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Drug Testing

- A school board’s random drug testing policy is unconstitutional, ruled a federal district court. The court found that the school board’s rationalization—that employees held safety-sensitive jobs and that drug use among workers was increasing—was insufficient to justify the policy.

Government Ramps Up Prosecution of Corporate Corruption

- Government prosecution of companies under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act(FCPA) remained steady in 2008 after an all-time high in 2007. The FCPA makes it a crime for U.S. companies to engage in bribery of any government's officials. At a conference yesterday, a panel of government officials, legal experts, and corporate compliance officers warned that company executives must be aware of the act to avoid hefty fines and even prison sentences.

Taser Electronic Control Devices and Sudden In-Custody Death: Separating Evidence From Conjecture

- Have stun guns caused the death of criminal suspects? Police Chief Howard E. Williams says "no."

Elsewhere in the Courts: Drug Testing

- A prospective employee filed a lawsuit against a California company, Longs Drug Stores, after he was asked to answer a question about drug convictions on a job application. The application asked whether the applicant had been convicted of a crime involving the use or possession of illegal drugs in the previous seven years. Under California law, it is illegal to ask about drug convictions that are more than two years old. However, a California appellate court ruled in favor of the defendant finding that a federal law, the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005, preempts the state statute. (Rankin v. Longs Drug Stores California, Inc., California Court of Appeal, No. D052124, 2009)

Elsewhere in the Courts: Hostile Work Environment

- A New Jersey appellate court has ruled that a single remark can be enough to create a hostile work environment. In the case, a supervisor called an employee a “stupid fag” after an argument. The court ruled that the employee may bring his case before a jury. (Kwiatkowski v. Merrill Lynch, New Jersey Court of Appeals, No. A-2270-06T1, 2008)

Elsewhere in the Courts: Negligent Hiring

- A patient who was sexually assaulted by a nurse may pursue her negligent hiring lawsuit against the hospital where the assailant worked. The plaintiff argued that if the hospital had conducted a background check, it would have found that the nurse had been fired from previous jobs for assaulting female patients. A lower court held that the plaintiff could not sue the hospital because the nurse was officially employed by a third party. The California appellate court ruled that the hospital had sufficient supervisory authority over those working at the facility to be held liable for the nurse’s actions. (C.R. v. Tenet Healthcare Corporation, California Court of Appeal, No. B201220, 2009)

Discrimination

- A federal appeals court has ruled that a Muslim employee who was fired after 9-11 may sue his employer for discrimination. The court found that the evidence of discrimination, though circumstantial, must be brought before a jury.

Elsewhere in the Courts: Discrimination

- LA Weight Loss Centers, Inc., has agreed to pay $20 million to settle a sexual discrimination suit brought by men who applied at the company but were not hired. According to the EEOC, the company had a policy of not interviewing or hiring male candidates. In addition to the monetary damages, the company must also implement an electronic tracking system to record information on applicants. To ensure that no discrimination is occurring, this information can then be evaluated by a neutral third party and the results given to the EEOC at the agency’s request. (EEOC v. LA Weight Loss Center, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, No. WDQ-02-CV-648, 2008)

Elsewhere in the Courts: Sexual Harassment

- A federal appeals court has ruled that a sexual harassment case against Boeing can proceed. The court ruled that a jury should decide whether a Boeing employee was harassed by her coworkers. Though Boeing terminated one employee and disciplined another, the court ruled that a reasonable jury could find that these two employees were part of a larger problem at the company. (EEOC v. The Boeing Company, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, No. 05-17386, 2008)

Workplace Safety

- A retailer that was sued after an employee was assaulted during a robbery is not liable for the employee’s injuries. According to an Ohio appellate court, despite two prior robberies, the employer could not have predicted with certainty that the injury would occur. The court ruled that the employee could not prove that the company knew an employee would be harmed because neither of the previous two robberies resulted in harm to an employee. (Toner v. Monro Muffler and Brake, Court of Appeals for Montgomery County, Ohio, No. 22227, 2008)

ADA

- A company did not discriminate against an employee when it refused to let him perform a dangerous job as long as he was taking narcotics for pain, ruled a federal appeals court, because it did not consider the employee incapable of performing less dangerous jobs.

National Security

- When issuing a national security letter under the Patriot Act, the government must justify the gag order that prevents the recipient from speaking out, according to a federal appeals court.

Four Animal Rights Activists Arrested for Protests, Assault in California

- Federal authorities last week arrested and charged four animal rights activists under a never before used federal law which protects industries and individuals that use animals in their work.
 




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