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

EEOC Promotes Hiring Recently Released Prisoners

September 18, 2011 - by: admin 2 COMMENTS

On June 21, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chair Jacqueline Berrien participated with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Attorney General Eric Holder in a roundtable discussion of employment strategies for getting individuals with criminal records, including recently released prisoners, back to work. Employers, service providers, academics, policy advocates, and former prisoners also participated. The meeting was sponsored by the Obama administration’s Reentry Council, an interagency group of cabinet-level officials whose goal is to coordinate federal agency resources to assist former prisoners in becoming productive citizens, thereby saving taxpayer dollars by reducing recidivism.

One of the first products of this collaboration is the EEOC’s “Reentry MythBusters,” fact sheets designed to dispel common misconceptions that those with criminal records are automatically barred from employment. One “MythBuster” addresses the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 implications of using arrest and conviction records as a basis for employment decisions. While the EEOC acknowledges that an employer isn’t prohibited from requiring applicants to provide information about all prior convictions or incarcerations, they may not treat people with the same criminal records differently because of their race or national origin.

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Categories: Agency Insight

When the Offender Becomes the Plaintiff

September 18, 2011 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

Faced with racially motivated workplace killings, reporters from ABC’s Primetime Live sniffing around your facility, and a spate of race discrimination lawsuits, cracking down on racial harassment might be a good thing, right? Maybe so in some utopian world of rationality and logic, but we live and work “down the rabbit hole.” In our world, terminating a supervisor for sending a racist joke will earn you a jury trial for a race discrimination claim filed by the sacked supervisor. If you haven’t lost your appetite yet, read on for the latest from the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

History

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Categories: Legal News

Unmarried and Single Americans

September 18, 2011 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

“National Singles Week” was started by the Buckeye Singles Council in Ohio in the 1980s to celebrate single life and recognize singles and their contributions to society. The week is now widely observed during the third full week of September, which is September 18-24 this year, as “Unmarried and Single Americans Week,” an acknowledgment that many unmarried Americans do not identify with the word “single” because they are parents, have partners or are widowed. Here are some facts about unmarried Americans, which includes those who were never married, widowed, or divorced, unless otherwise noted, from the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • In 2010, there were 99.6 million  unmarried people in America 18 and older. This group comprised 43.6 percent of all U.S. residents 18 and older.

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Categories: Just the Facts

Is Every Employee Disabled?

August 14, 2011 - by: admin 2 COMMENTS

By Michael E. Barnsback

That was the question we received at the conclusion of the ADA Compliance Virtual Summit, which I conducted with Audra Hamilton on June 15, 2011. The question was reasonable after conference participants learned that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) new regulations emphasize that the focus of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is no longer whether an individual is “disabled” under the statute but whether the employer engaged in discrimination.

EEOC Issues Final Regs for ADAAA

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Categories: Feature

Humana Adopts Policy Against Hiring Smokers in Arizona

August 14, 2011 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

By David I. Weissman

Many employers are seeking to control escalating health care costs and improve worker productivity by implementing policies that promote employee wellness. As a result, policies that discourage employees from smoking have become increasingly popular. Some companies have gone a step further and decided they won’t hire smokers at all. This includes health insurance giant Humana, which recently announced that it will no longer hire workers in Arizona who smoke or use other tobacco products.

Issuing New Policy in Arizona

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Categories: Diversity Trends

Praying in the Workplace

August 14, 2011 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

A recent case from the federal trial court in Gulfport, Mississippi, dealt with a certified nursing assistant (CNA) who claimed she was discriminated against based on religion. She alleged that she was subjected to a hostile work environment and fired for reporting religious harassment. The court discussed some interesting points in its decision.

Facts

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Categories: Legal News

Labor Day 2011: September 5

August 14, 2011 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

Labor Day  “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers” according to the Department of Labor (DOL). Some historians contend that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first to a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” Others believe that machinist Matthew Maguire started the holiday. The DOL notes, “Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.”

No matter it’s origin, it is now tradition for the first Monday of September to be celebrated as Labor Day. Here are some facts from the U.S. Census Bureau on the workforce the DOL says “constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country”: read more…

Categories: Just the Facts

Dress Code Considerations for a Diverse Workforce

July 17, 2011 - by: admin 2 COMMENTS

By Carolyn A. Wade

Society’s standards (or lack thereof) regarding clothing and grooming have certainly changed over the last 50 years. Taking a trip on an airplane used to mean “dressing up” and wearing the kind of clothes you would wear to church ― a suit and tie or a dress and heels. Now people fly in sweatpants and sneakers and regularly wear jeans to church. Some employees would happily wear nothing but sweatpants or jeans to work if their employers would let them.

For some employees, personal appearance ― including hairstyle, jewelry, tattoos, piercings, and head coverings as well as clothing ― is a form of self-expression. Religious mandates can also affect an employee’s appearance. Employers are confronted not only with excessively casual appearance but also with other extremes: looks that are too suggestive, too political, too dangerous, too bizarre. What’s “slightly sexy” to one person can be “downright vulgar” to another. So what’s an employer to do? How far can you go in regulating your employees’ appearance?

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Lawmakers Try to Address Workplace Gender Identity Issues

July 17, 2011 - by: admin 2 COMMENTS

Gender identity disorder is a medically recognized condition in which a person’s gender identity doesn’t match his genetic sex. In some cases, the recommended standard of care is counseling and sex reassignment therapy, which includes representing yourself as the gender corresponding to your identity, hormone replacement therapy, and, eventually, gender reassignment surgery.

Although federal law still doesn’t explicitly prohibit transgender discrimination, don’t assume that a transgendered employee has no legal protection. Some federal courts have been allowing transgendered people to proceed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 based on certain legal theories. In addition, many state and local laws either expressly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or include gender identity within their definition of “sex.”

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