Discrimination & Harrassment

On Tuesday, April 4, 2017, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals became the first Federal Appellate Court to hold that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  While some states have already enacted laws protecting against that type of discrimination, and many employers have added such protections into company equal employment opportunity policies, this marks the first time sexual orientation has been deemed protected at this level under the federal Civil Rights Act. Continue Reading What Does The Landmark Ruling Declaring Sexual Orientation Discrimination Illegal Under Title VII Really Mean?

A recent federal Appellate Court decision offers employers greater flexibility and decision making authority in considering job reassignments for qualified disabled employees.  In EEOC v. St. Joseph’s Hospital, a case decided by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Georgia, Florida and Alabama), an employee sought a job reassignment as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The employer allowed the employee thirty days to apply for vacant positions, but did not automatically grant her a new position.  Rather the employer required the employee to compete for a new position pursuant to its best qualified applicant hiring policy – she would be given the job only if she was the best qualified applicant for the position. Continue Reading Are Disabled Employees Entitled to Be Reassigned to an Open Position?

A nationwide restaurant chain is in a “sticky” situation, and not because of the barbeque sauce on its ribs.  Rather, it faces a trial in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging years of pervasive age discrimination in its hiring of hourly, “front of the house” employees.  The EEOC alleges  that the company failed to hire applicants over 40 for public, visible positions such as servers, hosts, and bartenders, and instead instructed managers to hire younger applicants for those positions at its hundreds of locations. Continue Reading Sticky Notes On Applications Create “Sticky” Problem in Hiring

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (which handles federal court appeals from Georgia, Florida and Alabama) recently issued a surprising and first of its kind decision holding that applicants may not bring a disparate impact claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”).  The ADEA prohibits employers from intentionally discriminating against employees 40 or older due to their age.  Any such “disparate treatment” (another way of saying intentional discrimination) violates the ADEA.  But the ADEA is also usually understood to also prohibit unintentional discrimination on the basis of employees’ age (over 40), such as a rule or policy or practice that while non-discriminatory on its face has the real, if unintended, effect of discriminating against older workers.  This concept is known as “disparate impact” discrimination.  As the ADEA (and most employment discrimination laws) applies to both employees and applicants for employment, most assume that the disparate impact theory of discrimination also applies to applicants as it does to employees.  The Eleventh Circuit, however, said it does not. Continue Reading Can An Employer Legally (If Unintentionally) Screen Out Older Job Applicants?

Do you do business with the federal government?  If you do, you (hopefully!) know that keeping up with the rules and regulations of being a federal contractor are no easy task.  But we are here to help!

Lawyers at our firm, including HRLawMatters contributor Jim McCabe, have written an incredibly helpful article to help federal contractor employers comply with recent changes to their obligations. This article was recently published on the DirectEmployers Association website – and you can see it at this link hereContinue Reading Federal Contractors Must Read This!

If you are an HR professional, you surely worry about workplace violence.  Whether it is an “active shooter” at work or just an argument that turns physical between two employees, the concern about workplace violence and the harm it can cause — both to those directly involved and everyone else who works there — is quite real and undoubtedly scary.

I recently read an article from the Business Journal publications that I found useful:  “Preventing Workplace Violence: What to Listen For, Look For, Notice and Do.”  This article discusses issues surrounding workplace violence prevention and offers some “identifying signs and symptoms” that can be a precursor to violence.  Continue Reading Safely Preventing Workplace Violence

Did you know that at the beginning of 2016, the EEOC rolled out Phase I of its Digital Charge System, which provides an online portal system for employers to access and respond to a Charge of Discrimination? If you didn’t know, you are not alone. Many employers have been surprised to receive an email from the EEOC stating that a Charge has been filed and providing a password to access the EEOC’s secure online portal. The email provides a deadline for the employer to log in to the portal. Once logged in, the employer may view and download the Charge, respond to mediation requests and upload position statements it creates for the EEOC to review. (The EEOC asserts that information uploaded to the portal are encrypted and protected by proper security controls.) The EEOC’s plan is to no longer send hard copies of these documents to employers. Continue Reading Have You Gotten An Email from the EEOC?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines systemic discrimination as “pattern or practice, policy and/or class cases where the alleged discrimination has a broad impact on an industry, profession, company, or geographic area.” In 2005, the EEOC examined the state of its systemic discrimination program and issued numerous recommendations for changes in strategy, all of which resulted in the adoption of the Systemic Task Force (STF).   The STF has been a game changer for EEOC enforcement, setting priorities that have shaped the EEOC’s agenda and strategic vision over the last decade.  Among the STF’s primary recommendations was to make combating systemic discrimination a top priority. To do so, the STF advocated for the use of a national law firm model in litigating systemic cases by staffing systemic suits based on the needs of the suit, independent of the office where the case was developed. Continue Reading EEOC Confirms Fighting “Systemic Discrimination” Remains Top Priority

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was amended a few years ago to expand on what is considered a “disability,” almost any medical condition of any consequence may now be enough for an employee to be considered “disabled.”  While many past ADA claims were defended by arguing that the employee was not truly disabled, that defense is practically gone now (unless the employee really has no cognizable medical condition). Continue Reading Qualification is Key under the ADA

Last month the EEOC issued its Final Rule on Employer Wellness Programs and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title I of the ADA prohibits employers from obtaining medical information from employees unless those inquiries are part of a voluntary employee health program. Under the ADA an employee wellness program must also offer reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities so they have equal access to program fringe benefits. Continue Reading Don’t Let An Employee Wellness Program Make You Sick