White hood was a joke? No one's laughing now

When Kenneth, who is black, complained that his co-workers used a white hood to harass and intimidate him, management told him the incident was meant as a joke.

Ensure training programs are equal opportunity

Make training available to everyone who may benefit. Be sure there’s no hidden bias behind choosing who gets to take part. If members of a protected class routinely miss out, expect a lawsuit.

Court: State and federal law are not mutually exclusive

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Minnesota employers, has revived a lawsuit against a union for allegedly violating a state disability discrimination law.

Religion accommodation not protected ... yet

In a case likely to be appealed, the EEOC has lost a bid to have federal courts within the 8th Circuit consider request for religious accommodation to be protected activity.

Include it in management training: You just can't use racial slurs!

Make sure every boss understands that they may never utter obviously racially offensive slurs at work. Even one instance can, under the wrong circumstances, trigger a lawsuit.

Staffing patterns don't prove workplace bias

Some employees think that if they point out racial homogeneity in a particular office or function, they will be able to persuade a court that they have been discriminated against—even if they have no proof that anything bad happened to them.

Doubt cast on spousal benefits for same-sex couples

The Texas Supreme Court on June 30 threw out a lower court ruling that said spouses of gay and lesbian public employees are entitled to government-subsidized same-sex marriage benefits.

Mandatory training isn't act of discrimination

It’s unusual, but sometimes workers claim that being forced to attend a training session was discrimination.

Got a good reason for firing? Then stick with it--or risk a lawsuit

Generally speaking, the law does not tolerate inconsistency very well. That’s one reason it’s so important to be careful about how you explain someone’s termination. If your story changes, don’t be surprised if it winds up being used against you.

Judges know it just like we do: Sometimes work is annoying!

Courts seldom give much weight to complaints about general disrespect, micromanaging supervisors or impossible workloads unless it is quite clear that those conditions are meant to punish protected activity or are reserved for members of a protected class while others aren’t targeted.

Panda Express reverification practices don't bear scrutiny

Fast-Chinese chain Panda Express has agreed to settle charges it discriminated against non-U.S. citizens in its work reverification process.

Harassment because of sexual stereotypes can form basis for Title VII lawsuit

Several cases currently making their way through the legal system test whether Title VII’s sex discrimination provisions cover discrimination based on sexual orientation. In the meantime, remember that harassment based on sexual stereotypes is already illegal.

Have objective hiring standards? Good! Now stick with them for all applicants

If your organization has created standardized, objective processes for hiring or promotion, make sure you deviate from them as little as possible. Doing so without a good, contemporaneous explanation may result in expensive litigation.

Open-ended leave isn't reasonable ADA accommodation, also won't work on age bias

A request for indefinite leave can sink more than an ADA claim. A federal court has dismissed an age discrimination case because the employee could not say when he would be able to work again.

California's FEHC proposes regulations on national-origin bias

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council has proposed new regulations that seek to expand and clarify the definition of national origin discrimination.
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