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Elsewhere in the Courts: Sexual Harassment

- An employee who claims that her employer should have known about inappropriate conduct in the workplace may not sue her employer for sexual harassment, according to a federal appeals court. The court ruled that the employee did not report the harassment to a management-level employee, so the company had no way of knowing about the inappropriate behavior. (Huston v. Procter & Gamble, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, No. 07-2799, 2009)

Workplace Violence

- Two recent cases reaffirm an employer’s right to terminate a potentially violent employee. In one case a psychologically disturbed doctor was fired after he threatened to kill his supervisor and coworkers. Another lawsuit involved a teacher who was fired after she declared that she could kill 22 people in front of a host of witnesses, including her 22 students.

Expert Witnesses

- Laboratory reports used in criminal cases may not be used at trial unless scientific experts testify to the validity of the reports, according to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The ruling centered on a defendant’s right to confront his or her accuser under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Employee Monitoring

- A federal court has ruled that an employee may pursue a lawsuit against his employer over the use of keylogging technology. The technology, used for employee monitoring, might violate federal law, determined the court, if the company’s actions affected interstate commerce.

Nonlethal Weapon Used on Pirates, Deployed in California by Sheriff

- A long range acoustic device, used to fend off Somali pirates, radical environmentalists, and Iraqi insurgents by their adversaries, was deployed by police recently at local political events in California, reports San Diego-based East County Magazine.

Elsewhere in the Courts: Whistleblowers

- Robert MacLean, a former federal air marshal, was fired by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after he revealed in 2003 that the DHS planned to eliminate air marshals from high-risk flights to save money despite warnings of attempted terrorist incidents aboard aircraft. MacLean filed suit with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, an administrative panel that conducts hearings into federal employment issues, claiming that he was illegally fired for his whistleblowing activities. The board disagreed, finding that MacLean could not be covered by whistleblower protection statutes because he disclosed sensitive security information. A whistleblower advocacy group says the ruling effectively eviscerates whistleblower protections. (MacLean v. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, No. SF-0752-06-0611-I-2, 2009)  

U.S. Judicial Decisions: Sexual Discrimination

- An employee who was fired after being accused of sexually harassing a coworker can sue his employer for sexual stereotyping, a form of sexual discrimination, according to recent appellate decision. The company did not conduct an investigation into the incident and told the alleged perpetrator that he probably did commit the harassment because he was a man.

Fraud Alerts

- A California court has ruled that companies providing an ID-theft-prevention service cannot place fraud alerts on consumers’ credit reports for them.

Fourth Amendment

- The strip search of a middle school student violated her Fourth Amendment right that protects against unreasonable search and seizure, ruled the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court ruled that the school’s zero tolerance policy for drugs on campus did not justify the search.

Ruling Against Fraud Alert Companies

- A recent court ruling dealing a blow to fraud-alert companies leaves consumers in the dark.

Homeowner Arrest A Sorry Sight

- Having a position of power doesn't mean never having to say you're sorry.

Watchdog Investigates Civil Rights Complaints in Federal Prisons, Most from Muslims

- The Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General handle dinvestigations into seven alleged of civil rights violations in federal prisons during the first half of the year, six of them involving Muslim inmates, according to a new report.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: National Security Letters

- A bill (H.R. 1800) introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) would amend the Patriot Act to curtail the subpoena power provided to law enforcement via National Security Letters (NSLs). Currently, NSLs are issued in secrecy and do not require court approval. Under the Patriot Act, those who are issued NSLs are prevented by law from discussing them.
 




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