Sex, religion, and retaliation

by Mark I. Schickman

I keep waiting for the day that employment discrimination claims disappear. We spend a ton of time training employees to prevent and avoid discriminatory conduct, and the proper behavior is pretty intuitive. So, logically, employment discrimination should have been eradicated, like polio and smallpox.

It would be terrible for my business if discrimination cases went away because defending them is much of what I do. But no worries―there isn’t much chance of employment discrimination disappearing. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received about 100,000 charges in 2012, up from 75,000 in 2005. Religious discrimination is the fastest- growing category of charges, fed by a rising fear of those who practice Islam and the misplaced view that, unlike race or sex, a person can just change religion. The EEOC is putting extra enforcement effort into that area. read more…

Lessons from an office ‘kick me’ prank

by Robert P. Tinnin, Jr.

Q I recently read a newspaper article concerning a lawsuit filed in federal court in Albuquerque by an Intel employee who is suing his employer for race-based harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Coworkers secretly taped a “kick me” sign to his back and then kicked him as others laughed hysterically. What are we coming to? Can employees sue their employer for anything these days?

A The lawsuit has garnered quite a bit of attention in both the local and national press. The primary allegation involves a grade-school prank that many of us participated in as children. Indeed, at the very least, it was a juvenile prank. Few of us would think it would be the basis for a lawsuit in federal court, but it is. read more…

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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Sorting out rights for specific disabilities under the ADA

July 14, 2013 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

Employers are accustomed to the basics regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but the details can get tricky especially since employers must navigate the changes brought on by the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), which made it easier for individuals with a range of impairments to qualify for protection under the law.

Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidance for employees with specific disabilities to reflect changes to the definition of disability made by the ADAAA. The new question-and-answer documents address cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities—all conditions more likely to fit the definition of disability than they were before the ADAAA.

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What’s on the immigration horizon for employers?

by Elaine Young

During the month of May, the Senate Judiciary Committee marked up the comprehensive immigration reform bill that the “Gang of Eight” proposed earlier in the year. In June, we saw the House of Representatives debate over what to add or take away from the bill. Here’s a quick Q&A on how some of the most likely provisions will affect employers. Just a note―the bill is more than 800 pages long, so this is a general summary.

Drilling down to the basics

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Categories: Flashpoint / Q&A

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Growing prevalence of severe food allergies may trigger ADA accommodations

July 14, 2013 - by: Diversity Insight 2 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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OFCCP issues new compensation directive

by Melineh Verma

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) formally rescinded the Bush-era guidance on pay discrimination in February, criticizing the 2006 “Voluntary Guidelines and Compensation Standards” as improperly limiting its ability to conduct full investigations of compensation matters. The OFCCP replaced the 2006 voluntary guidelines with Directive 307, which specifies the procedures that OFCCP investigators must follow when conducting compensation audits.

“Today, we are lifting arbitrary barriers that have prevented our investigators from finding and combating illegal pay discrimination,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu in a press release. “At the same time, we are providing clear guidance for contractors to facilitate their success when it comes to providing equal opportunity to all of their workers.” Directive 307′s investigative procedures apply to all scheduling letters issued by the OFCCP on or after February 28, 2013.

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Categories: Agency Insight

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National origin discrimination and race discrimination aren’t the same thing

by Kevin McCormick

In a recent decision, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland affirmed the notion that discrimination on the basis of race and discrimination based on national origin are distinct legal claims. Moreover, because 42 USC § 1981 only prohibits discrimination based on race, a claim alleging national origin discrimination under the Act has little chance of success. Let’s take a closer look at this interesting decision.

Background facts

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Resources help employers bring veterans to workplace

June 16, 2013 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

It’ll soon be July 4th, a day many employers mark by declaring a holiday so employees can have time for patriotic celebrations. But many of those people so fervently celebrated – the nation’s veterans – would be happier to be earning a paycheck than to be feted with a parade.

Recent statistics show improvement in the employment rate for veterans over the last year, but officials note more progress is needed. Figures compiled by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University show that the unemployment rate for all veterans in May 2013 was 6.6 percent. That’s down from 7.8 percent in May 2012 but up from 6.2 percent in April 2013. The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans isn’t quite so favorable. It was 7.3 percent in May 2013, compared to 12.7 percent in May 2012.

Despite relatively low unemployment numbers, the picture isn’t all positive. The unemployment rate for the youngest post-9/11 veterans is still well into double digits. The rate for those ages 20-24 was 17.7 percent in May 2013, down from 22.1 percent in May 2012. The rate for nonveterans ages 20-24 was 13.4 percent in May 2013 and 13.2 percent in May 2012. read more…

Categories: Feature / Seeking Talent

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Atten-hut! Know your USERRA obligations

by Steve Jones

Q What are my obligations to employees who are in the military, are called to serve, and then seek to return to their civilian jobs? What if an employee will be deployed for more than a year?

A The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) governs the employment of military servicemembers. USERRA, which is a federal law and therefore applies in all states, is intended to ensure that people who serve or have served in the armed forces, reserves, National Guard, or other uniformed services (1) are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their service, (2) are promptly reemployed in their civilian jobs upon their return from military duty, and (3) are not discriminated against in employment based on past, present, or future military service. You must be aware of your obligations under USERRA before you hire military servicemembers, during their employment, and while they are away from their jobs because of service-related duties.

Application of the law

First, you may not deny someone initial employment because of past, present, or future military service. You can defend your company against a USERRA claim by presenting evidence that you would have taken the same action if the job applicant didn’t have military service obligations. Detailed documentation, including comprehensive interview notes and in-depth explanations of your reasons for not hiring prospective employees, will help your defense. read more…

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