New EEOC guidance should remind employers to guard against retaliation

September 18, 2016 0 COMMENTS

No employer trying to build diversity in its workforce is likely to get very far if its culture tolerates discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against employees based on race, gender, age, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law. Not only does such a culture work against recruitment and retention of diverse talent, it also invites legal trouble. That’s why employers are taking a close look at new guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) addressing retaliation claims.  Dangerous handshake

The EEOC issued its new guidance on August 29, replacing previous guidance released in 1998. In addition to the guidance document, the EEOC also released a question-and-answer document and a fact sheet for small business. The material from the EEOC follows a surge of retaliation claims in recent years.

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‘No good deed’ for Microsoft, others in the high-tech sector

September 18, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Leslie E. Silverman

There is a common refrain uttered by management lawyers, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Yes, it is cynical, but as employers in the high-tech sector are beginning to discover, it is often true. Currently, Microsoft is dealing with issues as a result of well-intended diversity and corporate social responsibility efforts.  Indianapolis - May 2016: Microsoft Midwest District Headquarters I

Social responsibility initiative backfires

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EEOC revises national origin discrimination guidance for changing workforce

September 18, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Arielle B. Sepulveda

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released proposed enforcement guidance on national origin discrimination for public comment. Once finalized, the guidance will serve as a reference for agency staff when they investigate and litigate national origin discrimination claims as well as a resource for employers and employees on the law and the EEOC’s interpretation of it.  EEOC-jpg

Basics of national origin discrimination

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Don’t let Confederate flags lead to interoffice civil war

August 14, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Connor Beatty

While enjoying a scenic drive along the Maine coast recently, I was startled to come across a giant Confederate flag prominently displayed in a house’s front yard. Less than a week later, a client contacted our firm to ask for advice in responding to an employee’s claim that a vehicle with a Confederate flag bumper sticker in the parking lot made her uncomfortable. While the timing of the occurrences may have been a coincidence, the events are a reminder that the Southern symbol can appear at any workplace, including workplaces in one of the northernmost states in the country. For many, the Confederate flag is an offensive image, and addressing the symbol at work can be tricky. Employers in other states have been sued for ordering employees to remove Confederate flags, while other employers have been taken to court for failing to order workers to remove the flags.  Confederate flag flying

No right to display Confederate flags at work

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Preventing discrimination against Muslim and Middle Eastern workers

August 14, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Anna C. Lukeman

In the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has warned employers to be proactive and take measures against discrimination aimed at those who are or are perceived to be either Muslim or Middle Eastern.  Middle eastern people having a business meeting at office

In her statement to address this issue, EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang said, “America was founded on the principle of religious freedom. As a nation, we must continue to seek the fair treatment of all, even as we grapple with the concerns raised by the recent terrorist attacks. When people come to work and are unfairly harassed or otherwise targeted based on their religion or national origin, it undermines our shared and longstanding values of tolerance and equality for all.”

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EEOC issues new guidance on leave of absence and ADA accommodations

July 17, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Paige Hoster Good

On May 9, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a new guidance document addressing the intersection of employer-provided leave of absence and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This document doesn’t create any new EEOC agency policy or propose any new law. Rather, it consolidates current guidance on the ADA, employer leave policies, reasonable accommodations, the interactive process, undue hardship, and other relevant subtopics.  EEOC-jpg

It appears the motivation behind this document stems from the overall rise in disability-related charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC, which increased over six percent from fiscal year 2014 to 2015. Moreover, recent charges received by the EEOC indicate employers may not know they should consider modification of leave policies as a reasonable accommodation of an employee’s disability.

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EEOC issues bathroom guidelines for transgender employees

July 17, 2016 0 COMMENTS

When worlds collide: religious freedom laws and LGBT protections

June 19, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Brent E. Siler

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from banning gay marriage last year, many people who oppose same-sex marriage for religious reasons began worrying that the newly recognized constitutional right to gay marriage would conflict with their right to religious freedom. As a result, several state legislatures have enacted “religious freedom laws,” which generally provide statutory protections for people who refuse to act contrary to their deeply held religious beliefs. Religious freedom laws in North Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, and Mississippi have caused controversy in recent months, with proponents of these laws arguing that they are necessary to protect religious freedom and opponents arguing that these laws are legalized discrimination. Unfortunately, the conflict between religious freedom laws and the ever-expanding recognition of gay rights is far from over and will almost certainly spill into the workplace and create difficulties for employers.  Editing Erasing the First Amendment to U.S. Constitution

Tenets of religious freedom laws

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Prayer breaks present difficult religious accommodation issues

May 15, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Steven T. Collis

Recent news stories describe the tension between Muslim workers seeking multiple prayer breaks at specified times throughout their workday and employers that need those workers on the assembly line. Many Muslim employees have walked off the job, claiming their prayer break requests have been unlawfully denied. With so much coverage of religious accommodation cases in the news, this article addresses how to handle this somewhat difficult scenario. Prayer break

Case in point

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Equal pay issues gaining attention

March 20, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Gesina (Ena) M. Seiler

The concept of equal pay for equal work is receiving attention from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), President Barack Obama, and the 2016 candidates for president. That means there’s no better time than the present for a review of what “equal pay” does and doesn’t mean, recent amendments to the Equal Pay Act (EPA), and proposed regulatory changes.  equal pay

What is the EPA?

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