U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced new downsizing plans for the nation’s armed forces in February, explaining that budget cuts are going so deep and coming so quickly that “we cannot shrink the size of our military fast enough.”
A great deal of attention has been focused on the U.S. Senate’s recent passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The House of Representatives has yet to take up the bill, but there’s much speculation that supporters have the votes necessary to secure passage. Often, supporters can be heard using the phrase “fundamentally transform,” made popular by President Barack Obama, to describe the impact of ENDA in the workplace. But, in reality, the legislation may merely be an example of lawmakers catching up with the citizens they represent.
Behind the curve
Sometimes an employee who isn’t making the grade may blame his lackluster performance on the side effects of certain medication he’s taking. Although managers may express some skepticism about that excuse, there are times when a cause-and-effect relationship might exist. That appears to have been the case for a Maine lawyer whose medication apparently caused him to make a bomb threat. Moreover, a growing number of courts have recognized the side-effects-as-disability legal theory under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
From the time I began practicing employment law (too many) years ago―and probably for longer than that―employment lawyers have been quite comfortable advising clients that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender and other protected status) does not cover sexual orientation. Many states’ laws don’t prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, either. In other words, when it comes to homosexual or bisexual employees, discriminate away.
However, it has become fairly clear that such glib advice is incomplete and perhaps even wrong not just from an ethical standpoint but also in terms of legal liability. This article provides an overview of some changes and developments to be mindful of when addressing sexual orientation issues in the workplace.
Obesity is a disease, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA’s recent declaration has a multitude of implications for employers, including the potential for increased disability-related litigation. Whether courts will decide to consider obesity a disability under the law remains to be seen, but employers everywhere should beware.
Obesity not a disability under ADA
For years, federal, state, and local employment laws have prohibited discrimination based on various protected characteristics, such as gender, race, disability, and age. In recent years, a new theory of discrimination, frequently referred to as “caregiver responsibility discrimination,” has emerged. There’s no federal law that explicitly prohibits discrimination based on caregiving responsibilities. Rather, numerous courts have interpreted various laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), to prohibit discrimination against workers who have family caregiving responsibilities. Moreover, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has emphasized enforcement of this form of discrimination and has issued guidance to address it.
Context of caregiver discrimination
What do menstrual cramps, temper tantrums, and getting old have in common? They’re all symptoms of new mental health disorders recognized in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)―a controversial but widely used authority on mental health diagnoses.
by Holly Jones
Late last year, a small private university in Massachusetts entered into a detailed settlement related to accommodating food allergies on campus. The settlement was the first of its type in higher education, but could it have broader implications for employers in general?
The statistics don’t lie. More people are planning to work beyond what once was a traditional retirement age. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected that the primary working-age group—those ages 25-54—will decline from 66.9 percent of the labor force in 2010 to 63.7 percent in 2020. Workers 55 and older are projected to go from 19.5 percent of the labor force to 25.2 percent during the same period.
The U.S. Census Bureau released an analysis in January pointing out that for the last 20 years, the labor force participation rate of people at least 65 years old has increased, and the increase is particularly evident over the last 10 years.
by Tammy Binford
Researchers tout an era when four distinct groups inhabit the workplace—those born in 1945 and before, the boomers born from 1946-1964, Generation X born from 1965-1978, and Generation Y born from 1979-1997. Granted the oldest generation makes up a tiny slice of the workforce and many employers won’t have all four age groups represented, but age diversity is a reality that savvy employers can use to their advantage—if they understand what makes people in various stages of life tick. read more…