Transgender bathroom case makes it to Supreme Court

by Rachael L. Loughlin

On October 28, 2016, the Supreme Court granted the request of the School Board of Gloucester County to consider whether the Court should overturn a decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fourth Circuit ordered the School Board to allow Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male, to use the boys’ restroom during his senior year of high school.

By now, most HR professionals are aware of the ongoing debate as to what restrooms should be available to transgender individuals. Though individual cases are popping up all over the country, none has captured public attention like the case of transgender Gloucester High School student, Gavin Grimm. Grimm is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and his lawsuit contends that the School Board’s restroom policy requiring students to use the restroom matching their physical gender, is discriminatory and violates Title IX of the federal education code, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

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Uber settlement keeps independent contractor business model

April 22, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Drivers for ride-hailing giant Uber will continue to be independent contractors under the terms of a settlement of class-action lawsuits in California and Massachusetts if the settlement receives court approval.

The settlement, announced on April 21, will require the company to pay drivers an initial $84 million and possibly as much as $100 million. Despite the financial hit, Uber is claiming victory in what it calls the key issue in the lawsuits—whether its drivers should be classified as independent contractors or employees. That question is likely to come up again, according to an attorney following developments affecting the use of independent contractors in the “sharing economy.”

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Compulsory public-sector union dues survive deadlocked Supreme Court

March 29, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A 4-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a closely watched case on public-sector unions leaves previous legal precedent intact, effectively sealing a union victory.

On March 29, the evenly split Court issued a one-sentence ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association that allows the decision of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stand. If not for the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February, the ruling may have gone the other way.

“With Justice Scalia’s death, public-sector unions dodged not just a bullet but a cannonball,” Jeffrey Sloan, an attorney with Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP in San Francisco, said after the ruling was announced.

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NCAA rules limiting payments to college athletes may violate antitrust laws

October 01, 2015 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

by Nancy Williams

Certain NCAA rules designed to ensure “amateur status” of student athletes may violate federal antitrust laws, according to a decision of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ruling came in a case filed by Ed O’Bannon, a former All-American basketball player at UCLA. O’Bannon discovered that his name, likeness, and identity were being used in a college basketball video game without his having given permission or receiving compensation. He filed a lawsuit against the NCAA claiming that its rules barring compensation for student athletes amounted to an unlawful restraint of trade and thus violated antitrust laws.

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Uber class action ruling expected to have national implications

September 02, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A San Francisco judge’s ruling granting class action status to possibly thousands of Uber drivers carries implications that “go well beyond California,” according to an attorney closely watching the case.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen ruled September 1 that a group of Uber drivers in California can sue as a class as they argue that they should be considered employees instead of independent contractors.

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Employers need to examine policies, laws in light of Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling

June 26, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 2 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage means employers across the country need to take a look at their policies as well as the effect the ruling has on various laws dealing with employment.Pride flag at city hall

The Court’s 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges struck down prohibitions on gay marriage in states covered by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals—Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. But it has the effect of legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

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Supreme Court sides with EEOC in religious discrimination case

June 01, 2015 - by: HR Hero Alerts 0 COMMENTS

A ruling in a closely watched religious discrimination case means employers may be liable for discrimination if they base employment decisions on an applicant’s suspected religious practices even in situations, such as the one in this case, in which the applicant hasn’t directly disclosed a need for a religious accommodation.

On June 1, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., a case involving Samantha Elauf, a young Muslim woman who interviewed for a job in an Abercrombie store in Oklahoma in 2008. During the interview, she wore a head scarf as part of her Muslim faith. At the time, Abercrombie had a “look policy” prohibiting head coverings.

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Texas judge puts FMLA rule’s new definition of spouse on hold

March 27, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

For the time being, employers in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage don’t have to comply with a new rule changing the definition of spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The rule was to take effect on March 27, but a federal district judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction on March 26 in response to a challenge from the attorneys general in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska.

District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the states making the challenge showed a likelihood that they would prevail and that they would be irreparably harmed if the rule were allowed to take effect. If the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) rule is allowed to take effect, it will require employers covered by the FMLA to allow eligible employees to take leave under the Act to care for same-sex spouses.

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Supreme Court clarifies employer obligations related to pregnant workers

March 25, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 2 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Young v. United Parcel Service means employers need to think twice before treating pregnant employees under job restrictions differently than they treat nonpregnant employees who are similarly unable to perform their jobs temporarily.

In a 6-3 ruling handed down March 25, the Court reached for middle ground between interpretations of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) offered by both parties as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). By sending the case back to the lower court, the justices revived the employee’s claim that her treatment violated the PDA.

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Utah passes historic legislation against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination

by Ryan B. Frazier

On March 12, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed into law newly enacted legislation aimed at preventing employment and housing discrimination against gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals. The monumental legislation amends the state’s antidiscrimination law to prohibit employers statewide from making employment decisions based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Under the law, a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be the basis for refusing to hire, refusing to promote, demoting, or terminating him or her. Utah law already banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, pregnancy, national origin, and disability.

The new law also provides safeguards for religious freedoms. The law exempts religious leaders and organizations such as churches and religious schools and their affiliates from the application of the new provisions. It also exempts the Boy Scouts of America or any of its subsidiaries or councils.

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