Summer Is Almost Here (Along With Casual Attire) — Time to Remind Employees of the Dress Code Before Office Resembles a Beach

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Easter Sunday just passed, so it is official —spring is here and, before we realize, summer will have arrived. With summer comes warmer weather and trips to the pool, lake, or beach. People exchange their jackets, sweaters, and boots for more casual clothing (such as flip flops, shorts, and tank tops). Often this overly casual attire makes its way into the workplace, notwithstanding dress code policies. Further complicating the matter, many employers institute “casual” dress days during the summer months. Therefore, this is a good time to remind employees and managers of the company’s dress code policy and the consequences for violating the policy. Continue reading this entry

Supreme Court Delivers New Life to Pregnancy Discrimination Act Claim

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In an eagerly awaited ruling expected to provide greater guidance on an employer’s obligation to accommodate pregnant employees, last week the U.S. Supreme Court established the standard an employee must meet to state a discrimination claim under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) when an employer provides accommodations to non-pregnant employees, but does not provide the same accommodation for a pregnant worker. The case had generated significant attention over the last year, in part, because of the aggressive position taken by the employee and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), claiming that any time an employer offered an accommodation to another employee with similar physical limitations, the employer had an absolute obligation to give the pregnant employee the same accommodation, without regard to the reasons the employer had provided the accommodation in one situation, but not the other. Though the Supreme Court rejected this aggressive position, it also rejected the employer’s position in the case and, accordingly, reversed the decision of the lower appellate court, which had affirmed the employer’s original victory on the employee’s claim of discrimination. Continue reading this entry

“Guidance” That Does Not Guide: NLRB General Counsel Issues Interpretations of Common Employee Handbook Policies

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We have not exactly been shy in expressing concern regarding many of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) recent actions, nor hesitant to opine that its actions appear purposefully designed to advantage unions and create expansive new employee rights from the language of the 80-year-old National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA). Much of the recent criticism has centered on the NLRB declaring unlawful various employee handbook policies that employers have long used and that have gone largely ignored by the Board until recently. Continue reading this entry

What Is a “Direct Threat” to Health or Safety Under the ADA?

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Most employers understand that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. However, an employer may legally decide not to hire an individual with a disability if he or she poses a “direct threat to the health and safety” to themselves or others. So, what is a “direct threat?” The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations implementing the ADA provide that a “direct threat” is “a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation.” The italicized terms and phrases are important from the EEOC’s perspective. Continue reading this entry

”Smoking Gun” Comments Serve as an Important Reminder of the ADA’s Protection Against Associational Discrimination

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Most employers are well aware that the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) protects qualified individuals with disabilities against discrimination on the basis of disability and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, if those accommodations do not pose an undue hardship for the employer. However, a recent court decision reminds employers that even individuals without disabilities may be protected from discrimination under the ADA due to their association with another person who has a disability. Continue reading this entry