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Legal Report

- Court rulings on negligence and pregnancy discrimination are discussed. Also, Missouri requires schools to report threats, while Wisconsin intoduces a bill to protect student information.

Pregnancy Discrimination

- A federal appeals court has ruled that an employer who terminated a pregnant employee is guilty of pregnancy discrimination. The court ruled that because her managers discussed her pregnancy in relation to her termination, saying that her “belly would be in the way,” the comments were discriminatory.

Legal Report

- A New York court has ruled that a parolee can sue a company that furnished an erroneous drug test, and Congress tackles issues of sexual orientation discrimination and passenger screening equipment.

Religious Discrimination

- A federal court has awarded a former security officer more than $50,000 in back wages and attorney’s fees after he was fired for refusing to shave his beard as requested by his employer. The officer kept his beard closely cropped but maintained that the beard was part of his religious observance. The court found that the company’s request was religious discrimination.

Staffing

-  After Idaho brought a lawsuit over excessive violence at the Idaho Correctional Center, Corrections Corporation of American (CCA) agreed to maintain adequate security staff. A federal court has ruled that there is still “a persistent failure to fill required mandatory positions, along with a pattern of CCA staff falsifying records to make it appear that all posts were filled.” CCA must now submit to an independent monitor and report regularly to the court. The court also established a fine of $100 for every hour that a mandatory post is vacant after a grace period of 12 hours.

Employment

- In a recent court case, an employer was found liable for a car accident caused by an employee because the employee was required to use her personal vehicle for work-related trips. 

Retaliation

- Federal courts have issued two recent opinions on the retaliation provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. These provisions protect whistleblowers who report wrongdoing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In one case, the court ruled that the provisions do not apply outside the United States. The other decision found that employees can be covered by the provision even if they are terminated before reporting to the SEC.

Whistleblowers

- A New Jersey jury has awarded a lab technician more than $2 million after he was terminated over a whistleblower complaint. The technician had complained to senior managers about insufficient blood bank staffing and procedures. Issues such as failure to have skilled technicians on staff violated state law. After the technician complained, he was subjected to unfair discipline and was then fired.  

NSA Surveillance

- A federal judge has ordered the White House to declassify all of the legal opinions issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court after May 2011 that relate to Section 215 of the Patriot Act. In a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the judge noted that the disclosures made by Edward Snowden require greater transparency and that disclosure of the opinions is necessary for an informed debate on the issue of government surveillance and privacy.  

Border Security

- A border patrol agent violated the Fourth Amendment when he answered a suspect’s phone and impersonated the suspect, even though the suspect had given the agent permission to search the phone.  

Whistleblowers

- A federal appeals court has ruled that the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley act apply to employees of publicly traded companies who report fraud, even if that fraud does not relate to company shareholders.  

ADA

- An employee who could not do her job part time while healing from an injury may not subsequently claim that maintaining that part-time job was a reasonable accommodation for her disability. An employee suffering from a back injury was absent from work or unable to complete even a few hours a day in her job. When she was terminated, the employee filed a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act claiming that maintaining her part-time job should have been offered as a reasonable accommodation. A federal appeals court ruled that the employee’s request was unreasonable because the employee could not demonstrate that she was capable of filling this position if it were offered to her.  

Legal Report

- Federal appeals courts have issued rulings on whistleblowers and border security searches, and lawmakers are considering bills on economic espionage, cybersecurity, and safety of embassy personnel.  
 




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