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Elsewhere in the Courts: Discrimination

- In an agreement with the EEOC, YRC Inc. will take steps to enhance diversity to end an investigation into sexual discrimination in its hiring practices. Without admitting wrongdoing, the trucking company agreed to improve its work environment for women and minorities, provide new diversity training for managers, enhance recruiting of women and minorities, and develop new programs to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry.

Negligent Hiring

- In a California decision, an appeals court has ruled that a company cannot be held responsible for the actions of a former employee. In the case, a man who became romantically involved with a client shot and killed her two years after he was fired from his job.

Elsewhere in the Courts: Religious Discrimination

- A federal appeals court has found that a city’s requirement that firefighters be clean-shaven violates the religious rights of employees. The court upheld a summary judgment in favor of the firefighters, ruling that the city could not prove that beards presented a safety issue when using firefighting equipment. (Potter v. District of Columbia, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, No. 07-7163, 2009)

Elsewhere in the Courts: Discrimination

- A federal appeals court has ruled that a security guard who was terminated after he failed a hearing test has no standing to sue his employer for discrimination. The security officer, who wore a hearing aid, was assigned to guard a federal building. Under federal law, guards must have adequate hearing without the use of a hearing aid. The court determined that the policy was consistent with business necessity given “the tremendous harm that could result if a security officer could not perform the essential functions of his job at any given moment.” (Allmond v. Akal Security Inc., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, No. 07-15561, 2009)

State Legislation: Massachusetts: Identity Theft

- New regulations implemented in Massachusetts require that companies encrypt documents sent over the Internet or saved on laptops or flash drives. Data transmitted wirelessly must also be protected and firewalls must be up to date. Companies were required to meet most of the regulations last month but the deadline for some items has been extended. For example, all data stored on laptops must be encrypted now but the requirement to encrypt data on other portable devices has been delayed until January 1, 2010.

Online Privacy

- The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to consider the final appeal from the federal government over the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act of 1998. The law made it illegal to distribute any material deemed harmful to minors via the Internet. A federal appeals court recently ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it made all Internet service providers liable under the most conservative community’s standards. The appellate court decision now stands.

Legal Report

- Two recent appellate court rulings offer differing opinions on whether employers can restrict firearms on company property, plus legislation on privacy, border security, retail theft, and emergency management.

Confessions Corrupting Witnesses

- Eyewitness misidentification is the number one cause of wrongful criminal prosecutions, accounting for 75 percent of the prisoners exonerated due to DNA evidence.

Legal Report

- A school board's drug testing policy is judged unconstitutional, and an employee who destroyed company data but was acquitted cannot sue his employer for malicious prosecution. Congress considers bills on state secrets, copper theft, and food safety.

Disability

- An employee who sued her employer under California’s fair employment law was treated fairly and given reasonable accommodations, according to a state appellate court. The employee had appealed a jury verdict in favor of her employer. In the case, the employee claimed that the company took too long to respond to her requests. The court rejected the argument, noting that the accommodation process is informal and that it was obviously a success because the company was able to meet each of the employee’s requests. (Wilson v. County of Orange, California Court of Appeal, No. G039733, 2009)

Employee Monitoring

- A federal appeals court has denied a motion to rehear an employee monitoring case. The action means that a prior ruling—that a police department violated the privacy rights of its officers when it obtained transcripts of their text messages—stands. (See the October 2008 issue of “Legal Report” for a more detailed account of the case.) The court ruled that because officers had been told that their messages would not be read, the city had no right to access them without the permission of the officers. (Quon v. Arch Wireless, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, No. 07-55282, 2009)

Malicious Prosecution

- An employee who erased computer data and was later arrested for the crime cannot pursue his claim of malicious prosecution against his former employers. A federal appeals court ruled that the employee could not prove that the company acted without probable cause in turning the case over to the police. (Deng v. Sears, Roebuck, and Company, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, No. 07-3331)

Eyewitness Testimony

- Would knowledge of a confession influence your memory of a crime you witnessed? Researchers say it could. See the research online.
 




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