Religious accommodations: Be careful after same-sex marriage ruling

September 20, 2015 1 COMMENTS

by Brent Siler

Unless you have been hiding under a rock the past few weeks, you know that the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states when it issued its Obergefell decision on June 26. Much of the discussion about the ruling has revolved around its effect on people with sincere religious objections to gay marriage and balancing their right to religious freedom and expression with the newly approved constitutional protection of gay marriage.  Dictionary definition of word ideology

The tension between same-sex marriage and the right to religious expression has inspired much debate and controversy. Although you may hope otherwise, you can expect this issue to find its way into private employment settings sooner or later when employees’ sincere religious beliefs come into conflict with different beliefs or workplace policies.

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An EEOC update: Where are we now?

September 20, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Christopher J. Pyles

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been celebrating its own birthday this year, marking its 50th anniversary. In August, the EEOC published “American Experiences Versus American Expectations,” a report documenting changes in employee demographics since 1965 and using data through 2013 as an update to a 1977 report titled “Black Experiences Versus Black Expectations.”

The full report, available on the EEOC website, details a number of changes over nine job categories for women, African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and American Indians/Alaskan Natives. Drawing on decades of data from mandatory EEO-1 filings, “American Experiences Versus American Expectations” reports that participation of women in the “professionals” category, which was 14 percent in 1966, had increased to more than 53 percent by 2013. Moreover, there have been significant percentage increases for African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans in senior-level positions. However, the report also shows that there are still heavy concentrations of minorities in lower-paying positions. The full report may be accessed at

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Long wait for Dodd-Frank standards turns out to be much ado about nothing

August 16, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by H. Mark Adams

“Much ado about nothing” is just one literary turn of phrase that comes to mind when considering the initial uproar over Section 342 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the long wait for its implementing regulations. Here’s some background to add some perspective to that observation.  Compliance Headlines Newspaper Torn New Business Regulations Com

Section 342 of Dodd-Frank, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama at the end of 2010, directed each of 12 affected federal financial industry regulators to establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) and to publish, no later than January 21, 2011, proposed regulations designed to increase diversity in the financial industry, in both employment and contracting. Now, nearly five years later, six of the agencies have finally met their “deadline” with the joint release on June 9, 2015, of their final diversity and inclusion standards.

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Employers may be liable for transgender discrimination

June 14, 2015 1 COMMENTS

by Ryan B. Frazier

The legal landscape related to sexual orientation and gender identity has been shifting in recent years. The impact of same-sex marriage on employers and other topics involving homosexual employees and their partners have been featured in previous issues of this newsletter. Recent lawsuits and statements by key governmental officials have now placed transgender/gender identity discrimination and other issues at the forefront. Transgender

There is no universally accepted definition of “transgender.” The term usually refers to an individual whose gender identity does not match his or her biological gender. Transgender is sometimes confused with sexual orientation, but gender identity is an independent issue. Further, some transgender people may undergo medical procedures to physically align their gender to their gender identity. As this article illustrates, employers need to keep an eye on this rapidly changing area of the law.

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Supreme Court rules against Abercrombie & Fitch in headscarf lawsuit

June 14, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Charles S. Plumb

On Monday, June 1, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and against Abercrombie & Fitch Stores Inc. in a religious discrimination lawsuit involving a Muslim job applicant at its Tulsa store. In some ways, the Supreme Court’s decision may have the unintended result of causing some employers to ask applicants and employees about their religious beliefs or trigger unfortunate workplace stereotyping.  middle eastern college girl

Religious discrimination

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EEOC releases FY 2014 enforcement stats

May 17, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Christopher J. Pyles

According to newly released statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the state in which the most administrative charges were filed in fiscal year (FY) 2014 was Texas, which had more than 8,000. Where did your state rank?  Statistics!

Discrimination by the numbers

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Return-to-work woes: EEOC challenges medical release requests under ADA, GINA

December 14, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Geoffrey D. Rieder

In a lawsuit filed in September, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleges that a Minnesota-based power company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) by requiring an employee returning from medical leave to execute overbroad medical release forms for a fitness-for-duty medical examination. In EEOC v. Cummins Power Generation, currently pending in the federal district court in Minnesota, the agency asserts that the employer violated both the ADA and GINA when it attempted to obtain certification that the employee was medically qualified to return to work from medical leave. The EEOC’s aggressive approach in this case suggests that employers may be well-advised to review policies and practices governing employees’ return to work following medical leaves of absence.  PrivateMedicalInformation


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EEOC brings first lawsuits alleging transgender discrimination

December 14, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Arielle B. Sepulveda

On September 25, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed two lawsuits, the first actions by the agency in which it has alleged that discharging an employee because she is transgender constitutes discrimination on the basis of sex and therefore violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In light of the increasing societal and judicial recognition of LGBT rights, employers must be aware of the potential workplace issues faced by employees who don’t conform to traditional gender norms.  Transgender


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EEOC issues updated enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination

August 17, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Kevin McCormick

On July 14, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its “Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues.” This is the first comprehensive update the EEOC has provided on the subject since 1983. The guidance supersedes the earlier EEOC publication and incorporates significant developments in the law during the past 30 years.  Pregnant Employee

In addition to addressing the requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), the guidance discusses the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as amended in 2008 to individuals who have pregnancy-related disabilities. Much of the analysis in the new guidance is an update of long-standing EEOC policies that set out the fundamental PDA requirements that an employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions and that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions must be treated the same as other persons similar in their ability or inability to work.

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EEOC to update guidance on English-only policies?

January 19, 2014 0 COMMENTS

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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