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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EEOC’s controversial EEO-1 change would root out pay discrimination

March 20, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Amanda Shelby

On January 29, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with administering and enforcing the civil rights laws that prohibit workplace discrimination, proposed a significant revision to its Employer Information Report (also known as the EEO-1). The federal government uses the EEO-1 to collect demographic data about an employer’s workforce. The EEOC’s proposed amendment to the EEO-1 would require employers with 100 or more employees to report pay data in addition to their workforce demographics. So what’s the purpose of the proposed change, and how will it impact you?  Pay Discrimination

EEOC’s proposed EEO-1 changes

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EEOC addresses workplace discrimination against Muslim or Middle Eastern individuals

March 20, 2016 3 COMMENTS

As backlash is rising steadily in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris, France, and San Bernardino, California, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is taking an active approach to addressing current and potential workplace discrimination. EEOC Chair Jenny Yang issued a statement urging employers and employees to be mindful of instances of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in the workplace against “vulnerable communities” such as employees who are or are being perceived to be Muslim. She cautioned employers to “take steps to directly address potential problems to prevent harassment, retaliation and other forms of discrimination” and encouraged employees to “report incidents to their workplace official and to the EEOC or its state and local partners.”  Muslim business lady

The agency also released two resource guidance documents, one for employers and one for employees, in Q&A format to explain federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination against individuals who are targeted for being Muslim or perceived to be Muslim. The guides note well-established strategies to curb and prevent workplace discrimination and warn employers that “reactions in the workplace to world events demand increased efforts . . . to prevent discrimination.”

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Retaliation, discrimination, and harassment persist; disability bias charges increase

March 20, 2016 0 COMMENTS

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released a detailed breakdown of the 89,385 workplace discrimination charges it received in fiscal year (FY) 2015, which started on October 1, 2014, and ended on September 30, 2015. Retaliation charges increased by nearly 5% and continue to be the leading complaint raised by workers across the country. Disability discrimination charges increased by 6% from FY 2014 and were the third most commonly filed charge.  EEOC-jpg

The EEOC resolved 92,641 charges in FY 2015 through voluntary resolution and litigation. The year-end data show that 39,757 retaliation charges were filed, representing 44% of all private-sector charges. The agency is currently seeking public input on its proposed enforcement guidance on retaliation and related issues.

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