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Bill to Exclude Employment-Related Claims From Mandatory Arbitration

In May 2009, Senator Russell Feingold (D-Wis) introduced the Arbitration Fairness Act (S. 931) which bars mandatory arbitration of employment-related and civil rights claims unless required by a collective bargaining agreement. A companion bill is also pending in the House of Representatives (H.R. 2010). This legislative action aims to overturn the Supreme Court decision in Circuit City Stores v. Adams, 532 U.S. 105 (2001) which upheld mandatory arbitration of Title VII cases employment discrimination cases.

Proponents of the bills claim that the mandatory arbitration of employment and civil rights claims results in the loss of major rights of employees because the arbitration agreements are typically signed when employees are new with no bargaining power. They also claim that such agreements are typically not the result of a fair and bargained exchanged. Instead, they are given to new employees to sign on a take-it-or leave-it basis with measures that are significantly unfair to employees.

Opponents of the measures claim that arbitration is an efficient and cost-effective manner of disposing employment disputes that otherwise would be very lengthy and costly if required to go through the court systems. Mandatory arbitration, they claim, result in quicker resolution and recovery for employees with less tension and employee turnover.

ADEA Amendment to Overturn Age Discrimination Ruling

October 7, 2009 - Bills introduced in both the House of Representative and Senate aim to make age discrimination easier to prove. This proposed amendment to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is contained in S.1756 and H.R.3721 and seeks to overturn the Supreme Court decision Gross v. FNL Financial Services, Inc., 129 S.Ct. 2343 (6/22/09) where the court ruled that a Plaintiff must prove that age was the ?determining factor? in the employment decision.

Under this amendment titled The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, the Plaintiff would only have to prove that age was only a motivating factor in the employment decision. Using this standard, an age discrimination plaintiff may still win if the court or jury determines that his/her age was one of the factors that resulted in the challenged employment decision even if other factors exist.

If passed and signed into law, this legislation will make it easier for victims of employment discrimination to win in court because they would only have to prove that their age was a factor in the decision as opposed to the ?determining factor? as defined by the Supreme Court.

Sexual Harassment by Supervisor Makes Employer Strictly Liable - Illinois Supreme Court

The Illinois Supreme Court on April 16, 2009 issued a ruling that an employer is strictly liable for damages resulting from sexual harassment by its supervisory employee on a subordinate employee. This holding which obtains under the Illinois Human Rights Act, reaffirms the law that Illinois employers whose supervisory employees engage in sexual harassment of subordinate employees are automatically liable for damages resulting from the harassment.

In reaching this conclusion, the Court rejected the employer’s contention that it would end up with liability for harassment actions committed by low-level supervisors. So long as the employee is a supervisory employee over the sexual harassment victim’s chain of command, the employer will be liable regardless of any remedial actions taken or employer’s prior knowledge of the alleged harassing conduct. Under the holding also, the employer is also liable whether or not the employee-victim complained about the sexually harassing conduct.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruling which establishes the law for Illinois employers differs from federal law which is governed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. Under the Federal law, employers may avoid liability for supervisor harassment by claiming a defense that it had a reporting policy which the employee-victim unreasonably failed to follow to bring the harassment to the attention of the employer. 

pdf [Read The Illinois Supreme Court Holding On Sexual Harassment Liability....]

 

U.S. Employers are Reminded to Use the New Form I-9 Employee Eligibility Verification

April 3, 2009 -The USCIS has issued a memorandum reminding all United States employers about the new I-9 Form that is now required for employment verification for all employees. The revised Form I-9 went into effect April 3, 2009. The new I-9 Form revises and clarifies the documents that are acceptable for verifying the immigration status and an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States.

The announcement also provides information about how to obtain the revised I-9 employee Eligibility Verification Form as well as the instructions for the I-9 Form.
pdf [Read The New I-9 Form Reminder....]

 

New Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Effective April 3, 2009

Effective April 3, 2009, all U.S. Employers are required to use the Revised Form I-9 for verifying the immigration status and employment eligibility of their workers and job applicants. The revised Form I-9 changes the list of acceptable documents that show employment eligibility. The Handbook for employers has also been amended to reflect the requirements of the revised I-9 Forms.

The USCIS also issued a memorandum providing commonly asked questions and answers about the revised Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form.
pdf [Read The USCIS Questions and Answers on the New I-9 Form...]

 

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