Category Archives: Employment Discrimination Harassment & Retaliation

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Expanding Rights for Breastfeeding Mothers

On the heels of a new federal law requiring certain public federal buildings to provide lactation spaces, California has enacted one of the most expansive sets of protections for breastfeeding employees in the country. The California law which became effective January 1, 2020, includes provisions regarding break time, policy requirements, and specifications regarding the lactation room.… Continue Reading

Three More Employer Holiday Wishes Granted By National Labor Relations Board

The holiday cheer keeps coming from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with the release of three new decisions favoring employers: (1) workplace policies covering confidentiality during workplace investigations are lawful; (2) employers can restrict employees’ use of emails for nonbusiness purposes; and (3) employers can stop deducting and remitting union dues after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement.… Continue Reading

“Ok, Boomer” Not Okay in the Workplace

The latest catchphrase in the ongoing generational battle between Millennials and their more senior counterparts may have consequences for employers if permitted in the workplace. The phrase, “OK, Boomer” has increasingly gained popularity among Millennials and Generation Z’ers as a way of dismissing comments or habits from older generations that they view as out of touch. The term was initially … Continue Reading

New York City Expands Independent Contractor Rights Amidst a Budding National Trend

Last month, New York City joined an emerging national trend toward increased protections for independent contractors and freelance workers, adopting a new law, Int. 136-A, extending to independent contractors and freelancers the protections afforded to employees under the city’s Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).

Effective January 11, 2020, the NYCHRL will apply to employers that employ four or more persons – … Continue Reading

Is it Time to Prioritize Making Websites and Mobile Apps Accessible?

Companies should take steps to ensure that their websites and mobile apps are accessible to persons who are blind or vision impaired, based on the Supreme Court’s recent refusal to review an appellate court decision that allowed a blind man to sue a national pizza chain under the Americans with Disabilities Act.… Continue Reading

Halloween Parties Can Leave Employers “Haunted” By Discrimination

The last week of October can result in “double, double toil, and trouble” for employers. While workplace Halloween festivities may boost employee morale, they can also result in employer liability for discrimination and harassment in the workplace in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and applicable state and local laws. To protect against this potential … Continue Reading

Does the ADA Protect Employees from Discrimination Based on Potential Future Disabilities?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not protect employees from discrimination based on potential future disabilities, according to a recent ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. However, employers in other parts of the country should be more cautious. For example, federal courts in Illinois reached the opposite conclusion holding that … Continue Reading

“When Do You Plan On Having A Baby?” And Other Questions Not To Ask

Employers interviewing women of child-bearing age may be tempted to ask about plans for having a baby, but doing so poses risks. While an employer might be concerned about staffing coverage, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against a woman based on her potential or capacity to become pregnant. Taking adverse action against … Continue Reading

Discrimination Based on Hair and Hairstyles: Protected or Knot?

Cornrows or locs may not fit your corporate image, but be careful: state and local legislation prohibiting workplace grooming and appearance policies that adversely impact employees of color have begun popping up around the country. And the new laws have some teeth: employers who discriminate based on hair texture or style could face penalties of up to $250,000 under one … Continue Reading

Avalanche of New Laws Create Additional Requirements for Illinois Employers

Illinois employers must be cognizant of new Illinois laws including bans on salary history inquiries, restrictions on artificial intelligence interview programs, mandatory sexual harassment prevention training, limitations on non-disclosure and arbitration provisions, increasing minimum wage, implications of the new cannabis law and, within the City of Chicago, predictive scheduling.

Workplace Transparency Act (WTA)

Effective January 1, 2020

The WTA’s purpose … Continue Reading

Federal Judge Rejects New York Law Prohibiting Mandatory Pre-Dispute Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Claims

New York’s ban on pre-dispute agreements requiring employees to use arbitration to resolve sexual harassment claims is invalid, a federal judge in Manhattan has ruled. In a decision from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote held, in Latif v. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, that Section 7515 of … Continue Reading

New York State Approves Broadly Expanded Protections for Employees and Applicants

Note: This blog post has been updated to include all relevant effective dates now that Governor Cuomo has signed the bill into law.

New York State has enacted comprehensive reforms to broaden the scope of its discrimination and harassment laws, including one of the most robust anti-harassment bills in the #MeToo era, amendments to the State’s Equal Pay Act to … Continue Reading

Minimizing Exposure for Employee Termination Claims

Assessing whether to terminate an employee and how best to deliver the news are challenges every employer faces. Whether it’s a low-performing employee who shows no sign of improvement or an employee who egregiously violates a company policy, having policies and procedures in place and following them will help minimize exposure to claims.

In the absence of a collective bargaining … Continue Reading

Age Discrimination Claims Limited for Job Applicants

A second federal appellate circuit has ruled that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (the ADEA) does not apply to job applicants’ claims that a policy or practice has a disparate impact on older individuals. In so holding, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, covering Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, joins the Eleventh Circuit, covering Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.

However, while … Continue Reading

Political Speech Inside (and Outside) of the Workplace

The new year has brought a new Congress, an ongoing government shutdown, and rumblings of the first formal campaign announcements for 2020. With more voters participating in last year’s election than ever before, employers should be prepared to handle issues arising from employees’ political speech and conduct.

The 2018 midterms were the first in history with a turnout surpassing 100 … Continue Reading

Avoiding Age Discrimination Claims During Succession Planning

As “baby boomers” come of retirement age, employers may find themselves between a rock and a hard place: they can either ask employees about their retirement plans and risk being accused of age discrimination, or they can avoid those conversations and risk being woefully underprepared for the retirements of key employees.

When done right, succession planning affords employers an opportunity … Continue Reading

Court Says Employer Cannot Refuse to Hire Based on Medical Marijuana Use

A Connecticut federal district court has found an employer liable for discrimination for failing to hire a medical marijuana user based on a drug test.

Prior to the September 5 decision in Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co., d/b/a Bride Brook Nursing & Rehab. Ctr., No. 3:16-cv-01938, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150453 (D. Conn. Sept. 5, 2018), https://www.leagle.com/decision/infdco20180906954, it … Continue Reading

Job References in the #MeToo Era: Employers In Some States Now Have Privilege to Say #HimToo

Employers seeking to avoid liability often stick to dates of employment and position held when responding to reference requests. But there is a new trend in legislation offering protection to employers who disclose to prospective employers that the candidate was the subject of a sexual harassment investigation.

For example, effective January 1, 2019, California employers will be protected by an … Continue Reading

Employing Anyone in New York? New Anti-Harassment Laws Taking Effect

All employers with even a single employee working in New York City or New York State will be required to meet requirements designed to address sexual harassment under new city and state laws.  Employers with an employee working in New York City must post a formal notice regarding harassment in a conspicuous location on their premises and distribute a harassment … Continue Reading

A Shield or a Sword? The Role of Performance Evaluations in Employment Litigation

Performance reviews are intended to provide feedback and identify opportunities for growth. They can also help an employee understand how well the employee is meeting the employer’s expectations. But make no mistake – the significance of performance reviews does not always cease at the time of termination. If the employment relationship goes south, performance reviews can develop a second life … Continue Reading

#EqualPayMeToo

The #MeToo movement not only has highlighted harassment in the workplace; it also has prompted courts and lawmakers to take a closer look at pay equity.

The EEOC warned employers about “[e]nsuring equal pay protections for all workers” when it identified this area as one of its priorities in its Strategic Enforcement Plan for Fiscal Years 2017-2021, and it is … Continue Reading

Department of Health and Human Services Proposes New Rule For Healthcare Workers In The Name of Religious Freedom

Healthcare employers take note:  the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has issued a proposed rule that, if passed, will allow healthcare workers who object to performing certain medical procedures like abortions and gender reassignment surgeries to refuse to perform such procedures on the grounds of religious freedom. If passed, the proposed rule would apply to over 700,000 healthcare … Continue Reading

Transgender Rights Trump Religious Rights in Sixth Circuit Case

Title VII’s protections against sex discrimination extend to transgender workers, even in the face of a challenge based on the employer’s religious rights, a federal appellate court has held. A funeral home violated Title VII when it terminated its funeral home director after she disclosed that she planned to transition from male to female and thus wanted to dress in … Continue Reading

Another Circuit Says Title VII Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination

A second federal appellate court has ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation. The ruling is in line with the EEOC’s interpretation of the law, but at odds with the interpretation by the current administration’s Department of Justice.

The case, Zarda v. Altitude Express, Inc., involved … Continue Reading

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