Beware of sex-stereotyping claims

by Taylor Chapman

In many situations, it is relatively easy to understand what constitutes discrimination on the basis of sex. For instance, you cannot refuse to hire an applicant because she is a woman or treat a female employee differently from a male employee because of her sex. The legal requirements become more uncertain, however, when an employee claims you engaged in unlawful sex stereotyping, as one Virginia employer recently learned.

What is sex stereotyping?

read more…

Facing the future: Growing numbers of workers with disabilities bring challenges, opportunities

April 14, 2013 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

A new study from business and research organization The Conference Board says that more than 10 percent of the U.S. population currently has some form of disability. Other research from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that disproportionate numbers of people with disabilities are either unemployed or working in jobs that pay low wages.

Employment statistics for people with disabilities have the potential to grow even bleaker in the near future as employers cope with an aging population and an influx of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with service-related disabilities. It’s clear that employers need to be ready to not just accommodate workers with disabilities but also capitalize on the strengths those employees can bring to the workplace. read more…

Can I ask that question on a job application?

by Toni Everton

An increasing number of unsuccessful job applicants are filing discrimination charges, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and state enforcement agencies are taking a close look at job applications for evidence of unlawful bias. So the question is, what can you ask on a job application? This article doesn’t contain an all-inclusive list of what to ask on a job application; rather, it provides guidance on a couple of issues the EEOC and state enforcement agencies have recently questioned.  read more…

Criminal and background reports as evidence in EEOC class actions

by Steven Collis

In its first class action lawsuit challenging an employer’s use of criminal records, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ended up dropping its case against PeopleMark and getting socked with $750,000 in sanctions. Recently, the EEOC suffered another stinging loss when a federal court dismissed its discrimination case against Kaplan Higher Education Corporation (which was discussed in a previous blog post, “EEOC’s use of ‘race raters’ against Kaplan University gets failing grade”) based on an unsound analysis by the commission’s expert witness. With the same expert providing statistical evidence in another case, could the agency strike out in a third background check class action lawsuit?

Over the past few years, the EEOC has aggressively challenged the use of credit reports and criminal history checks in hiring decisions, alleging that use of the information results in a discriminatory impact on candidates in protected groups. In 2012, the commission successfully negotiated a $3.13 million prelawsuit settlement of a race discrimination charge against Pepsi in which the soda giant’s criminal background check policy was called into question for allegedly discriminating against African Americans. However, the agency has been less successful pursuing similar cases in court, mainly because of its struggle to proffer reliable evidence of discriminatory impact. Despite the EEOC’s mixed results, the recent settlements and case filings indicate that the use of credit and criminal history checks in the hiring process is a hot topic. read more…

DOL releases toolkit to combat child and forced labor

April 14, 2013 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Bureau of International Labor Affairs has released “Reducing Child Labor and Forced Labor: A Toolkit for Responsible Businesses,” the first guide developed by the U.S. government to help businesses combat child labor and forced labor in their global supply chains. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), worldwide there are 215 million children in child labor, with 115 million performing hazardous work. It also estimates that 21 million people are in forced labor, six million of them children.

Using the DOL’s toolkit should help employers reduce “the chance that your products—and the raw materials they come from—are manufactured, mined or harvested by children who should be in school, or by workers locked in sweatshops or forced into work through false promises or threats.” read more…

Get interactive, rules federal appellate court

by Brandon Gearhart

A recent decision from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee employers) illustrates the importance of the interactive process when making employment decisions about a disabled worker. The court returned a previously dismissed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claim to the lower court, in part because the employer made a decision regarding disability accommodations without consulting the disabled worker. 


Nicholas Keith was born deaf and is unable to speak. After receiving lifeguard certification from Oakland County, Michigan, he applied for a lifeguard position at the Oakland County wave pool in 2007. Katherine Stavale, Oakland County’s recreational specialist, offered Keith a lifeguard job conditioned on him passing a physical exam. Dr. Paul Work performed the exam. After looking at Keith’s medical records, Work stated, “He’s deaf; he can’t be a lifeguard.” He failed Keith because he didn’t believe he could function independently as a lifeguard. read more…

Getting the most from Gen Y: Research delves into the Millennial mindset

March 17, 2013 - by: Diversity Insight 1 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Consider the modern workforce: The up-and-coming Gen Y Millennials sit alongside Gen Xers, baby boomers, and even a few 70-and-older workers who’ve decided to delay retirement or skip it altogether.

Researchers tout an era when four distinct groups inhabit the workplace—those born in 1945 and before, the boomers born from 1946-1964, Generation X born from 1965-1978, and Generation Y born from 1979-1997. Granted the oldest generation makes up a tiny slice of the workforce and many employers won’t have all four age groups represented, but age diversity is a reality that savvy employers can use to their advantage—if they understand what makes people in various stages of life tick. read more…

FMLA leave may be used to care for a disabled adult child

by Edward Sisson

The acting deputy administrator of the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued Administrator’s Interpretation (AI) No. 2013-1 on January 14 to explain the WHD’s position on who is considered a son or daughter under Section 101(12) of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The administrator concluded that parents who are eligible employees of covered employers are entitled to take FMLA leave to care for an adult child who is disabled or has a serious health condition without regard to the child’s age when the disability began.

FMLA refresher

Under the FMLA, an eligible employee of a covered employer is entitled to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid job-protected leave during a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons. One of the specified reasons is to care for a son or daughter who is disabled or has a serious health condition.

The FMLA military caregiver provision entitles an eligible employee who is a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty to take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for the servicemember. read more…

EEOC’s use of ‘race raters’ against Kaplan University gets failing grade

by Judith E. Kramer

On January 28, a federal court ruled in favor of Kaplan Higher Learning Education Corp. and Kaplan University in a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC had alleged that Kaplan’s use of credit history reports in making hiring decisions violated certain provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because the practice has a disparate impact on black applicants.


The defendant in this case was a group of educational institutions. As the court noted, educational institutions operate in a highly regulated industry. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) provides financial aid to many students enrolled at Kaplan University and Kaplan Higher Learning Education and requires its participants to have in place quality controls that limit access to student and parent information. read more…

Veganism may be a religious belief requiring accommodation

by Rebecca A. Kopp

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio has expanded the practices that may be considered protected religious views. The court refused to dismiss a vegan employee’s federal and state religious discrimination claims and permitted the parties to engage in further discovery (the pretrial exchange of evidence relevant to the case).


Sakile Chenzira worked as a customer service representative at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for more than a decade. She routinely refused her employer’s requirement that hospital employees receive an annual flu shot. As a practicing vegan, she objected to the flu shot because the vaccine is grown in chicken eggs and vegans do not ingest any animal products or by-products. read more…

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