‘Sex-plus’ discrimination claims are still viable

August 17, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Rachel E. Burke

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed the issue of whether a “sex- plus” claim of discrimination, in which a former employee claimed that she was discriminated against specifically for being an African-American female, can be made under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The case is significant not only for its reinforcement of the notion that the various traits protected by Title VII necessarily coexist and shouldn’t always be considered separate from each other but also for its emphasis on the importance of e-mail evidence in discrimination cases.  StopRaceDiscrimination

Facts

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Supreme Court addresses, upholds state bans on affirmative action

July 20, 2014 0 COMMENTS

By Holly K. Jones

In a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the court upheld a controversial ban on the use of affirmative action in public education, employment, and contracts in the state of Michigan. For details on the decision and whether it affects your business, read on.  AffirmativeAction

Background

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A Sterling reputation tarnished

June 15, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Kylie Crawford TenBrook, Best Western International, Inc.

In April, recordings of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist remarks to his half-black, half-Mexican girlfriend assistant* surfaced. Among those remarks were the following:

It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?DonaldSterling

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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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Training employees to eliminate unconscious bias

May 18, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Matthew A. Lafferman

Everyone has unconscious or subconscious preferences. Generally, we all prefer to associate or socialize with people who share our background and interests. As a consequence, we often aren’t aware of our preferences, identifying our behavior only when it’s pointed out by someone else. Unfortunately, we carry our hidden biases into the workplace, and that’s when problems may arise.   Bias

Employees’ hidden biases

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Rental car company can’t drive off employee’s suit

January 19, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Brian J. Kurtz

Is it technically race discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 if you terminate an Assyrian employee because you think he is an Arab? An Illinois district court recently faced that question.  CarRental

Less than courteous

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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…

National origin discrimination and race discrimination aren’t the same thing

July 14, 2013 0 COMMENTS

by Kevin McCormick

In a recent decision, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland affirmed the notion that discrimination on the basis of race and discrimination based on national origin are distinct legal claims. Moreover, because 42 USC § 1981 only prohibits discrimination based on race, a claim alleging national origin discrimination under the Act has little chance of success. Let’s take a closer look at this interesting decision.

Background facts

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Criminal and background reports as evidence in EEOC class actions

April 14, 2013 0 COMMENTS

by Steven Collis

In its first class action lawsuit challenging an employer’s use of criminal records, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ended up dropping its case against PeopleMark and getting socked with $750,000 in sanctions. Recently, the EEOC suffered another stinging loss when a federal court dismissed its discrimination case against Kaplan Higher Education Corporation (which was discussed in a previous blog post, “EEOC’s use of ‘race raters’ against Kaplan University gets failing grade”) based on an unsound analysis by the commission’s expert witness. With the same expert providing statistical evidence in another case, could the agency strike out in a third background check class action lawsuit?

Over the past few years, the EEOC has aggressively challenged the use of credit reports and criminal history checks in hiring decisions, alleging that use of the information results in a discriminatory impact on candidates in protected groups. In 2012, the commission successfully negotiated a $3.13 million prelawsuit settlement of a race discrimination charge against Pepsi in which the soda giant’s criminal background check policy was called into question for allegedly discriminating against African Americans. However, the agency has been less successful pursuing similar cases in court, mainly because of its struggle to proffer reliable evidence of discriminatory impact. Despite the EEOC’s mixed results, the recent settlements and case filings indicate that the use of credit and criminal history checks in the hiring process is a hot topic. read more…

EEOC’s use of ‘race raters’ against Kaplan University gets failing grade

March 17, 2013 2 COMMENTS

by Judith E. Kramer

On January 28, a federal court ruled in favor of Kaplan Higher Learning Education Corp. and Kaplan University in a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC had alleged that Kaplan’s use of credit history reports in making hiring decisions violated certain provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because the practice has a disparate impact on black applicants.

Background

The defendant in this case was a group of educational institutions. As the court noted, educational institutions operate in a highly regulated industry. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) provides financial aid to many students enrolled at Kaplan University and Kaplan Higher Learning Education and requires its participants to have in place quality controls that limit access to student and parent information. read more…

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