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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Muslim teacher may proceed with national origin harassment claim

April 17, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Emily Hobbs-Wright

A Turkish-born Muslim teacher claimed that her school had a culture of racial and ethnic hostility. The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose decisions apply to Colorado employers) recently ruled that her complaints of national origin discrimination may move forward. This case offers several lessons on how to handle cultural differences in the workplace.  Cute lovely school children at classroom having education activi

Principal made and allowed insensitive comments

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Not funny: mocking coworker’s spouse’s religion

March 20, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Zachary D. Morahan

The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, 2nd Department, recently issued an important decision in which it held that an employer faced liability under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) for allowing employees to mock the religious beliefs of a coworker’s spouse. This case has important ramifications for both public and private-sector employers.  Not Amused

Background

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Handling harassment: What constitutes a hostile work environment?

February 14, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Joanna Vilos

Employees sometimes complain about undesired or harassing conduct that does not rise to the level of a hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A decision from a Wyoming federal court reveals which steps employers can take to avoid liability and how employers can defend themselves from an employee’s allegations.  Manager putting his hand on the shoulder of his secretary

Hostile work environment claims

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‘Microaggression’: a new form of discrimination?

March 15, 2015 2 COMMENTS

by Ryann E. Ricchio

Discussions about “microaggression” have become more common in the mainstream media. A simple Google search reveals college websites documenting students’ recently experienced microaggressions and articles analyzing microaggression from major media sources, including National Public Radio and the New York Times. This article provides the definition of microaggression, examines a recent case from a federal court that likely involved microaggression (although the conduct wasn’t described using that particular label), and provides a bottom line for employers.  Boss with employee

What is microaggression?

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Rude isn’t racist: Supervisor’s alleged poor treatment doesn’t amount to discrimination

June 15, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Carrie Pond

A Kentucky federal court recently dismissed a claim of hostile work environment racial harassment because the employee failed to show the harassment was race-based. Despite allegations that, if believed, demonstrated the employee’s supervisor “treated [her] very badly,” she failed to establish that the treatment was racially motivated.   Racist Supervisor

Facts

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Bullying in the workplace

May 18, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Amy S. Ybarra

Bullying. We’ve all read the headlines. A child shoots another child who bullied him. A child takes her own life because she was bullied. As a result, schools are teaching kids and parents about recognizing the signs of bullying, reporting troubling behavior, and stopping it before it escalates. But bullying is for kids, and employers don’t need to worry about it, right? Wrong.  WorkplaceBullying

Law on bullying

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Lessons from an office ‘kick me’ prank

August 18, 2013 1 COMMENTS

by Robert P. Tinnin, Jr.

Q I recently read a newspaper article concerning a lawsuit filed in federal court in Albuquerque by an Intel employee who is suing his employer for race-based harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Coworkers secretly taped a “kick me” sign to his back and then kicked him as others laughed hysterically. What are we coming to? Can employees sue their employer for anything these days?

A The lawsuit has garnered quite a bit of attention in both the local and national press. The primary allegation involves a grade-school prank that many of us participated in as children. Indeed, at the very least, it was a juvenile prank. Few of us would think it would be the basis for a lawsuit in federal court, but it is. read more…

Words are powerful things: racism and hostile work environments

December 16, 2012 0 COMMENTS

by Brinton Wilkins

Humans are unique in their use of words. With them, we explain the world around us, share our thoughts and feelings, teach, and define ourselves. Therefore, it should be no surprise that words also can injure. Trying to excuse words by saying “I didn’t mean to hurt anybody” or “Everyone says that” usually rings hollow. In the English language, there are few words more opprobrious and hateful than the “n” word. Although segments of pop culture seem to have a conflicted, contradictory, and self-destructive relationship with that word, it should be clear to employers that the word has no place in a modern workplace. Unfortunately, one employer learned that lesson the hard way. read more…