Gavel with computer in backgroundIt’s been a pretty busy month for employment cases and regulations. Here are some of the highlights of ongoing and recent court decisions and agency updates:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released the final bipartisan regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, the new disability law that was passed in 2008. These amendments focused mostly on employer compliance with ADA regulations. “Disability” is still fairly broadly defined, and eligibility for coverage under the Act involves “substantial limitation” of major life activities, including work. Be sure you know how well your clients conform to the ADA rules.

The Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments in the Dukes vs. Wal-Mart case, the largest class action employment discrimination lawsuit ever. Legal experts are trying to divine meaning from the oral arguments in the early hearing, given the potential impact of this case in employment law.

The staffing industry popped up in legal news late last month when a Sacramento jury ruled that a former Aerotek employee neither appropriated trade secrets nor breached his contract when he left to join a smaller staffing firm (that had been started by another former Aerotek employee).  Aerotek plans to appeal the ruling, so we’ll be sure to see what develops in this case.

Earlier in the month, the Supreme Court ruled that companies can be held liable for the discriminatory motives of influential employees, even if they don’t have the power to fire people directly. Citing the “cat’s paw” metaphor, the Court ruled that discrimination can basically be conducted by proxy.

And speaking of discrimination, this federal appeals court case is a near-textbook guide for how not to handle a bias claim: ask the employee to stop documenting the discrimination, fire them when they produce the documentation, then waffle on why they were fired when questioned by the EEOC.

Finally, we leave you with this story from the crime files: a disgruntled employee at an arcade game manufacturer programmed a virus into his company’s games–then charged for fixing the machines. What elevates this story above the usual police-blotter material is the main game the company makes, the game that was suddenly plagued by popups once the virus took hold: Whac-A-Mole.

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