ENDA may be coming soon—what will its impact really be?

by John R. Merinar, Jr.

A great deal of attention has been focused on the U.S. Senate’s recent passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The House of Representatives has yet to take up the bill, but there’s much speculation that supporters have the votes necessary to secure passage. Often, supporters can be heard using the phrase “fundamentally transform,” made popular by President Barack Obama, to describe the impact of ENDA in the workplace. But, in reality, the legislation may merely be an example of lawmakers catching up with the citizens they represent.  Senate

Behind the curve

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EEOC to update guidance on English-only policies?

by Amanda Shelby

Chief among the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) current priorities are (1) eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring and (2) protecting immigrant, migrant, and other vulnerable workers. It therefore should come as no surprise that the EEOC might be setting its sights on revising its guidance relating to English-only policies since those policies arguably implicate both of its top two priorities. So what does the EEOC’s guidance currently say? What are the agency’s concerns? And what precautions can you take now to minimize your risks in the future?  SpeakEnglish

EEOC’s current guidance

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‘My meds made me do it’: medication side effects and the ADA

by Connor Beatty

Sometimes an employee who isn’t making the grade may blame his lackluster performance on the side effects of certain medication he’s taking. Although managers may express some skepticism about that excuse, there are times when a cause-and-effect relationship might exist. That appears to have been the case for a Maine lawyer whose medication apparently caused him to make a bomb threat. Moreover, a growing number of courts have recognized the side-effects-as-disability legal theory under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Meds

Background

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Rental car company can’t drive off employee’s suit

by Brian J. Kurtz

Is it technically race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 if you terminate an Assyrian employee because you think he is an Arab? An Illinois district court recently faced that question.  CarRental

Less than courteous

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Steer clear of holiday season’s discrimination hazards

December 15, 2013 - by: Tammy Binford 2 COMMENTS

December is often a time for office parties, gift exchanges, and general holiday cheer in the workplace, but the season also can bring claims of discrimination and harassment if employers aren’t mindful of a religiously diverse workforce.  Happy Holidays

Legal hazards come in many forms. For example, non-Christians may feel discriminated against or harassed by all the attention surrounding Christmas. Also, non-Jewish employees may have resented menorahs displayed in cubicles earlier in the month in observance of Hanukkah. Employees wanting time off for religious observances also can spark resentment since everybody wanting time off may not be able to get it. Other employees may be upset by office celebrations tied to the season.

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Discriminatory practices: pitfalls of the I-9 process

by Anders Lindberg

The I-9 process of verifying an employee’s identity and employment authorization can be, as W.C. Fields put it, “fraught with eminent peril.” Failure to comply with documentation, verification, and discrimination laws can result in stiff fines and penalties. And recent settlement agreements between employers and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) indicate that the government is paying attention. EmployeeFillsOutForm

Background

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Reconsidering the status of sexual orientation in the workplace

by Harold Pinkley

From the time I began practicing employment law (too many) years ago―and probably for longer than that―employment lawyers have been quite comfortable advising clients that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender and other protected status) does not cover sexual orientation. Many states’ laws don’t prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, either. In other words, when it comes to homosexual or bisexual employees, discriminate away.  SexualOrientation

However, it has become fairly clear that such glib advice is incomplete and perhaps even wrong not just from an ethical standpoint but also in terms of legal liability. This article provides an overview of some changes and developments to be mindful of when addressing sexual orientation issues in the workplace.

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OFCCP issues new rules on hiring of disabled individuals

by Elizabeth Bradley

On August 27, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced a final rule intended to promote the hiring and employment of people with disabilities by federal government contractors. The rule makes changes to the regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities, and Section 4212 of the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA).  GovernmentRegulations

The final rules were published in the Federal Register on September 24 and can be kindly described as voluminous and difficult to decipher. This article provides guidance on the key revisions to the Section 503 and VEVRAA regulations that affect contractors that are required to prepare affirmative action plans (AAPs).

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Employer vs. employee perception in gender discrimination claims

by Brinton M. Wilkins

Philosophers argue endlessly about “Truth” with a capital “T,” but most people will likely never comprehend that kind of “truth.” Rather, we all view and interpret the world and our experiences through a complex set of lenses that we spend a lifetime creating, both consciously and subconsciously. As Oscar Wilde summed up, “The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.” When it comes to discrimination claims, the law tries to account for differences in perception. Read on to see how employers can find a measure of protection in their honestly held perceptions.   Perception

‘But I think I’m an excellent employee!’

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Hiring ex-offenders: Considerations for employers

November 17, 2013 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The hiring process can be challenging for employers and jobseekers alike. Employers struggle to match their needs to the skills and experience of applicants. Jobseekers struggle to make employers understand why they’re right for the job. That dual struggle gets even more complicated when a criminal conviction is added to the picture.

According to figures in a report from the Council of State Governments Justice Center, some nine million people are released from jail every year. In 2010, 708,677 sentenced prisoners were released from state and federal prisons, and 4.9 million individuals were on probation or parole. Many of those people will have trouble finding employment.

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