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Legal Report Resources July 2016

Social media. Chipotle kept in place an illegal social media code of conduct and used it to improperly force an employee to delete certain tweets from his Twitter account, a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judge ruled. The decision stemmed from a case brought on behalf of James Kennedy, an employee at a Havertown, Pennsylvania, Chipotle, who tweeted tweets critical of Chipotle’s employment conditions and practices.

Excessive Force. A police officer does not qualify for immunity protection for repeatedly tasing a man on the ground who was not attempting to flee the scene, a federal appeals court ruled. The court found that in 2008—the time of the incident—it was clearly established that a police officer could not use unnecessary, gratuitous, or disproportionate force by repeatedly tasing a nonviolent “misdemeanant who presented no threat to the safety of the officer or the public and who was compliant and not actively resisting arrest or fleeing.”

Terrorism. The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to give excess nonlethal equipment and supplies to foreign governments. Under the bill (H.R. 4314), DHS could provide a foreign government with these supplies if it furthers U.S. homeland security interests and enhances the recipient government’s capability to mitigate the threat of terrorism, infectious disease or natural disaster, protect lawful trade and travel, or enforce intellectual property rights.

Firearms. Mississippi enacted a law that allows churches to train members to carry firearms and act as security guards during services. The law (formerly H.B. 786) requires churches—and other places of worship—to provide training before arming members and grants these security forces immunity from civil prosecution for using their firearms under certain circumstances.

Gun Control. A federal appeals court ordered a lower court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s gun control laws, which were approved following a 2012 shooting at a movie theater that killed 12 people. The laws ban ammunition magazines with more than 15 rounds and require universal background checks for gun buyers. 

Disability. A federal court ordered Texas-based BNSF Railway Co. to pay $95,000 to an applicant who was denied employment because of an old back injury. The order—which includes permanent injunctive relief—comes after a previous court decision that BNSF violated the Americans with Disabilities Act “on its face” when it discontinued its hiring process after Russel Holt disclosed a prior back injury.

School Security. Students and parents from 10 families filed a class-action lawsuit against New York City, saying the dangerous environment at public schools is depriving them of their constitutional right to an education. The lawsuit claims that the New York Department of Education has failed to enforce regulations aimed at addressing violence between students or between teachers and students, despite a mandate from the state legislature to do so.