New EEOC guidance should remind employers to guard against retaliation

September 18, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

No employer trying to build diversity in its workforce is likely to get very far if its culture tolerates discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against employees based on race, gender, age, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law. Not only does such a culture work against recruitment and retention of diverse talent, it also invites legal trouble. That’s why employers are taking a close look at new guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) addressing retaliation claims.  Dangerous handshake

The EEOC issued its new guidance on August 29, replacing previous guidance released in 1998. In addition to the guidance document, the EEOC also released a question-and-answer document and a fact sheet for small business. The material from the EEOC follows a surge of retaliation claims in recent years.

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Employees’ food allergies are nothing to sneeze at!

by Stefanie M. Renaud

Navigating the ins and outs of your obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar state laws can be a challenge for even the most seasoned HR professional. One situation that may be familiar to you is having an employee with food allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, about 15 million people in the United States suffer from food allergies, and that number is steadily increasing. Allergies are not only miserable for the sufferer, but they can also hurt an employer’s bottom line: It’s estimated that employees miss about four million workdays per year as a result of allergies. Allergy food

Depending on their severity, food allergies may be covered by the ADA or similar state laws. To avoid employee complaints, lost productivity, excessive absences, and the risk of a lawsuit, it’s important to have a plan in place to address requests for accommodations based on food allergies.

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‘No good deed’ for Microsoft, others in the high-tech sector

by Leslie E. Silverman

There is a common refrain uttered by management lawyers, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Yes, it is cynical, but as employers in the high-tech sector are beginning to discover, it is often true. Currently, Microsoft is dealing with issues as a result of well-intended diversity and corporate social responsibility efforts.  Indianapolis - May 2016: Microsoft Midwest District Headquarters I

Social responsibility initiative backfires

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EEOC revises national origin discrimination guidance for changing workforce

by Arielle B. Sepulveda

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released proposed enforcement guidance on national origin discrimination for public comment. Once finalized, the guidance will serve as a reference for agency staff when they investigate and litigate national origin discrimination claims as well as a resource for employers and employees on the law and the EEOC’s interpretation of it.  EEOC-jpg

Basics of national origin discrimination

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ADA defense: Disabled worker poses direct threat to health or safety

September 18, 2016 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

by Steven T. Collis

You know you can’t discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability. But what if you are convinced the person’s disability would create a significant risk of harm to him or others if he’s allowed to perform the intended job? The “direct threat” defense may help you avoid liability for a disability discrimination claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)Safety Always

Direct threat defense defined

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A story with legs: Fox News’ $20 million settlement provides warnings for employers

by Mark I. Schickman

Fox News understands the life of a news story. It knew that former anchor Gretchen Carlson’s claims of sexual harassment against its former CEO and chairman Roger Ailes would draw headlines for months, as would the ultimate resolution of the claims. In news parlance, Carlson’s claims had “legs.” So, too, would reports of a major settlement of the action. On September 6, Fox News compressed the story of Carlson’s suit with news of the $20 million settlement of her claims—hoping both stories would rise and fall over Labor Day and become a dim memory long before election night.  Sexual harassment

Fox News acted quickly to jettison Ailes, the actor prominently named in Carlson’s lawsuit. It also announced new sexual harassment policies and now touts a culture that no longer tolerates the type of blatant harassment reported by numerous women after Carlson’s story broke. It issued a public apology “that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and the rest of our colleagues deserve.”

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Don’t leave older workers out of retention plans

August 14, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Employers nowadays may feel bombarded with advice on how to retain millennial employees. Those younger workers have the reputation of moving from job to job, so employers wanting to get the most from the investment they make in their youngest employees put a lot of energy into encouraging them to stay. But what about older employeesthose who are weighing the pros and cons of retirement, maybe wondering if they’re still appreciated? Are those workers also worth special retention efforts? And, if so, what should employers do?  Elderly business man with gears and ideas

“There is no substitute for experience,” Susan G. Fentin, an attorney with the Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. law firm in Springfield, Massachusetts, says “Employees with a long record of experience with a company will undoubtedly have contacts in the industry that are invaluable. Any type of knowledge that is built up over time is generally hard to replace, so keeping employees on staff after what might otherwise be retirement age would work to the company’s advantage.”

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Don’t let Confederate flags lead to interoffice civil war

by Connor Beatty

While enjoying a scenic drive along the Maine coast recently, I was startled to come across a giant Confederate flag prominently displayed in a house’s front yard. Less than a week later, a client contacted our firm to ask for advice in responding to an employee’s claim that a vehicle with a Confederate flag bumper sticker in the parking lot made her uncomfortable. While the timing of the occurrences may have been a coincidence, the events are a reminder that the Southern symbol can appear at any workplace, including workplaces in one of the northernmost states in the country. For many, the Confederate flag is an offensive image, and addressing the symbol at work can be tricky. Employers in other states have been sued for ordering employees to remove Confederate flags, while other employers have been taken to court for failing to order workers to remove the flags.  Confederate flag flying

No right to display Confederate flags at work

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Premier teamwork: Soccer champs’ victory offers lessons for HR pros

by Peter Lowe

They were a rag-tag group of has-beens, rejects, and journeymen. They were hired at low wages and with even lower expectations. A recently fired 64-year-old Italian was hired to manage them. They enjoyed a 138-year history, yet no history of success. The odds of the team winning the championship were 5,000 to 1. Yet in May, the team—Leicester City—defied the odds and was crowned champion of the English Premier League. The story of how lowly Leicester City became the champion of one of the world’s richest, most competitive, and far-reaching sports leagues provides valuable tips for HR professionals. LeicesterCity celebrates Championship of English Premiere League in Thailand

Diversity

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Preventing discrimination against Muslim and Middle Eastern workers

by Anna C. Lukeman

In the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has warned employers to be proactive and take measures against discrimination aimed at those who are or are perceived to be either Muslim or Middle Eastern.  Middle eastern people having a business meeting at office

In her statement to address this issue, EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang said, “America was founded on the principle of religious freedom. As a nation, we must continue to seek the fair treatment of all, even as we grapple with the concerns raised by the recent terrorist attacks. When people come to work and are unfairly harassed or otherwise targeted based on their religion or national origin, it undermines our shared and longstanding values of tolerance and equality for all.”

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