Category Archives: Discrimination, Retaliation and Harassment

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How To Mitigate Inappropriate Watercooler Talk In The Current Sexually Salacious News Environment

Sexually
Regardless of your political leaning, it is fair to say that national headlines over the past few weeks have been dominated by sexually charged topics. For instance, a porn star known as Stormy Daniels recently gave an extensive interview on the TV newsmagazine show “60 Minutes,” detailing an alleged extramarital affair with President Trump (Yes, … Continue reading this entry

So What’s it Going to Cost Me?

cost
When faced with an employment discrimination, harassment or retaliation claim, often the immediate response is, “We are going to defend ourselves and prove we are right,” followed by, “So what will it cost us if we lose?” This article describes the damages available to a prevailing party under the primary federal employment statutes.… Continue reading this entry

Sixth Circuit Confirms Title VII Protection for Transgender Status and Rejects Religious Belief Defense

cost
Earlier this month, we discussed the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision concluding that Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Days later, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee) issued a significant Title VII decision of its own when it concluded that a funeral home’s discharge … Continue reading this entry

Workplace Rules! Esports Grows Up and Goes To Work

esports
This week, the Washington Post reported that a professional sports team in Dallas had released one of its star players for committing multiple violations of the league’s player conduct rules, specifically its rules prohibiting discriminatory behavior or harassment. No, the article was not reporting on another player misconduct case involving the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys; instead, … Continue reading this entry

The Sliding Scale of Reasonable Accommodations

Consent
We have previously discussed how to protect against religious discrimination claims and best practices when addressing requests for religious accommodations. A recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (covering Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah) reminds employers that the offered religious accommodation truly has to be “reasonable,” and … Continue reading this entry

Avoiding Investigation Mistakes in the `Me Too’ Era

Too
Workplace investigations have always been a key part of the human resources function and employment law compliance. However, the need for such investigations, and the consequences of conducting them poorly, have grown exponentially in the “Me Too” era. Obviously, more employees are aware of their rights and feel emboldened to exercise them. Additionally, complaints not … Continue reading this entry

The Saga Continues: Second Circuit Court of Appeals Holds that Sexual Orientation Discrimination is Sex Discrimination Under Title VII

VII
We have steadily followed the evolving legal landscape, including the emerging circuit court split, surrounding whether the federal anti-discrimination law, Title VII, prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. On February 26, 2018, all of the judges of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (covering Connecticut, New York, and Vermont) heard an appeal … Continue reading this entry

R2-Me2? How Should Employers Respond to Job Loss Caused by Robots?

Robots
There is no question that the use of robots, along with other similar technological changes in the workplace, will continue to eliminate or downgrade jobs. Indeed, it has been estimated that on average, each workplace robot eliminates six jobs. This article will examine (1) the impact such changes will have on women and (2) whether … Continue reading this entry

Even If Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity Are Not Covered By Title VII -- Very Much an Open Question -- LGBTQ Employees May Find a Way to Sue You

LGBTQ
Some pretty horrifying facts about workplace conduct at the Providence, R.I., Fire Department involving co-workers: calling a female lieutenant firefighter “bitch” “c—t,” “lesbian lover,” and “lesbo”; telling her, “I don’t normally like to work with women, but, you know, we like the same thing, so I think we’re going to get along”; spitting on and … Continue reading this entry

Iceland’s Pay Equity Law: The Start of a New Approach?

Reasonable
Iceland has been touting gender pay equity legislation as a short-term goal since early last year. So it is no surprise that the country’s new law  — which mandates pay equity for males and females – went into effect a few weeks ago.  By enacting specific legislation, Iceland is taking a proactive approach to address actual … Continue reading this entry

#MeToo – Is Mandatory Arbitration On The Chopping Block?

Arbitration
On an almost daily basis, the news is filled with reported allegations of harassment by news anchors, Hollywood titans, Senate candidates, sitting congressmen, celebrity chefs, network executives and even the president. The coverage includes large settlements, mishandled investigations and more.  Employer concerns have been elevated from the HR department to the boardroom as compliance programs … Continue reading this entry

Reconsidering Limits on Confidentiality Provisions Where Sexual Misconduct is Involved

Mergers
It does not require insightful analysis to conclude that something is broken when it comes to reporting and addressing sexual misconduct in the workplace. One attempt to fix part of the “brokenness” comes from the Pennsylvania legislature – a bill that would place limits on confidentiality restrictions. (New Jersey is considering something similar and other … Continue reading this entry

EEOC Scores Victory in Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuit

EEOC
In recent years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has increasingly focused its enforcement initiatives on prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. Now, the agency has a concrete victory to show for its efforts. A federal district court in Pittsburgh recently awarded more than $55,000, representing the statutory maximum in compensatory and punitive damages, … Continue reading this entry

Tax Reform/Tax Cuts, Who Cares? Tax Gross Up Damages Are Available Under Title VII

Tax
Tax reform legislation is certainly one of the hottest topics in the media. Among others, several of the pressing questions regarding the proposed legislation are: Will it pass? If so, who will receive tax relief (and who won’t)? It goes without saying that many Americans are paying close attention to these questions because it may … Continue reading this entry

Legal Compliance In A Harassment-Conscious Environment

cost
As noted in our Legal News Update – Me Too, But Now What? What Board Members Need to Know About Workplace Sexual Harassment – allegations regarding workplace harassment have recently been a major focus of traditional and social media outlets.  From the #MeToo campaign to Susan Fowler’s blog testimony about her experiences involving harassment in … Continue reading this entry

Is Bullying Harassment?

ADA
California is oft thought of as a trailblazer in the arena of sexual harassment law. Because California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act mirrors Title VII, practitioners and employers in other states often look to California cases and laws regarding sexual harassment for guidance.… Continue reading this entry

Arbitrator Awards $40 Million in Gender and Sexual Orientation Case

Arbitration
Employers face several trade-offs when considering the implementation of mandatory arbitration policies. One of the positive attributes of arbitration, from an employer’s perspective, is the avoidance of a runaway jury award.  However, a recent arbitration decision provides a reminder that arbitration does not necessarily foreclose a huge award.… Continue reading this entry

Neo-Nazi in Your Workplace? Tread Carefully Before Taking Action

We live in an unfortunate time in which white nationalists and neo-Nazis are receiving a great amount of publicity. In the aftermath of this month’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia we are likely to see additional rallies, in which designated hate groups participate, as well as counter-protests. What can an employer do if it learns that … Continue reading this entry

A Cautionary Tale That Context Matters

Context
In the shifting landscape of employment law, a recent case illustrates the need to apply context and consider all the circumstances – even when it looks like a general rule applies. In this particular case, involving race and national origin discrimination, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals changed its mind – reversing its … Continue reading this entry

Multiple Choices: Compliance Considerations in the Shifting Landscape of Pre-Employment Testing

Pre-Employment
In recent years, the landscape of pre-hire employment screening tests has rapidly evolved. Employers throughout the U.S. are facing shrinking applicant pools as the labor market tightens.  As a result, many employers are now looking at personality and psychological tests to find the best fitting applicants. While the individual tests may vary, these tests often … Continue reading this entry

Transgender Employees May Be Entitled To Protection From Discrimination Under The ADA

ADA
Of late, we have recently written quite a bit about the ever-changing legal landscape regarding protections for LGBTQ employees. Most of the authority we explored involved whether or not sexual orientation (as well as gender identity and expression) are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).  Now, for the … Continue reading this entry

Fox News Lawsuits Highlight Importance of Workplace Culture

Workplace Culture
Employers should take note of the position Fox News is in due to the proliferation of recent lawsuits against the network by numerous current and former employees. To be clear and fair, the lawsuits only involve allegations at this time – nothing has been proven at trial, or otherwise.  Indeed, Fox News has denied the … Continue reading this entry

Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation -- The Wave Grows

Back in March we explored the question, “So – Are LGBTQ Rights Protected Under Federal Employment Law or Not?” In that article, which unpacked a recent federal court decision on LGBTQ workplace protections, we concluded that “it depends.”  While the issue is far from settled and the answer still remains “it depends,” two additional federal … Continue reading this entry

EEOC Orientation-Bias Guidance Stirs Controversy among Commentators

EEOC
The public comment period for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) proposed workplace harassment guidance closed last week. The EEOC’s broad definition of sexual orientation bias drew attention from practitioners and advocacy groups alike. Amidst the uncertain legal landscape surrounding harassment based on sex, the EEOC’s proposed guidance takes a progressive stance on the … Continue reading this entry