Religion in the Workplace: A Delicate Balance

April 15, 2012 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

By Keith Moorman

With the steady flow of news putting religious issues in the spotlight, it’s a good time to review the requirements regarding religion in the workplace.

Religion and Private Employers

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Could “Unemployed” Be the Next Protected Characteristic?

September 18, 2011 - by: admin 6 COMMENTS

In a market in which the number of people looking for jobs wildly exceeds the number of jobs available, some employers have opted to narrow the field of applicants by eliminating unemployed workers from consideration. While some employers restrict the field to individuals who are currently employed, others allow candidates who are “recently unemployed” to apply. Although the reasons employers impose these limitations are not altogether clear, some jobs may have skill requirements that change quickly, and employers may be anxious to hire workers with the most up-to-the-minute skills. Whatever the reason, the tactic has drawn sharp criticism from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and legislative responses at the state and federal level.

Pending Federal Legislation

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Categories: Feature / Flashpoint

Millions of Older Workers in Physically Demanding Jobs

October 17, 2010 - by: Celeste Duke 1 COMMENTS

Hard Work? Patterns in Physically Demanding Labor Among Older Workers, a study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, examines the population of older workers and how raising the retirement age affects those in jobs with difficult working conditions.

The study notes that high physical demands are a major reason for “early labor-market exit among older workers.” Therefore, increasing the retirement age will likely cause many older workers to “be physically unable to extend work lives in their jobs,” likely giving them “no choice but to receive reduced benefits.” The study predicts that “an increase in the retirement age or other cuts in Social Security benefits are also likely to put a greater burden on demographic groups that have higher proportions of workers in difficult jobs.”

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Categories: Flashpoint

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Full Faith and Credit: Lessons from the Shirley Sherrod Snafu

August 15, 2010 - by: Celeste Duke 0 COMMENTS

By Mark I. Schickman

Imagine a horrible accusation made against one of your managers — maybe harassment, maybe violence, maybe theft, maybe drugs. This is an outspoken employee who has sued you before — and won — and with whom you have to be careful. But under heavy pressure from top executives, you immediately fire the manager, loudly explaining that this behavior won’t be tolerated.

Then you find out that you got the facts wrong and acted too hastily. The CEO calls the fired manager to apologize and offer reinstatement and a promotion. She sits on the job offer for a week, deciding whether to sue or bargain for more.

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Categories: Flashpoint


Does Banishing Scents Make Sense at Work?

It seems that the number of people with allergies or sensitivities to various scents and smells has grown substantially. Some of those allergies can be severe, causing severe respiratory difficulties and other serious health issues. Questions continue to arise about the often competing rights of allergic employees and coworkers who wish to be able to eat what they want and use whatever hygiene and personal products they choose. Read on for the most recent information on this conflict for employers.

Are ‘Scent’ Allergies Protected Under the Law?

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Categories: Flashpoint

Unexpected Demographics of the 2007-10 Downturn

A Wall Street Journal analysis of recent data sets reveals unexpected characteristics of current employment losses. The last 10 years have seen an increasing parity in employment among men and women, but because the majority of women came into the job market later, it was expected that layoffs — following a last-in/first-out pattern — would hit women harder. Quite unexpectedly, however, more than 70 percent of the jobs lost since December 2007 were held by men.

One factor seems to be that the downturn hit manufacturing and construction hardest and men disproportionately are employed in these sectors. (In 2007, men represented 93 percent of construction and 72 percent of manufacturing employment.) The near collapse of U.S. auto manufacturing reduced the ranks of employees of the Detroit Three and their domestic supply chain. And construction had become overstaffed during the building boom because of easy mortgages. Many construction and auto supply companies were exhausted and undercapitalized, and they simply went out of business, lacking the will or resources to attempt to preserve their core workforces through reduced hours and alternative employment.

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Categories: Flashpoint

Heterosexual PR Contractor May Have Suffered Antigay Discrimination

By Terence H. McGuire

Recently, a federal district court in New York ruled that a worker retained to perform public relations and other promotional services for a clothing manufacturer could proceed to trial on claims under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) and the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) that he was fired because he was perceived to be homosexual. Interestingly, the worker contends that (1) he isn’t homosexual, (2) he lived and worked in California for most of the time he was engaged by the company, including when his services were terminated, and (3) he operates his own public relations corporation. The manufacturer claims that he was an independent contractor rather than an employee.

This case underscores the importance of being cognizant that the NYCHRL and NYSHRL prohibit discrimination based on both real and perceived sexual orientation and that the New York laws may permit even “out-of-state” employees to file lawsuits. Finally, if you intend to create independent contractor business relationships rather than employment relationships, you must consider the factors the courts use to determine which type of relationship exists.

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Categories: Flashpoint

Male-Male Sexual Harassment Claims on the Rise

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment charges by men have doubled since 1992, accounting for 16 percent of the 12,696 sexual harassment charges filed in the 2009 fiscal year. And while female-male sexual  harassment certainly makes up some portion of those claims, it’s evident that male-male harassment claims are also on the rise. These claims are resulting in costly settlements to resolve alleged behaviors that some employers may not even believe are  illegal.

Cheesecake Factory Has Big Portions, Big Settlement

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Categories: Flashpoint

Mr. Mom: A Personal Encounter with Stereotypes

June 14, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

Just in time for Father’s Day, employment law attorney Barbara Goodwin reflects on what are considered the “traditional” family roles and reminds employers not to make the mistake of stereotyping men and women and their caregiving responsibilities.

I’m a working mother. I had my first child about 10 days after graduating from law school and have been parenting while working ever since. My husband, on the other hand, is a full-time stay-at-home parent. We’re lucky that we’ve been able to manage to have one of us stay home with the kids, and given the timing, it just worked out best for that person to be him.

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Categories: Flashpoint

Trickle-Down Diversity Isn’t Enough

January 19, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

Talk about juxapostions: The birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the inauguration of Barack Obama. From being hosed in Selma, Alabama, to taking the oath of the Presidency.

We all applaud this progess. From a macro view, it gladens my heart. But I am an employment lawyer, and the micro view saddens me.

Why should this be? A President Obama reminds me that we too often look to who fills the top slot to guage if progress is being made. VP of Human Resources is black? Check. Operations Manager is Hispanic? Check. All is in order, right? Not really.

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Categories: Flashpoint

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