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- A federal appeals court has ruled that an employee claiming she was fired for her traditional Christian beliefs may not sue her employer for discrimination. The employee repeatedly violated the company’s overtime policy, even after repeated warnings. The court ruled that the employee was fired for failing to meet the legitimate business expectations of her employer.

State Legislation: Washington: Stalking

- A new law (formerly S.B. 1856) establishes new rights for tenants who are being stalked or harassed by their landlords or employees of their landlords. Under the new law, such victims may be released from the terms of their rental agreement. If the victim wishes to stay in the property, he or she may change the locks on their doors without the landlord’s permission. If the harasser has left the landlord’s employ, the tenant must provide the landlord with a key to the new lock. If the tenant has a restraining order against the landlord, the tenant need not provide a key. In such cases, the landlord may enter the rental property in an emergency if accompanied by law enforcement or a fire official acting in his or her official capacity.

State Legislation: Colorado: Workplace Violence

- Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr., has issued an executive order requiring the state to draft a policy to address domestic violence that spills over into the workplace. The policy, which is to be in place by August, will include a training program to increase awareness of the issue and the resources available for victims.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: Food Safety

- A bill (S. 510) that would allow the government to suspend the registration of a food production facility due to unsafe conditions and issue a recall of adulterated food has been approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. The Senate has not announced whether it will consider the bill.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: Bioterrorism

- A bill (S. 1649) that would strengthening security at laboratories that handle dangerous pathogens has been approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The Senate has not announced whether it will consider the measure.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: FEMA

- A bill (H.R. 1174) that would reorganize the structure of disaster management agencies within the government has been approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The bill is still pending in the House Homeland Security Committee.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: Data Protection

- A bill (S. 139) that would require that companies notify consumers if their personally identifiable information has been accessed has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Under the bill, companies that possess such data would be required to disclose any data breach.

Legal Report

- Rulings on computer policies, cybersecurity, and discrimination; and legislation on data protection, FEMA, bioterrorism, and food safety.

Elsewhere in the Courts: ADA

- A federal district court has ruled that an employee with a history of unpredictable low-blood sugar is not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court ruled that the employee’s condition, which could result in threatening and abusive behavior, posed a direct threat to the health and safety of other employees. (Onken v. McNeilus, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, No. 08-CV-2003, 2009)

Elsewhere in the Courts: Sexual Discrimination

- The highest court in Massachusetts has affirmed $973,000 in compensatory damages and restored $1 million in punitive damages in a sexual discrimination case brought by a Wal-Mart pharmacist. The pharmacist, Cynthia Haddad, was fired after a coworker filed a false prescription while she was taking a break. In her case, Haddad provided evidence that the same coworker filed a false prescription during a male pharmacist’s break but that employee was not disciplined in any way. (Haddad v Wal-Mart, Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, No. SJC-10261, 2009)

State Legislation: Minnesota: Background Screening

- A new Minnesota law (formerly H.B. 882) would protect employers in civil lawsuits where the plaintiff is seeking damages arising from the actions of employees. To be protected from liability, one of three conditions must exist, according to the law: The employee did not pose a greater risk in his employment than he would as a general member of the public; the criminal record of the employee had been sealed; the employee had been pardoned or the arrest or charge did not result in criminal conviction.

State Legislation: California: Security Officers

- A new law (formerly S.B. 741) in California regulates proprietary security officers. Under the bill, proprietary officers are required to register with the same state agency that was already charged with regulating contract officers. Proprietary officers must also undergo a background check and be issued a license. Officers must complete initial training and undergo an annual review by the state to maintain their licenses.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: Data Security

- A bill (H.R. 2221) that would set out requirements for ensuring that data security has been approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The full House of Representatives has not announced whether it will bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

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