Category Archives: Discrimination

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EEOC Pulls the Hood Off of Employer’s Attempt to Retaliate against Its Employee

Can an employer force an employee to agree that his complaints have been adequately addressed? On April 26, the EEOC announced that Downhole Technology LLC will pay a former employee $120,000 and provide other relief after it terminated an employee who refused to do just that. In Equal Opportunity Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Downhole … Continue Reading

With N Word, Once is Enough. Second Circuit Rules on Hostile Environment Case

Is a single incident enough for a hostile work environment claim? It is in the Second Circuit. In Daniel v. T&M Protection Resources, Inc., the court held that one racial epithet was sufficiently severe, by itself, to create a hostile work environment under Title VII.  The Facts Otis Daniel, a 34-year-old black male from St. Vincent … Continue Reading

Guess Who You Should Never Invite to Dinner? What We Can Learn From Sexual Harassment Claims in the News

Sexual harassment—we have policies against it, we train people on how to prevent and report it, and yet still we have big news stories about it. In the last year, Fox News hit the headlines on this front multiple times–not only did the Chairman and CEO leave following a sexual harassment lawsuit, but now Bill … Continue Reading

And NYC Makes Three: Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and New York City Ban Salary Inquiries

New York City will soon become the third jurisdiction to enact laws barring employers from asking a job applicant about former salaries. The goal? To eliminate one of the alleged sources of wage disparities between men and women in the workforce. NYC’s actions come on the heels of legislation in Massachusetts and Philadelphia. The new … Continue Reading

Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation is Sex Discrimination Under Title VII: Seventh Circuit Takes Clear Stand

On Tuesday, the Seventh Circuit jumped into the Title VII sexual orientation discussion with both feet. In Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, a full-court reversed an earlier three judge panel decision, finding that discrimination based solely upon the employee’s sexual orientation is sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII. As the opinion recognizes, this finding … Continue Reading

Muscle Beach Party and Theories of Sex Discrimination: Second Circuit Tries To Clarify Sexual Orientation vs. Gender-Stereotyping

Is there a difference between being discriminated against because of your sexual orientation versus being discriminated against for not conforming to a gender stereotype? In most areas of the country, there most certainly is according to the Second Circuit in Christiansen v. Omnicom Group, Inc., et al. Matthew Christiansen, an openly gay man and creative director at … Continue Reading

You Don’t Look Like You Are From Around Here: EEOC Guidance on National Origin Discrimination

If you weren’t sure what it meant to discriminate against someone because of their national origin, the EEOC wants to help. The newly revised Section 13 of the EEOC Field Manual provides guidance on how the EEOC defines national origin (which is more than just what nation in which you originated) and gives examples of … Continue Reading

Power of the Subpoena: Will Nominee Gorsuch Limit Scope of EEOC Reach?

Just how broad is the EEOC’s subpoena power and are we likely to get some guidance soon? We’ve said before that the McLane v. EEOC case (which is about the EEOC’s subpoena power and is currently before the Supreme Court) is uncertain given President Trump’s election. Since then, we have had two developments: first, President … Continue Reading

Hug It Out at Work? Maybe Not in the Ninth Circuit

When does workplace hugging go too far? The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently weighed in with an opinion. Victoria Zetwick, a county correctional officer, based her Title VII hostile work environment suit almost entirely upon her supervisor’s practice of hugging her and the rest of the female staff. Just How Much Hugging? By her count, … Continue Reading

Consistently Inconsistent? Fifth Circuit Appears to Have Conflicting Approaches to Damages Under the ADEA and FLSA

Can a plaintiff get pain and suffering or punitive damages in a retaliation claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)? In Vaughan v. Anderson Regional Medical Center, the Fifth Circuit, denying both an interlocutory appeal and a petition for rehearing, says “no”. Legal Framework. As we all know, the ADEA explicitly limits a … Continue Reading

Anxiety, Absenteeism, and the ADA

As accommodating and flexible as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compels employers to be, the harsh reality is that there are some jobs that a person with certain disabilities simply cannot do. When an employee suffering from a disability can no longer perform the essential functions of her job with or without a reasonable … Continue Reading

Don’t Go Changing: White House Keeping Obama LGBTQ Order in Place

Over the weekend several media outlets reported that a draft executive order was being circulated that overturned President Obama’s 2014 directive prohibiting federal employers and contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the federal workforce and by federal contractors.  Executive Order 13672, which was signed on July 21, 2014, … Continue Reading

Why Not Ask About Prior Pay? It’s Against the Law in Some Places and Dangerous Everywhere

Setting a new employee’s pay based on what he or she made at a prior job is a fairly common practice—but now an illegal one in Philadelphia, PA. You heard right, Philadelphia has banned questions about salary history. This local law follows a Massachusetts law (similar but not identical) aimed at closing the pay gap … Continue Reading

You Mean It’s Un-American to Hire Only Americans? DOJ Issues Final Rule on Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practices

If you thought it would be safer to require every new hire to be an American citizen—think again. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has a new rule revising its prior regulations on Section 274B of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which prohibits unfair immigration-related employment practices. This new rule, effective January 18, 2017, … Continue Reading

Apply Here! (with Everyone Else): ADA Does Not Mandate Noncompetitive Reassignment

When you can’t reasonably accommodate a disabled employee in the current position, do you have to give the employee a vacant position or can you follow your usual, competitive process? In EEOC v. St. Joseph’s Hospital, Inc., the Eleventh Circuit found that employers need only provide meaningful equal employment opportunities to comply with the Americans … Continue Reading

What Employers Can Expect from the New Administration – Part 2: Immigration, the Affordable Care Act & Social Issues

In our second in a three-part series on what to expect from the Trump administration, we discuss immigration policy and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as what may be in store for parental leave, marriage equality and transgender bathrooms. 1. Immigration During the campaign, Mr. Trump signaled that his administration would take a … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Push-Up Case

There is an update on the Fourth Circuit decision that ruled that the FBI could reject a male agent candidate who failed his physical fitness test by not being able to do one additional push-up. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court justices refused to hear an appeal from a Fourth Circuit ruling that differing physical … Continue Reading

Sign of the Times: EEOC Settles Case of Employer Failing to Provide ASL Interpreter for Job Interview

A deaf person applies for a job and the employee who takes applications asks you “how can a deaf person do this job?” What if an essential function of the job requires interaction with the public or the ability to communicate with team members or to respond to an audible safety warning? Be careful—take a … Continue Reading

Can A Job Applicant File A Disparate Impact ADEA Claim? No—According to the Eleventh Circuit

Is there such a thing as a disparate impact age claim? The Eleventh circuit last week says not for people applying for a job. On October 5, 2016, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion shutting down claims under that theory for applicants. Mr. Villarreal, the plaintiff, was an applicant for a manager position with … Continue Reading

When to Say When? Fifth Circuit Rules on When an Accommodation Isn’t Working

In a published opinion, the Fifth Circuit has held that an employee’s poor performance in a light-duty position can relieve the employer from any further obligation to find a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This opinion highlights the importance of the interactive process, and emphasizes that both the employer and the … Continue Reading

Repercussions of Retaliation: EEOC Revises its Guidance on Retaliation

For the first time in 18 years, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued revised guidance (the Guidance) regarding retaliation. The Guidance, which broadens and clarifies the definition of protected applicant/employee activities, became effective August 29, 2016. There have been seven U.S. Supreme Court decisions addressing retaliation since the EEOC’s last update in … Continue Reading

Bend Don’t Break: The EEOC Says Inflexible Attendance Policies Violate the ADA

In managing employee attendance, be careful about policies that suggest automatic termination after a certain number of absences as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) believes such policies violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC has filed suit against Wayne Farms, a poultry plant, alleging the company’s attendance policy, which allegedly required the … Continue Reading
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