Employers have long been under an obligation to provide employees and prospective employees with prior written notice that a credit report – a “consumer report” in the language of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) – may be obtained about them.  The FCRA specifically requires this notice to be “in a document that consists solely of the disclosure,” although the Act elsewhere clarifies that the disclosure may also contain an authorization by the employee or applicant for procurement of the report.  Recent court decisions, settlements, and new lawsuits have highlighted the importance of ensuring compliance with this provision of the FCRA.
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The Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) has revised the rules implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, which applies to certain federal contractors.  The revised rules, which are effective on March 24, 2014 require covered federal contractors to invite each job applicant to voluntarily disclose (“self-identify”) whether he or she has a disability as defined by the Rehabilitation Act at the pre-offer and post-offer phases of the application process.  Covered federal contractors also must invite their current employees to voluntarily self-identify any disabilities every five years.
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A federal circuit court’s recent ruling provides more evidence of a prevalent employment law trend that has developed in the last few decades. The trend? Candid interactive communication about an employee’s rights and an employer’s responsibilities.

Over the past few decades, attentive employers have seen courts favor those who communicate forthrightly concerns or issues and correspondingly disfavor those who do not. While there are anecdotal exceptions, we have seen this trend in the following:
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A trucking company has a practice of not returning any trucker to a driver position if that trucker has admitted to being an alcoholic, even if the trucker completes a treatment program. The EEOC sued on behalf of a trucker and challenged this practice. In this instance, however, the trucker did not complete a treatment program. He explained that he did not complete a program since it would be futile – he could not get his job back anyway.

In a recent ruling, a District Judge in Arkansas ruled that the trucking company’s practice of automatic disqualification of the alcoholic trucker violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The Court ruled that a jury will have to decide the merits of the specific driver’s claim, but the Court entered an injunction against the trucking company from further use of its practice. EEOC v. Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc. (W.D. Ark. June 24, 2013) found here.
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The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a class action waiver in an arbitration agreement is enforceable. Although not an employment case, the decision likely signals that an employee’s waiver of the right to bring a class action will be enforceable if included in an employment agreement that requires arbitration to settle any employment-related dispute. American Express Company v. Italian Colors Restaurant, No. 12-133 (June 20, 2013). A copy of the opinion is available here.

What does this decision mean for employers?
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An employer received a report of a manager harassing his subordinates. The employer appears to take all the right steps: 1) conducting an investigation; 2) involving several higher-level managers in the decision-making process; and 3) even hiring an outside law firm to assist it in deciding what discipline to impose.

BUT, months later, after the manager had been suspended and had his pay docked (a “fine”), the employer has fired the manager (yet he still qualified for a large bonus), the manager’s assistant has resigned, the manager’s supervisor has resigned, another high ranking official with the employer has resigned and the employer is in the midst of a public relations nightmare.


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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits a covered employer from requiring an employee to undergo a “medical examination,” unless the examination is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that an employer’s demand that an employee seek psychological counseling as a condition of continued employment may constitute a violation of the ADA.

In Kroll v White Lake Ambulance Authority, Case No. 10-2348 (6th Cir. 2012), the plaintiff, Emily Kroll, was an Emergency Medical Technician for White Lake Ambulance Authority (WLAA). She had an affair with a married co-worker and began to exhibit stress and anger at work. Several co-workers expressed to management concern for her well-being. On one occasion, while transporting a patient in emergency status, she was screaming at someone on her telephone. WLAA questioned whether Kroll could perform her job safely and told her that she must attend counseling in order to continue working. There was a dispute whether WLAA required that the counseling be psychological in nature. Kroll refused to seek counseling and did not return to work at WLAA.
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