Employers, beware: Facility issues may result in violations of Title VII

by Jacob M. Monty

Many employers are aware of the serious problems that can arise if workers and supervisors engage in racially or sexually motivated taunts and speech. However, few employers realize that they may need to worry about the design and condition of their facilities. The facilities of a now-closed Sara Lee factory in Paris reportedly cost the company $4 million in a settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)Bathroom sign

Don’t do it like Sara Lee

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When words used in a disciplinary report suggest implicit bias

by Barbara J. Koenig

Implicit bias is an unconscious preference for or an aversion to a person or a group of people. In other words, we may have an attitude toward others or stereotype them without conscious knowledge of what we’re doing. If we act in accordance with our implicit bias, we may be discriminating against a person or a group of people without even being aware of our bias. Two recent cases illustrate the fact that HR managers need to educate supervisors on implicit bias and how a seemingly straightforward description of an employee or a workplace incident can suggest racial animus and unconscious discrimination.  Bias

Seemingly innocent words suggest bias

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Top 10 employer mistakes in accommodating disabled employees

by Matthew A. Goodin

Even experienced HR professionals have a difficult time with requests for reasonable accommodation from disabled employees. This process is even trickier if the employee needs a leave of absence as an accommodation because of the intersection of different laws that govern leaves of absence. Below are some of the most common mistakes employers make when accommodating employees with disabilities. Recognizing and avoiding these mistakes will go a long way toward preventing unwanted litigation.    TOP 10. Rainbow splash paint

1. Not having adequate job descriptions

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Stage is set for SCOTUS to rule on Title VII and sexual orientation

September 17, 2017 - by: Utah Employment Law Letter 0 COMMENTS

by Ryan B. Frazier

Since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, state and federal laws have been enacted to prohibit employment discrimination against individuals on the basis of their race, ethnicity, age, disability, religion, and gender. Until recently, virtually none of those antidiscrimination laws covered employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Over the last decade, as issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity have moved to the forefront of social consciousness, several states and certain federal agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), have started to recognize and address employment discrimination in that context.  Supreme Court

Recognition of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has not been universal. Federal law is not resolved on the issue, and recent federal circuit court rulings have further complicated things. This article focuses on the recent appellate court rulings and how they are changing the employment discrimination landscape under federal law.

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Diversity and inclusion director gets a little inclusion

by Michelle Lee Flores

The California Court of Appeal threw a solitary bone to Toyota’s director of diversity and inclusion when it reversed a trial court’s dismissal of his sexual orientation discrimination claim. The court of appeal held that the former employee had provided sufficient evidence that a senior manager’s perception that he was “too gay” was a substantial motivating factor for his termination. However, his evidence of sex or gender stereotyping didn’t support, and therefore didn’t save, his retaliation and wrongful discharge claims, both of which were dismissed by the trial court without going to the jury.  Justice is served

Diversity and inclusion director feels excluded

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Be careful what you say: Employee’s name-calling lands him in hot water

by Franck G. Wobst

An Ohio Court of Appeals recently ruled that a city’s civil service commission acted within its rights when it suspended a city employee for 45 days for jokingly calling an African-American coworker “Black Buck” and “Big Black Buck.” Shhh!

Facts

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Disability bias verdict provides 4.5M reasons to check your policies

by Jeffrey D. Slanker

A recent case from Central Florida highlights the importance of maintaining and properly implementing updated and compliant equal employment opportunity and antidiscrimination policies. The case involved disability discrimination claims, and a jury ultimately found in favor of the employee and rendered a $4.5 million verdict. The case is a reminder of the importance of complying with employment discrimination laws and the need to take extra caution when determining whether a termination is justified. Manager Giving Performance Review

Facts

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VA student’s transgender bathroom case will not pass ‘Go’ . . . yet

by Rachael L. Loughlin

Transgender issues continue to be one of the hottest areas of the law today. Recent actions by the Trump administration backing away from the Obama administration’s forceful advocacy of transgender rights may have come as no surprise. Nonetheless, they certainly didn’t help clarify the law. In fact, if anything, the Trump administration’s backtracking has made things even more uncertain by pitting the interpretation of federal law banning sex discrimination in schools (Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972) against federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in employment (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and by delaying critical guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court in a Virginia transgender student’s case.  All Gender Restroom

Issue in Grimm’s lawsuit

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Even under ADAAA, being ‘ill-tempered’ is not a disability

by Rozlyn Fulgoni-Britton

Ever since the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) became law and substantially expanded the definition of “disability,” employers have been warned not to focus on whether an employee has a disability when evaluating reasonable accommodations. While that warning is valid, it is not absolute, and employers should not completely skip evaluating whether an employee has a disability. Even the 9th Circuit, where employees typically fare relatively well, has found that “cantankerous” and “ill-tempered” employees who are disciplined for treating coworkers and subordinates inappropriately do not have a disability that substantially limits the major life activity of interacting with others.  Angry boss

Facts

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Comments and tweet using variation of ‘n’ word are protected speech

by Michelle Lee Flores

Actor and writer Marlon Wayans’ use of the term “nigga,” his comments referring to an actor’s “afro” and comparing him to a black character on Family Guy, and his tweet, including a side-by-side photo comparison of the actor and the Family Guy character, were all protected speech, according to a trial court and the California Court of Appeal.  First Amendment

The court of appeal agreed with Wayans that his actions were part of the creative process of improvisation, character development, and writing that resulted in the birth of a character for a film he was starring in, and the tweet was in furtherance of and promotion of the film.

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