DISCRIMINATION / HARASSMENT

Harassment or just a bad-behaving boss?

02/26/2015
Courts expect em­­ploy­­ees to have relatively thick skins. Behavior that is crude or obnoxious isn’t usually grounds for a harassment lawsuit unless it targets people based on a protected characteristic (sex, age, race, disability, etc.).Still, the “equal opportunity harasser” argument is a pretty flimsy nail to hang your defense on.

EEOC says Walmart discriminated by denying same-sex benefits

02/23/2015
Walmart could soon face an EEOC lawsuit alleging the retail giant engaged in sex discrimination when it denied health insurance benefits to the same-sex spouse of an employee in Massachusetts.

Must we provide a place where our customers can pray?

02/18/2015
Q. A customer was in our sales showroom in the process of purchasing merchandise when he asked his sales person to provide him with space where he could pray while the sales person finalized the paperwork. Our sales person was surprised by the request but ended up providing the customer with an empty office. Do we need to accommodate a similar request in the future? We would, of course, accommodate a prayer request from one of our employees. But we have concerns with leaving a customer unattended in our office area.

Weigh EEOC guidance when considering criminal histories

02/18/2015
In April 2012, the EEOC issued comprehensive guidance addressing the use of an applicants’ criminal history in hiring, which it further clarified in March 2014. The guidance offers details and hypotheticals regarding situations when excluding an applicant based on his or her arrest or conviction record could constitute discrimination based on race or national origin in violation of Title VII.

Workers sue Bloomington restaurant for reverse bias

02/18/2015
Panchero’s Mexican Grill in Bloom­­ing­­ton faces charges it fired white workers who worked as line cooks because of their race. The fired workers claim managers openly stated they preferred white workers for management jobs, but wanted only Mexi­­cans for line positions.

Muslim workers sue Hertz for bias

02/18/2015
The Hertz car rental operation at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport faces charges it discriminated against Mus­­lim employees and harassed them. The employees, who worked cleaning vehicles, claimed managers would routinely walk in on their prayers de­­manding to see the employees’ badges.

Simple transfer could be considered retaliation

02/17/2015

Ordinarily, retaliation re­quires a so-called adverse employment action, such as discharge or demotion. Lesser actions, such as a lateral transfer, don’t count. That is, unless that transfer carries with it serious consequences—such as a dramatically longer commute.

Houston bakery sued for refusing to hire non-Hispanics

02/10/2015
The EEOC alleges that Houston-based Lawler Foods violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by carrying out a pattern and practice of refusing to hire non-Hispanic applicants.

Constitution doesn't protect workplace cliques

02/10/2015
Public employees have some workplace protections based on constitutional rights to free speech and association. But those rights don’t extend to the right to be part of a co-worker clique.

It could be retaliation: Think twice before forcing transfer that greatly affects commute

02/10/2015

Employees who complain about alleged discrimination, either to their employer or to an agency such as the EEOC, are protected from retaliation. Ordinarily, that re­quires a so-called adverse employment action like discharge or demotion. Lesser actions, such as a lateral transfer, don’t count.

When cooperation drops as discipline escalates, OK to fire for insubordination

02/10/2015

Some employees don’t take discipline well. What may have started as a reprimand over a rule violation or poor work can quickly escalate for one of these workers. Don’t be afraid to increase the disciplinary consequences if the em­­ployee won’t cooperate or accept correction.

Don't hide behind your handbook! Formal harassment complaint isn't required

02/10/2015
Here’s something to remember when planning your sexual har­­assment training sessions for management: Be sure everyone understands that they must report any sexual har­­assment complaints employees make—even if the employees don’t follow the procedures for reporting sexual harassment laid out in the employee handbook or company policies.

Third-party harassment: Is the customer always right?

02/10/2015

There is only one boss: The customer. But what if the customer or another outsider is harassing employees at your workplace? Can your organization be held liable? As this court ruling shows, adopting a “hear no evil, see no evil” strategy is not the smartest move.

EEOC charges fall for fourth straight year

02/10/2015
The EEOC received 88,778 charges in fiscal year 2014, marking the fourth straight year of declines after a record-setting 99,922 charges were filed in FY2010. The 2014 total is a 5.3% decrease compared to 2013, and an 11.1% drop since 2010.

Attorney general wants to see Saks anti-bias policy

02/09/2015
A discrimination lawsuit against retailer Saks Fifth Avenue in Texas has spurred an inquiry from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
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