EEOC provides guidance on mental health conditions in the workplace

by Howard Fetner

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued a resource document explaining the rights of job applicants and employees with mental health conditions. The document explains that applicants and employees with mental health issues are protected from discrimination and harassment based on their conditions, may be entitled to reasonable accommodations, and have a right to privacy regarding their medical information.  EEOC-jpg

Background

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Comments and tweet using variation of ‘n’ word are protected speech

by Michelle Lee Flores

Actor and writer Marlon Wayans’ use of the term “nigga,” his comments referring to an actor’s “afro” and comparing him to a black character on Family Guy, and his tweet, including a side-by-side photo comparison of the actor and the Family Guy character, were all protected speech, according to a trial court and the California Court of Appeal.  First Amendment

The court of appeal agreed with Wayans that his actions were part of the creative process of improvisation, character development, and writing that resulted in the birth of a character for a film he was starring in, and the tweet was in furtherance of and promotion of the film.

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Geographic diversity: Dealing with rural-urban differences in the workplace

February 19, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The rural-urban divide in America has had people talking since the 2016 presidential election, which showed a marked difference in the way urban and rural areas tend to vote. The 2016 election wasn’t the first sign of a divide, and individuals in both rural and urban areas often defy aggregate data, but various statistics show differences in attitudes and political opinions that seem to be defined by whether an area is urban or rural. Spring Urban and Countryside Landscape City Village Real Estate Summer

Such divisions also can be found in the workplace. For years, employers have touted the advantages of diversity and have worked toward racial, ethnic, religious, and gender diversity. But what about geographic diversity? Is there a business advantage to attracting a mix of people from rural and urban backgrounds?

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Wild kingdom: sexual harassment at the NPS

May we fire employee who doesn’t fit in?

EEOC issues new guidelines on national origin discrimination

by Saul Glazer

With the increase in terrorism and attention given to immigration- related complaints, there is commensurate potential for workplace conflict and harassment related to national origin. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued new guidelines to help employers prevent national origin discrimination in the workplace. This article discusses national origin discrimination and highlights the key examples in the EEOC’s newly issued guidelinesEEOC-jpg

National origin discrimination defined

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Are rules for same-sex marriage about to change in Texas?

by Jacob M. Monty

The Texas Supreme Court recently announced that it will review a case arguing that Texas employers shouldn’t be required to spend taxpayer funds to provide benefits to employee spouses in same-sex marriages, even if they do offer benefits to employee spouses in opposite-sex marriages. Depending on the outcome of the case, the ruling could lead to plenty of confusion over what Texas employers are required to do (and prohibited from doing) when it comes to employee benefits.  Justice is served

Background

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Handling challenges to diversity in era of divisiveness

January 15, 2017 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

It may seem there’s no escaping political divisiveness. All manner of news and social media sources carry angry, frequently hurtful, and often untrue communication. And the workplace is not immune from the damage of those messages.  Two angry businesspeople with boxing gloves having an argument

Presidential campaigns have been heated before, but the 2016 contest seemed especially rife with venom. Since the campaign was so divisiveparticularly on race and religion issues that were aggravated by comments about Mexicans, Muslims, and other minoritiessome of that discord has found its way to the workplace.

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Are decisions made for the reasons you think?

by Dinita L. James

Employment laws prohibit intentional discrimination based on race, sex, or other protected characteristics as well as practices that have a discriminatory impact if they’re not supported by business necessity. Implicit or unconscious bias isn’t technically unlawful in the workplace if it doesn’t cause an unjustified adverse impact.  Bias

Yet a presidential candidate in the most-watched debate ever recently responded to a question about whether she “believed that police are implicitly biased against black people” by stating, “Implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police.” The FBI director also recently acknowledged overwhelming research demonstrating the presence of widespread unconscious biases and the way in which those biases may manifest in policing.

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Walking the workplace proselytizing tightrope

by David L. Johnson

“Have a blessed day.” “I’m praying for you.” “Are you a believer?” “Would you be interested in attending church with me?” Comments and questions like those may be common in your workplace. On the one hand, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars employers from discriminating against employees because of their religion. On the other hand, employers have a legitimate interest in preventing employees from expressing their religion in a manner that is disruptive to business operations and preventing proselytizing from creating a religiously hostile work environment. That can be a real tightrope walk because it’s often unclear where the line should be drawn.  Tightrope walker businessman

Title VII requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs. That may present challenges when an employee claims that a need to share her faith or seek to convert others is a fundamental tenet of her religion. Employers need not provide accommodations that would impose an undue hardship. Of course, what amounts to a “reasonable” accommodation and what kind of hardship is considered “undue” is open to interpretation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has interpreted an “undue hardship” to be a hardship that presents “more than a minimal burden on [the] operation of the business.” An accommodation that would impede coworkers’ right to work in an environment free from religious harassment would be considered an undue hardship.

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