the Fair Labor Standards Act does not prohibit employees from bringing a case that contains within it both a FLSA collective action and a state-law class action.

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