U.S. Supreme Court to consider transgender restroom lawsuit

by Ryan B. Frazier

During the 1990s, Saturday Night Live, a popular TV sketch comedy show, featured a recurring gender-ambiguous character, Pat. The gag in Pat’s comedy sketches often involved others’ failed attempts to determine the seemingly androgynous character’s gender. The skits played off the then-prevailing view that a person’s gender falls into one of two categories: male or female.  Gender transition concept

Society’s view of gender has evolved significantly since then. The rigid dichotomy of a two-gender world view is frequently challenged and, in some cases, rejected outright. As society’s views on gender morph, the law is attempting to keep pace.

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Pizza discrimination?! Customer sues Florida Domino’s for employees’ alleged bias

by G. Thomas Harper

A pregnant Moroccan Muslim woman has sued a Domino’s Pizza franchisee in Davenport over the quality of pizza and treatment she received from employees of the restaurant. The customer brought suit in state court in Polk County against the franchisee, Michael P. Jarvis, both as an individual and as the owner of Michael J.’s Pizzeria, Inc., d/b/a Domino’s Pizza, Store Number 3267. Here is what the customer claimed happened.  Pile of Pizza Hut boxes in a Rubbish Bin

Pizza blows up!

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Onionheads everywhere rejoice as NY federal court protects their ‘religion’ under Title VII

by Brent E. Siler

The title of this article isn’t a typo or a joke. It’s a literal statement of holding in a recent federal case before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, which found that an employer’s conflict-resolution program, which its creator dubbed “Onionhead” or “Harnessing Happiness,” was in fact a religion under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Despite the outrageous-sounding nature of the case, it serves as a reminder that the bar for what constitutes a religion under Title VII is low, and employers that try to force religious belief systems on their employees face real legal risks.  Prayer Group

Sincerity of beliefs is the key

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Not your stereotypical sexual harasser: encountering sex-based misconduct at work

by Stefanie M. Renaud

With the announcement of Gretchen Carlson’s (and, subsequently, several other female employees’) complaints about Fox News head Roger Ailes and his ensuing resignation, sexual harassment has recently been in the news. Although Ailes’ conduct somehow slipped under Fox’s radar, most other employers know that employee complaints about sexual harassment are a serious matter that must be promptly investigated. And most, if not all, of you have a sexual harassment policy that includes strong language assuring employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment, you will act quickly to eliminate inappropriate conduct, and anyone found to have violated your sexual harassment policy will be subject to prompt discipline. However, having such a policy does little good if stereotypes about what sexual harassment “looks like” stop employees and supervisors from recognizing—or reporting—it.  Sexual harassment in the workplace

Modern perceptions of sexual harassment generally bring to mind a female victim and a male perpetrator. However, like Jennifer Aniston in “Horrible Bosses,” a sexual harasser can be female, too. And as the recent lawsuit against Elton John shows, sexual harassment can happen between people of the same gender, regardless of the harasser’s or the victim’s sexual orientation.

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

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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‘Man up’: Sex discrimination claim goes to trial based on supervisor’s comments

by Stephen W. Jones

The 8th Circuit recently reversed an Arkansas federal district court’s decision to dismiss a store manager’s sex discrimination claims. The appellate court indicated that a trial must be held to determine whether a district manager who allegedly made certain sexist comments to the store manager was a decision maker and, if so, whether the district manager’s comments could be direct evidence of discriminatory animus.  Big boss yelling to her employee with megaphone on fire

Background

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U.S. Supreme Court puts transgender bathroom case on hold

by Rachael L. Loughlin

The case of the Gloucester County, Virginia, transgender high-school student fighting to use the restroom that matches his gender identity has been making its way through the federal court system for more than a year. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on the matter, adding yet another twist to the high-profile case.  Transgender Sign

A recap of the lawsuit

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What Supreme Court’s split decision on immigration reform means for employers

by Jacob M. Monty

President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration were not upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Some of your employees are probably disappointed and unsure of how to move forward. The disappointment they are experiencing and displaying doesn’t mean they are undocumented workers, and you shouldn’t assume they are. Here are some insights for employers in the wake of the Court’s recent decision.  Supreme Court

Background on DACA+ and DAPA

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ADA and USERRA: Duty owed to employees who fight for country

by Brinton M. Wilkins

Society has long understood that war can exact a heavy psychological toll on the soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen, and coast guardsmen who serve in the military. During WWI, servicemembers came home with shell shock. The psychological difficulties military men and women face have been diagnosed as “combat stress reaction,” “combat fatigue,” and “battle neurosis.” Since the 1980s, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been the prevalent diagnosis.  Soldiers in the Field

The psychological handicaps suffered by servicemembers are real, and given the sacrifices they have made, federal law protects veterans who enter the civilian workforce. Some of those protections, such as confidentiality for medical information, apply to all employees, whether or not they have served in the military. But others, such as those set forth in the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), are unique. Read on to see how one employee, if nothing else, reminded his employer of the unique duties owed to the employees who fight for our country.

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4th Circuit ruling favors transgender student

by Rachael Luzietti

After the Norfolk federal district court refused to order the Gloucester County School Board to grant the student’s request, he appealed to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Virginia employers). Recently, the appeals court reversed the district court’s decision and issued a ruling favorable to the student.  Transgender Sign

A recap of the lawsuit

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