Rise in religious bias claims forces analysis of a multitude of sins

by Rodney L. Bean

Claims of religious discrimination are on the upswing, leaving many employers scrambling to avoid liability for failing to properly manage the complicated interplay between faith and work. Of all the classifications protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, religion perhaps presents the most diverse range of issues for employers. From dress and grooming standards to work schedules and holiday parties, religion’s intersection with employment can affect most aspects of your business. With many employers facing religious discrimination charges for the first time and serving as examples for others, the variety of ways religious claims can arise is quickly becoming clear.   ReligiousAccommodation

Religious bias claims are ascending

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Military downsizing presents opportunity, challenge for employers

March 16, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A thread running through a succession of news stories is sending a clear message to employers: The military is shrinking its ranks and the pressure is on civilian employers to hire more veterans.  VeteransAtWork

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.”

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ENDA may be coming soon—what will its impact really be?

by John R. Merinar, Jr.

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.  Senate

Behind the curve

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‘My meds made me do it’: medication side effects and the ADA

by Connor Beatty

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).  Meds


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Reconsidering the status of sexual orientation in the workplace

by Harold Pinkley

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.  SexualOrientation

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.

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A new wave of litigation: obesity related disability discrimination

by Julia M. Hodges

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

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Caregiver responsibility discrimination: an emerging issue

by Joseph U. Leonoro

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

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DSM-5 offers new opportunities for disability accommodations

by Tobias S. Piering and Andrew Moriarty

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.

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Growing prevalence of severe food allergies may trigger ADA accommodations

July 14, 2013 - by: Diversity Insight 1 COMMENTS

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?

University under fire for mandatory meal plan program

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Age diversity becoming new priority for employers

May 19, 2013 - by: Diversity Insight 1 COMMENTS

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.

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