Site Map - Legal Issues

Elsewhere in the Courts: Background Checks

- A decision by a federal appeals court clarifies that a private employer may consider an applicant’s bankruptcy filings in hiring decisions. The plaintiff, who was not hired for a job because he had filed for bankruptcy seven years earlier, sued his prospective employers, claiming they had violated a federal law that prohibits the government from making hiring decisions based on bankruptcy status. The court noted that the private sector is not bound by the law.

U.S. Judicial Decisions: Background Screening

- The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a background screening program used by a government agency does not violate employee privacy rights. In the case, 28 employees of the California Institute of Technology, under contract to do work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), claim that the government’s screening policy is too intrusive. The policy was implemented in 2004 under a government homeland security directive.


- An employee’s e-mails to her attorney are not privileged because she sent them over the company’s e-mail system, a California appellate court has ruled (.pdf). The employee had no expectation of privacy, ruled the court, because the company had clearly noted that e-mails were not private and could be inspected at any time.

Plaintiffs May Sue the Government Over Warrantless Spying

- A federal appeals court has ruled that the plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of the government’s warrantless wiretapping law do have standing to pursue their case.

Supreme Court Rules that Employer Discriminated Against Reservist Employee

- The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that an employer is liable for discrimination against an employee who was also a member of the U.S. Army Reserves. The Court ruled that even though the person who fired the reservist had no discriminatory motives, she relied on information from those who did.


- The Supreme Court of Texas has ruled that the state may withhold the birth dates of employees. In the case, reporters from The Dallas Morning News sued the state when it refused to release employee birth dates, citing a rise in identity theft and a need to protect employee privacy. The newspaper argued that other courts have ruled that the birth dates of state employees are public records.

Legal Report

- A government report examines how sexual predators become school employees, and court decisions on the theft of proprietary documents, retaliation, workplace safety, and privacy.

Company Settles Case Over Negative Facebook Posting

- The National Labor Relations Board has announced a settlement in the case of an employee who was fired for posting negative comments about her supervisor on Facebook.

Elsewhere in the Courts: Discovery

- A district court judge has ruled that the jury in a breach-of-contract case be instructed to draw a “negative inference” over the mishandling of electronic discovery. In the case, two former employees are suing SanDisk over ownership of a software program. At trial, SanDisk claimed to have lost the hard drives for the computers used by the two former employees despite being warned to keep all potential evidence.

U.S. Regulatory Issues: Genetic Discrimination

- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a final rule implementing the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008. The law makes it illegal for employers to collect genetic information on employees or to discriminate against employees or prospective employees on the basis of genetic data or family medical history. While many of the law’s provisions apply to health insurance providers, the EEOC rule addresses the use of genetic information in the workplace.

Sexual Harassment

- A federal appeals court has ruled that a male airport worker may sue his employer for sexual harassment after receiving unwanted attention from a female supervisor. A lower court had ruled in favor of the company after the worker testified that another man might not have considered the overtures harassment. The appeals court overturned the decision, ruling that the crux was that the worker found the advances unwelcome and the company’s response to the harassment was insufficient.

False Arrest

- A school teacher who was indicted and arrested for having a sexual relationship with her student may proceed with a lawsuit against the school due to a potentially biased investigation, but she may not sue the individuals involved.


- In the first case filed under the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, an appeals court has ruled that the law applies only to discrimination in compensation. The law does not apply to other types of discrimination claims, such as failure to promote.

Beyond Print

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