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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.

Religious Discrimination

- A federal appeals court has ruled that a police department did not discriminate against a Muslim officer when it refused to let her wear a head covering as part of her uniform. The court ruled that allowing the officer to wear the head covering would compromise the city’s interest in maintaining religious neutrality.

Decision Could Determine How Much Awarded in Whistleblower Suits

- The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case that could decide how much money whistleblowers can recover when they uncover government or corporate abuse or waste, reports Bloomberg.com.

Whistleblower Protections Denied Fired Air Marshal

- The decision on Tuesday by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to deny whistleblower protections to a former federal air marshal is the final blow against such protections, argues a whistleblower defense organization.

ACLU Says Terrorism Finance Laws Violate Muslim Rights

- A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticizes federal terrorism financing laws for undermining the ability of Muslims to practice their constitutional rights of worship and association.

U.K.: Secret Evidence Violates Human Rights, Law Lords Say

- Britain's law lords ruled unanimously yesterday that the use of secret evidence to impose control orders on terrorism suspects, which drastically restricts civil liberties, violated their human rights.

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)

Concealed Weapons

- Two recent appellate decisions address the right of employers to prevent workers from bringing firearms onto company property. In one, a court upheld an Oklahoma law giving employees the right to have firearms in their cars at work. In the other, a court determined that Ohio state law does not protect an employee who was fired for violating the policy against keeping a gun in his car in a company parking lot.

State Secrets Privilege Should Be Modified, Says President Obama

- In his 100th-day press conference, President Barack Obama said that the State Secrets Privilege should be modified. He also indicated that he would push this year for procurement reform legislation and immigration reform, coupled with improved border security.

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)
 




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