National origin discrimination and race discrimination aren’t the same thing

by Kevin McCormick

In a recent decision, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland affirmed the notion that discrimination on the basis of race and discrimination based on national origin are distinct legal claims. Moreover, because 42 USC § 1981 only prohibits discrimination based on race, a claim alleging national origin discrimination under the Act has little chance of success. Let’s take a closer look at this interesting decision.

Background facts

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Resources help employers bring veterans to workplace

June 16, 2013 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

It’ll soon be July 4th, a day many employers mark by declaring a holiday so employees can have time for patriotic celebrations. But many of those people so fervently celebrated – the nation’s veterans – would be happier to be earning a paycheck than to be feted with a parade.

Recent statistics show improvement in the employment rate for veterans over the last year, but officials note more progress is needed. Figures compiled by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University show that the unemployment rate for all veterans in May 2013 was 6.6 percent. That’s down from 7.8 percent in May 2012 but up from 6.2 percent in April 2013. The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans isn’t quite so favorable. It was 7.3 percent in May 2013, compared to 12.7 percent in May 2012.

Despite relatively low unemployment numbers, the picture isn’t all positive. The unemployment rate for the youngest post-9/11 veterans is still well into double digits. The rate for those ages 20-24 was 17.7 percent in May 2013, down from 22.1 percent in May 2012. The rate for nonveterans ages 20-24 was 13.4 percent in May 2013 and 13.2 percent in May 2012. read more…

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Atten-hut! Know your USERRA obligations

by Steve Jones

Q What are my obligations to employees who are in the military, are called to serve, and then seek to return to their civilian jobs? What if an employee will be deployed for more than a year?

A The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) governs the employment of military servicemembers. USERRA, which is a federal law and therefore applies in all states, is intended to ensure that people who serve or have served in the armed forces, reserves, National Guard, or other uniformed services (1) are not disadvantaged in their civilian careers because of their service, (2) are promptly reemployed in their civilian jobs upon their return from military duty, and (3) are not discriminated against in employment based on past, present, or future military service. You must be aware of your obligations under USERRA before you hire military servicemembers, during their employment, and while they are away from their jobs because of service-related duties.

Application of the law

First, you may not deny someone initial employment because of past, present, or future military service. You can defend your company against a USERRA claim by presenting evidence that you would have taken the same action if the job applicant didn’t have military service obligations. Detailed documentation, including comprehensive interview notes and in-depth explanations of your reasons for not hiring prospective employees, will help your defense. read more…

Military needs more than a few good men

by Mark Schickman

Let’s turn the clock back 50 years to the days before Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sex discrimination was a constant, and sexual harassment was so prevalent that it wasn’t yet a term of art. The notion that a woman had the right to a workplace free from sexist comments or unequal treatment was nothing short of bizarre. Work life as portrayed on Mad Men was pretty much the norm.

Do you know how gender discrimination found its way into Title VII? The bill was originally designed to cover discrimination based on race and national origin. Opponents allowed gender to be added as a protected class, thinking it would kill the bill. Much to their surprise, Title VII passed―sexual harassment prohibitions and all. read more…

Title VII verdict upheld for Egyptian-American Muslim employed by BSA

by Rosemary B. Guiltinan

The U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals  recently upheld a jury verdict in favor of an Egyptian-American Muslim employee of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) who claimed the BSA denied him career advancement opportunities based on his national origin and religion. The court upheld the verdict because the employer failed to show the evidence was “overwhelmingly inconsistent” with the jury’s decision.


Kamal Aly, an Egyptian-American Muslim, began working as a district executive for the BSA’s Mohegan Council in August 2001. During his first two years with the BSA, he completed two professional development trainings and received positive annual performance reviews. read more…

Age diversity becoming new priority for employers

May 19, 2013 - by: Diversity Insight 1 COMMENTS

The statistics don’t lie. More people are planning to work beyond what once was a traditional retirement age. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected that the primary working-age group—those ages 25-54—will decline from 66.9 percent of the labor force in 2010 to 63.7 percent in 2020. Workers 55 and older are projected to go from 19.5 percent of the labor force to 25.2 percent during the same period.

The U.S. Census Bureau released an analysis in January pointing out that for the last 20 years, the labor force participation rate of people at least 65 years old has increased, and the increase is particularly evident over the last 10 years.

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She works hard for the money

by Kylie Crawford TenBrook

Several years ago, I attended a celebration for one of my brothers, who had just become an Eagle Scout. Several relatives were there, including some distant relatives I hadn’t seen in years. One of those distant relatives, who is close to my age, approached me, and the following exchange took place. (The comments in parentheses are my thoughts as the conversation progressed. Please take my fresh-out-of-law- school cockiness with a grain of salt―I have been severely humbled since then.)

Relative: So, Kylie, what are you doing these days?

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Balancing act: religious accommodations vs. diversity goals

by Tara Martens Miller

Freedom to believe and practice your own religion is a strongly held American value as well as a right recognized by  the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and most state organizations charged with receiving and investigating claims of discrimination. Sometimes, however, an employee’s expression of religious beliefs in the workplace can be disruptive―especially if the employee’s beliefs clash with the beliefs of her coworkers. When does an employer’s attempt to control religious expression become discriminatory? And how does a company reconcile its efforts to promote workplace diversity with an employee’s right to push back against “diversity” he opposes?

Basic protections under the law

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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?

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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…

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