Sessions memo changes DOJ position on transgender discrimination

October 06, 2017 0 COMMENTS

Transgender snipby Tammy Binford

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement changing his department’s position on transgender employment discrimination marks a change in the legal landscape, but it doesn’t alter employer obligations under various state and local laws or the position taken by other federal agencies.

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DOJ says Title VII doesn’t apply to sexual orientation discrimination

July 27, 2017 0 COMMENTS

Sexual orientation flag snipThe U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in a case in which an employee claims his employer violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against him based on his sexual orientation.

The DOJ’s brief asserts that Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination does not extend to discrimination based on sexual orientation. The DOJ’s position is in stark contrast to the position taken by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which says discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status constitutes sex discrimination in violation of Title VII.

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In ‘landmark’ ruling, appeals court says sexual orientation discrimination is illegal

April 06, 2017 0 COMMENTS

Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation, a federal appeals court ruled for the first time on April 4.

With its “landmark” ruling, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upended three decades of precedent and set up the issue for review by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Steven L. Brenneman, a partner with Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll, LLP, and an editor of Illinois Employment Law Letter.

The decision applies only in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, but Brent E. Siler, an attorney at Butler Snow in Memphis and a contributor to Tennessee Employment Law Letter, said its effect reaches far beyond those three states. The ruling, combined with the federal government’s position on the issue, means employers must ensure they do not discriminate based on sexual orientation, Siler added.

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New final rule updates sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors

June 14, 2016 0 COMMENTS

Federal contractors are getting a look at a new regulation aimed at preventing sex discrimination in employment, and while many contractors already are in line with its provisions, the new rule may create tension in some areas.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released a final rule on June 14 replacing sex discrimination guidelines from 1970 with new regulations that align with current law.

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OFCCP proposes new rule on sex discrimination guidelines for contractors

January 30, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) new proposed rule updating sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors takes aim at what the director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) calls “regulatory anachronism.”

The proposed rule appears in the January 30 Federal Register. The public will have until April 14 to provide comments. A fact sheet and frequently asked questions are available on the OFCCP’s website. The revisions address discrimination based on gender identity and pregnancy as well as sexual harassment.

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Maine Law Court issues groundbreaking discrimination opinion

January 31, 2014 0 COMMENTS

by Peter D. Lowe and Connor Beatty

On Thursday, January 30, Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court issued a groundbreaking and controversial decision. The Law Court ruled that a school district discriminated against one of its students when it told the student she couldn’t use the female restroom because she is transgendered. Although this decision directly affects places of public accommodation, it also may have major ramifications for employers. The decision calls into question whether it’s permissible to have separate-sex bathrooms at all under current law.


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New Mexico pay equity law takes effect

May 28, 2013 0 COMMENTS

by Robert P. Tinnin, Jr.

New Mexico’s Fair Pay for Women Act (FPWA) goes into effect June 14, affecting all employers with at least four employees.

The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex “by paying wages to employees . . . at a rate less than the rate that the employer pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in the establishment for equal work on jobs[,] the performance of which requires equal skill, effort and responsibility and that are performed under similar working conditions.”

The law includes an exception for payments made under a seniority system, a merit system, or a “system that measures earnings by quality or quantity of production.” It prohibits retaliation in the form of discriminating against an employee for (1) asserting a claim under the FPWA, (2) assisting another person in doing so, or (3) “informing another person about employment rights or other rights provided by law.”

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Vermont governor to sign equal pay bill into law on Tuesday

May 13, 2013 0 COMMENTS

by Sophie E. Zdatny

House Bill 99, titled “an act relating to equal pay,” has cleared both chambers of the Vermont Legislature and is set to be signed into law by Governor Peter Shumlin on Tuesday, May 14.

The final bill amends Vermont’s Fair Employment Practices Act to provide that an employer may pay different wage rates to employees of different sexes only when the differential wages are based on (1) a seniority system, (2) a merit system, (3) a system in which earnings are based on quality or quantity of production, or (4) a bona fide factor other than sex. Employers now will be required to show that any wage differential is based on a factor that “does not perpetuate a sex-based differential in compensation, is job-related with respect to the position in question, and is based upon a legitimate business consideration.”

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Supreme Court Sets High Bar for Class Certification

June 20, 2011 1 COMMENTS

U.S. Supreme Court Buildingby Brad Williams, Holland & Hart LLP

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Dukes v. Wal-Mart decision is enormously consequential for employers, particularly those facing “bet-the-company” class actions involving allegations of widespread discrimination. In essence, the Court answered a number of outstanding procedural and interpretive questions involving the federal class-action device in such a way as to make obtaining class certification — or even ultimately recovering at trial — much more difficult for employment discrimination plaintiffs.

Sweeping Rules

Rather than resolve the case on narrow, technical grounds relating to the types of relief available under a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) class action or the validity of the Wal-Mart plaintiffs’ specific theory of sex discrimination, the Court laid down sweeping rules that will affect all employment discrimination class actions in the future. For example, class plaintiffs must now unambiguously “prove” all the elements required for class certification under Rule 23 and must show that class certification will help generate common answers — not just common questions — relating to potential discrimination.

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Supreme Court Provides Win for Employers in Wal-Mart Discrimination Lawsuit

June 20, 2011 2 COMMENTS

U.S. Supreme Court BuildingToday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, in a massive lawsuit that has been called the largest employment class action in U.S. history. The class of plaintiffs in Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes included approximately 1.5 million former and current female Wal-Mart employees seeking injunctive, declaratory, and monetary relief that could have amounted to billions of dollars in back pay.

Although the case involved alleged sex discrimination, the Court wasn’t asked to decide whether the alleged discrimination occurred. Rather, the Court’s decision was limited to whether the suit could be handled as one massive class-action case. In what could be called a unanimous division, the justices all held that the case shouldn’t proceed as a class action; however, they were divided in their reasoning why.

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