Are we evolving on sexual orientation/gender identity issues?

Many states have statutes prohibiting discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Not all states have such prohibition, and since there is no broad federal prohibition on discrimination by private employers based on either category, that leaves local ordinances to address the issue. A look at what is happening in Texas can offer insight into these trends across the country.  Texas!!

Local ordinances across Texas

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Employers urged to make diversity a business strategy, not just an obligation

April 20, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

As human resources teams strive to attract and retain top talent, they often turn their focus to the strengths that come from having a diverse workforce. But a new study suggests that a focus on diversity alone may come up short if companies aren’t also thinking about inclusion. The recently released Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2014 report shows that most of the organizations participating in the study say their organizations promote diversity, but not nearly so many see the full business benefits of a diverse workforce. The study report states that leading companies are doing more than just building a diverse workforce; they’re building inclusive workplaces, “enabling them to transform diversity programs from a compliance obligation to a business strategy.”  ThoughtDiversity

The Deloitte study included the views of more than 2,500 business and HR leaders in 94 countries. The survey shows that just 20 percent of the companies participating in the study believe that they are fully realizing all the benefits of diversity.

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Steps to take toward gender equality

by Dinita James

In the mid-1970s, I wore an ERA bracelet in support of ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). I also had a button that displayed only two numbers and a symbol ― 62 ¢.

The 62 cents signified the then-current national average of women’s earnings for every dollar earned by men. Some four decades later, the ERA appears to be a constitutional dead letter, and women earn about 81 cents on the dollar compared with their male peers.  UnequalPay

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Rise in religious bias claims forces analysis of a multitude of sins

by Rodney L. Bean

Claims of religious discrimination are on the upswing, leaving many employers scrambling to avoid liability for failing to properly manage the complicated interplay between faith and work. Of all the classifications protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, religion perhaps presents the most diverse range of issues for employers. From dress and grooming standards to work schedules and holiday parties, religion’s intersection with employment can affect most aspects of your business. With many employers facing religious discrimination charges for the first time and serving as examples for others, the variety of ways religious claims can arise is quickly becoming clear.   ReligiousAccommodation

Religious bias claims are ascending

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Untouchable? Disciplining employees for disability-caused misconduct

by Nikki Hall and Eugene Park

HR professionals regularly implement employee discipline and are adept at navigating the waters of reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. Mingling those two issues, however, can sometimes pull an employer in opposite directions when it’s responding to, for example, a chronically tardy employee suffering debilitating side effects from medication or an employee whose rude or even threatening behavior is due to a psychiatric disability. Adding to this conundrum is the differing and evolving judicial and administrative guidance.  YouAreLate

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Military downsizing presents opportunity, challenge for employers

March 16, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A thread running through a succession of news stories is sending a clear message to employers: The military is shrinking its ranks and the pressure is on civilian employers to hire more veterans.  VeteransAtWork

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced new downsizing plans for the nation’s armed forces in February, explaining that budget cuts are going so deep and coming so quickly that “we cannot shrink the size of our military fast enough.”

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Maintaining a religion-neutral workplace

by Charles S. Plumb

About a year ago, a group of private citizens paid for a seven-foot-tall granite monument of the Ten Commandments and gained approval for it to be placed on the north end of the Oklahoma Capitol grounds. Not surprisingly, a satanic group then asked Oklahoma’s Capitol Preservation Commission for permission to erect a seven-foot-tall “homage” to the Prince of Darkness, and a Hindu organization applied to have a monkey god statue join the growing list of Oklahoma statehouse religious monuments. Most recently, the Pastafarians—people who follow the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster—have asked how they can apply for a spot for their statue on Oklahoma’s Capitol grounds. I’m serious.  ReligiousSymbols

What does this have to do with your workplace? Hopefully nothing. But it serves as a good reminder about the potential curveballs an employer can face when religious issues gain prominence at work.

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Satisfying your obligation to accommodate disabled employees

by Kara E. Shea

Did you know the fastest rising category of claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is claims based on disability discrimination and/or failure to accommodate disabled employees? This isn’t surprising given that, under the expanded Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), virtually any nonminor/nontransitory impairment may be considered a qualifying disability.  DisabledEmployee

So the crucial question is, once you have determined that an employee or job applicant has a disability, to what lengths must you go to provide a reasonable accommodation? Do you have to provide the specific accommodation requested by the employee? What is an undue hardship? This month, we provide some pointers to help employers navigate the process of determining how or whether to provide an accommodation for an individual with a disability.

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Wiccan what? Religious accommodations and sincerely held beliefs

by Steve Jones

Q If an employee asks for time off for her religious beliefs, can I legally question her about her religion (e.g., what her religion is and why she needs off)?  Wiccan

A Most likely, yes. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on religion. The Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to make reasonable accommodations for a worker’s sincerely held religious beliefs unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on business operations. Under Title VII, the “undue hardship” defense requires an employer to show that under the particular circumstances, the proposed accommodation poses more than a minimal cost to or burden on the employer.

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You’re not a doctor, and you don’t play one on TV

by Jane Pfeifle

An employer made an incorrect assumption about a disabled applicant. When a court disagreed with the assumption, the employer paid the applicant more than $50,000. Lynn, Jackson, Shultz & Lebrun, P.C., the firm of article author Jane Wipf Pfeifle, was involved in this case. All facts are taken solely from the court’s decision.  EyeDoctor

Facts

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