Responding to restroom accommodation requests from transgender employees

by Brian Bouchard

Fifty-two years ago, Bob Dylan penned the now-famous lyrics “The times they are a-changin’.” True enough, Mr. Dylan, but for many, changes come slowly, and as the late David Bowie sang: “The days still seem the same.” This can be true in regard to laws, which sometimes struggle to keep pace with changes in society. Would it surprise you to learn that only last May, Congress removed archaic racial terminology like “Oriental” and “Negro” from the federal lexicon?   Bathroom sign

For employers dealing with transgender-related issues, the changing times have exposed a legal void of uncertainty. Time magazine recently called transgender issues the “New Civil Rights Frontier.” Yet despite a shifting and dynamic public perspective on transgender issues, Congress and federal agencies have provided little guidance to employers. As a result, many employers have been left in the dark, trying to divine the best way to deal with various related issues. None is as vexing as restroom accommodations.

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Employer can insist that ‘doctor’s note’ come from a doctor

by Jennifer Suich Frank and Samuel D. Kerr

Q One of our employees went to a holistic healer who isn’t a certified healthcare practitioner, and he advised her that she needs a week off work. He won’t write her a doctor’s excuse and will only speak to someone via telephone. Our attendance policy states that missing that much work requires a doctor’s note. Are we violating the employee’s rights if we discipline her for an attendance policy violation?  Woman lying face down having cupping acupuncture, mid section

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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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Dealing with hidden disability: Navigating protections for workers with addictions

June 18, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Employers generally understand their obligations related to legal protections for people with disabilities. But not all disabilities are obvious, sometimes not even to those afflicted. Such may be the case when employees suffer from addiction to prescription drugsa problem that’s been in the spotlight lately. And with good reason: The costs employers face related to such addictions are staggering.  Medicine sales man rep offering pills

For example, an analysis released in March claims that healthcare costs for employees who misuse or abuse prescription drugs are three times the costs for an average employee. The analysis is from the National Safety Council, independent research institution NORC at the University of Chicago, and Shatterproof, a nonprofit organization working to end the stigma of addiction and support families dealing with it. The groups have developed a Substance Use Cost Calculator to help employers understand the impact of addiction on their business.

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Millennials will transform management practices

by Jimmy Daniel

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, have surpassed Generation X and Baby Boomers to become the largest group in America’s workforce, according to Pew Giving their design the seal of approvalResearch Center’s analysis of the 2015 U.S. Census Bureau data. Not only are Millennials continuing to grow and dominate the workforce, but they are also starting to take on more management roles.

In 2013, Ernst and Young conducted an online survey of more than 1,200 cross-company professionals in the United States that included evenly split responses from managers and nonmanagers in Generation Y, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. The survey showed that 87% of the Millennial managers surveyed had moved into management roles between 2008 and 2013, compared to only 38% of Generation X managers and 19% of Baby Boomer managers. That was in stark contrast to the same survey conducted from 2003 to 2008, during which only 12% of Millennial managers had moved into a management role.

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EEOC maintains steady position on transgender employees’ rights

by JW Furman

With all the attention given to President Donald Trump’s recent removal of the Obama administration’s protection for transgender bathroom access, it’s important to remember that the action applies only to public school students. For employers, the issue remains as unsettled as ever.  EEOC-jpg

There’s no reason to believe that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will soften its stand on any transgender issue unless it is required to by the president or the court. The EEOC is strongly committed to its enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination and harassment based on sex or gender. Its interpretation has long been that gender stereotyping and gender identity discrimination are prohibited by Title VII. With the support of President Barack Obama, the agency became more aggressive about advocating transgender issues, but its general philosophy and long-standing interpretation of Title VII didn’t change.

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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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Exploring answers to ‘mommy track’ dilemma

May 14, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

It’s May, the month with a special day set aside to honor mothers. Those sweet but sloppy gifts made by little hands delight moms on their special day, but then the workweek begins again, bringing with it the stresses of mixing work and family responsibilities. And if the workload at home and at work isn’t enough to deal with, many women struggle with another nagging worrythe realization that no matter how skilled they are at juggling all their tasks, they may find their career progress at risk.  Mother holding baby daughter while talking on phone in kitchen

So what’s the answer? Many tout employer flexibility as an important stepnot just in keeping women in the workforce but also keeping them on track for advancement. A recent Forbes blog entry carried an interview with Anna Auerbach and Annie Dean, founders of Werk, a company promoting flexible jobs. They go so far as to claim “flexibility is the future of feminism.”

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Service animal or pet? When Rover comes to work

by Erica E. Flores

For decades, service animals were used almost exclusively to assist the blind and, in that role, were aptly known simply as guide dogs or seeing-eye dogs. But times have changed. Today, dogs and other service animals—including monkeys, parrots, and miniature horses—are being trained to provide a remarkable variety of services to individuals with disabilities. They can alert the hearing impaired to household and environmental sounds, warn epileptics of oncoming seizures, calm children and adults with autism, signal diabetics of changes in their insulin levels, and, increasingly, provide comfort and companionship to people with a wide range of mental and emotional disabilities, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What does that mean for employers?   Pit Bull Wearing Service Dog Vest

Emotional support animals?

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Rural counties must reverse Millennial labor drain

by Dinita L. James

Hillbilly Elegy: Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is the nonfiction best seller by J.D. Vance, 31, of Middletown, Ohio, with roots in the hills of Kentucky. He has gained renown since the November 2016 presidential election as a Donald Trump “voter-splainer,” a tribune of the white working poor.  Work and lifestyle crossroads concept

One thing that stood out was his report that the six groomsmen from his wedding all grew up in Ohio small towns, attended college at Ohio State University, found careers outside their hometowns, and had no interest in ever going back. Just as their parents had left their rural homes for jobs in cities and towns, Vance and his friends abandoned their hometowns for metropolises. Vance, a Yale-educated lawyer, lives in San Francisco and is a principal in a Silicon Valley investment firm. He writes that he has all he ever wanted—going to work each day, taking his dogs to the park, buying groceries with his wife, and making a nice dinner.

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